Tuesday, August 23, 2011

on shopping and diy haircuts

In what sometimes feels a little like a "former life" to me, but was in fact only four or five years ago, I  had a hobby. I loved to shop.  I had fear of being caught out of the style loop.  My "hobby" involved a weekly or sometimes twice weekly visit to my local giant shopping centre (in our Wollongong days).  Clothes, clothes, more clothes, and often shoes. I loved to shop. Though I would not say I had a full blown shopping addiction, I do think I had a subtle form of it. There was no credit card debt racked up and I did it within our means (mostly), but I think the hidden cost in all this was the disgruntled little kid's that had been dragged around the shops all day, as well as the wasted savings. Clothes that were designed to be disposable and were often discarded at the end of the season. I never stopped to think about how wasteful and unsustainable this really was. It had become one of the most important things in my life. My main source of recreation, and the more I shopped the more I felt like shopping. It was what most people I knew did. It was "normal". But I do believe it was filling some kind of void.

a leisurely day of shopping while on holidays - at least I still have the dress

We moved to Canberra. The shopping was good and I embraced it. I devoured fashion magazines. Sales catalogues warranted a sit down and cup of coffee. But one day I stumbled on this book (saying something about my mindset at the time) at one of those discounted store displays. Nothing truly groundbreaking, but it was a huge eye opener for me. It talked about getting connected with your food by visiting farmers markets and growing your own food.

So I found a local farmers market and began taking the family out every Sunday morning. We would come home every Sunday lunch time and we would break open the local sourdough and olives and I would cook with the beautiful fresh vegetables, the likes of which I had never tasted before. I'd always enjoyed cooking, but there is nothing like cooking with exceptional ingredients.

It wasn't long before I started my own vegie garden in the tiny backyard of our unit. I began making bread and most of the kid's snacks. I learned about the dangers of processed foods and stopped buying low fat anything. It was all this that pushed us into the direction of wanting to have a little land. To be able to grown vegetables and fruit trees. Some space for the kid's to run around outside. Not too long afterwards we purchased our acre and I think you know the rest of the story.

I am no longer what I would consider "in fashion". I rarely shop in new shops anymore and I think I've been to a big shopping centre once in the past twelve months. I still love clothes but now most of my clothes shopping is done in op shops, and I have plans for sewing up some summer clothes for myself. My wardrobe is a little challenging right now, during the breastfeeding phase, but I'm learning not to equate worth with fashionable-ness. When you ignore that hunger to acquire "stuff", it slowly goes away, leaving you with freedom in your life to be yourself.

And yes, I cut my own hair last week in a moment of vanity induced desperation. My hair had thinned so much after I had Violet, and it was just too hard to get to the hairdresser. But it's not too bad. Just don't mind the extra make up I popped on for the benefit of Photo Booth.

And the void I mentioned before? I think my void has been filled by a simpler approach to life. Less things, a little more work, but satisfaction in the creativity of cooking, learning to sew, knit and garden.


  1. Great post Tania. I enjoyed reading your story and what triggered the decisions you made to change your life. Love your hair! My hair is soooo thin too. It is driving my family nuts having hair everywhere! Gorgeous pics of you and Violet.

  2. Oh my goodness, you did such a great job!
    Can you come over here and have a go at mine??
    I love that photo of the shopping loving you too.
    I also have a fashion past. I used to work in a major fashion house in the buying and design department. I adored clothes. Ha! You should see me now. caravan holidays and fashion don't really mix.
    Loved reading a bit more about you.
    Have a fab day. x

  3. I didn't ever spend too much money shopping - but I worked in retail... I too have overcome those retail days and so enjoy the simpler, more fulfilling (for me) life.... funny too - I have whipped up a home-made hair cut every now and then - albeit it needing a bit of a fix up! Lovely to read more about you - Miss Violet is growing! xx Rach

  4. We never had the money for me to go crazy shopping, though I'm sure I would have loved it if we had. Luckily I have always been a lover of op-shops and second things.

    But working in jewellery stores for many years gave me certain views about wealth, clothing, design, etc. Since leaving work and becoming a stay at home mother, so much of that stuff has lost it's value for me.

    When you are surrounded by an environment where everyone wants the most expensive bags/clothes/cars/holidays, it becomes the norm. Stepping away from that pressure is very liberating.

    Even leaving the Gold Coast has been very liberating. There is a culture of wealth and a lack of actual 'culture' there that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'm just not interested in having a hand bag or a pram as a status symbol, or being judged negatively for breastfeeding, not going back to work, being thrifty etc.

    With age comes wisdom. :)

    PS. Your hair looks great. Any home hair dressing attempts on my own hair that dare go further than trimming a fringe are always very risky and once resulted in me then shaving my head. Ah, the uni years.

  5. Your hair looks AMAZING, much better than my last effort. ;) You look like a french movie star in the second last pic!

    I doubt I was ever "in fashion" but I DID spend way too much money on clothes & accessories & whatever I could find really, being young & cashed up & in the city, it was a bit too hard to resist, not that I wanted to. I don't think I was filling a void, just fitting in.

    Now I have much less money & much more to do lol, but I love it. I AM starting, & I am talking just these last few weeks, to take more of an interest in what I wear & find nice clothes again, but I'm doing it on the cheap & it's more about feeling good than looking "on trend" or whatever; you say your hobby was shopping... mine is still op shopping... ;)

    Thanks for sharing, your 'void' couldn't have been filled by anything cuter.

  6. What a brilliant hair cut Tania. I'm impressed and a bit in awe actually...well done.
    I've only ever cut hair once and it was a total disaster (my best friend's, just before her Uni ball...even a proper hairdresser couldn't fix the mess I made of it!)
    A very heartfelt post Tania...it's so easy to get caught up in things that don't really matter...I know I do...

  7. That haircut is stunning Tania and totally suits you :)

    Falling pregnant at nineteen and barely out of Polytech I have never worked so we scrapped by on what hubby earned (a mere $198 per week in those days) so there was never any spare change for shopping...luckily being raised in a large one income family I was used to hand-me-downs and op shopping and that passion for upcycling/recycling got stronger with age :)
    If I am completely honest, there have been times through the years where I have fantasised about having an amazing wardrobe with accessories to boot but that's really not me.
    When I had pnd last year I did develop a bit of an addiction to second hand shopping..I always kept to a limit money wise..but would go every day just to fill the void I had. I slowly learnt that I was doing it for all the wrong reasons and am now back to doing it for fun :)

    Such an honest and heartwarming post...thanks for sharing.


  8. Such thoughtful words. I have been lucky that the lure of clothes shopping has never appealed to me, maybe because finding things to fit a short waisted short person is so difficult. And when I do shop I choose classic clothes that last a few seasons.
    The way of life you are living now is a wonderful example to your children, which is so important. Love your new hairstyle, and so agree with one of the other comments...you look like a French movie star!

  9. I don't know how you did it but your hair looks great. i wish i had the same courage to do my own. have a lovely day tania.

  10. This post really resonated with me Tania,
    I too used to love to shop when my babies were little, I was at the mall at least twice a week. Now I rarely shop for myself and find it a real challenge and all too over whelming. If I have spare time I'd rather be sewing or op shopping. I only go to the mall if I have to. The few things I have bought this winter have been a real let down, so many things made in China have holes in them in a matter of weeks, I'm sick of supporting this disposable world we live in. Rosa's and Harvey's wardrobe is 80% second hand and I love that.

    Ps. love the hair, something I've been considering but have been putting it off.

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  12. Brilliant post Tania.. I completely agree!
    I used to spend so much time shopping and now I cant stand being in those huge shopping centres.. they give me the creeps!

    I also started to realise that everyone who shops there, dresses the same! I think you have much better style when you sew or op-shop most of your clothes and it's so much better for the environment!

    Love you hair cut too.. good job!

  13. I found it extremely liberating to move away from what is perceived of as normal, towards this gentler way of life. The stress of trying to keep up with what's new can be all absorbing.To be able to do it as you have done, when your children are still very young, is such a positive thing,Well done. Loved your story and your new haircut!

  14. wah! omg! you didn't just give yourself a cut - you gave yourself a bob! you are BRAVE! looks great though :)

  15. It's amazing how much we change. I don't think the pre-baby me would recognise the me I am now.

  16. Tania
    It's so nice to see a photo of you. There's always so many photos of the rest of the clan. Before kids, I used to shop a lot too. Mostly items on sale. But now, only if I need something, and I must really, really need it, I shop at op shop or garage sale first and then the department stores.

    Love your hair. I shout myself once a year to the hairdressers. The rest of the year is DIY. LOL

    Anne @ Domesblissity

  17. I love the new haircut! You look fabulous!
    I was much the same as you when it came to shopping. I worked in the retail fashion industry for over 10 years and I was part of the machine. It is nice to say I have left all that behind. I don't miss it at all and I love finding my own fashion rather than having it force fed to me through the magazine/advertising/shopping cycle.

  18. You did an awesome job cutting your own hair! It looks great and really suits you.

    I agree with you about the shopping, I would go to a major shopping centre every week when my first child was born and spend money on nothing really. I can't believe the waste of it now.

    Great post!

  19. The hair looks great, I have never had the courage,I recently had the big chop due my hair was always knotted in the back since my last baby.
    Regarding clothes, I cannot see myself being back there in the mall ever again. Op shops and hand me downs will do me just fine.

  20. hah i just wrote a post on my own blog yesterday how i much prefer op shopping to shopping centre shopping! love the thrill of the chase/find! plus it's cheaper.

    i also agree on everything you said re. accumulating stuff for the sake of accumulating stuff!

  21. What a great post! I find thesedays I much prefer a simpler lifestyle and as you say being able to enjoy the comforts of things like growing your own produce, sewing and so on. Can't believe you cut your own hair, the back is so neat - it looks lovely!!

  22. I can relate. Although most of my clothes came from op-shops and markets and vintage shops, there were a fair few chain-store purchases too. I'm not what you'd call fashionable, really, but I've always liked to have a bit of a style and have of fun with my clothes.

    But since coming to Melbourne, I've been feeling a little overwhelmed: So very many trendy and stylish and fashionable people, especially in the inner suburbs where I live and work. I must say, I've been feeling the pressure to dress up, to look 'more trendy' and that pressure often comes in the urge to go shopping. 'If only I had a dress like that one,' the thought patterns go, 'then I would feel much more comfortable and stylish.' I have to check myself when the thoughts start going that way.

    In a deliberate effort to curb such feelings about feeling 'unfashionable' and the related urges to binge-spend on vintage frocks, I've decided to go this whole year without buying any clothing at all. The idea being to encourage myself to be comfortable with what I have, to be creative with the resources I've got in my wardrobe, rather than following the impulse to buy when boredom sets in.

    So far it's going well. Six months in, and I've only slipped up once, and there was even a bit of relief to know that I 'can't' go shopping -- I didn't realise I thought shopping was such a burden til I stopped!

    And your haircut looks great! I wish I felt confident enough to have a go at mine!

  23. I have decided to try for this summer buy nothing new. I want op shop treats and upcycle old things. Since having my little one my views have changed with shopping and with only one wage I feel I need to make cut backs where I can. I also feel bad now when I buy a new piece of clothing. Although I did treat myself to a new hair cut today, but I had the trainee do it and it cost me $22 and I really love it. I just wished my hair would have thinned out after my pregnancy, no such luck.
    You did a great job on your hair though, well done.

  24. I have enjoyed reading this post Tania and I think your hair looks great!

    I dont do the shopping thing much anymore, very rarely in fact...

  25. I love everything about this post Tania. As a former stylist, I too was a slave to fashion and trends. Now I make do..and if anything it makes you much more creative using the things you have! There is a lot to be said for a simpler lifestyle. I am enjoying mine, and don't miss the fashion industry one bit.
    P.S - your hair? Gorgeous! x

  26. Your hair looks great Tania! It realy suits you :) You have inspired me to get out my sewing machine and whip a a few pairs of shorts for Riley for summer and some trackpants for now! I used to make a lot of my daughters clothes when she was little. I didnt have much money and new clothes were so expensive back then.
    I love clothes but dont really follow every fashion. I've developed my own style that suits me and update with a few accessories each season. I rarely shop in shopping centres these days preferring to shop on line where prices are so much cheaper.
    I really enjoyed reading about you and how you decided to change your life for the better!

  27. love your post Tania and great hair cut!

  28. hi tania
    what a wonderful post.i love your hair,it looks fantastic, great job!!
    have a nice day,
    love regina

  29. I too loved to shop, still do but just in a more considered way.

    Your haircut looks great. If I took scissors to my own head, I'm fairly certain the result would not be the same! Hair is one thing I still spend a silly amount of money on. Everyone's got to have a money-style vice, right? Don't answer that...

  30. Love your hair - think I may do the same. my hair is still recovering after my little 2 mth old max was born.

    I love the nursery behind you!


  31. Encouraging to hear your gradual change to living on the land, and your haircut looks great, it really suits you!


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