How much more meaningful to commit to a project for a year, giving yourself time to learn and grow. It’s not about abstinence or breaking bad habits but rich new experiences and a re-shaping of your world view. It doesn’t even have to start in January...
Caroline Jones, aka ‘Knickers Model’s Own’ – pledged to wear only charity shop clothes each day for a year. Except for her underwear, that is. The idea was inspired by Caroline’s mother, who’d sadly died of cancer the previous year. She’d volunteered for 13 years at her local Cancer Research UK shop so Caroline wanted to fundraise for the charity in her memory and, in part, to give herself a focus.
She was up for a challenge but, truthfully, thought this one wouldn’t be too tough. “I’ve always worn secondhand clothes so I assumed it would be easy,” she says, “a giggle for my friends, and something Mum would have loved.”
Her focus shifted on day six, when a BBC journalist discovered her Facebook page – it meant more than 97,000 people saw Caroline’s pictures within the first week. Her fundraising target increased from £1,000 to £36,500. And she realised there was no going back. It became, she says, the “hardest thing I’ve ever done”.
Caroline admits she didn’t consider the practicalities, like who would take her photos, before starting (she had to rope passers-by into taking many of the shots). Or the necessity of taking 14 different outfits on holiday.
Harder still was the mental challenge. “I’m not naturally a completer/finisher,” Caroline admits, “but I had to see this through. And I wanted to do it well.” Her advice to anyone attempting a year-long resolution is to take it in small stages, a week or day at a time.
Although Caroline deliberately kept her posts positive (and wore nothing black the entire year), the pictures became a kind of diary of her first year without her mother. On what would have been her mum’s birthday she wore a sea green coat and pillbox hat. “It was actually lovely,” she says. “People saw me and smiled. Wear something great and people respond.”
Caroline’s huge number of social media followers loved her style as much as her sentiment. Although she’s naturally drawn to 1960s fashions, the challenge encouraged her to be more adventurous, resulting in an inspiring array of looks. Her now finely honed formula for charity shop success is to always try things on. Caroline ended the year determined to continue fundraising and resolved “never to spend £65 on a new cardi again.” However, there was one aspect of fashion that even Caroline struggled with. “Wearing other people’s old shoes is hard!” she says. “I kept thinking, ‘oooh, I can’t wait to get a new pair. That’ll be so lovely’.”
Fancy contributing to Caroline's cause? Head to her Justgiving page.
This is just one of many Whole year resolutions on page 33 of January's The Simple Things.