Fashion. Being fashionable. Being adored by hundred of people on Instagram. That is not me.
For a while, like every single person we try and be ‘the popular girl’ or ‘the pretty girl’ or ‘the fashionable girl’ and all of that wishing and starring at glossy magazines and spending hours learning new makeup styles and what’s in style for the next month never worked for anyone. Can you relate?
It never works and especially not for me. I will hold my hands up and admit I have never been so die hard about fashion. But I certainly wanted to be adored for my looks and my style just like everyone else and the social media filled work we live in. I would look desperately in shop windows and wish I had enough to buy everything on the manakin or on that super cute Instagram post with a £200 dress.
But one day when I was combing the sales rack and looking at the latest seasons arrivals it dawned on me. I had seen everything before, heck I had some of those dresses from years ago! And standing in the sales aisle I wanted to scream for my stupidity. For context I have a degree in Historical Archaeology AND a masters degree in Cultural Heritage Management (fancy title for museum stuff) and I had been so stupid, I hadn’t realised fashion works in life cycles. Fashion is constantly reused, not invented. With thousands of years of man kind making clothes I promise we have probably created just about every single way of clothing ourselves with some form of fabric. This means it will all repeat itself. Every colour will eventually be the colour of the season, every style of dress will be ideal for summer and every length of skirt will be what everyone is wearing.
I left the store and literally sat on a bench. So … everything repeats itself… if everything repeats itself then why did I care so much about the latest thing, if I wore the same dress forever one year everyone would think I am so out of touch with fashion I must be an alien but another they would think I literally just set the trend of the year. So what’s the point?
The point it- Wear what makes you happy.
That was it my eureka moment of I should just wear what I want, when I want because the fashion industry has so many flaws and I am sick of spending my hard earnt cash on clothes I donate in a year or so.
Over the next few months I had several discussions with friends, I turned to my family and every generations and wanted to find the sweet spot for being myself in my self expression. As mentioned before I studied archaeology and was very aware that what I wore presents a certain image, a social signal to the society we live in about who we are and our choices. So I wanted to do my research. Everyone eventually came to the same conclusion, wear what makes you YOU. What makes you feel good, what makes you look good and what you want to wear over and over again.
So I set to work. I carefully looked at my wardrobe and pulled out everything I loved. Everything I wore so often it was easy to grab and feel the fabric. I thought of the clothes for winter stores away and litterally wrote down what jumpers I remembered. Spoiler I remember 4 and have a very very large jumper collection. I did this with all my stores items and draws like the ultimate guessing game and quickly realised these where the items I really loved and would always want to wear. I vowed to not by from a high street chain again.
So I broke up with fast fashion. I will say since this epiphany 18 months ago I have bought from the high street since then, because a pandemic hit and I just really really really needed that pair of shoes. But seriously I am aware I can’t go my life not buying ANYTHING new and from a high street chain while I am still on a starting wage and becoming a perfectionist for specific items.
But I have vowed to not buy from fast fashion and instead started for slow fashion.
Slow fashion: Slow fashion slows down the pace of shopping and consumption, a long-term view at our items of clothing and what sparks joy.
Has anyone else gone down the rabbit hole or truly finding your own style? I am still working it out but I found the colour pallet that I adore, the cuts and shapes that suit my pear shaped body but make me feel confident and cool. I can honestly say I no longer worry about looking stupid or out dated I am reassured by all my research and reflection on my clothes that even when that time of the month hits and I am incredibly self conscious I remember my work and know deep down my clothes reflect my best self and look good on me. Honestly, that’s enough.
I also discovered my act of quitting fast fashion was saving the planet (Trying to not feel like a bad person for not letting that be my moral compass for this shift) and saves money!
Saving the planet: It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of regular ol’ blue jeans. It take a lot of water to make anything apparently and a lot of cotton and mass production. Between reading articles on factory workers earning next to nothing, how much deforestation and resources are done in the name of fast fashion I am so happy with my choice. I heard about the terrors of fast fashion but I never really reflected on what that meant for one person. I still feel so reassured by the fact I try not to buy fast fashion but how my choices in some small way might help the planet.
Saving the pennies: I am incredibly thrifty and grew up hunting through charity shops, after shunning this upbringing in university as an uncool thing I turned to it again in my search for my perfect wardrobe. Choosing second hand has become incredible easy, no longer do I just have to rely on local charity shops but we naturally use these second hand options anyway. Depop, Vinted, Ebay and Facebook market place all offer second hand clothes at incredible discounts and if you shop smart you can get your perfect outfits for next to nothing.
But this has also developed my eco-conscience and I now feel really bad at the ideas of throwing away clothes and as a learn more donating them to my beloved charity shops. Because a lot of the time if items aren’t sold or up to scratch they get sold on and the waste products of the textile industry are literally set off to be burnt or decay. So now as I declutter I use Vinted and Facebook Market place to try and sell my items, offer them to friends and family or reuse the material before I inevitably send them to the charity shop. Reducing the amount of bags I have to take by ten fold this year alone.
Once again I am not alone in my discoveries and choosing slow fashion, over the last few years the discussion about the sheer amount of clothing that is bought and thrown away in constantly being shunned. because it is ridiculous. Apparently it has been estimated that 1,130,000 tonnes of clothing was purchased in the UK in 2016, an increase of almost 200,000 tonnes since 2012.
As the history nerd I can tell you 70 years ago people literally had so few items of clothing they could count there outfits on one hand (as my gran loves to remind me). As fashion has become more affordable and more accessible we went crazy with consumption and this has created learnt behaviours and now it is perfectly normal to buy a whole new wardrobe each season. The fashion industry is only getting worse with more lines and more sub seasons enticing us into the shops.
So what can be done? Well you could join me in my break up with fast fashion? Or you could choose more second hand options for the latest styles and your fashionable heart. What every you decide I hope you take to heart that we really don’t need a spend thousands on pounds each year on new outfits. I hope this blog has encouraged you to think again about fashion and maybe choose some alternatives.
I wrote a short blog on my work capsule wardrobe and plan to write a few more fashion themed blogs about how I am striving for the ultimate capsule wardrobe and how hard it is to not buy from the high street (Primark I really hate you but why do you make such cute things!).