With this being my first blog post I wondered what I could write about. There are so many things I’m concerned about when it comes to fashion. And when I want to start writing about an issue, I feel I have nothing to say. So, I thought, why not start with something that recently occurred.
Yesterday for example, I decided to spring clean my wardrobe in an attempt to narrow down my clothes, get a better picture of what I own, and find a way to create a more efficient wardrobe.
My overall goal is to create a close-to-capsule wardrobe and own less. Because – I don’t know how you feel, but the more I own, the more uncomfortable I feel. It gives me a feeling of being cluttered and stuffed, that I put too much energy in my clothes and that I have more trouble choosing what to wear.
So, what did I do on this special day of reorganising my wardrobe? I emptied my whole closet on my bed and was a bit shocked of how much I own and haven’t worn for a long time.
Within the past few years, as I dug deeper and deeper into the world of fast fashion, sustainable fashion, fashion production, fashion waste and everything fashion, I became more and more aware of the consequences of buying fast fashion. The social and environmental problems evoked by the fashion industry is something we cannot ignore. This led to me choosing a bit more consciously what I buy, what I don’t buy and also, how I buy it (when I really want an H&M style, I’d check the online thrift shops to see, if it was available in my size). Thus, I don’t directly support H&M (although one could argue that I support fast fashion, because of buyers like me, other girls would go shopping headlessly knowing that there’s someone buying their stuff, if they decided it wasn’t the right colour for them). And luckily I have a student job in a concept store selling ecofair fashion, shoes and home accessories allowing me to get my ecofair-freak on for less. For me, that’s really a privilege.
Also, I’d love to have a wardrobe which totally represents me and my personal style (whatever it is). So, I don’t really need to follow every trend, but add special items that make me fashionable, but in an effortless manner (I always had a problem with being too up-to-the-trend, because it made me feel like I don’t own it. And when it comes to clothes, I want to own it).
Anyways, as I went through every single garment (you’re supposed to inspect and try on every garment to evaluate how it fits and how it makes you feel), I was a bit concerned about how many items were “Made in Bangladesh/India/Cambodia/you-name-it”.
Knowing about the working conditions, minimum wages and health hazards, I instantly got a bad conscious towards the garment workers (eighty per cent are women) who made my clothes. And if I ever wanted to point a finger at someone, well, I had to start with me: “My name is Ange-Camea and I support (but do less and less and less) the fast fashion system”.
I know what I can do in the future starting now, but there’s nothing I can do about my past purchases. So with that in mind I said to myself: “Wear it until you cannot wear it anymore. Don’t let this garment go to waste and treat it the best you can. You owe it to the garment workers.” (that sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s true, what else can you do about it?)
Okay, so my approach was to hang those styles back in my closet (neat and tidy and full of grace and appreciation) which I love and look really great, fit well and are easy to combine with the rest of my stuff. And I’m happy to say that applies to a lot of my clothes.
But you also have those garments you somehow like, which are in a good condition and which you can combine with other styles. But for some reason, you don’t wear these things as often as you could. They don’t fit perfectly. Or they are just not that comfortable. For me that is a beautiful mustard-coloured turtleneck pullover. It looks great on me (my boyfriend chose it, because he loves the 70s style on me), but it’s very bodyhugging and the little wool in it makes it a bit itchy and a little sweaty (yes, I know too much information, but you get the picture and the feeling, right?). So, I put it – along with other clothes in a “Maybe”-box. I’m thinking about giving it a year and if I haven’t put on, missed or thought of an item, I would give it to the local thrift shop or try to swap it with a friend.
At last, I identified those things, I just don’t know what to do with. For instance, six years ago, we went on surf holidays in the Algarve, Portugal. Being so in love with the easy-going, often revealing hippie-surf-girl style, I bought a short dress (brown with pink flowers) directly at the beach. Only a few elastic straps would hold together the backside. I guess, in the heat of the surfer-girl-hippie moment I needed this dress, wore it once (in our holiday apartment for pictures – not even on the beach) and have been neglecting it ever since. And I know for sure that I would continue to ignore it. Well, what do I do with this kind of dress? I put it in another box – my “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it”-box. Together with a white t-shirt which looks more like a kitchen cloth (low quality-low price).
But what do you do with a “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it”-box? Well, I decided to put a deadline to it. If I don’t come up with an idea for every single item in it within a month, I’ll take it to the clothing collection. But actually, I don’t want my clothes to end up either on a landfill or in a developing country, destroying the local garment market. Neither of these options are socially or ecologically responsible nor sustainable.
So, I thought I can ask a thrift shop, if they can take the dress. And as for the unwearable white t-shirt, I thought I could really turn it into a kitchen cloth, so I’d be using less paper towels in the kitchen. By that, I not only avoid throwing away a t-shirt, but also save paper towels and thus, produce less waste. If that isn’t genius, well, then I don’t know what is! Okay, I’m not too sure if it’s genius, since I’ll be having more cloths to wash (more water, more energy). But I’m trying to find a way to waste less, so I’ll give it a go.
But back to my closet. I love how it looks now. So neat and decluttered and airy. And I love and really appreciate each item that hangs or lies in it. But of course, as spring starts, I feel the need to freshen my wardrobe and add something new to it to complement my style. But since I’m not the thoughtless buyer anymore, I decided to take it easy. If I want something bad, I’ll check the thrift shops (online and offline), see if I can get the affordable ecofair version of it (I’m still a student at the end of the day) and ask myself: “Do I really need it? Will I wear it at least 30 times? Will I wear it next year? Is it combinable with at least thirty per cent of my wardrobe?”
Since asking myself that question regularly, I haven’t bought a lot of stuff and haven’t regretted any non-purchase so far. I guess, whatever question you may ask yourself or strategy you may use, if you start buying a bit more consciously then that’s a win for all (except for the fast fashion retailer of your choice).
And what about you, how do you decide whether to buy or not to buy?
What would you do with your “Maybe”-box?
What are your ideas for the “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it”-box?