As someone who is striving to reach new levels of accountability for my own actions everyday, I’ve come to a point in my life where I have to look at my relationship with fashion from an ethically conscious frame of mind. In the past I never thought much about where or how my clothing is manufactured. It never seemed like a big deal. That is until I watched The True Cost and learned the truth about the way clothing is manufactured for some of the biggest retail stores in the world.
If you want to embrace an ethical approach to fashion here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Buy Thrift
I love thrift stores! Who doesn’t love a gently loved one of a kind find? My mom loves a deal so growing up most of my clothes came from local thrift shops. I never had a reason to complain because the clothes she bought me were practically brand new; some even had the tags still attached. The best part is no one else I knew had the same piece. By buying used clothing you are extending it’s lifetime and it’s cost per wear decreases. This way it’s getting used a longer and thus slightly offsetting it’s impact on the planet’s resources.
- Limit Your Wardrobe To Seasonal Items
When you have a good base wardrobe you don’t have to buy new clothes every season. You’ll always have the basics. However, if the current trends catch your eye, go ahead and purchase an item or two that will fit into your base wardrobe. This way instead of revamping your entire wardrobe every season you’re only buying a few key items to liven up your style.
- Be Mindful Of How Many Times You Wear An Item
Whenever you’re thinking about buying a new item for your wardrobe, think about how many times you’ll be wearing it. This is important because it helps you see the real value of a piece of clothing. Let’s say you really want to buy a new winter coat but can’t justify spending $300 on one you know will last you several years. Instead you decide to buy one that’s only $150, is on trend but will only last the season. You might think that you’re saving money by buying the latter but the truth is when you estimate the cost per wear of the more expensive coat you’re actually saving money. The cheaper coat will have to be replaced in a year’s time and you’ll be spending another $150 dollars. The more expensive coat will endure for several winters with proper care and with every use its cost per wear goes down.
- Limit Your Consumption of Fast Fashion
Who doesn’t love buying clothing that’s on trend and so cheap you can’t believe it’s priced less than the fabric used to make it? The truth is a lot of people do. That’s why fast fashion is taking over the fashion industry. Everyone wants to buy the newest, hottest trends at the lowest prices. We live in a world where celebrity’s set the trends and everyone’s chomping at the bit to replicate their style. With major brands churning out fast fashion at low prices, living the high style life of a celebrity seems attainable. But everything comes with a price. And that’s why curbing your purchases of fast fashion is so important. If you must buy fast fashion, be it for monetary reasons or personal choice, make sure that you take into account how many times you’ll actually wear it and how long you will use it. Do your best to get the most use out of it as possible.
- Be Mindful of Your Wardrobe (Do you really need more clothes?)
Remember to keep the items you already own in mind the next time you go to the store. This way next time you see some really cool jeans on sale you’ll think about the 5 other pairs you already have in your closet. It’s little things like this that will stop you from buying things you didn’t have to replace. Think of all the money you’ll save!
- Educate Yourself About Un-Ethical Practices In The Manufacturing Business
I never really thought twice about fast fashion before I saw the documentary The True Cost. It changed the way I view clothing completely. I now find myself looking at clothing tags just to see where it was manufactured, because I know that some countries, more so than others, practice unethical manufacturing practices. There is a greater human price to the budget friendly clothing you are buying and ignoring it will not make it go away. It will only further the cycle of injustice and the exploitation of real human beings who are working very hard for next to nothing. Please make the effort to educate yourself. Visit TrueCostMovie.com for more information.
The purpose of this discussion isn’t to dissuade you from embracing fashion, or never buying anything from a major retailer. What I mean to convey with this is first of all awareness. Your money speaks volumes and how and what you spend it on sends a very real message to retailers. So, if you are better informed, you can make better choices about how to spend it. Second, as I’ve stated in earlier posts about minimalism, your stuff doesn’t define you. The truth is your better off with less. Take it as a challenge. How can you showcase your awesome style with a handful of tasteful items rather than a ton of on-trend-today-gone-tomorrow pieces? Therein lies the fun of real style.