The New Year gives an opportunity to evaluate what worked and didn't work in previous years. We look back and stare at pictures and posts from the last 12 months, thinking about all the moments that can be lived in this amount of time.
The New Year begins, and if we want different outcomes, we need to start to make things differently. The clothes we wear and the way we relate to them and to ourselves are all very important. Because when we talk about sustainable fashion, it's all about the relationship that we as humans have with our clothes. If we care about ourselves, it's easier to care about the environment and the other way around.
It may seem overwhelming to start on this mission. So today, in Political Fashion, we have some specific sustainable fashion tips that will help you improve your relationship with your clothes and with yourself.
The Final Test is the Fitting Room
If you don't love the clothes in the fitting room, it's very unlikely that you will like them outside of the store. Usually, when we are in the fitting room, we look at the clothes through a lens of desire, adrenaline, and temptation to swipe the card and walk out of the store with a new piece of clothing. But if there's something that you don't love about this garment, unless it is an easy fix that a tailor can modify, this "something" won't go away when you arrive at your house with this new garment.
Maybe there's something about the material that makes you a little bit uncomfortable; perhaps the color is a little bit unusual for you, and you try to convince yourself that you will pull it off one day. Maybe the garment is not necessarily your style, but it's super cheap, and you think that you will find a special occasion to pull it off. In times of hesitation, the best thing to do is to walk away from the store, take a little break to walk around the mall and have a coffee, and go back to try it on again. Very often, when you go back, you will see the clothes differently and realize that you don't really want or need this product.
The tempting experience of shopping
Clothing stores invest a lot of time and energy in making the shopping experience very fulfilling and empowering. The sales associates welcome you with a smile and are happy to help you. The music plays to keep you energized while you walk through the racks full of brand-new clothes. The displays are carefully curated with clothes that get your attention when you are walking in the mall, inviting you to walk into the store to see more clothes. Know that each of these elements in the shopping experience has been designed to encourage you to purchase more stuff. Next time you go shopping, you will be able to recognize all these aspects easier.
Don't be scared to say no
In 2020, online shopping increased by 43%, representing billions of dollars spent in the fashion industry and purchased through a computer or a phone. Online shopping has helped us to get shopping done quicker and easier, as we can purchase clothes and accessories within a matter of seconds and receive it at our homes without having to go anywhere to pick them up.
The downside, however, is that the products that we purchase do not always meet our expectations. Something about the pictures online is misleading. Maybe the fabric is very transparent or is very low-quality. Maybe the fit is very off. Whatever the case is, you paid for something that is not reflected in the product you purchased. As long as you follow the return and exchange rules of the store, you are not doing anything wrong in returning something that doesn't meet your expectations. Keeping stuff that you don't like and don't want to return only adds up to unnecessary expenses on your card and space in your wardrobe. Don't be scared to say no.
A regular inventory
Has it ever happened that you found a piece of clothing you forgot you had? You almost get the same excitement as when you bought it because this garment has been gone for a very long time.
It's very common to forget the clothes that we have. We get stuck in a routine, with so many things going on in other aspects of our lives, that we simply repeat the same combinations of tops and pants for several weeks as some sort of uniform.
In order to avoid leaving clothes forgotten at the bottom of our wardrobe, we can do a regular inventory. This can be as easy as taking time to see every piece of clothing hanging in your wardrobe, see if it's still useful and in good condition, and remind yourself of these clothes' existence.
Depending on the weather where you live, you can move clothes around with the arrival of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. This way, you will move stuff around and be aware of all the potential new outfits you can create with your clothes.
Some people like to plan all the outfits of the week during the weekend, and this is also a great way to take a look at all of your clothes. The idea is that you are aware of the clothes you own, and you don't feel like you don't have enough clothes or nothing to wear.
When you throw clothes away, there's no "away"
Several marketing campaigns have sold us the idea that old clothes can be fully recycled into brand-new clothes. With viral videos of plastic bottles turning into recycled polyester, many consumers believe that when they separate old clothes from their trash, these old clothes might get recycled and won't contribute to the huge problem of textile waste.
It might seem as if we already have the technology and infrastructure to do so, but we don't.
It's valuable to think about all the waste we produce. The fast fashion jewelry that breaks after one single party. The faux leather bag that is made of plastic and starts to get ripped and frayed only after a few months of the purchase.
We put in the trash bin these broken and old products, and in our minds, we have "thrown them away." But the remains of these products are still on our planet. They might be floating on the ocean, harming sea life, somewhere in a forest, polluting the soil and the wildlife that inhabits this place.
Once we understand that the products we buy will take a very long time to disappear from our planet fully, it gets slightly easier to be aware of how much we are consuming. With this awareness in mind, we can be more selective of the clothes and products we purchase. Cheaper is not always better.
Asking for help
In a fast-pacing world where it seems that people are competing to see who has the biggest challenges or the most relevant achievements, it can be intimidating to ask for help, especially when it comes to something like clothes, which many people find irrelevant, and even superficial.
Today, we have several sources that can help us to make styling decisions and help us decide if we want to buy a certain piece of clothing or not.
A sales associate at the store, a friend who we can text or Facetime to give us feedback, Pinterest, Instagram polls, and any other digital tools are all great ways to exchange opinions and talk about a certain brand, outfit, or color combination.
It's not about making decisions that will only satisfy the people around you. It's about exchanging opinions as they might see something that you haven't seen yet, and that might be pivotal to your final decisions.
I don't trust nobody and nobody trusts me
The fast-paced fashion industry often gives an idea of elitism. Where high fashion models walk with a sense of superiority, suggesting the idea that you have to look a certain way or wear a certain something in order to be "enough." Sadly, these messages are then repeated by influencers and social media personalities who have a huge influence on the way their followers think about themselves.
This oversaturation of cynical advertisements through these personalities "recommending" you a product or service on a Youtube video has created different reactions. On the one hand, we have hardcore fans who will do and wear what their favorite celebrity does. They will order the same Starbucks order, and they will do their makeup in a similar way with similar products.
On the other hand, another group of people puts all these personalities in the same bucket, claiming that all of them are unreliable and there's no reason to do anything these people suggest us to do.
But there's a point in between where we can acknowledge the positive and negative aspects of this situation. Because before influencers and Youtube personalities, we've had advertisements on TV, in magazines, in newspapers, and in flyers. It's not that we trust every single ad we see, but at the same time, we are not completely ignoring them. We can do our own research on the products and services that these personalities are recommending to us. We can look for reviews, visit the stores, and ask our social circle for their opinions on a certain brand. It's not that we cannot trust anyone. It's just that one paid recommendation of a certain celebrity, as talented and attractive as this person may be, does not guarantee that the product they suggest is good.
Trusting our intuition often saves us from disaster. Anne Wilson Schaef
Know Your Worth
It's true that there are many things happening at the same time: Family or friends' situations, questions to be answered, and challenges in any aspect of one's life.
So whenever possible, it makes sense to stop for a while and see how you are doing and plan specific actions that will help you.