I’m no Carrie Bradshaw, but I own a lot of clothing.
Of course, giving into the typical cliche, I also hate wearing a lot of what I own. It sits in a drawer year after year, but whenever I do a clothing clear out, there are always those pieces that despite never being worn, make their way back into my dresser. Because of my constant state of underwhelmed, I buy a lot of clothing throughout the year. Much of it is fast fashion, which I am drawn to due to style, sizing, and of course: cost.
I’m not alone in this, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends roughly $1700 a year on clothing. Yikes! While, I don’t think that my spending is quite that high, it’s still more than I’m comfortable with it being. Especially because when it comes down to it, I feel like I’m still where I started: feeling like I don’t really have anything to wear.
Of course, I have some favorite pieces, but I also find myself frequently feeling like I just don’t have *the right* piece, or like I have nothing to wear, when in reality, I probably have plenty. Fast Fashion has sucked me in – and while I absolutely see why it’s a problematic industry (environmental concerns and issues in regard to labor being top areas of concern), I also know why it’s been largely where I’ve shopped my entire life.
When I first starting buying clothing for myself, I wanted as much as I could get for the little bit of money I had to work with. I used to love this show on TV where they’d give someone $100 to find an entire outfit from whatever stores were in the mall – only, I used to scoff thinking how I could have done the same – easily with a third of that. Now that I’m older, I’m open to spending more, but I still struggle with my need and desire to be frugal. It’s hard for me to dish out for a pricier item knowing I could likely find a cheaper alternative. I’ll say it: I love Target and Old Navy! I’m not a fancy person by any means, and generally my style is all about comfort, so these places are perfect for me.
There’s also the issue of sizing.A study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education found that the average American woman is a size 16-18. This might be the only instance in which I can say that I’ve average. I actually do not find this statistic surprising at all. Real women are largely underrepresented in the world of fashion – that is if they’re represented at all. The issue for me, comes from the fact that despite this statistic, women of this size (and above) are largely still corralled to the back corners of the fashion world – that is, if stores carry our size at all. Often, we’re forced to shop online. There are plenty of stores that will take my money, but which would rather I didn’t come in and shop (but perhaps this is a rant for a different day).
Between sizing and cost, I have come to appreciate fast fashion as a means of finding clothing that works for me and my budget. Fast fashion also feels more accessible. It’s everywhere. So I totally understand and get the appeal of fast fashion, and the desire to shop for clothing continually, despite whatever might be piling up in my wardrobe at home. We live in a society where we are meant to desire new and more on a constant basis, and I’m definitely guilty of this. I love shopping!! However, I’d be lying if I said that every new piece of clothing I brought home helped to fill some void. I find myself frequently justifying new purchases saying that I don’t have a shirt like that in that specific color, but then the reality is that I’ve got plenty of items which I’ve only worn once – or never at all.
Like many others, I often go through my clothing to weed out what I no longer want. Pieces become too big or too small, or perhaps are no longer our taste. We don’t like the way a particular piece looks on us, or the fabric texture drives us mad (looking at you LuLaRoe). According to The Atlantic, Americans send roughly 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year. I don’t know about you, but I find this statistic to be incredibly disturbing. Personally, I very rarely throw a piece of clothing away, but this statistic still stands out to me, and I know that despite my best efforts, that much of what I donate could still be ending up in a landfill at some point. Clothing wears out sometimes, or gets damaged beyond repair – but 10.5 million tons every single year?? I think that points to a much larger issue than durability.
As I sift through the emails for $5 Pajama pants, free shipping, and 60% entire stores – all telling me I NEED the clothing they’re selling, I’ve been thinking. Honestly, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of clothing that I have – particularly because I likely only have an interest in wearing half of it. I hoard things I feel attached to, but which I’ll likely never wear again. I buy clothing when I feel bummed, or like I need some sort of pick-me-up. Of course, sometimes its that I’m drawn to a style I don’t have, or an item that is limited edition. Whatever my reasons for shopping, it’s got me feeling guilty. On a micro level, at the end of the day, I just don’t feel satisfied with my spending habits when it comes to clothing. After all the shopping I do, I still find myself feeling unhappy with my wardrobe, or like I have “nothing to wear”. On a more larger level, I think its much more complicated – there are ethical, and environmental ramifications for this fast fashion industry, and I’m not sure I feel okay being a part of that.
Which is why I am going on a clothing “low buy” for 2019.
A LOW-BUY?? Why am I not going on a no-buy??
I don’t intend to stop clothing shopping 100%. I don’t see that as realistic or maintainable in the long run, and I feel that after a no-buy period, I may just continue my habits without any changes. A low buy however, means that I will still be buying clothing, but that I’m going to be drastically changing my clothing buying habits.
Here’s the plan:
- I will not be shopping for new clothing online or in traditional stores*
- I will only be shopping second hand for clothing.
- I will do regular clothing inventories to see if I’ve got items I no longer want – which I can then resell or donate.
- I will track my clothing spending for 2019.
- If I deviate from this plan at all, I will disclose that here!
*The exception here would be for underwear, bras, socks, and leggings.
I hope that doing this is a learning experience for me. I want to be more conscious of my consumption, and try to make more mindful purchases! I will be documenting my journey in 2019 here on the blog as both a means of “checking in” on myself, as well as sharing my experience with others, so you can expect regular posts. If you have any ideas, questions, or suggestions, please leave a comment.