Shopaholic is what they call 'em
My addiction, my prescription
Gimme shoes and gimme bags
I'm fully aware that this song is ridiculous. But it has a valid point. Rihanna is a bad girl, because she shops too much.
First time in my life that I have anything in common with Rihanna. I, too, have a slight addiction to shopping. And what better way to cope with a personal struggle than to air it out on your blog?
This... is just a snapshot of my wardrobe:
And that's AFTER I combed through extensively to donate random things that I don't use anymore.
If you've talked to me in the past week, you probably know that I have been reading this book:
Overdressed, by Elizabeth Cline.
The whole premise of the book is to look at our consumption of clothing, while giving special attention to the rising "fast fashion" industry. Companies like Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and even my beloved Target are being called out for promoting an unsustainable way of dressing. Meaning that people are treating garments as a disposable product, useful for (on average) 2 years or less. This is fueled by ever-changing and expiring trends and the much lower retail price of clothing over the recent years.
Here are some takeaways from Overdressed:
"Americans buy an average of sixty-four items of clothing a year, a little more than one piece of clothing per week"
"H&M produced 500 million pieces of clothing a year in 2004"
"Individual spending on clothing is now just under $1,100 a year."
"It's very wasteful. If consumers weren't so focused on quantity over quality and trends over innovative design, the price of domestic production might not seem so exorbitant."
"We oscillate through countless colors, prints, and silhouettes each year."
"Fashion is obsolescence. Fashion is change."
"Our fashion choices do have social outcomes and meanings."
"We're completely in the dark about what fashion has cost the environment and American jobs"
"Apparel manufacturing was named one of the fastest-dying industries in America of the past decade"
"Clothes are an essential part of the economy and easily he second largest consumer sector, behind food"
"The demand for cheaper and cheaper garments has all but wiped out the American garment industry"
"Americans are so convinced that cheap fashion deals are fair that we often view designers who make a well-made product that isn't cheap with suspicion."
"It's been very difficult to deal with the change in mentality on the consumer level of what they expect for what price."
Overdressed, for me, was a completely shocking read. Since clothes are cheaper than they've ever been before, there are SO MANY OF THEM constantly being produced and sold. There are so many clothes on this planet that charities don't even know what to do with all of them. Recycling is an option, but a lot of cheaper, man-made textiles are hard to reconfigure. But we love our Forever 21! And we love our deals!
And for this reason, American wardrobes are bigger than ever. In the early 1900s, women owned maybe 5 dresses. I have 29.
Which leads me back to my closet. I decided to do some soul searching, rooted in cold hard facts. And the numbers don't lie.
17 pairs of jeans
18 pairs of (non-jean) pants
10 pairs of shorts
234 items of clothing. That's not including workout clothes, pajamas, underwear, shoes, or accessories.
...And 64 of these items were purchased in the last 365 days. (Ironically, I am spot-on with the average American's record of buying 64 new items a year.)
So where do I go from here? It's great and dandy to talk about having too many clothes, but what am I going to do about it? Obviously, a real change is going to start from a true mental shift. I mean, I love shopping... I get lost in the wonder of aesthetic appeal, and on top of that I like a good bargain. This is what leads to my ultimate struggle of quantity vs. quality. I do like nice things, and I think I'm starting to realize that I would prefer to have relatively less "nice" things than relatively more "crappy" (for the lack of a better term) things.
But "fast fashion" is addicting. In fact, it has even been compared to fast food. Cheap, addicting, and slimy. It fulfills a need, but not for long.
So... the exciting part! I'm embarking on a journey! For the next 6 months, I'm just not buying anything. Really. The rules? No purchasing anything apparel-wise for myself. I can buy gifts for other people (Can you believe that Christmas is in 4 months?!) but I'm going to try and be more mindful in those purchases as well. This isn't just me fighting for a social cause, this is a practice in discipline and personal finance.
After this challenge has expired, I hope to develop a deeper appreciation for the things that I already have. Style isn't about trendy clothing, it is about presenting your best (and most fabulous) self.
In the end, clothes are clothes are clothes. They really don't matter.
"...For one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have..."