I am notorious amongst my friends for my clothing…er, choices.
“Nice skirt! Charity shop?”
“Nah, she must’ve got it on sale!”
“…Like, 15 years ago?”
“Or someone gave it to you? Which favourite aunt didn’t want it?”
Yep – my clothes are either old, or from a charity shop (and probably still old) or something I bought for a ridiculous price in a sale (“What do you mean FIFTY PEE?!”) or a piece that a family member was getting rid of and I snaffled up.
In the personal finance world, this is a marker of pride – clearly, I’m thrifty. Clearly, I’m frugal. Clearly I live so farrr outside the mainstream that I no longer have need of the eeeeevil high street any more.
I defy you consumerism and fast fashion and the unsustainable capitalist cycle of consumption we find ourselves trapped in!
And then my favourite shoe shop shut down (sob! RIP Shoes Of Prey) and I got pregnant and nothing fit and was comfortable and now I am no longer pregnant but I do actually have needs that my clothing needs to accomodate.
Needs that a lot of my clothing (bought pre-baby – heck, pre-marriage) doesn’t really work for.
Which, practically, meant I needed to go shopping. For actual clothes. And I found myself surprisingly resistant to this idea. Why? What were my reasons? Turns out I had a fair few presumptions stopping me.
1. Size – the shops don’t do anything in my size!
Yeah, this isn’t necessarily true.
The models on the high street most certainly don’t tend to come in my size (though Sainsbury’s TU range has had a stunner of a summer campaign this year) and I’m too tired to have a ramble about how representation matters because we all know it does by now and it’s boring wondering how shops don’t understand that this makes perfect business sense.
But basically, none of the high street models looked like me, so I just assumed that the shops didn’t cater to my (clothing) size.
Well, turns out that a lot more shops on the high street are catching onto the plus sized option, I just needed to look for them…and then, unsurprising, I found them.
Finding plus-sized models, influencers and instagrammers also helped.
Though, I’m also tall(er than average), which does not.
Trousers? Why, do you want me to have breezy ankles this winter?
Oh, and I’m not going to bother asking about shoes. That’s a lost cause.
2. Unflattering/boring colours: Black, khaki, navy and beige….
This can be a big issue when I’m looking for underwear and I’ve had several conversations with people about how their fashion rules are stupid and also do not apply to me:
Them: “Why are you wearing brown and black together? Black and brown don’t go!”
Me: “I literally have brown skin and black hair. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard this year.”
The person insisted they were right.
Obviously, we are now no longer friends.
Or when ‘nude’ underwear came into fashion and my mum just thought she was buying a beige bra for me and everyone else thought it was really funny that I didn’t know what skin tone I was…opposed to the fact that my actual skin tone hadn’t been an option.
Or when people talk about ‘neutral’ colours or ‘having their colours done’ by a colour analyst…
*Reads the book and all deeper skinned people are labelled as ‘Winters’*
Man, screw the colour rule book. You didn’t check with me! Get outta here.
3. Things don’t really fit me.
This is the trickiest one for me. It might be my size, great colour and a style I like…and then I put it on and just think ‘meh’. Or worse, think “It would be perfect if it had more boob space.” You can pinch in but it’s near impossible to add fabric in.
I also think a lot about how I feel when wearing it (Might look awesome. Might feel rubbish!) and (for shoes especially) if it’s mendable. So many shoes aren’t! No wonder cobblers seem to be going out of business – shoe reparation options seem to be superglue or bin.
I also have a thing about fastenings, especially zips.
I hate low quality zips because I don’t know how to mend/replace zips so that’s something I’d have to get fixed at the shop. Buttons can be replaced but if you’ve got a bad zip, it’s a right load of cobblers.
I guess price also comes into it. I found myself looking for some white trainers for work and when I started looking at handmade in France/Italy fine grain leather shoes for about £500, I knew I needed to stop.
These shoes were for me to wear to work (and possibly to look really cool in the summer beforehand)!
They’re probably going to get very quickly trashed by paint, food and other school related detrius.
There is no way I should be spending £500 on them!!
4. The moral debate
We know the issues behind fast fashion. So I’m not contributing to that if I don’t stop, right?
I’m not contributing to low wages, poor conditions, children out of school, terrible environmental disaster and potential slavery if I don’t shop, riiiight?
And this means my money isn’t going towards poor causes, riiiiiiiight?
If I purport to be in favour of specific causes yet refuse to put my money in that direction, I can’t really claim to have taken the high road.
The less preferable things will still be happening and I will be doing nothing to support those brands/lines/companies that are working against that.
5. Things aren’t really my style
I like to call my style ‘sporty romantic’, with an eye for timeless, flattering fit but ready to move into action (a la the Tenth and Eleventh doctors. I’m thinking Amelie and her bike; Clueless Cher if she’d been into sports and had ever worn a ponytail; Converse and lace!)
“Eh,” my friens says, screwing up her nose, “more like….rainbow-vomit, sack-loving granny.” Rude… but also not untrue some days.
Whichever side of the debate you fall into, it’s pretty clear that the fashion seasons do not appeal to either aesthetic year after year. Though this year the 90s have come back in a fierce way and I’m drooling over all the yellow check/tartan patterns that have come into play.
In my head, I have a rolling gallery of ‘pieces’ I want/need for various reasons. How likely is it that I’m going to find exactly the thing I’ve dreamed up in the mainstream shops? In my size? And an appropriate colour (not black)? Rarely happens.
The internet can only fill this void up to a certain point (but it does make it farrr easier).
But just a quick look showed me that, actually, if I looked hard enough, I would find at least one thing that could satisfy my can’t-be-nakey-on–the-streets needs.
I just wasn’t looking.
My refusal to spend money on clothing – an area often poo-pooed by various sectors of the PF blogosphere, so I felt super validated – was becoming a habit.
And not a good one.
(It came to a head when a favourite dungaree dress split so far up the middle it looked like like trousers and I still considered wearing it out the house as all my other clothing options were in a similar or worse state of disarray that I thought Okay, yes, maybe I should actually buy some more clothes now, rag-chic is not a thing.
My mending pile feels bigger than my clean clothes pile.
Some of the clothes in three are there for what feels like the umpteenth time, just living in a state of constant needing-mending-ness.)
I wasn’t spending, yes, but I wasn’t doing it for a mindful reason. More for a fearful reason – that one purchase would lead to a landslide of filling up on fast fashion, drowning in debt and smothered by my own materialism.
Clearly, I had gone too far the other way as a pre-emptive action and that needed correcting.
So, I actually went shopping. For the first proper time since 2009.
(I planned to when I started writing this post in July but finishing this took so dang long, I’m pretty sure I’m finished now…that it’s
October March, yikes!).
Image Credit: Godisable Jacob @ Pexels.com