I’ve made a rash resolution. Quite loudly, to a number of people, which means there’s no going back. So I might as well put it here too, just to firm up my resolve even further.
Here it is: I will stop buying new clothes.
I’m not a massive shopper by any means, but I probably have a higher wardrobe turnover than the average person. I’m not very good at planning outfits, nor can I visualise what might go well with what, which means I sort of spotaneously buy things because I like them in that moment and then discover that I only liked it because it was a sunny day, or because the shop assistant (young, attractive, cool) was wearing it, or because I was in a feminine, flowery sort of mood (often swiftly followed by an off-duty rock star kind of mood, or the desire too look a little bit outdoorsy or bookish or athletic). Or because it was on sale. I’m a sucker for a sale item. Those spend and save offers apparently erase my common sense.
So I have a very messy, mismatched wardrobe. And a portion of it is made from what is essentially plastic. I’m ashamed of that. I’m ashamed of not being a zero waste person, because it seems like a full time job to do that. So, I figured that this is a sustainable measure I can reasonably acheive, an exercise in being more conscious and measured about my consumer habits, a fine and eco-friendly role model for my children and a way to save money AND (she cries with zeal) I might become some sort of upcycling/vintage style guru.
That last one was one of those late night thoughts you have whilst browsing Pinterest where all the people wearing vintage look whimsical and gorgeous. It seemed slightly far-fetched when the next morning I passed an op-shop after school drop-off and saw that the window theme appeared to be ‘Mrs Brown Takes a Trip’.
But the sustainable thing seems like a very good reason to stay committed. According to a recent study, the footwear and apparel industry accounts for 8 percent of the world’s energy consumption. And what’s horrifying is that 300,000 tonnes of sartorial purchases go into landfill each year. Apparently it’s ‘not cool’ to be seen wearing the same outfit twice, particularly when social media is involved, but it’s okay (according to a recent study) for a quarter of Australian millennials to bin their clothes (and not recycle them) after just one year. Evidently (I’ll admit to this), we have a tendency to make that impulsive ‘I-need-a-new-dress-for-work-drinks’ purchase. Those ones are never wise.
So, now that I’ve locked myself into this mission, here’s what I propose: Firstly, I’ll keep the clothes I have and make the best of them. This is not going to be easy. I’m that person who flusters about getting dressed, makes a terrible mess, emerges wearing the Same Old Thing and declare how much I hate my wardrobe. If I spend some time getting it all organised, I might find some forgotten pieces, different combinations and new life. And if I keep everything, in twenty years it’ll be cool again (think those shapeless, high-rise jeans that have come back in). Also I should probably try harder with accessories, for which I’ve always had a love-hate relationship (love them on other people, hate them on me).
Secondly, wherever possible I’ll buy vintage, recycled or upcycled clothing. And if it’s just not possible (undies), I’ll make sustainable choices. There are knickers manufactured sustainably these days, for very reasonable prices. No excuses. (I promise they’re not made from recycled knickers.)
Thirdly, I will do a sewing course and have a go at upcycling or making clothes myself (okay I realise this is ambitious but I’m having my first class this Saturday and I’m making a cushion so shut up. I realise I can’t wear a cushion but it’s a start).
And finally, I’ll need to stop worrying so much about how I look. Confidence is the best accessory ever. Plus it’s free, carbon neutral and (unless hormones are in flux) sustainable. With confidence (boosted by a healthy dose of environmentally-aware smugness), it doesn’t matter what your clothes look like.
UPDATE: Hmm. this afternoon I popped into a vintage clothing shop and I’m not so sure any amount of confidence will make me look good. This might be trickier than I thought. I tried on four things: three of them were too big and one was so small that I got stuck in it. I mean properly, scarily stuck. It was a dress that went on relatively easily but then I couldn’t get the waist back over my boobs. It was an ordeal. My bosoms (and my nose) escaped unscathed, but only just. I hurried them out of the shop in a sweaty, flustered mess.
Upon reflection, most of the clothes seemed a little too, I don’t know, eccentric for my tastes. For a short momet I thought that a hand-knitted jumper with a hedghog design might be so ugly it’s cool. Coogly. It’s not a thing but I could start it. Perhaps I could be a serious intstagram influencer #meandmycourtshoes #mrsbrownisthenewblack #coogly
An further (extensive) online browse of vintage/retro stores has revealed that I might have to embrace eccentric as my new style. The only things I found that fit my measurements was a Les Mis t-shirt from the eighties, a purple swirly muu-muu and an olive green cord jacket. I suppose I could just whack it all on and see what happens. Except there didn’t seem to be any confidence for sale in the accessories section.
I’m not backing out on my resolution, but it will be a challenge. If you see me wearing something unusual or ridiculous, please don’t comment negatively; I’ll need all the support I can get, and I reckon that shopping for vintage (and wearing it) is something that gets easier. At least I hope so; I really need something for a birthday party this weekend.