When I first became a professional dancer and started making my own money, I definitely saved some money, but I shopped even more. Lord knows I wish I knew then what I know now. I had a lot of clothes, yet never really felt all that great about my style. So I would go shopping again buying what I will call “fast fashion” or disposable clothing. This fashion was topped with inexpensive costume jewelry with metals that would quickly fade or beading that would break easily. So I would go out again and buy more.
This was an obvious cycle of unsatisfaction. Here is my hard earned money being spent on items that were temporarily cute, cheaply made, most likely created with sweatshop labor, and then later donated or trashed because of its seriously short shelf life. For the amount of money I was actually spending on lots of inexpensive fast fashion that I only enjoyed wearing a few times, I could have bought a few incredible pieces that would become items I would love for years. The problem was that I did not have the eye for understanding quality at the time, and I shopped the cute trends instead.
Fast Fashion Does Not Last
I purchase 90% of my clothing from thrift and consignment shops. The other 10% usually includes shoes if I can’t find vintage narrow shoes that fit, organic cotton undergarments, pieces I design myself, and sometimes jewelry. When you shop consignment the clothing has already been washed and worn, and if it still looks good, it will most likely continue to do so if cared for properly.
Fast fashion has a short shelf life. The clothing is usually poorly made and designed, and honestly doesn’t look that good after a few washes. Sometimes the fabrics shrinks, fades, or beads up on itself. I used to joke that you could literally blow on fast fashion and it would fall apart.
Fast Fashion Uses Poor Quality Fabric
I will admit that I recently made a few bad choices (the two items pictured above) with my past capsule wardrobe. I am very clear now how important purchasing pieces made with quality fabric is. It is not the designer label that we need to pay the most attention to when shopping, but the fabric and care label instead.
The blue and white print cardigan I bought in a consignment shop was made with 100% acrylic. I have no idea what I was thinking! Within a few washes the fabric began beading up. I had not looked at the fabric label, and this piece must not have been worn much by the previous owner. The green jumpsuit was another synthetic fabric blend.
Synthetic fabrics are created with a lot of chemicals which are toxic to the environment and also not good options for our skin. I have always been mindful to avoid chemicals in my food and cosmetics. I’m finally aware of the importance of high quality natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, wool, hemp, silk, and leather. You can read why I choose leather over vegan leather here. Natural fabrics are biodegradable which is a HUGE ecofriendly plus! Synthetics just add to the trash.
Fast Fashion Is Far From Planet Friendly
The most ecofriendly way to shop is secondhand. By shopping second hand you are preventing clothing from entering our already full landfills. Trash is what is really causing the most havoc on our planet. Poor quality clothing leaves your closet much sooner than a well invested piece or a quality consignment find.
Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing into landfills each year. Did that number strike a cord? I hope so! We seem to really believe that when we throw things away that it magically dissolves into the nothingness like in fairytales. Sadly this isn’t so, and we are contributing to the environmental problem sometimes without the information to make better choices.
Please do not throw away clothing. Some Goodwills will recycle fabric scraps if you label the bag of clothing as that. Please inquire with your local Goodwill or local thrift shop.
Fast Fashion Does Not Create Style
True style has absolutely nothing to do with trends. Style is creativity with how you choose to wear something and the energy that exudes from that. Two people can wear the exact same thing and look completely different regardless of the quality of the clothing.
Find your own essence, stop trying to emulate someone else, avoid disposable fashion, nor listen to what fashion media prescribes as the seasonal style remedy. Happiness and personal style comes from within. Media’s main goal is to keep you unsatisfied with who you are and what you have anyway!
The most stylish people actually set the trends. They don’t follow them. Shopping consignment was the beginning of me getting closer and closer to my own personal style.
Fast Fashion Isn’t Humane
The main reason I shop consignment is because I don’t want to support sweatshop labor. We vote with our dollars. So even if you aren’t political, every purchase that you make every day will dictate political action whether you are conscious of it or not.
I didn’t really understand what a sweatshop was until I watched videos on YouTube of people sharing their stories about working in them. I personally believe that there are so many sweatshops because of the need to keep up with the many consumers who unconsciously support them. You can read more on sweatshops here.
Creating capsule wardrobes helped me to choose the pieces that I included with more detail and diligence. Obviously I am still learning as I could have avoided my recent fashion mistakes. I’ve actually decided to focus on one tiny wardrobe versus two yearly seasonal capsule wardrobes from now on. I desire to set the bar even higher by purchasing only quality secondhand items and simply waiting until I find the perfect piece instead of rushing the process. After my recent decluttering session in my closet, I don’t plan on picking up another piece of fast fashion in secondhand disguise again.
If you’d like tips on shopping secondhand go here and for capsule wardrobe tips go here. Otherwise invest in high quality and forget quantity all together!
(Image by Dawn Michelle)