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  • When Fast Fashion Brings You Down

    February 18, 2014 | 15 Comments »

    Smile by Kayte Terry / thisisloveforever.com

    This is not a post about knocking fashion. I love fashion as a concept. From Day One, I’ve loved a good outfit. But sometimes it all just gets to be too much. Case in point: after work today, I found myself fantasizing about clothes and, like a gravitational pull, I walked myself into a chain store known for churning out the trends at breakneck speed and low low prices. I liked what I saw at first. And then, there I was, moments later, in the unflattering light of the fitting room trying on synthetic, horribly sewn crap to the droning beat of god-awful dance music and it all became too much. I put everything back on the hanger and walked out so quickly I almost felt like I was doing something wrong. No one noticed of course, because if there’s one thing cheap and trendy stores don’t carry, it’s customer service. On my walked home I got to thinking…
    About fashion and my tricky relationship with it. Getting dressed up has always been a blast to me, especially when I was younger and it didn’t matter when my clothes were hot glued together. As I get older, fashion seems less fun and more desperate. I find myself caring less about what I look like from moment to moment, until I catch myself in the mirror looking like some wild-haired be-spectacled matron and I think, “good lord. That couldn’t be right.” The media prays on women like me, women who want to stay young and fabulous forever. And that can’t be what fashion is about right? Shouldn’t it really be an art form of sorts, dressing your body the way you would a canvas?
    Sometimes I want to toss everything in my closet out and just wear a uniform, some sort of amazing linen smock dress made in Paris that I own in three colors and that’s it. Maybe I could focus on more if my closet were smaller.
    One of the things I want to think about the most in 2014 is slowing down. Fast fashion, fast food, fast walking, it’s just no good. I’ve learned that doing things quickly is far more easy than doing things with slow precision, with great intent and mindfulness. I often rush through life so quickly that, in a blink, I’ve missed everything, the good and the bad. It’s only in the slowness that we can see the little things, the bits that could have slipped through the cracks. Even in the things that hurt, the things I want to brush over, there’s so much to learn when you’re not in a rush.
    So what does this mean about my stubbornly overflowing closet? I’m getting there. I’m chipping away at what gets me shopping and what might get me to slow down.

    What do you think? Are you immune to fast fashion or does it also suck you into its’ vortex?

    Credits: photo of Nimue Smit and Kasia Struss at Valentino S/S 2012, words by Thich Nhat Hanh,  design by Kayte Terry (all unlikely bedfellows)

    15 Responses to “When Fast Fashion Brings You Down”

    1. kari says:

      I’ve been trying to find my perfect uniform forever, but instead I find myself wearing the same clothes until they are shabby and threadbare, and buying 3 or 5 of the same thing to backfill my closet all at once in a big binge. I will go without shopping for a year or two and then spend hundreds of dollars in 2 months and having to ruthlessly weed my closet of rags.

      I guess essentially I AM wearing a uniform, but it’s not on purpose, and instead of feeling capable and put together I feel dowdy and clothing insecure (like, it’s going to fall apart, not like I’m insecure in what I’m wearing) and out of fashion all the time.

      it’s easier to focus on eyeliner, honestly.

    2. Betsy says:

      A lovely post! It reminded me of what Felix Ford is doing with her Slow Wardrobe http://thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress/?p=3449. I have as much fast fashion tat (It DOES suck me into the vortex!) as most people, but have been concentrating on keeping what I have in good condition and am learning how to darn in order to keep it from falling apart.

      • this is loveforever says:

        Betsy, yes, I definitely do that too. Working in fashion makes the vortex really hard to escape. Maybe we should form an alliance!

    3. Katie says:

      I haven’t been a big womenswear fashion hound since I was was young and skinny, but I do follow childrenswear and I obviously need to clothe my three kids. My main thing right now has nothing to do with fast or slow and everything to do with ethics. I try to avoid shopping at stores with bad track records, and I likewise try to buy from smaller organizations and ones who are working towards from-source sustainability and ethical practices, which is much, much easier said than done.

    4. fawn says:

      Thanks for this post. Something that’s really saddened me lately is the low cotton content of “denim”. Dwelling on this single aspect of fast fashion has lead me to start investing in more basic, quality, and often U.S.-made articles of clothing. Buying from the sort of place you mentioned contributes to the vicious cycle of crappy clothes made in sweatshops that come with a heavy carbon footprint. Our purchasing decisions are like casting a vote for the kind of world in which we want to live.

      • this is loveforever says:

        Fawn- Where do you shop? I agree that buying is a very political action. I have found that even expensive options that fit me a bit better, like jcrew, aren’t a great decision politically and I would love to find something that casts my vote, so to speak, for the most ethical option. Thanks!

    5. Claire says:

      I’m drawn to the bright lights and gaudy colours of the cheap and cheerful, but I dint often indulge. I m fact today I walked in and the straight out of a high street fashion outlet.
      I have made the decision that I’d rather make myself something that fits, will last and reflects my personality, rather than just becoming a cardboard copy of everyone else. If i do buy it’s usually from a charity shop and only very occasionally do I shop high street, if I do I try to avoid the cheap and rather tacky end of the market.

      • this is loveforever says:

        I love that you also use the words “cheap and cheerful” Claire! Do you work in fashion? I’m in that very awkward stage in between the high street and high end. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford serious designer so I’ll always be stuck!

    6. Maggie says:

      I kind of can’t stand the really cheapy stores anymore, both from a quality and moral perspective. I try to spend more on particular items and buy less, but like Kari, lately I find myself just sort of paralyzed about it all and wearing the same things week in and week out until they get threadbare and I feel like an old frump. As much as I love looking at pictures of clothes and fashion, I also HATE shopping and with limited time and budget and now a sense of guilt about where things are made, I just don’t even want to deal. I miss feeling stylish though! Even a lot of the thrift stores around here are inundated with stuff from H&M, Target, Forever21 etc, which is disappointing.

      • this is loveforever says:

        Thrift stores here are inundated with cheapy clothes too. I hate it!!! True vintage really comes at a serious price now. I kind of love the idea of shopping but I hate all chain stores and I hate malls even more. The only kind of shopping I enjoy is aimless boutique shopping but that’s so expensive and very hit or miss. I wish I were paralyzed a bit more! It would save me some money!

    7. Cathy Norris says:

      I just turned 57. Back in my 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s I cared alot about fashion and loved to shop. As my body started to change with age I found that it was becoming more difficult to buy “off the rack” and to your point I also found the cheap fabric and construction of clothing disappointing. I’ve been sewing since my early 20’s so construction is important to me. I also find that frankly there are other things more important. I now live in the woods on the Northern California coast where clean flannel and a brush through one’s hair is considered well groomed :-) More of my time is taken up with learning to play the guitar, painting, drawing and finding ways to do a bit of volunteer work while still working full time. I think it is just an evolution that one goes through as we make our way through this exciting and ever changing life journey.

      • this is loveforever says:

        Cathy, I think I am on the brink of this. I love the idea of spending my life in paint covered jeans. But yeah, not quite there.I still need to dress up for work. I love your comment and I love how you spend your time!

    8. Julia prohaska says:

      Oh I too easily get sucked in. I just try to stay away from retail outlets. Also encouraged to sew, create my own style & enjoy slow design after attending a workshop with Natalie Chanin http://www.alabamachanin.com

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