Friday, 31 March 2017

Why I Won't be Buying Clothes for the Next 3 Months

A few weeks ago, I had an absolute charity shop score. On an impromptu trip to my local Oxfam, I bagged a pair of vintage 501s, a jumper dress that's perfect for layering over said jeans, a leopard print cardigan (something I'd recently been searching for on Depop anyway) and a long length pinstriped blazer jacket with a super cool asymmetrical button fastening. And I paid less than £35 for the whole lot.

I'd got myself some stellar garms, it was all second hand and I'd saved a fortune. Then, last weekend, I found another second hand gem. A strapless, wide leg, gingham jumpsuit with a frill trim was calling to me from the rail of a vintage shop, so I snapped it up for £18. Another triumph for second hand shopping and sustainability. Right? Well, sort of.

Sustainability isn't just about buying second hand and investing in ethical labels and organic fabrics, it's also about consuming less. And buying five items in the space of just a few weeks is definitely not consuming less.

With guilt quickly replacing my second hand bargain high, I announced to my boyfriend that I wouldn't be buying any clothes for the next three months and made a note in my diary on the 25th June page that says, "NO CLOTHES BEFORE THIS DATE!". 




Why three months? The length of time is completely arbitrary; just the first thing that popped into my head. It seems a little paltry compared to Michelle McGagh's self-set challenge of not buying anything at all for a full year but it should at least be a sufficient amount of time to rethink and readjust my shopping habits. Maybe I'll extend it when 25th June rolls around but for now, three months is the goal.

I'm going to be completely honest. I know I will have to buy one thing during that time. Not strictly clothes but worth mentioning if I'm going to hold myself accountable: I need a pair of sandals. My last pair breathed their final breath at the end of summer 2016 and spending early summer stomping around in boots just isn't practical. 

When I realised my need for a new pair of sandals somewhat scuppered my plan, a funny thing happened. It started a chain reaction and I began to think of all the other things I might need. I haven't been on a beach holiday since I was 14 but I panicked that I don't have any swimwear. I had planned to buy a dark indigo denim jacket for spring/summer. What was I going to wear now?! (Answer, any of my other jackets). Maybe I'd need a pair of trousers or a new dress. What if I needed something before the 25th June?

The thing is, I don't need anything. I'm in absolutely no peril of being forced to leave the house naked having found myself bereft of any clothes to cover myself with. I have skirts, dresses, trousers, shirts, tops, jackets and coats. I have a plurality of each category of clothing but the consumer-clogged section of my brain started to itch at the thought of not being satisfied. 

Want and need have become interchangeable and I hope to finally separate them within the next few months. Obviously I know the difference between the two on a literal level but you'd be surprised how often all of us transpose or conflate the two in the name of justifying a purchase. 

I need a winter coat. I need shoes. I need a selection of clothes to cover my body. Do you know what else I've told myself I need? A pair of bright pink boots; a third summer dress; a fourth pair of jeans. None of them would serve an imperative function but I decided I needed them. I needed the pink boots because there would never be a pair as magnificent as them ever again (kind of true but still want not need); I needed the dress because it had long sleeves unlike any of my others and it looked v. Céline; I needed the jeans because I only had a light pair of Levi's so obviously an indigo pair was necessary. 

If I don't break the cycle somewhere, I'm going to continue to 'need' unnecessary things for the rest of my life, adding further to the burden we put on our planet. Earlier this year, I set out to take the time to consider whether I really need to buy something before committing. I've stuck to it, asking myself, 'do I need this?' when I'm tempted to hand over my money and the majority of the time, whatever I've been tempted by has ended up back on the shelf. Somehow, though, this attitude stopped at my wardrobe door.

By enforcing a break in my part self-inflicted, part capitalism-inflicted consumer cycle for the next three months, I hope to mirror the same shift in my mindset that I achieved where accumulating superfluous stuff is concerned. I imagine it will be a little harder seeing as I write about clothes for a living and love fashion with every part of my being but it's an essential exercise if I'm to truly embrace a sustainable mindset.

Here's to the next three months...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

All The Things I Want to Wear Now Because I'm a Conditioned Consumer

In my last post, I mentioned my sudden but deep and burning desire for a pair of red boots. This desire was brought on purely by osmosis. Those with the most connections or the deepest pockets began slipping their perfectly pedicured feet into red boots by the likes of Isabel Marant; street style photographers snapped them in said red boots and the resulting images seeped into my subconscious, manifesting as a desire to own my very own pair. 

Since my infatuation began, fashion month has been and gone, bringing with it an abundance of brand new red boots to lust after, reinforcing the absolutely unfounded notion that they would enhance my life in myriad ways. This is because, ladies and gentlemen, I am a conditioned consumer. My brain was configured within a society that serves much more than the base needs of food and shelter. The mere thought of buying something floods my (and your) brain with dopamine, so no matter how much I abstain from clicking buy in the name of sustainability and having enough money leftover to spend on food, the desire remains.

I avoid as many of the tried and tested consumer triggers as possible; I've unsubscribed to store emails, deleted shopping apps, and stopped going into most high street shops. But I can't cut out fashion entirely. Firstly, because it's my job and secondly, because I don't want to. I love scrolling through show after show during fashion week and I adore browsing street style. I even treat myself to a single page net-a-porter scroll in between articles on work days as a change of scenery (screenery?). I am owning my consumer affliction, so join me, won't you, as I explore the latest objects of my desire. Dopamine incoming...

Midi Skirts/Knee High Boots

This trend descended over fashion month like a beautiful plague. Fluid, often asymmetrical hemlines floated about slouchy knee high boots everywhere from Victoria Beckham and Isabel Marant to Roksanda. The resulting combination has its roots in the 80s but manages to feel ultra fresh; a welcome departure from ankle boots. This is undoubtedly my favourite look to come out of AW17 and I'm mentally reinterpreting every outfit in my wardrobe within this framework. My calves are going into storage - I won't need them for the foreseeable future. 

Isabel Marant, Roksanda, Victoria Beckham. Images: vogue.com



Corsages

Just call me Carrie Bradshaw because I feel like I'm about to get into corsages in a big way. Gucci's been pushing them for a few seasons now, most notably atop a bow worn under a shirt collar. But now Saint Laurent, Adam Selman and Alberta Ferretti have all jumped on board and it's become a bonafide trend. I have just this second raided my styling kit and unearthed a silky flower on an elastic hairband, which I'll be re-purposing as a choker, and a polka dot flower hair clip which I'll be wearing on my lapel and under my collar, Gucci style. If there was some sort of points system at play here, I think I would have just earned at least 5 for resourcefulness.


Saint Laurent, Alberta Ferretti, Gucci. Images: vogue.com



Cargo Trousers

Dads of the world rejoice, cargo trousers are in. Until recently, cargo trousers could quite easily cause me to be a bit sick in my mouth but now I want a pair and I'm laying the blame squarely at J.Crew's feet. If you search 'cargo pants' on Pinterest, you'll find them almost exclusively styled with tan sandals and a white t-shirt or blouse. J.Crew, however, didn't tap into that sartorial snooze fest. No, they had the audacity to create the delicious trio of camo cargo pants, a pinstriped shirt and a velvet blazer (centre image), taking them out of Jennifer Anniston territory and placing them firmly within my fantasy wardrobe. That said, cargo shorts will be going nowhere near my pasty legs. There are just too many connections with style devoid men who 'totally aren't sexist but just truly believe that men are better at driving'. 

All J.Crew. Images: vogue.com



Leggings

I remain steadfastly NOT into leggings as trousers but as a layering device? I'm all in. Dsquared2 planted the seed for leggings as a viable style option with their Resort '16 collection, when they layered plain black leggings under short skirts and oversized shirts. Since then, leggings have continued to creep in as a pervading but fairly under the radar trend, permeating the collections of MSGM, Pringle, Gucci, Céline, Sportmax and plenty of others. The key to their appeal (to me) is keeping the sportswear overtones to a minimum throughout the rest of the outfit. I can see ankle length leggings peeking out beneath long skirts and mid length coats in spring and in summer, I'm thinking below-the-knee length leggings styled under sheer skirts à la MSGM SS17 (right) and teamed with slouchy belted shirts and loafers. 

Sportmax, Markus Lupfer, MSGM. Images: vogue.com


Here ends the non-exhaustive list of the current objects of my desire. Until next time, then, when I'll probably want a pair of Crocs and a corset belt...