Having style isn’t about having trendy clothes.
We often confuse style with unbridled spending and a haul of “stuff.” Style is how you portray yourself, build your image and treat the world around you. It’s classic sophistication with a dash of avant-garde. And when I think of sophistication, I think of scrupulous decisions and tight editing. You don’t have to be uptight and proper, but your world shouldn’t be a giant vat of grapes that you simply stomp through. Enjoy the damn grape in its full glory!
I became more aware of the impact I have on the world as I grew older. You might have heard of the fashion bloggers who worked in a sweatshop in reality show “Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion.” You might also be familiar with the documentary “The True Cost.” Some of you might even be taking a stance on ethical fashion. This is one of the more important decisions you can make in regards to style! The investment in a few well-made key pieces not only allows you to be creative with your clothes but eases the burden on the world and begins the conversation for change.
Not shopping in stores like Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Zara and (especially) Forever21 hasn’t impacted me negatively AT ALL. In fact, it allowed me to find brands that are exciting, ethical, eco-friendly and most importantly UNIQUE. This isn’t to say I went out and burned all the clothes I’ve bought in those places before. Many of the pieces are relegated to being worn around the house as they become over-worn and old.
Love for fashion isn’t about a $7 sun dress or a $4 pair of shorts. This isn’t love: it is an addiction to material things. Love for fashion is being able to admire the craftsmanship, material and the process of production. This allows you to mold the item to your life and incorporate it into a life story rather than wringing it through an endless cycle of trashy novels.
I grew up very poor, so I understand the want for (MANY) pretty things for as low of a cost as possible. I got my fix in thrift stores because places like Forever21 were too expensive! More importantly, I preferred thrift stores for the unique variety they offered. Thrifting was my land of opportunity, and I found many gems (a few in the form of a Chanel tag, the plus side of growing up in NYC). We survived on food stamps and resale of any thrift store finds! I was able to learn the value and power of well-crafted/designer clothes. The knowledge of buying low and selling high eventually provided a source of income that boosted us out of poverty level.
Going to a thrift store now is a vastly different experience. If I were still scraping by as a young girl with my family, there is no way we could make a living doing what we did! Hanger after hanger is filled with ‘Divided’ (H&M) or F21. It’s as if the thrift stores themselves are simply offshoots of the bigger fast-fashion brands. Does this mean our closets are all simply filled to the brim with Forever21 and H&M? Maybe. Or maybe we’re just cycling through the cloth at a quicker rate. This rapid pace of buying and throwing out ultimately takes a bigger toll on the wallet than simply buying one or two well-crafted pieces for $300-$400 each and wearing them for years to come!
My mentality around cheap clothes has changed drastically not only as a result of becoming more educated on the topic but because I learned the difference between quality items and their cheaper counterparts. I appreciate fashion designers as artists and as prime cultural contributors. I revere beauty and artistic expression and honestly believe brands should thrive in their endeavors. I don’t believe our fast-fashion culture allows the real artists to be artists, however. The fine balance of business and fashion has tipped in favor of business, and this is solely because of our insatiable desire to simply have “stuff.”
Does this mean that I will never align with brands like Forever21 and H&M? Not necessarily. I will never align with them with their current business model. I remain optimistic that as enough people learn about the impacts of these practices, more companies will be willing to open themselves up to change. Until then, I continue to choose scrupulously what my wardrobe consists of, and invest in pieces that might be more expensive, but that last me through years of wear and make me proud!