The worst thing about deciding not to buy more clothes, all flushed from the Christmas rush of getting on those sales early, is that you think it will be easier to resist the sales when you’re staring down January, and the sales really kick off. One of the worst things for me is that I consider myself to be a canny sales-buyer, so the more my notifications and inbox chirp about knock-down sales, the more my online baskets fill up, conscience over-ruled by the thought of an extra 10% off on top of the sales price.
I don’t pull the trigger, though. I do manage to remember, before committing non-existent funds, that I don’t actually need this stuff, and that “It’s cheap, and it might come in useful” no longer qualifies as criteria. If my aim this year is to wear my wardrobe, there’s no point in sabotaging it by making sure I have more than I can wear, especially as I’m quite sure there are a few pieces I won’t actually wear as it is, and they genuinely are my “might come in useful” clothes.
I think for me, one of the most difficult things is overcoming a deceptive feeling of frugality – and this applies to buying less and better, as much as it does to the sales. Surrounded by an abundance of clothing, it’s too easy to believe that we shouldn’t be paying through the nose for clothes, and this is also accentuated by the hype and mark-up on luxury clothes. In most cases, cheap, mass-produced clothes are not going to be well-cut, beautifully finished, and made of lovely fabric. But in what is known as the middle market, there can be very little difference between the quality of those clothes and the big brands. This is where “buying the best you can afford” and “investing” become somewhat hazy (and interesting). If you are buying haute couture, then you know you are paying for craftsmanship and expertise. If you are buying luxury-label ready to wear, then how much of that price is designed to ensure a healthy profit to the shareholders, and how much is covering generous salaries for executives, and advertising? More power to those who successfully manage to make us spend money on things we don’t need, but I don’t really want to think about my work funding someone else’s bigger pay check. What it comes down to is that I am aware that I will, as a rule, spend more money than I really should on clothes. That being the case, I would rather my money went straight to the people designing and making my clothes, and if I don’t always stick to my own rules, then I want to see what I’m paying for.
I do understand the reasoning leading to paying less for ostensibly the same item – we are conditioned to believe that we shouldn’t be wasting money when we could be saving it, so we make a virtue out of spending less. Five years ago, this was probably still a viable conviction, in that we knew less about the impact of fast fashion on the planet, and less about the human rights issues related to fast fashion; everyone was so happy to have access to vast choice and low prices, that no one thought to wonder how factories could keep churning out the volume, and how something involving human beings sitting at machines, could cost less than a meal.
I understand it because although I won’t buy fast fashion as a rule, I congratulate myself on not paying huge prices, but I still want beautiful clothes, with impeccable workmanship, in premium materials (preferably planet-friendly). And I will allow myself to fall off the wagon occasionally, because apparently my greed for clothes can still overcome my moral convictions, if I can come up with a good enough excuse.