Look, anyone who has read this blog for more than a week must realise that I do not understand sex appeal as part of the fashion equation. My favourite skirt right now is about two inches above my ankle and is an intense tartan, heavy silk situation with maximum volume. My new favourite jacket is peach dupion silk, with massive balloon sleeves and a train (it sounds mad, and it is). I like volume and proportions and mixing things. When I put on this outfit at home, Mum asked me (kindly, not critically) why I thought it was a good outfit. I truly don't know. It just feels unexpected to me and that’s a feeling that I really enjoy.
I know this look is very Fashun, in a fairly obnoxious way. I know most of you will absolutely not consider wearing this to your work Christmas party – tbh, me neither, it will be way too hot on the dance floor. BUT I absolutely do think you should consider two important things about this outfit when you are planning your own party look:
1. There are limited parties in the average adult human’s life. FFS, take the opportunity to dress up and wear something at least a little bit thrilling. Please do not wear something you wore to the last parent-teacher interview. You do not need to spend a packet – in fact, you don’t need to spend anything, call in some favours and borrow something, or wear something you’ve been “saving”. This is your time to shine! Possibly literally!
2. Wear something that’s true to you. I am never going to be tits out for a party (not just because *what tits*). I’m much more likely to be comfortable in a shirt with a Little Lord Fauntleroy vibe than a bodycon dress. HOWEVER – you may vibe with a bodycon dress. In my last dressing up post I said we don’t want to see our workmates in skintight sequins – to be fair, that’s me projecting my own preferences. If you feel totally badass in a bodycon sequin dress then you should definitely wear that. Please high-five me should you see me drunkenly singing along to hits of the 70s while looking like I got lost in a costume shop.
But that’s not the only reason why I styled this look for you, readers – it’s because I wanted to demonstrate the kind of situation where I think chain store options can actually be a real winner. We all know that I think fast fashion will ultimately destroy our society through a terrible combination of unsustainability and consumerism. However, I do recognise that we don’t all have the time to op shop obsessively, and we don’t all have the money to buy new from sustainable brands. It’s just about finding a way to make fast fashion less fast, and this is how I think it’s done. (And yes, this assumes you are not buying things for basic decency, but out of want as much as need, as that’s where fast fashion gets really messy).
Buy one thing at a time
I know you want to buy that other thing as well, but do not. Force yourself to buy a maximum of one thing. This will create an environment of prioritisation, really narrowing down your decisions and making you identify the thing you value the most from your pile of cheap clothing. This is especially powerful during a sale situation where your silly brain will tell you that you must buy the questionable polyester dress that has been marked down by 60%. Girl, don’t do it.
Turn things inside out
Really examine the thing you are going to buy. Not everything in fast fashion is poorly constructed (just as not every spendy piece of fashion, or item of vintage, is good quality). With this skirt I not only turned it inside out, I checked every single piece of sparkly nonsense to make sure it was well-anchored. I checked under the place they were hanging to see how many beads had fallen off (none!). I sat down in it in the fitting room and scooched about to see if they would snag and get ripped off. Only then did I consider buying it.
Commit to wearing it at least 30 times
With second hand things, where the price is right and the destruction of resources is capped, I will sometimes buy things that I bloody well know I will not wear more than four or five times. These are novelty items, and they’re basically catch and release (on some occasions, I think they are novelty items and then it turns out they are incredibly wearable). However, if I buy a skirt from a chain store, I will commit to wear that effing thing to death. This is why steps one and two are critical: too much chain store shite and you will be overwhelmed by mediocrity; too much shite quality and it won’t last the 30 wears. You must be realistic about how long it will take you to wear something 30 times, even in a normal-sized wardrobe. You are probs not chucking this in the donate pile in 3 months so I hope you really like it.
(You may be wondering how I will wear a beaded skirt 30 times. The answer is obvious. This is not a fancy skirt to me. I’m psyched to wear it in winter with ankle boots and a turtleneck, on a Tuesday, to the office).
Now you own it, you are in fact its bitch
I am a real stick in the mud about this – please, for the love of god, look after your clothes. If you’ve bought something well made, regardless of cost, this should be relatively easy. Just clean it with care and mend it if required, forever. The internet is full of information of how to look after various bits and pieces (like swimwear – never in the washing machine) and once you’re in the rhythm, it’s pretty straightforward. Not only will this make your clothes last longer, it will also mean they look better on you for longer. There is no downside here.
I think if you’re in that mindset, fast fashion becomes an occasional addition to your wardrobe that goes the distance. This mitigates your contribution to the excessive production (by reducing your consumption rate) and the excessive throwing away (via your commitment to care and ownership). But what do you think? Is there really any right way to buy fast fashion?
Skirt from H&M (here’s the sustainability strategy page, which is an interesting read. Hover over “Sustainability” in the main banner menu for more pages to explore). Shirt is secondhand, shoes are from Wittner years ago. Earrings are a lovely gift from The Village Goldsmith, and are from the Whim collection. Oooh, they are having a competition to win a piece of the Whim collection for you and one for a friend!