Shopping. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s a fact of life. Right?
I used to like shopping. In my early 20s I finally graduated from University and got a job that paid me enough to have some disposable income. And on my lunch breaks or on my way home from work I’d pop into the shops and browse around. Just checking things out, sometimes trying things on. I bought new things regularly, I suppose, but I was in there looking for deals often enough that I was able to snag items that were really cute, on sale, decent quality, natural fibers, etc.
But these days? Shopping is like pulling teeth, I swear. Popping into the shops to look for deals with two little people in tow is just not going to happen. My disposable income has gone to the same place as my ability to stay up partying till 5am. And my ability to just wear what is already in my closet has grown by leaps and bounds. I try not to look too shabby, but honestly, if it’s not torn, stained or ugly and it fits comfortably, I’ll wear it.
Unfortunately, there comes a point when clothes do get torn or stained. Last weekend I decided I’d just pop into the shops with Claire while Bea was at a birthday party. I had to get in and out under an hour, I had my nearly-three year old with me, but I was still pretty optimistic. Surely I’d find a few good pieces to fill out my wardrobe, right?
But I didn’t see anything good out there on the racks. I saw a lot of synthetic junk, poorly made by mistreated sweatshop workers, cut from thin cloth. Some things were already torn or snagged sitting there on their sale hangers. I got one decent long-sleeved t-shirt and went away feeling yucky.
Even though I went shopping specifically because one of my daily-wear shirts grew a hole, did I really need more new clothes? It’s a question worth asking. How much is enough? Even if what I have is less than what most people have, could it still be more than what I really need? In The History of a Cheap Dress, Elizabeth Cline looks at women’s clothing purchases over the past hundred years. She says, “As clothes have become cheaper, our clothing consumption has gone through the roof. In 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. Today, we each buy more than 60 pieces of new clothing on average per year.” Even taking that hole-y shirt out of the equation, I do own more than nine outfits. Maybe I can make do with less.
So, what to do? Where do you get your clothes? How much time and energy do you put into searching out good quality items? Do you save up for quality clothes that will last or buy cheap things more frequently?
I am leaning towards making my own clothes, not because it’s cheaper, but because I would rather spend my time sewing and my money on good quality fabric. I know one thing for sure. I am done with choosing quantity over quality. I would rather have nine good quality, ethically produced outfits than 60 crappy ones.