I have a love/hate relationship with shopping, which is a bit odd when you work in the fashion industry. Advertising, marketing, and even the latest fashion trends manipulate the desire we have to grow and expand and be the best versions of ourselves. I’ve discussed the importance of spring cleaning your wardrobe each year, but how does that translate into cultivating your wardrobe throughout the year and taking intentional shopping trips?
I grew up with shopping as a hobby. When I did well in school, I was rewarded with a trip to the store and new item to bring home. I loved each new item of clothing, even though half the time I never even took the tags off.
Now more than ever, especially with certain apps
on our that have been banned from my phone, it’s easy to find clothes we love at an insanely low price point. It’s so easy to purchase, and what’s $5, $10, or even $20 when you get a boost from your nucleus ambens (aka the pleasure center of your brain) for scoring a bargain?
If you’re used to shopping in fast fashion, you are going to have sticker shock when you look at well made items. That area of your brain isn’t lighting up as much, and really – can you even afford it?
Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, says “The problem is we’re shopping a lot and throwing away little bits of money every time we go to a store. When you’re confronted with a $200 wool dress you really want, you feel like you can’t get it because you’ve already spent money on all these other things you don’t even like anymore.”
And that’s a huge problem.
Yes, there’s the problem with unsafe labor conditions, horrible pay in overseas factories, the holes that seem to instantly appear after one or two wearings, and the piles and piles of unused clothing in landfills that don’t break down very well because they’re made from polyester.
But on a personal level, do you even like your wardrobe? Do you like even half of it? Does it fit you well? Are you like I was – do you even take off the tags before discarding it? A study from a few years ago shows that American women have an average of $550 of unworn clothing, so I have a feeling I’m not alone.
A few years ago when I was living in NYC and becoming more and more interested in slow fashion, a movement that encourages minimalism and sustainability, I decided to go on a shopping fast. If I wanted something I would make it. The next two years, I sewed dresses, coats, skirts, and I also began knitting sweaters.
Knitting and sewing your entire wardrobe is an incredible lesson in learning what you like and what’s worth it. We may get short term pleasure from buying a lot of really cheap items, but there’s long term pleasure in knowing what you want and then creating it.
I no longer sew my entire wardrobe, and I definitely love sales as much as the next person. But shopping is now an intention. It’s an investment in the sense that I’m buying something that will not only last, but it will provide comfort, happiness, confidence, and match my wardrobe and my style. Everything I bring into my home has a place and matches my lifestyle – or at least the lifestyle I’m creating.
When I create new pieces for my shop, all of my desires for a pleasurable life go into my designs. It’s not just that my pieces are hand knit, but that they’re crafted for an intentional life of joy.