The Fashion Hokey-Cokey

Why is it that we get bored of our clothes so quickly? It seems that I see something, love it, buy it and wear it once… then it is done.

These questions need more than shallow ‘we like new things’ answer and brings up quite a heavy discussion to do with our consumerist culture. This fast-fashion culture is not just about the clothes we wear. Our sensibilities have been built to need more and more excitement in our lives, and staying static is now seen as virtually the same as going backwards, neither of which fit with the idea that we must always progress.

Is this just a Western thing? As societies are increasingly ‘globalising’ and taking on the values of other cultures, we are turning the world into a money-driven machine. And the most scary part? Countries like India and China are only just becoming ‘industrialised’; this wastefulness will only get worse.

But how can I judge them for wanting what we have had for decades? I am just as guilty as the next person of being wasteful – yes, I will buy leggings and t-shirts from Primark to be worn once for a themed night and thrown away the next day. I am just as guilty of buying cheap tights which rip the first time you put them on, so that they pretty much go straight from the packet to the bin. I buy food and let it go off. I use far more than I need to.

Worst of all, I do the fashion hokey-cokey. I follow trends. Not all of them, admittedly, but some I jump on without a thought. The recent fad for pastels, for instance, has made me into a pastel-obsessed mad woman.

At the same time, I like to buy certain key ‘investment’ pieces (another term thought up by people who want to sell clothes) which I will wear over and over. I try my hardest to re-style them in many ways so that I can wear them for longer, but there are only so many different options.

Therefore, I wear things so much that I get bored with them. This is not good. I have two wardrobes full of clothes (one at home and one at university) and yet I still struggle to find things that I want to wear!

This could partly be put down to the fact that each item has memories and feelings attached. My purple cupcake sweater, for example, is so comfy and is used for duvet days. It now feels awkward to wear it out of the house. And certain dresses become ‘work’ dresses and no longer seem appropriate for everyday wear. In this way, I am severely limiting my clothing choices to what I will be doing that day.

The mood that I am in when I am choosing what to wear is also a big influence. ‘Fat day’? I’ll want to hide in something baggy, but not tent-like baggy. Going out? Something ‘skinnifying’ is desperately needed. A lot of this is to do with confidence. But why do some clothes make us more confident than others? Because of the associated events which we have worn them to.

Because we so rarely wear our ‘dressy’ clothes many times, the few times that we do wear them, the memories of the event become attached to the clothing. This is hard to avoid, but one way in which we can counteract it is to bear in mind that how you see yourself and how others see you can be very different. Before writing off a ‘bad’ outfit, get some opinions, give it time, and try wearing it more than once!

words and pictures Bryony Symes


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