TRYING TO FIGHT FAST FASHION ON A BUDGET

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Submitted Date 04/25/2020
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What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is essentially inexpensive garments that are made with cheap and unsustainable materials. Fast fashion retailers (think Forever 21) are constantly introducing new fashion trends due to being able to pump out a ton of products from cheap materials to be available to consumers. Rapid production and low-quality materials is fast fashion, and unfortunately, these materials not only impact the environment, but impact our health, too.

There is a ton of reasons to give up on fast fashion brands. Not only are these products cheap to buy, but they're cheap. They don't last. How long has a shirt you bought from Forever 21 or H&M held shape? In general, polyester clothes don't last that long at all, and polyester is widely used in fast fashion. Not only this, but polyester can cause skin problems and much more. Producing polyester uses a ton of harmful chemicals and carcinogens, it's not the prettiest peak behind the window of how much your clothes can impact you, your health, and the environment, especially when you got some cute blouse for so cheap, but, I think it's necessary.

HOWEVER, for most of my life I've known about fast fashion. For most of it, I hoped to try my best to not support fast fashion brands and clothing, but not all of us are that lucky to be able to only buy quality clothes made without any cheap materials because, well, it's expensive. Trust me, I'd love to be able to buy all my clothes made from 100% cotton or wool that I know will last me forever, but the price is high, and many quality items tend to be dry clean only = more money to spend.

I've been in a dilemma over this for a while. One thing that really impacted me was when I got a new job. I needed more professional clothes and blouses. It surprised me how many blouses are actually made from 100% polyester. After reading more about what exactly polyester was, how it's made, and how it's basically one of the worst fabrics for your skin, I wasn't too keen on buying anything with it. But I was shopping for business clothes at H&M, Forever 21, ZARA, and Topshop. These brands are widely known for being pretty much inexpensive and having literally everything for any style. It's hard when you try to buy products with more organic, quality material when it turns out all you can afford is one skirt, whereas if I shopped at Forever 21 I could probably get a whole new wardrobe of business clothes for fifty-five bucks. In the end, though, those clothes would probably last me a year or less before they give out, start fraying, or shrink. One quality made pencil skirt would last me forever—but I also have a hard time justifying spending 100+ on one.

So I get it, it's hard and it sucks trying to buy what's best for your body and the environment when you're on a budget. My skin is so scary sensitive that I have to look into every ingredient in any makeup or skincare product I buy. I can justify splurging on some quality beauty products because if I don't, my eyelids will get dry and red from some crazy eyeshadow ingredients and my face will be very unhappy. I've never noticed any issues with polyester other than getting pretty hot in the material (since it traps in heat, in a bad way), but I don't like the idea of wearing something all day that is basically toxic, since it is on my skin, and your skin absorbs a lot.

I think the best way to take baby steps towards fighting fast fashion is to start by buying less and buying better. Although it might seem like an exciting deal to fill your cart up with a ton of clothes for less than 100, think about how long those items will last you, and if it's really worth it in the long run. Also, fast fashion is usually 'trendy' so many people do buy these items for less and then throw them out anyway, even way before they are unwearable, because they become 'out of style' in a mere season. I have learned to appreciate the versatility of my black pencil skirt and stay away from the pretty and interested prints on cheap pencil skirts. I can use a quality white blouse in a ton of different outfits, and it's less overwhelming for me to look into my closet and a ton of 'trendy' printed blouses and trying to match them up in an outfit.

I also want to add, if you have been wanting to try to reduce your wardrobe to a minimalist wardrobe, avoiding fast fashion really helps put you in the mindset to have a simpler closet and cast out that stress of trying to find out what to wear. When you invest in a quality piece, you find a ton of ways to use it. In general, you only really need a few staples to have a completed wardrobe with a ton of potential outfits. You can still have fun pieces, but it helps to have the basics to not feel like you have to keep buying things. Although I won't dive too deep into minimalist wardrobes right now, examples are: only needing two pencil skirts: black and a lighter color or louder color, a few solid blouses, black, white, colorful, nude pumps, black pumps, one little black dress, etc.

Emma Watson and Livia Firth also both endorsed something called the 30-wear promise. Here's the deal: when you are about to buy something, ask yourself: will I wear it a minimum of 30 times? It helps a lot, I honestly thought I'd say yes a lot, but I forgot about the formal dresses and the printed items, etc. Even things that are more quality and expensive, sometimes you won't wear them even three times.

The biggest piece of advice I can give, is shop secondhand, which isn't always goodwill! It's Poshmark, It's Thredup, etc. Thredup actually helped me the most. I had sold on there before, but never bought. I decided to browse and found way more than I thought I would. In fact, they even have Theory pencil skirts for 6 dollars or more which usually retail for 225. No doubt, a Theory pencil skirt will last you a lifetime, but I would never spend 225 on a pencil skirt. I was able to buy everything I needed on Thredup and I was super happy with the experience. You really can find quality items for less. It also makes me feel better when I do buy expensive shoes for less and I know they won't kill me at work.

I hope to continue the discussion in later articles and touch on minimalism in wardrobes.

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