What you wear and how it is worn speak to who you are and what you are all about without ever having said a word. This silent and instantaneous communication is perhaps more valuable than we realize. Upon a more careful inspection, we can gather intel into one’s life, their culture, religion, wealth, self-care, what they value, and self-confidence. The essence of what they are or the percentage of things and experiences that make them-them. By just a simple glance, I can make up their life history with the info I’ve been given ( whether I’m right or not is a different story). This is why people watching is so fascinating, and why the fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar industry.
With the rise of fast-fashion and prices of clothing reaching an all-time low, clothing is purchased, worn once or twice(if it holds up in the wash), and thrown out. While these clothes are on trend, they say nothing of who we are and are cause for little inspiration. They are easily lost among the sea of here-today-and-gone-tomorrow fashion. For my generation, fast fashion has become the norm and quality a thing of the past. Yet when clothing can say so much about you, is fast-fashion what we want to convey? I worry that the generations that precede me will miss this.
I worry that if fast fashions continue to rise we will completely forget to appreciate quality and craftsmanship in clothing. When we value cheap over the importance of safety for those making the items, we are doing a great disservice to ourselves and everyone else. How can you completely enjoy something that has caused others suffering? You cannot!
Which leads me to say that fashion is so much more than just pieces of clothing. It is about how silk feels on your bare skin, or how a specific fabric makes you want to dance. It is when a dress has pockets, and the color yellow makes your heart sing. It makes you feel amazing and that you can conquer the world. Fashion allows us to feel the fabulous fabrics, and smell the coat that reminds us of our loved ones, to see our favorite colors dance about on fabric, and to know, at the end of the day, life was just a little bit more enjoyable. It allows us to honor our ancestors by wearing pieces that reflect who they were and the struggles that they went through. Fashion has the ability to take us back to a specific memory much like a smell would. We are transported back in time to our favorite moments and experiences — our own little secret!
Have you ever worn an excellent quality article of clothing? How did it make you feel? If you’re like me, you probably didn’t want to take it off. It feels amazing and you value it because it brings joy and is beautiful. What if it was owned by your grandmother or grandfather and passed on to you? You would think of them every time you put it on. You would treasure it, and a piece like that would never be casually thrown on your bedroom floor. If someone asked where you got it, what a wonderful story you would have compared to the standard “I got it at H&M” answer.
Now, maybe you’re like me and your family never passed you special clothing items. What’s a girl (or boy) to do?
Raid your closet. What are the pieces you are drawn to ( colors, textures, prints, styles, etc)? Get to know what you like and dislike. I would highly encourage going through your closet and giving away anything you haven’t worn in six months, things that don’t fit, items that were purchased but you hate, and make way for things that you are going to love wearing! Often times our closets hold treasures that are hidden by the pieces we hate. With the extra room in your closet, you’ll have an easier time finding outfits to wear and things that inspire you. In the future, think quality over quantity. Maybe you’ll score a well made and beautiful dress(may it have pockets!) at a vintage or second-hand shop. You have a story and a dress that will last. A piece with a past to be handed down to a beloved daughter, niece, or granddaughter. Think of the rich history that dress will have!
Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also be helping humanity by choosing not to purchase from brands that knowingly gain off the backs those who are suffering. (think sweatshops, low working wages, child labor, etc) You will have clothing that brings you, and those who see it, joy. The things you wear will be inspired by your past, your favorite places, the things you love most in your life, and, who knows, maybe even by your favorite foods! What an excellent conversational starter that would be!
Explore! Branch out and check your local second-hand and vintage stores. Learn about fabrics and color. Learn to sew and create one-of-a-kind pieces to pass on to future generations. Create the story you wish to tell, and let fashion be a walking memory, a strike of lightning, a flash of intuition, and a surge of clarity for yourself and everyone around you.
May you always have a good story to tell!