Say 'Yes' to Outfit Repeating!

Kate discusses how we are being socialised to buy more clothes by the fast fashion industry. The moral: Buy less, wear more!

Kate Benson
15th February 2022
Image: Instagram @ethical_consumer_magazine
The stigma around re-wearing outfits is ever present; I still feel it, despite having worked to break it down in my head. My instant thought is that people are going judge me for wearing the same clothes as the week before. Then I have to check myself and realise why I am thinking that, and also that if people do judge me – it's their problem, not mine.

This is how the fast fashion industry wants us to feel. If it isn't socially acceptable to re-wear clothes, we are forced to buy more! They make us think it's embarrassing to "outfit repeat", so we keep spending, and keep making the corporations richer and richer. This is exemplified by the speed at which clothes get refreshed on fast fashion websites. There are new items every day, and every day they are telling us we need more and more.

Why is it we feel such a gratification from buying new clothes? The industry makes us feel like our worth and happiness is dependent on material goods. But really, we are never going to be happy if we have to constantly rely on the next trend or next package arriving in the post. Women especially have been socialised to do this. This is exacerbated by the fact that beauty standards are ever changing, constantly making women feel bad about themselves and keep them oppressed.

@WearyLuoWoman on Twitter: 'I don't know who needs to hear this but you don't have to give up your skinny jeans if you don't want to. What's in and what's out is all a ploy to keep us all buying things until the planet is dead.'

This is without the fact that fast fashion is so harmful to workers and the environment. Workers are exploited in the fast fashion industry, with poor working conditions even poorer pay. Plus, the majority of the clothes end up in the landfill. Let’s be clear – this is the fault of the corporations; they are greedy and powerful and are tricking us into feeling like we must keep buying. Don't listen to their greenwashing campaigns, they are not doing anything.

@AjaBarber on Twitter: ''"#IQuitFastFashionBecause the people in Accra, Ghana shouldn't have to live with a rotting trash mountain of fast fashion cast offs from the Global North and wealthier nations.'

Image: Instagram @itsslowmo

However, we must take accountability ourselves and realise that we don’t have to keep buying so much fast fashion. Although shopping cheaply is necessary for many, we can still buy less pieces to wear multiple times. Aja Barber discusses this at length in her book: Consumed. The need for collective change: Colonialism, climate change and consumerism. It is a topic that is interlinked with the history of colonialism and our current economy.  

@JasonHickel on Twitter: "If your economy requires people to produce and consume things they don't need or even want, and to do more of it each year than the year before, just in order to keep the whole edifice from collapsing, then you need a different economy."

This isn’t to say we can’t still enjoy fashion; they are so many ways to enjoy it in a way which doesn’t play into this throwaway mentality. There are ways to re-wear outfits, to change them up, make them more exciting. Shopping at charity shops, doing clothes swaps and so many more. Let’s stop worrying about repeating outfits and find new ways to enjoy our clothes.

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