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How I Broke Up With Trends, In Seven Easy Steps

by: Lucy Jones | 2 years ago | Features

Andy in the Devil Wears Prada! She just can't decide! Image source.

Breaking up with fashion trends is a lot like breaking up with a human being. It’s messy, painful and embarrassing. It also takes time. When you cut trends out of your life, you lose a lot, but you also find yourself along the way. After a few hard months (or years in my case) you’ll emerge on the other side a renewed sustainable shopper — heart open and conscience clear.

The first step to breaking up with trends is admitting that you have a problem, but the journey from acknowledgement to acceptance is a long one. Today, I would like to impart what little I learnt during the seven stages of my breakup with trends in the hope that I can help others kick the habit. In the name of scientific accuracy: I have lifted these steps from a Psychology Today article called The Seven Stages of Grieving a Breakup. Here goes nothing!

1) Desperate For Answers
How did we end up here? Will be one of the first questions you ask yourself when forced to acknowledge your toxic relationship with trends. You’ll spend hours sifting through your closest pulling out flimsy outrageous item after flimsy outrageous item. A sheer green silk tank top, a floral print fluorescent blue Velcro wrap skirt and fluffy woollen jeans were three things that I had in my collection. After filling three giant bags with what I consider junk — mostly fast fashion — I was left with three tops, five pairs of jeans, one jumper and a couple of dresses in my wardrobe. My habit had been so bad that barely any of these clothes were plain enough to be considered ‘staples’. I wondered how I’d ever piece my sustainable wardrobe together from this mess. At this point in the breakup, my dominant feelings were shame and confusion closely followed by…

2) Denial 
Yep. I couldn’t deal with the magnitude of my task so I pushed it to the side. I got through this stage by borrowing heavily from my sister's and boyfriend’s wardrobes, much to their distain, and pretending that I did not have a problem with trends. Deep down though, I knew that what I was really scared of was figuring out who I was without having fashion trends to hide behind. From a young age, I’d worn trends like a coat of armour. I had thought that, if I looked enough like an emo or a boho (yes I was deeply invested in both of these trends), then I didn’t have to worry as much about who I was behind the eyeliner or the pointless coin belt.

3) Bargaining
At this ugly point, I decided I didn’t need to change. I can make this right, I told myself. It’s totally normal to own three Hawaiian dresses because Hawaiian dresses are such a classic look! I will wear these platform thongs! Shell necklaces are office appropriate! Things were bad. Really bad. 

4) Relapse
That’s when I relapsed. I went to the city and invested in some crappy singlet tops, ordered a pair of $400 rainbow shoes online, and filled my wardrobe out with novelty second-hand purchases. I spent my money in random fevered spurts (they’re called 'shopping sprees' for a reason) so that I didn’t have to think about what I was actually spending. I traded my money for stuff and, after a few months, I cleared everything I didn’t wear out of my wardrobe again and guess what? None of my new purchases made the cut. I was basically throwing my money in the bin and I was creating unnecessary clothing waste at the same time.

5) Anger
I was mad. Mad at my self and mad at the world. Mad at a fast fashion system that tricked me into thinking clothes can (and should) be cheap by hiding their real cost. I could now see this cost — environmental and social — in the bags of falling apart garments I sent to Vinnies every month. Garments that had a negative environmental impact before they’d even reached me and would continue to have a negative environmental impact after they left me. Garments that definitely weren’t “cheap”, despite the price tag.

6) Initial Acceptance
I needed to move on, but I still didn’t really know how to, so I turned to a handy resource known as the World Wide Web. The Internet is the worst place to go for advice during an actual breakup — seriously, never do that — but it’s not a bad place to find advice on breaking up with fast fashion. These Well Made Clothes articles about breaking the fast fashion habit, ditching trends in favour of timeless style, and curating your own personal uniform all helped me to become a more sustainable me.

7) Redirected Hope
Armed with some practical advice, and enough terrifying environmental facts to turn me off fast fashion forever, I embarked on my new relationship with clothes. This started with big picture thinking — What colours do I wear most? What items of clothing can I not live without? How much can I afford to spend on clothing each year? Once I answered these questions, I was able to shop more responsibly and actually save money by investing in clothes that last. When my old habit rears its ugly head, I manage it by leaving ~statement pieces~ (anything that isn’t on my list of essentials) in my online shopping cart for at least a few weeks before deciding if I really need to buy them. I might not be out of the woods just yet, but I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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