i remember people around me talking about giving up shopping or diminishing their spending for significantly over a year now. as a topic of conversation, consumer boycotts and trying to buy less have appeared regularly since my teen years, but for the past year buying less has been trendier than ever. many people talk about taking a full break from shopping for a month, half year or even a full twelve months. i really admire people for their ability to do that.
there are different reasonings behind making the choice of consuming less. ecological reasons are by far the most popular, and ethical considerations drive an increasing number of people to think carefully before buying. origin, washability, longevity and combinability are all important factors when making a morally sound consumer choice although finding a combo where everything is ethically in order can sometimes feel like a battle bound to fail.
however, other arguments appear almost as often. an interesting one is concentrating on what you already have, i.e. many of us have become so accustomed with updating our look with new items that we forget the many exciting things we already own. buying something new also seems to interfere with the process of creativity and our ability to combine individual garments in novel ways. taking a break from shopping can reaffirm our love for the existing contents of our closets. therefore, going shopping in your own wardrobe can be a refreshing experience which is both ecological and frugal.
and since we are in the middle of a full-blown economic crisis (or approaching it, depending on whether you work in finance or not...) a reason which has become acceptable to utter nonchalantly over coffee as of late is the lack of money. it may be that people save because of the recession or that they’ve lost their jobs – i’ve witnessed around three people a week report losing their jobs or fearing that they will at facebook alone. while most people enjoy exactly the same income and we’re supposed to keep the capitalist wheels rolling by consuming as we did, many find themselves scrutinizing their spending habits, and defer more expensive purchases and completely abstain from quick fixer-uppers.
i have had my ecologically spurred episodes, but they’ve never been exactly long lasting. when it comes to comfort shopping, i am terribly weak-willed and my ability for self-deception is notorious when it comes to clothes. i do dwell on ethical matters, but have trouble acting according to my deepest convictions. i also revisit and re-evaluate my closet regularly, but have tended to concentrate on what is missing rather than what i already have.
my weakness is the inability to reassess my consuming without being forced. dualistic to the bone, abstract reasoning, however detailed, hardly inhibits my corporeal shop-a-holic and i have to suspect the ghost in the machine is definitely not in control of this fashion cyborg. i admit to being one of those young women who believed that an outfit could be destroyed by heels half-an-inch too low (which obviously meant i needed a new pair just perfect for the outfit), and who never wore the same party dress twice (meaning that one wedding crazed summer i had the opportunity to convince myself – and it wasn’t that hard, really – that i desperately needed six new dresses). i religiously started my weekends by ”reinventing” myself with a new top or dress which i often wore just once, if i ended up wearing it at all. there are still a couple of items in my closet with tags.
everything changed because of the fact that i chose to take a sabbatical, sell everything valuable i own (well, my apartment...), and live off my savings right before what’s been described as the most devastating global recession. re-entering the job market at a time when everyone is being laid off has taught me – obviously – that telling the future is not my forte, but also that i can consume less and feel quite content. i have learned to love many of the clothes i already own, realized that i do not need several egg shaped black dresses and that i can wear the same outfit to a party more than once. actually, the fact that i can speak of ”outfits i rely on” is news to me.
it is embarrassing in a way to realize that i have close to no control over my whims and desires. i thought i was more rational than i seem to be. when i started to run out of money at the end of my sabbatical, i hesitantly grew more cautious with how i spent my vanishing funds also because finding a new job proved more difficult than i predicted. new appreciation in longevity and good quality became something of an epiphany because they mattered more: quality turned out to be more than just an aesthetic and a feel of luxury since it became also something i would enjoy repeatedly and count on. i have finally learned to leave items i feel slightly iffy about at the store in the store. i am not concerned with reinventing my look every single weekend and am happy to reuse outfits i have learned to love. nowadays, i shop very little and, thus, am much closer to my moral aspirations.
all this said, i wouldn’t mind a crazy shopping spree in new york city, and once i get my finances back in shape, that is exactly what i will do. be it my diminutive act of recession suffocation.