Yes, I am someone who enjoyed mania of shopping! When I was fifteen I spent most of the earnings from my part-time job on clothing sales. I quickly realized it is not fulfilling and still pricey when trying to keep up with trends. When I was around eighteen, I started shopping in second-hand shops with my friend. First, it was cheap. Second, we realized we could still find some well-known brands, which made the prices even better. Clothes from second hand shops are also pre-worn, so they don’t shrink or fade as fast.
I like to remember those days; it was always so much fun to shop in the second-hand shops.
Our favorite place to go (we called it the Scrabble Place) had piles of clothes to search through. A few minutes before the door opened we were already standing in line with other ladies there for some clothes-hunting action. When the keys rattled, ready to open the doors for us, the atmosphere among the ladies became that of bees in a hive. All the women, including us, were pushing hard to get inside. We quickly grabbed clothes and shoved them into big plastic bags because there was no time to wander.
Later after the hunt was over, we tried things on and selected the good pieces to purchase. There weren’t any fitting rooms at the time, so we had to help each other to cover up while changing. We also had to be completely truthful with each other because there wasn’t a mirror either! One piece was 19 CZK (which is about 1 dollar). So, imagine the happiness when you found an almost-brand-new pair of Levis jeans that fit perfectly. Cool, right? But of course, I naturally accumulated a lot of clothes and I had to have a big closet to accommodate all my items.
Although I shopped mostly second-hand, I still went to conventional stores for some clothes.
I generally didn’t have a good luck with t-shirts in second-hand shops, and if I did find some, they were usually really worn out. For me, buying t-shirts new has always been the best option. I started to see that t-shirts from the conventional shops were kind of twisting, and the seams weren’t on the sides anymore, but on the back and front. Sometimes they seams unravelled on one altogether. I decided to start paying more attention to labels and materials.
I often had a small voice in my head questioning things like, “Why does that beautiful sweater I was saving money for look so old after a few washes?” and “What actually is this polyester material that my dress is made from?”
Some of you may know what I am talking about.
Fashion got faster.
Manufacturing cotton uses a great amount of water, so many manufacturers replaced cotton items with plastic. We are demanding many more clothes as consumers, so the fast-growing industry also takes advantage of children and families for cheap labor. They are often treated poorly and work in bad conditions. The quality of clothing is not good either, because the workers don’t have time to spend on them. The clothes are sewn with fast stitches (not properly seamed and finished, etc.) Every bit of material is used, so the cut of garments is often lopsided and not with direction of the fiber. (For more on fast fashion you can check this link or this link . Maybe you will also be surprised that this topic includes expensive and, in our eyes, “quality” companies.
I am now also realizing that even second hand shops have changed, and it is hard to find dresses made from cotton.
I won’t continue with too many details here, because it is described well by others in the links above. I simply want to say that the clothes we wear and where we get them matters and it is time to take our own initiative. Where do your clothes come from? I care about who is making them and at what cost.
There is also another part to this story. How did I learn to have a fulfilling wardrobe with fewer items? The answer is the Project 333. I first heard about it in Autumn of 2016, and have been practicing it ever since. The main idea is having 33 pieces for each season including shoes and accessories.
The main advantages of the project I have observed:
- You realize quickly what you really like to wear.
- Your wardrobe becomes more united, and it’s easier to combine pieces to create an outfit.
- Your morning decision about what to wear is easy. You have fewer than 33 choices!
- You know exactly what is missing in your wardrobe, and you can save time while shopping the next time.
- You avoid mindless and impulse shopping because you already have your 33 star items.
- You declutter as time goes on and send your clothes immediately to someone next, so you have space for something else in your lineup of 33.
- With time, you realize you actually have a plenty of options and you don’t need to go shopping for every little thing. It’s better to wait for something great.
- You will definitely save money, which can then be used to buy something from an ethical brand, which are sometimes more expensive.
- You can begin to ignore advertisements for shops and great sales, because you won’t be participating.
I love the project. I decluttered my closet, but I still have plenty of options and I never feel bored with what I have. Clothes that I give away are now the last polyester items, as well as other items in which I just don’t feel great anymore. I love to choose ethical brands, from people who are in close touch with the makers of their items, so the next post will be about different materials. Stay tuned!
Fewer pieces, more quality. What do you think?
Translation with the help of Ellie Farrier