One reason why we find ourselves back at the store again, even after we’ve simplified our wardrobes, is that our clothes are so cheaply made, they hardly last through the season, much less a year. When I think back to buying even a basic t-shirt at Kohl’s ten years ago, I recall how much better the quality was compared to what I find in the store today.
The high cost of cheap, overseas clothes manufacturing is appalling in itself, when we consider the working conditions and low wages paid to sweatshop employees. Then, as consumers, it is frustrating to purchase clothing that is so poorly made, even when it is dirt cheap. I can’t find a sweater that doesn’t pill up instantly; a t-shirt that isn’t so threadbare upon purchase, it’s practically see-through; or a pair of athletic pants for my boys that lasts more more than a week without getting a hole in the knee.
Even name brands have skimped on quality but not the price. This throw-away society of ours is wasteful and shameful in its mass production of consumable but not recyclable textiles. What happens to all the clothes we buy for a pittance that aren’t even good enough for Goodwill after we’ve finished with them at the end of the season?
To answer this question and to find some reputable alternatives, I highly recommend that you read the excellent (although long) article from NPR: What Happens When Fashion Becomes Fast, Disposable and Cheap?
Believe me, I know how hard it is to fork over a hefty sum of money for just one quality pair of shoes or item of clothing, but by buying items from companies who care about quality, people, and the environment, you can leave a much smaller footprint on the Earth. With Earth Day just around the corner, I hope you will be mindful of your future clothing purchases, and consider the real cost of purchasing throwaway, fast fashion clothing. Instead, purchase a few, necessary, well-made, pieces that work interchangeably (otherwise known as a capsule wardrobe) and take up much less closet space in your home. They will last much longer and make getting dressed much simpler.
For more information on downsizing your closet, developing a capsule wardrobe, and discerning quality items from cheap ones, here are some great resource articles to check out:
Be More With Less- Project 333
Living Well Spending Less- 40 Hanger Challenge
Life Hacker- Cheap Clothes Are Too Expensive: Buy Quality Instead
The Every Girl- How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe
The Minimalist Mom (great for moms still in the throes of childbearing)-Capsule Wardrobe
AOL Lifestyle- How to Find High Quality Clothing (great article about what to look for when shopping)
You can also check out my Fashion File board on Pinterest, which has some of my favorite capsule wardrobes.
Finally, don’t forget to frequent thrift stores for those diamonds in the rough. I have found everything from well-made Gap t-shirts to high-end jeans for a fraction of the price of buying them new.
What will you do to simplify your wardrobe in an economically and environmentally sustaining way?
(Don’t forget to subscribe or comment on my post 26 Days to Simplicity: More for your chance to win Joshua Becker’s newest book, The More of Less and receive free access to his 12-week, online course, Uncluttered. The giveaway ends this Friday, 4/22.)