Sunday, 10 May 2009

Moral dilemmas on a rainy day

I regularly go through phases when I feel bad about spending too much money on clothes, or simply about owning too many clothes already. For the most part these phases come after massive shopping sprees. This year has been slightly different: I haven't actually bought huge amounts of new things, nor have I spent that much money on clothes either. It has been just the opposite; I have got rid of big piles of clothes, shoes and bags. Interestingly enough, though, I seem to be still entering another phase where I question my role as a consumer. It is not that I have anything in particular to feel guilty about - okay, I have bought a couple of pairs of wonderful shoes, a second hand cape, sequined leggings, some undies and perhaps a cardigan or two... okay, I have bought quite a few things, but it is nothing compared to last year - but I still feel uneasy about the relationship between myself, consuming, and style.

The other day I was browsing through a bunch of new fashion/style blogs (they were new to me anyway). I am not going to start naming them here, because I have absolutely no right (nor desire) to judge them or their authors. It simply hit me that a lot of fashion/style blogs concentrate on consuming. Probably the most common inspiration for a blog post is a new purchase, or a new desire to purchase. (I went back to my own old posts, and noticed the same thing: my sense of excitement is palpable when I have bought something new, something fresh that I can share with my few readers.) It doesn't really even matter whether a blogger is a high-fashion spender, a high street consumer, or a vintage hunter. We all keep looking for the next piece of clothing, the next pair of shoes, the next handbag to make us feel something.

Is this simply the core of fashion and style? That we must consume? That we must renew our skins, and ourselves? Would anyone follow a style blog if the blogger kept wearing the same things over and over again, in the same way? It is often said that fashion works in cycles: it doesn't really go forward at all, it reinvents itself again and again. It inspires itself, it lives off its own past. Yet we are stuck in the new and exciting. We consume in order to reach something new (that is actually old), only to dump it after a short while, just like we (or our mothers) have dumped it years ago, in order to go back to the future. Is this really how it works, and more importantly, is it working for us? Does it make us happy?


Anonymous said...

Hi Waves! I've never really considered the impact that fashion--new styles, and the reinventing of the old--have on us. As you have seen, my closets are full of styles that perhaps should never have existed in the first place (there must be some sort of fashion mercy-rule that would allow for their gradual extinction from my world! :). Except for televised fashion competetions, I haven't really even known that much about that toher, REAL world of fashion--and the moral dilemmas it can wring forth from its followers...but it's really interesting for me to see these subjects discussed here in such an articulate, and thoughful manner. I really always enjoy the things you have to say, Waves! love NY??? :) Chris R.

Eyeliah @ said...

Oh yes, I complete understand where you are coming from. I really try to rework the same pieces over and over with minimal spending. My closet cannot hold more than I have so anytime I get something new I have to get rid of something (and I hate to do that). But it's true, we are always searching for that next thing (right now a new bikini and flat shoes).

Anonymous said...

Hi I don't have much to add to your post or others comments but just wanted to say how much I agree with you about the tension between fashion/interest in clothes and the desire to consume less - or perhaps, more accurately the sense that there is something undesirable about constant consumption.

I have been enjoying reading your thoughtful ideas on these issues.

The Waves said...

Chris: The world of fashion is a strange one... it seems to be strangely fluid but palpable at the same time. I guess what I am trying to ask is if fashion can exist in a world without consumerism...

Eyeliah: I am looking for flat shoes as well... flats with an edge, to be exact. I try to think that I am doing this because I want to be practical (I get more use out of flats than heels), but a big part of me is just shouting "don't consume! don't! you don't really need anything" inside my head. :)

anon.: thanks! I think this whole issue of consumerism & fashion is a no-brainer... It almost seems to me that there can't be one without the other. I guess all we have to go for is moderation!