Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Occasional Love for Cheap Clothes

I tend to rant about (read: against) mass-produced clothes a fair bit. Perhaps too often I fail to show my appreciation for the few cheap but magnificient pieces of clothing that I have acquired over the years. Some of them have serious staying-power. I bought this angora/wool cardigan at H&M perhaps two years ago. It looks wonderful buttoned up with a pencil skirt, and works well over t-shirts and jeans as well. It is one of those items that I have grown to love, and I fear for the day when it falls to pieces. Considering I have worn it a lot, it is still in good condition. There are no threads loose, and despite the angora, the surface of the knit hasn't suffered all that much.

Alongside this cardigan, I have a handful of clothes, purchased from H&M, Zara and Mango that I hold very dear. I have come to realise that the biggest problem for me when it comes to shopping at mass-manufacture retailers, is my inability to pick and choose carefully. While this cardigan has been good to me, I have made countless mistakes along the ride - I have bought into one-season trends, and I have wanted to try out things that I must have known deep inside wouldn't last. The problem for me, as a person looking for her style identity, is the too-easy availability in stores like H&M. Sizes are available and prices affordable (at least from the short-term perspective). I have discovered that the easiest way for me to avoid over-consumption is to stay away from outlets that feed my visual need for new things and enable mindless buying. I can admit that for a while, I was addicted to visiting H&M and Zara weekly just to see what was out there. The overwhelming visual tripping did not allow me to see that the availablity was not there just for me, but for the countless other shoppers as well. All too often, I bought something, which was followed by buyer's remorse. Did I really need this? Does it even suit me? Will every other girl in town wear this tomorrow? Maybe I'll take it back. (I hardly ever did.) I felt bad about myself and still kept buying more.

I admire people who have better discipline. These days I have to stay away from certain stores because my conviction is too easily shaken in front of something pretty. Thrifting is safer for me. I am forced to train my eye to find the things I love, and even then, they might not be the right size. There is no return policy, I always end up with things I actually wear, and the process is eco-friendly. Thrifting helps me define my style. Having said that, I am still happy I have this cardigan. And I am happy I happened to find this print top at Sears (alongside the one in the previous post) for $5.99. Sometimes buying cheap can be a style investment, too, but I, for one, have to tread that path more carefully than most people.

Print top: Sears
Cardigan: H&M
Shorts: second hand Sportmax
Tights: Noa Noa
Shoes: F-Troupe / Beamhill


jesse.anne.o said...

I hear you. Even if I'm keeping a close eye, I have a hard time knowing what will last from H&M/etc. I thought some of the plain cardigans I got there would do well (since I'm vegan I pretty much only wear cotton, acyrlic, etc anyway) - but they are already pilling.

I also just try to stay away from them.

Sal said...

I'm very similar - the only REAL way to keep myself from buying is to keep myself from looking. And that's a tough row to hoe when you're blogging about style every day.

The cardigan is really lovely, and I'm glad you nabbed it, despite its fast-fashion origins. Sometimes what should be fast sticks around - I have dresses and leggings from Target that have lasted years and years!

Eyeliah said...

I can't look either, I have to avoid the chain stores. i haven't bought something at a mall in quite a while now (yay).

Milla said...

I have a h&m wool coat that has lasted 6 winters. these days though I can't handle any kind of mall store. sometimes I see items on others that I covet, but seeing them in the store they just strike me as too expensive, and somehow in that setting, less vibrant and covetable.

SnapandPrint said...

I actually find myself using a more trained eye in stores like H&M and Urban Outfitters. I check the quality, if there are lose threads, ect and it does influence my "gotta have the shiny new!" need.

I have learned to avoid the obvious trendy stuff that will not last beyond a season...and buy things I know I will wear on into the future. I have learned to not buy things that look poorly made and be careful to avoid those "messed up by customers in the changing rooms" items.

It can be done, you just have to not be overwelmed when you walk into the stores.

Sadly, I have the overwhelemd by the shiny new stuff situation when I enter bookstores or cd/dvd stores. I instantly forget what I am looking for because there is just so much to look at.

Anonymous said...

i am the same way- i tend to try to save up for nicer quality stuff, or buy vintage. but i have the few odd sweaters or skirts from forever 21 and h&m that have lasted me years and still look new.

your outfit is really cute here! i love the patterned cardigan and the cropped pants. ~joelle