I've been thinking about my wardrobe a lot lately. Now, now... don't laugh. I do have periods, brief though they may be, when I am NOT thinking about clothes. But, January is not one of those times.
In January, I usually start thinking about which of my fall and winter pieces I'm already tired of, and how I might change them up without shopping for something new. Or which pieces in my closet haven't been out and about enough, and how I might wear them. But this year is a bit different.
This year, I've been thinking about how I've measured up in my quest to join the "slow fashion" movement, and whether I make the grade as an "ethical shopper." Or not. So, since I do not have to return to school next week, like most of my friends and former colleagues, with the spectre of exams and report cards looming in the next few weeks... I thought I'd do my own form of evaluation, of my wardrobe and my clothing buying habits. And prepare a kind of ethical shopping report card.
There are many ways to define the term "ethical shopper." But every definition I've read says it's partly about shopping less, and spending our shopping dollar more wisely and more judiciously. As a teacher I know that before we can evaluate anything we have to have a standard against which to measure progress or achievement. I did some research. And since numbers are easy to measure, and to report, let's look at some numbers.
You may remember that, in a previous post about Slow Fashion, I quoted a statistic from a 2013 article in Bust magazine which said the average American woman purchases 70 items of clothing yearly. That number seemed like a lot to me, and it prompted me to do a count of my own, of everything I've purchased since the beginning of January 2016. I present below my itemized list. With accompanying visuals.
|Mixing old jackets with a new scarf, bag, sweater and jeans.|
My grand total was 26 pieces purchased since last January. That includes: 8 tops (blouses, tanks, and sweaters), 2 pairs of pants (one pair of leggings and one pair of jeans), 2 dresses, 1 jacket (which I actually didn't buy but won on Alyson Walsh's blog), 1 coat, a 2-piece pant suit, 1 bathing suit + cover-up, 3 pairs of footwear, 2 scarves, 2 bags, and 1 toque. Equals 26 items.
|New spring jacket and blouse, and sweater from last winter.|
|Two tanks and a tee shirt dress from Aritzia last summer.|
|New white shirt and bag bought in late summer, and leggings purchased last January.|
The article in the Daily Mail goes on to say that of the 103 items in women's closets "21% are unwearable, 33% are too tight, and 24% too loose." And that 1 in 7 women surveyed confessed they bought "something they already had because they couldn't find it." I'm not sure how reliable any of these numbers are; they were taken from a survey of 1000 American women done by Closet Maid, a company that sells closet organizers. Still I can't argue with their conclusions; getting organized is an important element of shopping judiciously. I don't have any items in my closet that are too big, too small, or otherwise unwearable. I don't buy things I don't need because I always know what I have. And what I need and don't need. I love to plan and organize. But I've said this so many times before that I'm sure you're sick of hearing it. So I'll move on.
|New two piece suit, scarf, dress, and sandals. I'm loving navy this year, apparently.|
|My new fall coat and boots.|
Of my total 26 pieces I don't have pictures of 6. My new bathing suit and cover-up bought last summer... posting a shot of that outfit would be sharing way too much information. And 4 items recently purchased for our big trip to South America in February: hiking boots, a blue fleece, a sports turtleneck, and a light toque. All of these are "seasoning," as my Mum says, in readiness for our trip. So I purchased 26 new items in 2016. That makes me a very judicious shopper, if we consider that the average is 70 items.
Of course there are other elements of ethical shopping besides quantity, and organization. Awareness of ethical brands, and companies which use fair labour practices, for instance. I confess that I'm not up to snuff in this area. I know I should be. I'll try harder this year.
And there's accessing thrift and consignment stores, and recycling our clothes. I'm better at this. I consigned numerous items this year at my friend Fiona's store. In fact I made quite a chunk of cash. Enough to buy the things I need to take to South America anyway. And anything I don't take to Fiona, I give away to friends, or donate. Unless it's torn beyond repair, or an utter rag too old even to wear canoeing, nothing goes in the landfill.
So how do I stack up? I gave myself an overall grade of B- ... not bad, but there's definitely room for improvement.
As you can see, I gave myself a grade for each specific element. Including my ability (or inability) to parlay my minimal closet into a creative wardrobe with a variety of outfits. In any field of endeavour there is a quality that separates the merely competent from the truly gifted. Or in this case, the ethical shopper from the ethical... fashionista. Okay, I'll admit that my tongue is firmly in my cheek as I say that. Still... I feel as if I should shake things up a bit. Try new looks. Be more creative with what I already own.
And I need inspiration to be able to do that. And more research. I'll get to work on that.
Or maybe I just need a brief vacation from fashion altogether. Maybe I'll come back from South America so tired of fleece tops and jeans, or tank tops and sweat pants, so desperate for a fashion fix, that I'll be inspired.
Or maybe I just need a new lovely cashmere sweater. After all, I do have almost a hundred bucks sitting in my account at Fiona's shop.
How about you folks? How do you stack up? Care to share some numbers with us? Or just thoughts? Thoughts without numbers are good too.
Linking up this week with: Visible Monday, #IwillwearwhatIlike, What I Wore, Style Me Wednesday, Thursday Favourite Things, Passion 4 Fashion, Fun Fashion Friday, Fabulous Friday and Saturday Share Link-Up.