Been reading with interest this morning about a new book that examines our obsession with fleeting, cheap trends. ‘To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?’ by Lucy Siegle chimes with the Skint in the City theory that skint girls just can’t afford to buy cheap clothes. That might sounds contradictory at first, but I think that if you buy a blouse for a fiver not only will it look as if it costs a fiver, but it’ll likely fall apart after a couple of washes. And it does no harm to stop and wonder for a moment what the woman or child who made it earns per day. Cheap needn’t mean unethical if we shops in vintage stores or charity shops, but if a new dress costs the same as our lunchtime tuna sandwich there’s likely something fishy going on.
I think cheap clothes are a luxury skint girls can’t afford because they just don’t go the distance. Stretched necklines, bobbles, hems that come down on the first wearing: we’d be far better waiting and buying one expensive item that will last years. Ditto cheap, high-fashion buys: you know, like those fringed shorts that are so very now and only cost £15. How many times will you wear them before they make you cringe? A classic, well-made piece might cost a bit more initially, but for me the cost-per-wear is always less with quality items than fast fashion ones.
I’m not saying that we need to buy expensive pieces – that’s not the skint style – just shop more creatively. You can find gorgeous leather bags in vintage stores up and down the land for less than the price of a plastic beach tote from a high fashion store.
Buying the best also makes us buy less – and this is a good thing! Over the years I’ve become covnvinced that owning too many clothes stops us from looking our stylish best. As I wrote recently a stuffed wardrobe makes scanning clothes a chore: you can’t find what you’re looking for and so you end up relying on the same old items that are close to hand. These days, I’m trying to keep my wardrobe pruned back with a few key pieces, a great bunch of accessories and a ton of imagination!
That said, there are a few items which I don’t think there’s any point in wasting too much money on. These include:
- Tights: especially high-fashion patterned ones which might go out of style next season.
- Jeans: oh, you’ll argue with this, I know. But I really don’t find the £200 brands any better than TopShop’s. However, if you feel that only Sass and Bide will give you the perfect Pippa bum then go for it and make your savings somewhere else.
- Accessories: not shoes and bags, but the fun stuff like shiny belts and fashion bracelets that update your look, like the Wonder-Woman-on-a-bad-day number below.
Looking forward to getting my teeth into Lucy’s book this weekend. Would love, as always, to hear your thoughts on fast fashion. Do you love your lunchtime fashion fixes? Or would you happily save for a quality piece?