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This may come as a surprise to some of you but, believe it or not, I’m not really that into fashion. I know, you’d never tell from looking at me, right?!!
It’s not that I don’t understand fashion and the part it plays in society but personally I veer more towards practical clothing, even if I do try and incorporate as much colour as I can (high street men’s clothes are so DULL). I know fashion is more than brands and the latest big names, but the whole thing just makes me feel like an outsider and that’s not just because of the exorbitant prices you seem to need to pay to be able to wear the latest trendy clothes. Don’t get me wrong I am happy to pay for good quality items it’s just that I refuse to pay over the odds for something simply because it has the designer/brand name stamped all over it.
As such I’ve never really given all that much thought about how much I spend on clothes; if I’ve needed new trousers or a shirt, I’ve typically found something in one of the bigger chains that works for me. Good enough and all that. However with the last few years of working at home behind me, and with my wardrobe shrunk down to, basically, t-shirts and shorts, I’ve had to delve back into the world of clothes shopping.
I’m in an office a few times a week, it’s a smart casual kinda place so the trousers/jeans I already owned were fine but having donated a lot of my old shirts that I wasn’t wearing to charity I found myself looking at getting a couple of polo shirts to round out my work uniform, as it were.
A quick search online yielded the expected results with some no-brand items from £20 upwards, and of course the brands suddenly make those numbers jump (£85 for one with SuperDry emblazoned over the back!). Ugh, I don’t need anything fancy, just something that fits and that ideally doesn’t cost the earth, surely there are more options out there?!
Then it struck me, charity shops.
I’ll be honest, as I’ve rarely found things in my size and/or to my taste in the past, they’ve fallen out of consideration as somewhere I COULD get clothes and so I don’t visit them often and, because I don’t visit them often, so I don’t find things to buy and… well it’s a vicious circle. Sorry charity shops, I promise it’s not you…
Then I remembered an app I’d tried when I last did some clearing out, Vinted. An online store for second-hand goods. Perfect!
Expect, I have a tiny confession, I might be a little bit addicted. So far I’ve ordered 3 polo shirts for work, a hoodie, and two pairs of shoes. The polo shirts are all ‘labels’ (Fat Face, Adidas, and Slazenger) and were all £5 or less. The shoes include a pair of Nike Presto trainers (I have two other pairs and my feet love them) that retail for £80 and I got them for £30 and… someone needs to stop me!
I mean sure, it’s nice to get a bargain and all that and I don’t mind that these items have been worn once or twice, they are clean and in great condition (and as you may have already noticed, I’m really not that fussy about clothes) but in the back of my mind there is a little voice reminding me that there are other implications that I’m not considering. It’s the same for all clothes that come through the ‘high street’ (whatever that is these days). I’m talking about the working conditions for the people who make these clothes.
I am ashamed.
I’ve been blinded by the low prices and gotten away from being more mindful about my purchases. Not only asking myself ‘do I really need this’ but ‘should I even buy this given where it was made?’. It’s amazing how those two questions quickly stopped me buying clothes in the past, and equally as shaming as how quickly I drop my ethics in face of a bargain.
Which is why I’m writing this, to put it out in public in the vague hope it’ll help shame me back into my ‘less is more/ethically made’ stance in the future.
All of this is easy to say of course and in the face of rising living costs I know that if needs must there are cheap options available to us.
But maybe I can take some inspiration from how we’ve handled things when we’ve been purchasing things for Jack. It baffles me to see kids wearing brand name clothes, they grow so fast and it seems like such a waste. We’ve paid money for one pair of ‘natural’ shoes to help him as he learned to walk (vivobarefoot if yer interested) but for everything else, clothes and toys, we’ve been raiding the secondhand stores. We then re-donate the ones he’s outgrown back to the store as well.
Perhaps Vinted is the modern way of doing this for me, I have sold a couple of things there already and looking at my wardrobe there is more I can shift on, or perhaps I’ll continue to do random clearouts of my wardrobe into black bin bags to take to the local charity store, and MAYBE this time I’ll set foot inside and have a nosey around too. Better to re-use than buy new if I don’t need to.
In my head I have a weird parallel with my vegetarianism or rather, as I read recently, my attempts at being a ‘not so good’ vegan; I still (very very) occasionally eat meat, and occasionally eat fish or seafood, because my vegetarianism is largely about my health but I’m aware of the ecological and environmental impacts of NOT eating red meat as well. It’s a conscious decision I make everytime I eat, I know the impact of my choices and, on the whole, I’m doing good enough for me AND the environment.
With that in mind, I guess my fashion choices are driven along the same lines. I’m doing more than some people but not as much as others. On the whole I think I’m make more good choices than bad and, I guess, I hope that balances things out in the end. It’s a fine line to tread (a fine needle to thread?) but at least now I feel comfortable in second hand clothes.
Anyway, I must go, I’ve just seen an absolute bargain of a new jacket on Vinted…
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