Shh... a confession to make
It is my birthday today.
Rocking my Maje jacket, my Stuart Weitzman 50-50 thigh high boots, and a bright green Kate Spade clutch, I walked out of the door in a sunny afternoon, wearing a blue polyester (I was so sure because it feels plastic-y. yuck.) dress with peekaboo back ribbon details with a grey cashmere short-sleeved sweater.
(Sweater because at this age I can no longer expose body parts without considering the weather. I’m not 18 anymore.😂)
I’ll tell you what I was like a year ago:
“I would have looked at my Maje leather moto jacket, and given it an agreeable nod. $6000HKD isn’t a lot of money for some, but it surely is for me who had just started working then. Then I would look at my Stuart Weitzman boots - a little bit worn out but still attracts flattery whenever I wear them. Strangely, I would feel a sense of reassurance just because I'm wearing brands.”
This year, I walked out the door feling a subtle sense of guilt. After all, 2 weeks ago I had written in my newsletter about the horrible pollution that leather caused to both the environment and the workers during production process - and I was wearing 3 items of real leather is just one single outfit!
I allowed myself to ‘dress up’ for my birthday, but I wasn't sure if I was dressing down my ethics at the same time. As I went through my closet, I was quite shocked counting how many overpriced clothes I had purchased with my very limited savings. What the fuck was I thinking? Did I really need those pieces? How many times have I used the jacket or the clutch? Maybe 2 times in the past winter. Oh my.
I felt quite guilty of how my clothes represents me. I was planning to meet some friends who got to know me through my IG posts on conscious living, and I’m actually meeting them in a full I-am-all-for-animal-cruelty armour. I was already rehearsing how I should introduce myself explaining why I am in this outfit in my head.
Let me just pause here and guess what you are thinking - 'gosh why did she make a big fuss over a jacket? What's wrong with buying nice things?' Yes, I somehow felt that I'm overreacting too, especially on my birthday. But I guess this depends on how much impact you think you can bring, or the influences you possess on the world around you. Overreacting or not depends on whether we recognize that we as consumers have the power to make a difference.
So... What to do?
Well, I wasn't going to punish myself and burn all my clothes 😂.
(1) There’s no need to apologize, just acknowledge it
I told myself that... this is what I have done. We are responsible for our actions, then and now. I don’t have to apologize to anyone, and I am just happy that I am buying differently now.
(2) Get more wears out of the pieces by caring for them
To be honest, those are pretty great pieces. They are of high quality, and deserve to be worn more frequently and cared for nicely. We are responsible for what we have purchased, during and after wearing them.
(3) No one has a perfect closet
On my birthday, I visited a pop-up store by WOMBHK. Kasia and Maria, who are the founders, went through the brands that they carry with me. They were able to articulate the story behind every single piece, with such enthusiasm and passion. I am not promoting consumerism, but if you really felt an innate urge and an unstoppable animal instinct to purchase new pieces (🙈), why don’t we look for pieces with a story behind? Once we build an emotional connection with the pieces we wear, we are able to bond with it, and treasure the fact that they belong to our personal collection, not just another item that waits around in our closet to be thrown away.
"There’s value in values, now more than ever."
(#shoutout to Jess who sent me an article that comes with this great line)
As Kasia and Maria pointed out, as human beings, we inevitably have an environmental footprint. Every breath, every second passed daytime, every bite, we are consuming the world’s oxygen, energy, and food resources. But that we are not ‘carbon-neutral’ or consuming #zerowaste doesn’t discount our ability to make conscious choices in daily decisions.
While prices are not a decisive factor on whether we will choose a particular piece, I've gathered the top 5 things I will consider when making apparel purchases:
- Do you really need it? Be specific about the 'when' and 'where' of the piece you want to buy. Don’t buy for occasion that only pops up once every 2 years. Does it match your existing shoes and bags? You shouldn’t need a total revamp of closet to wear the new pieces.
- Pick a classic style that reflects your personality and daily habit - if you mostly sit down at work, do you want to wear a dress with tight waistline?
- Check the materials - does it fit the purpose (thick 100% polyester in summer? you’re kidding right?)
- Check the environmental footprint - does the brand tell you what happens in the supply chain and the waste produced?
- Check the care tips - is it achievable? if it is a summer piece and it says 100% dry cleaning, #areyouforreal??
This post is running a bit too long... It's soon Christmas and I hope you'll enjoy shopping for your loved ones!