Apr 7

Break Your Bad Fashion Habits

by Team Whering

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It takes 21 days to make something a habit. Why not spend the next three weeks unlearning your bad fashion habits and prioritizing sustainability? A sustainable relationship with fashion is easier said than done. How do you shop sustainably and ensure your relationship with fashion is ethical? We'll teach you 5 fashion habits to break, and 5 healthy habits to build.

While just like you, we’re very much still on a learning curve, sometimes the most worthy advice comes from people who haven’t perfected the skill in question. While we can sit together and admire, in awe, the persistence of people who have completely and entirely broken up with fast fashion, it’s ‘the way there’ that is significantly more important to pin down. Any effort is a good effort. And who better to tell you about it than a team of people with a whole lotta ZARA circa 2017 clothing hidden away in their wardrobes? If you can think of someone better, respectfully, I can’t take another hit. Just pretend for the duration of the article.

While the question at hand doesn’t have a set answer, I really think the most productive way to look at it is in regards to habits. Shopping fast fashion isn’t a default setting we need to reprogram- it’s a habit our generation has been extremely prone to learning. Changing your shopping habits is the first step to breaking up with fast fashion. And I know, I know, the pessimists in the room could tune in with “why blame our generation?” and “there’s no sustainable consumption under capitalism”– look, I agree. Corporations are to be held accountable, and anything that cyclically churns out new products, by definition, cannot be sustainable. But I also think that battling the bigger picture cannot be done overnight, so by unlearning some of the things we’ve been taught indirectly, we’re all taking the first leap. I’ll be the first to say Neil Armstrong may have been onto something when he said that “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Bad Habits to Break & New Habits to Build

1. Time

Break: needing things as soon as possible

Build: giving yourself time to dig, digest and decide

Though this one is quite self explanatory, as somebody who, until recently, used to pay for ASOS next-day delivery, the fact that you don’t need an item you like the very same day you clicked ‘buy’ is a tough pill to swallow.

As soon as you give yourself room to unsubscribe from all of these quick delivery options, you begin to realise that there’s absolutely no rush in getting a certain item. The more time you have to actually convince yourself that this is something you truly want, the more mindful of a purchase it will be. Hey, you might even snag a better deal at the end of the day. Having that cutout top you’ve been after a day from now or 2 weeks from now will make no difference to your life. And if you’re buying it for a specific occasion that’s happening in less than 24 hours, then I think you already know it’s not a worthy purchase.

2. Source

Break: always looking at retail sites first

Build: doing your research

This is definitely something I’m very guilty of myself, which is that when I get it in my head that I want something, my first course of action is checking around 10 fast fashion sites to see what version of the product they offer, and how much they cost. What I’ve been trying to teach myself recently is going through the holy trinity (or quadrinity?) of secondhand apps before anything. 243 pages of pinstripe blazers on Vinted? I’ll be going through each and every single one– remember that thing we said about not rushing purchases? My inbox will be full with outgoing messages which read “Hey, would you mind updating the listing with some photos of the item on? Just want to get an idea of how it fits”. Lots won’t reply, but some will, and you might just find yourself with a wonderful Tommy Hilfiger preloved blazer for a whole £4.

If your instinct still says to look on other platforms as well, I recommend finding a version of the item you’re looking for which you like there, and cross referencing Depop, Vinted, Ebay & Vestiaire. Talk to the sellers. Look for alternatives. Bid on things. Unless the things in question are orange Jacquemus bags, in which case don’t bid on those because I’m doing that too. People are much more desperate to declutter than you might think.

3. Cross-reference your own wardrobe

Break: buying something because you like it worn a certain way

Build: consider how many different outfits you can build using that item

This might seem like a very cheeky Whering plug, BUT WE’RE NOT WRONG! Far too many times I have bought an item with a specific outfit in mind. Not enough times have I stopped to consider how many different ways I can actually wear that item. You can think of it like a game, or give yourself a mark to hit- if I can style this item in at least 10 different outfits, then it’s something worth buying.

Screenshot and add the item to Whering, and start styling, styling, styling away. If you’re finding it hard to integrate, then you might have even caught yourself buying something you liked on somebody else, which doesn’t necessarily fit in with your personal style.

4. Shopping just to shop

Break: making plans to go shopping

Build: making plans to go shopping when you actually want to buy something

This might be controversial, oh lord may the thrift girlies have mercy on me, but going on ‘thrift dates’ is almost just as bad as buying fast fashion. Not necessarily in the direct impact you have on the environment, but in the principle behind it. How many times have you found yourself having a similar conversation:

Hey, wanna go thrift / vintage shopping this weekend?

– Yeah! Let’s do it!

Are you looking for anything in particular?

– Not really, I’ll just see if I like anything when we’re there.

Although in some cases, it might just be love at first sight, there is also a high chance you’re simply adding another impulsive purchase to your rail. And even worse- this may have been the very item somebody else had been looking for, for weeks, months, I don’t know. Just because it’s second-hand doesn’t mean it’s a sustainable, worthwhile purchase. Being vintage doesn’t exempt it from being an impulse buy.

The reason I bring this up is because, from firsthand experience, a lot of these purchases are fueled by the item’s label, price and condition, rather than a genuine attraction to the piece on its own. You’re essentially shopping for the sake of shopping, and I don’t think I need to explain why that’s a damaging mindset. Instead, this might be a better way to go about it:

Hey, wanna go thrift / vintage shopping this weekend?

– Sure thing. I’m not looking for anything though, so hold me accountable if I decide to buy something.

5. Evaluate your existing wardrobe

Break: buying, buying, buying, without consideration for the things you already have

Build: frequent decluttering and evaluating of the pieces you already have

Though it might sound similar, this is different to habit #3. What I mean is, the one in, one out rule is loved and praised by so many for a reason. Obviously you don’t have to stick to it religiously, but it’s something to consider. Every few months, go through your wardrobe and look at each item. Consider the following:

  • How many times have I worn this in the past 6 months? (might we suggest checking Whering for this one?)
  • Can I style it into 10+ outfits I like?
  • Can I see myself wearing it in the next 6 months?

Etc. At the end of the day, if you decide to donate, resell or recycle said item, think about why you bought it in the first place, which might help you identify exactly what not to do in the future. Your wardrobe should be full of things you love, all of which you’re so excited to wear. There’s no room (mentally and physically) to be rummaging through clothes which don’t excite us.

A New Relationship With Fashion

So there we have it, our best tips on how to break up your bad habits, and build healthy new ones. We didn't say it was going to be easy, but in order to shift into a sustainable mindset, we need to hold ourselves accountable where possible.