Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why my wardrobe is full of old stuff

I cleaned out my wardrobe yesterday and I had expected I would have a whole lot of air space afterwards.  After all, I practically wear the same outfits to work every week and the same two pair of jeans on the weekends. I might get crazy and wear a dress for a night out occasionally but there are probably only half a dozen outfits I stick with and have done so for the last 5-10 years.  When I do buy something new (very rarely) its usually for a special occasion.  It's an ingrained habit that I guess was formed from only having second hand or hand-me-down clothing as a child.  I don't remember being bothered by it or knowing anything about brands until I was well into my teens but I guess kids are a bit more fashion conscious today.

So most of my clothes are old, either because I don't throw stuff out or they are from second hand markets, Vinnies or other people (my friend at work recently cleaned out her wardrobe and I wasn't too proud to say thank you very much - some of them even have the tags on them still, shhh don't tell her husband!).
(Denim jacket $20 from vintage shop, belt $2 from markets, 
dress from friend, boots $99 from Diana Ferrari 2 years ago.)

For a few decades my sisters and I have been rotating our wardrobes around. Every time one of us did a clean out we would keep a bag for the next time one of us visited. Sometimes we discover we could be wearing a top that was worn by one of us 25 years ago! That's what I call vintage!

But I can see the attraction of 'going shopping' as a monthly/weekly event for some, like a hobby. I sometimes get the urge to go in one of those big, cold shopping malls full of loud teenagers and crying babies that are sick of being dragged from boutique to boutique.  I, like many others, think that if I can just find that perfect outfit my life would all fall in to place. For the possibility of a new look that will make me look younger, skinnier or just not invisible. Then I realise I've been picking up the same type of clothes off the rack each time and proceed to talk myself out of buying it ("it's too expensive, I've got nothing to go with it, it's hand wash only, it looks exactly like that white shirt I've had hanging in my wardrobe for fifteen years").

And then there's the big question of where is that new top coming from? Where was it made and who made it?  Was it made ethically and from sustainable products or was it made by poorly paid workers in unsafe conditions with highly environment-damaging cotton?  Is it a cheap overseas imitation of an Australian product?

It all gets too much and I go home and put on that favourite horsey t-shirt I bought at a garage sale three years ago.

There's been a lot of media buzz about knowing where your cheap clothes come from lately, particularly since the horrific collapse of a clothing manufacturer's building in Bangladesh recently.

There was this piece on the Mamamia site today and the story on 60 Minutes on Sunday night.

Melissa Wellham's Mamamia story points out the Aussie chain stores profiting from the hardship of those workers and says we as consumers also have a responsibility to pay just a little more for that third pair of identical brown sandals.  After all, we only have two feet.

Would you be willing to pay an extra dollar for your child's pair of shorts to buy ethically?

*Joining up with Jess on Essentially Jess's IBOT**


  1. I am broke. But yes I would. We have to do the right thing. And I do buy from op shops and garage sales and my kids love the stuff as long as I don't make a big deal of where the clothes came from.

  2. I for one would be more than willing to pay the extra dollar....I am not a fan of shopping which means all of my stuff is now getting old and I desperately need new stuff damn!!

  3. I must try and shop more smartly - and I have to smile when I see the Oranguatan Project, as my sister is there right now doing that! EMily

  4. Food for thought.
    I know I spend way too much money on my clothes and I have tons of clothes, I really don't need any more.

  5. I'm an op shopper. Very rarely do I buy things brand new. The kids are used to hand me downs and thrift shop clothes. I don't see why I 'need' to buy brand new if I can get the exact thing I need second hand.

    I was thinking the other night about fair trade and palm oil... if I was to try to buy food from the supermarket that was palm oil free and fair trade, I probably would eat.

    How sad is that.

    MC x

  6. I used to do binge shopping, but not anymore. I am on the way in cleaning my wardrobe, keeping what I really wear inside it. Hard things to do!

  7. It's something I struggle with, because I've never had luck at op shops and with four kids, I do look for a bargain. But it shouldn't be at the expense of other human beings

  8. Thanks for a thought provoking post Becci. I think about the ethics of clothing, but when it comes to me grabbing a new item of clothing with a 3yo in one hand and groceries in the other, good intentions go out the window. If it were much more transparent - a good labelling system like Fair Trade - I would definitely use that to guide my choices.


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