I have a complicated relationship with fashion. In many ways, I love it. I’m fascinated by the relentless creativity of the designers who produce new work, season after season. They have an uncanny synchronism with the zeitgeist and independently sense that leopard print and sports wear will be hot one season, and the next it will be lace and neon florals. Historically, fashion invariably reflected what was happening politically and socioeconomically. When I have time, which is seldom now I’m a mum, I like to look over past trends and correlate them with the historical context, which is a touch geeky – I know. I also love vintage fashion and discovering something beautiful that feels current and fresh, even though it might be decades old. Above all of that, I like how it makes me feel. Expressing one’s inner self externally is always deeply satisfying. In fact, if you’re that way inclined, I think that getting dressed in clothes that make you feel happy can be one of life’s great pleasures. It’s not about spending lots of money or blindly following trends, but as clothing is one of life’s necessities, why not choose things that make you smile? My clothes lift my mood when I’m struggling and make me feel a bit more confident. Sometimes, it is only a tiny improvement but it is nonetheless, significant.
My problems with fashion are multiple and complex. The effect that the garment industry has on our planet is disastrous. So much damage has already been done, it’s difficult to envisage how the devastation can be reversed. The use of criminally underpaid foreign workers, and even slave labour, to produce clothing is morally abhorrent. It is also impossible to accurately measure the negative effect that the employment of underweight models has had on our collective mental health. There’s a lot to feel uncomfortable and conflicted about. This is why I stopped solely focusing on fashion on this blog, because I realised there were so many things that I could no longer endorse. However, I don’t think the whole business should be thrown out with the bathwater. The UK fashion industry is worth £202 billion per year and contributes £20.92 billion the the United Kingdom’s GDP. It employs millions of UK citizens and it’s impossible to ignore. Perhaps there are ways that fashion can assist mental and physical health, rather than causing further damage.
I don’t really know the answer and I’m not here to lecture anyone about buying high street clothes; to do so would be hypocritical. However, I would suggest spending carefully and choosing stuff that will not loose its appeal after a season, which is not only beneficial to the planet but also to our bank accounts. With regards to the obsession with dangerously thin bodies, fashion has realised that presenting a narrow, rigid standard of beauty is bad for business. Diversity not only gets a brand talked about, but also persuades shoppers to part with their cash. Last season there were many examples of brands using models of a variety of sizes, ethnicities and ages on the runways. When consumers are represented by a label, they feel validated and seen when before they felt ignored. It’s a cynical and mercenary incentive for change, but in this context, any change is positive. That being said, there are designers who are genuine in their intentions and are doing remarkable work.
I’ve found that dressing to my style is a good way to insure that I don’t get bored of things and my clothes will last. I used to follow trends, and I’m still aware of them, but I rarely buy something because it’s trendy. Now I choose clothes because I like them and they’re comfortable. This dress is by Stine Goya, the boots are Kurt Geiger and the earrings are by a lovely independent brand called We Dream in Colour.