I have recently written about my endeavour to change my habits after watching the documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. The programme examined the appalling damage that the fashion and textile industry has on the environment, particularly how it effects water supplies. It made me feel rather guilty about my own over-consumption of fashion; there have been times when I’ve felt low and I’ve bought stuff in an effort to cheer myself up. It’s easy for consumerism to become an emotional crutch, because in many ways, that’s exactly what it is designed to do. We are constantly bombarded with insidious messages that tell us we’re not good enough. Consumerism promises that the purchase of a the latest trendy handbag, weight loss programme or anti-wrinkle cream will answer the longing for self-worth and contentment. This inevitably fails to prompt meaningful change and we are left feeling as empty as our bank accounts. Retailers know that the best way to sell their wares is to instill insecurity in the consumers. It’s easier to flog a dream of status, beauty and self-esteem to people who feel inferior, ugly and worthless. It would appear that in unhappiness and anxiety is good for buisness.
I know all this to be true but I’m still passionate about fashion. I find it hard the square my certainty that possessions are merely transient objects floating through lives, mostly meaningless and trivial, with my love for fashion. Is there any way to enjoy one’s personal style without being sucked into the consumerism vortex? I’m not here to lecture anyone about their spending habits and wearing clothes that you love can make you feel great. It’s obvious that fashion and personal style do not lead to meaningful happiness, however it can be one of life’s delightful add-on, if it’s kept in perspective. Of course, this all sounds a bit obvious but I think it’s useful to bear it in mind. It’s easy to get distracted by the frenetic pace of modern life and fall into the trap of over-consumption without being aware of it. This also applies to food, alcohol and a number of other substances and behaviours.
I’ve decided to try to be more conscious about how I use fashion and not just buy stuff sooth difficult, unwieldy emotions. Equally, I’m not going to beat myself up for enjoying a good frock. I’ve found it useful to look at what I already have in my wardrobe and pick out the stuff that I really like. This dress is from Olivia Rubin’s AW17 collection and I love it; it has everything I look for in a winter dress. The beautiful floral devoré, the ruffles on the bodice, the flared sleeves and the midi length. All the details fits my personal style. I do enjoy a floral dress, and I’m often tempted by new ones that come out. This doesn’t mean that I’ll never buy another one, but they have to stand up to this cracker before I’ll consider it.