I'm Not Sure What I Want From Fashion These Days

August 16, 2020

rainbow matching set outfit

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is going on right now, which usually would be a huge deal for me. In years past I've previewed the collection, circled my favorite items from the catalogue, and counted down the seconds until my new fall purchases made their way to my doorstep. This year, however, I couldn't care less about getting a discount on boots I can't wear for 3 more months; the only section of the sale I've even looked through is their pajamas and home goods, and even then I feel no desire to purchase anything.

My ambivalence towards the Anniversary Sale is reflective of my feelings towards shopping as a whole right now. Five months ago my work sent me and my coworkers home, and currently there is no end in sight to my work from home situation, or the end of the pandemic as a whole. I venture out of my apartment rarely and for short periods of time, usually just to the Starbucks around the corner or the grocery store, and while I do love to dress up, dressing up for a run to the grocery store where I try to get in, grab what I need, and get out as quickly as possible, only to return to sitting on my bed in my apartment, seems frivolous. Occasionally I will put on a fun outfit for a TikTok or Instagram photo, but those looks last thirty minutes, tops, before I switch back into a T-shirt and loungewear.

And I know! This all sounds crazy coming from me, Lindsey, THE Fashion Barbie! The girl who wears dresses more often than jeans, who believes it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed, the girl who gets genuine joy out of finding a new item of clothing to love and style and treasure for years to come. Even toward the beginning of the pandemic I was feeling more optimistic about clothes and shopping, encouraging readers to check out Memorial Day Weekend sales and posting cute photos of the fun spring dresses I had hopes about being able to wear out and about by midsummer. But now, in August, the situation feels so much more dire, and with my return to the office now permanently TBD, I feel little desire to spend money on trendy items that might be totally out of date by the time I get to actually debut them outdoors.

Don't get me wrong, I want to like new clothes and feel enough energy to purchase cute new things. With social media becoming one of my few outlets, I’m constantly eyeing fun new trends to try on TikTok and Instagram, from cottagecore romantic dresses to pastel matching sets.

The problem is that, perhaps because my current situation longs for escapism, I keep gravitating toward dreamy maximalist pieces like this rainbow poof of a dress from Selkie or that strawberry dress that’s all over TikTok; dresses that, while fun and joy-inducing, don’t really make sense to wear in the confines of my apartment. The dresses I purchased near the beginning of quarantine have seen the light of day maybe once, and usually just for the purposes of content creation. I realized that one dress I bought back in April still had tags on it because I had only worn it for the purposes of Instagramming it, and while I know influencers do this all the time, it feels disingenuous and almost irresponsible to constantly be flaunting new items that aren’t actually worn out. From my blog’s conception back in high school, I always vowed that the outfits I showcased would be ones that I actually wore out in real life, not just for the purposes of a cool photo. I’ve prided myself on that authenticity, and don’t want to change that now.

Between the pandemic’s major effects on the economy and the fashion industry in particular, along with the Black Lives Matter movement encouraging me to be more mindful about where and how I shop, the idea of constant clothing consumption feels off-putting. I’m fortunate to have a job through the pandemic, but I know that for many people that is not the case, and even those with jobs have experienced salary cuts and other financial hardships. To spend money on clothes that may or may not stand the test of time feels wasteful, and again, if I’m not getting any use out of the clothes for the foreseeable future, why purchase them at all? If I do get the urge to buy something, I don’t want to spend large amounts of money on something because who knows how the economy could change in the near future; but then my options are fast fashion retailers who typically use substandard manufacturing practices and underpay foreign workers. As much as I can, I’m trying to avoid those retailers.

So what am I left with? A vague desire to try new clothes and styles but no true want to purchase anything, out of fears of uncertainty and wasted money. I’m not sure this will last forever, as I’m sure I’ll get back to my usual ways of wearing girly dresses once the pandemic is over and life gets closer to normal than it is now, but I do know that the ways I’ve thought about my clothing consumption has changed how I look at shopping, and I do think that will stick with me for years to come.

This isn’t to say that I’m “over” fashion or have no desire to talk about it, just that I’m putting more of an emphasis on the clothes I already have sitting in my closet and that I’m thinking more mindfully about my shopping practices. I may be wearing more shorts and T-shirts than usual, but even through all of this my love of fashion remains, just reframed to be more conscious of my participation as a consumer and what that means, both personally and for us all.

How are you feeling about fashion and shopping right now? Have your shopping decisions changed during the pandemic? Has your style?

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I love hearing your thoughts! Thanks for reading! ♥︎Lindsey