Clothes And Avocados

*This post is a part of a series called Aware in which I am talking about the fast fashion/slow fashion dynamics.

If you thought I would dump the ethical fashion topic, you were wrong. That subject is here to stay. I just needed to clear my head to be able to write about it.

Remember my no-shopping pledge and how I failed at carrying it out? Well, I'm back with my thoughts on it after over a year has passed.

I lasted about 2.5 months without shopping at all.
I started in September and in mid November I bought a vintage coat that I actually needed.

Is 2.5 months long? No. Is that a failure? Well, let's see what happened next.

In December, I bought a new blouse directly from the designer, a company I believe to be ethical -- a Book of Deer top --as a Christmas present for myself. It went downhill from there and I made more purchases as the new year progressed. My one rule was to shop for vintage and used clothes solely and I did stick to that. Yay for me.

Oh, wait, I didn't. In the summer I attended a screen printing workshop that I needed plain t-shirts for. Since I hate sewing knits and had no jersey available anyway, I went the easiest way around acquiring my tees --I bought them in H&M. I ended up really disliking the tees (poor quality stretchy cotton) even though I like the prints I made. Yay for karma.

But all this data isn't necessarily the most important thing to look at.

When I realized I would not be able to last for a whole year without shopping for clothes, I started to observe my behaviour and see actually when and why I went shopping.

Essentially, to feel better.

After a while it occured to me that I don't look for new clothes when I'm feeling up. When I'm fine, I realize my wardrobe is already big enough and I have a lot of clothes in regular rotation: pieces that I enjoy and that just fit me, my personality and my life well.

I do, however, happen to feel down every once in a while (or quite often, really) and that is a time when I feel vulnerable and in need of picking myself up with something tangible. I often feel bad about myself in the way that I think I don't look good. And looks have a lot to do with clothes in my book. So my habitual response to that is to go on-line shopping. Hey, I could binge-eat or starve myself, it's not that bad, yes?

Now, while I usually start with Zalando, I end up on used clothing section of Allegro, a local listing site. For one good reason, really: prices. I may like this cute dress but it's too expensive for me to buy on a whim, even when it's on sale. But used clothes? Yeah, they're cheap. That makes it easy to justify a purchase or two. Or five. This is the part where we go deep.

If you look at it from a perspective that is largely popular in my circles, it looks that I'm buying into the commercialized lifestyle --something basically just shameful. I am spending my money needlessly just to fill a void. So the clothes arrive, I get my endorphines but the rush goes away the moment I realize I've just spent money on unnecessary things and the vicious cycle begins anew... I feel low so I go shopping to fill the void...

But you know what? Screw that. So I fill my void with shopping for clothes. I have friends who do not care for looks but they fill their voids with travels. I have friends who eat to fill the void. I have friends who would screw every moving person just to fill their void. I'm no better but I'm also no worse.

And the void? The thing itself? What is it, really? I mean, we're living in this crazy world of ever-present pop psychology that makes you believe that you have a void. And it's so easy to buy into this thinking. Of course I have a void! Why wouldn't I? If I didn't have a void, I'd be a shallow bimbo. I need to have a void. I have to have a void so that I can fill it with overspending, overtravelling, overeating, overfucking and overgoing to therapy.

But you know what? I think the void was created so it could in turn create a need to spend money.

And this is where I was a year ago and this is where I went wrong with my no shopping pledge.

I felt like, oh, I'm so clever now! I cracked the system! Ha, now screw the system, let's never spend a penny again.

Like spending money is a bad thing.

What I mean to say is that I'm not going to bash myself for buying clothes just like I wouldn't bash myself for buying an avocado. Sure, I can live without both. But I like avocado and it makes the best breakfast sandwich. Yes, I can eat my sandwich with just a tomato but it's just so much better with an avocado. Sure, there are a lot of traps along the way. If I eat too much avocado, I'll get nauseous and if I eat way too much avocado, I'll gain weight which really isn't something I want right now. If I buy avocado from the wrong vendor, it will end up in trash because it'll be unripe and beyond help. But if I get my avocado exactly right, soft and ripe and just excellent, it's going to bring me pleasure and fulfillment and I won't get hungry until dinner. No regrets, no stings of remorse, just plain old good avocado happiness.

Clothes are my avocado.

I feel good about my avocado buying habits. Therefore, I can feel good about my clothes buying habits.

Commercialism wants you to buy stuff and then feel bad about buying stuff. Bash and hate yourselves! It makes you all the more vulnerable and makes you look for consolation in whatever form, the most attainable being money bought --because that's what makes you work for commercialism.

If there's one thing my no shopping pledge has taught me it is that not spending money is not what works against the system. It's being content with the way you spend your money that is. The more you shop reasonably (that being a container-word to define in my next article in the series) for things that make you genuinely happy, the less you need.

So, shopping for clothes is fine. You can all feel absolved now. All the sweaters and warm boots you've bought this autumn in preparation for the cruel months of winter were well deserved. Unless they weren't. The context is what matters. But that's a story for the next time so stay tuned.



  1. This is great. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Outfit Zest

  2. I love your comparisons here. Really great post and I agree completely with what you had to say. Shopping isn't bad, when it is done for the right reasons and in the right way.
    The Artyologist

  3. This is very true!!! Thanks for this post.

  4. But what about the aftermath of our splurging and the people (and nature) who might have been harmed in the process?

    1. I don't have an answer to that, Bivi, other than that everyone has to decide it in their own hearts and minds what it means to splurge and what it means to harm and where they draw the line and what they want to do about it.