This is deviating a bit from my usual topics, but it’s just as important to share. How we think and how we feel will set the pace of our day and really, our entire lives, so it’s crucial that we notice what makes our thoughts turn sour, and how our feelings can quickly dictate our futures.
I have two daughters, and they love to shop. They shop mostly online, especially during the pandemic, but also at the malls, in conversations with friends, on social media, and on various resale sites. They love to be on their phones, and they love to find #inspo and their newest #OOTD.
As teenagers will do, during the dragging minutes of their days, they will shop for the future – that upcoming summer beach trip, the weekend with friends. And I will get that familiar text ding, asking if they can order from cheap clothing producer 1.
Now, I should preface this: I spent over twenty-five years working in fashion. I know a great deal about good deals, about lines and drapes and patterns, and about how vintage construction differs from today’s production. I will tell you to buy quality, but I too have found many a fabulous $10 top. I don’t go in with high expectations on that top’s performance or endurance, but sometimes, an inexpensive brand will exceed expectations. Other times, the brand will quickly define, “you get what you pay for.”
My daughters don’t expect to buy Chanel and own it for 20 or 30 years. They want a cute sparkly thing to wear on Friday night.
As much as I enjoy watching their evolving fashion sense through lots of trendy trials, I encourage them to buy better as often as possible. Because I have found, heartbreakingly, that a rock-bottom price paid, once ripped from that imported poly bag, may be too great of a price to bear. The value of self-worth is so much greater than the savings created with any toss-away fashion.
I watched as my perfect-size-6 daughter, with a strong and healthy body, fall into sobs and a slammed door when a sequiny skirt with a cut-out belt gave her hip bones a slight bump.
My heart sank when my strong, independent, younger daughter was ‘skeeved’ by a stranger eyeing her camisole top that didn’t support her quickly growing body.
There is a reason why good clothing is costly. Proper tailors cut the fabric, not the corners, that will result in the best drape – not the 55 cents saved. Patterns will be tested on several renditions before making that final cut to production.
When vendors are selling a $10 blouse retail, they aren’t thinking about how the body will feel in it. They’re thinking about how many units, at the lowest cost possible, that they can sell to stay in operation.
I repeat – it’s about them, not you.
I will tell you, like I tell my daughters, to buy quality because it lasts – but also, because of the way it will make you feel.
From a surface level, the retail price the item commanded was based on a series of cost-reflective decisions: it included great fabric, great tailoring, great reputation, and great transparency. There is value to its branding too, but generally, higher-end items have to defend their price strategy. You feel good in good clothing because of everything that was built into it (woven into the very fabric of it!) from day one.
Further, energy resides in all things. The energy from clothing produced in unsavory conditions, the energy from clothing meant to be discarded, is not a fulfilling energy. That energy is carried over from the underpaid hands that made it. It is carried over in the mindset of the fast and disposable. It is not honoring your worth, nor those who produced it for you.
Though we will have many different events in our lives that we have to dress for, consider those items in your closet that you grab, again and again. Those pieces likely fit you well, in your color and cut. They flatter you. They may have been expensive or inexpensive, full price or on sale. What they are today though, through repeated wearings, are loved.
When we choose to buy something, wouldn’t it feel so much better to invest? To buy less, with the purpose of swelling our hearts. To make purchases that are tailored to us, our bodies, and our lives – whether it’s our life now, or our aspirational future.
And when we find ourselves bedazzled by that incredibly cheap sequin skirt, we stop and weigh the cost of our worth, and how we will feel, against the price on the tag.