Disposable Fashion: A Blessing Or A Curse?

As a shopper, your dollar has more worth than it’s monetary calculation. The way you spend your money says tells advertisers exactly what, where and who to pitch their products to. A consumer society is always looking for the next fad, the latest technology and the latest products. And as with fashion, as each season goes in and out, one must begin to wonder — is it for the sake of art and creating something new? Or is it a vicious cycle designed to make us all pour money in to a black hole? Depending on how you manage to look at it, it can be both.

Fashion vs. Style

As a broke-ass interested in fashion, I often find myself pondering a lifelong question that often lends itself to being more of an eternal argument rather than an easy-to-answer question. Trends, fashion and what is new and happening is what is prevalent on TV, in magazines, on your favorite celebrities and on the runway. Yet what is to be said about personal style? Fit, comfort level, classic pieces and personality all play into the way that we dress. The problem is that with mass clothing retailers and the now cyclical nature of clothing, we are primed and pruned to believe that shopping at Forever 21 and H&M once a month is not only commonplace, but necessary. Dressing ourselves has become impersonal — trends are beginning to define our wardrobes more than ever. We fall into the traps of owning the newest cut of jean or the latest updated cardigan that often will not matter six months from now. As a woman who is more defined by style than fashion, I find that it’s not so much a choice as it is a way of living. “Fashion” has become this shadow we have become to chase, and most of us try our best to keep up. Whether you are spending money every month or dropping a mortgage-sized-payment onto fall’s new it bag, who’s to say that one is better than the other?

Quality or Quantity?

The mass clothing retail market appeals to women who want to look like they own it all without taking out loans to float their closet. As retailers like H&M, who earlier this year not only vowed to start selling online but also dropped the prices on their clothing even further, struggle to keep up with the demand of the consumer, quality and relevance of the clothes will undoubtedly suffer. Fashion suddenly turns from something that is beautiful to something that will come apart in your dryer, or worse, the dry cleaner. [That is always so humiliating!] In the photo placed above, online shopping store Net-A-Porter and Harper’s Bazaar teamed up to get together some of Fall’s most frugal finds for fall. But after looking at the list, do you really think you could afford any of it for just 4 months of wear? Fashion designers look to sell their clothes and by all means should be paid for their hard work. Yet how many of us can afford the “modestly priced” $450 classic Diane Von Furstenburg Wrap Dress? Or the “classic” Chanel pillbox bag at $1200+?  It seems as though paying for quality will always be impossible, and that we will always be stuck buying the $50 polyvinyl knock-off bag every three months.

Craving Consistency

As the budget fashionista circle tends to get wider, with style bloggers leading at the forefront and magazines like Elle not far behind, it’s interesting to wonder how fashion will change over the next ten years. As I was flipping through editorials this past September for the latest in fall fashion, I began to see repeats of classic pieces and an encouragement to use things that were already in one’s closet a year ago. Yet the bigger question still remains: are designers marketing to a extremely niche audience? Can people actually afford anything that is being made anymore? The shifts in the economy, wage offerings and job availability have become rampant, and a clear sign that we all need to think before we spend. As Americans shift from living outside of their means to paying off their debts, the high price of fashion will undoubtedly be affected. Although we are fed to believe that changing our wardrobe every few months helps us try new things, I am wishing for a wardrobe full of clothes that will never go out of style. But until that $100K a year job, I guess I will just have to keep dreaming. [+]

How do you stay chic on a budget? What are your spending strategies, and how do you spend smart? How do you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to fashion? Do you make your own clothes? Let us know in the comments below.

**Photo taken from Net-a-porter.com and Harper’s Bazaar

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About the author

Monica Miller - The Intern

Ms. Miller was born in San Diego, CA to one lesbian mother and one righteous, cheap father. Currently, she is enrolled at San Francisco State University for a B.A. in Journalism and the approximate completion date is around 2015. She has worked for many papers in the Bay Area, including the Oakland Tribune and the San Mateo Country Times and is currently the city editor at one of the most underappreciated publications in SF, the Golden Gate [X]press. Though she may find bargains aplenty, it only stems from the necessity of never landing an actual job and working for hacks [like Stuart.] With intelligence, style, poise, bite, and honesty, she will rip your heart out; but not before writing some awesome, poignant shit. This year, she is looking forward to bigger and better things such as: trying to get paid for a gig, actually finding a date that isn't a loser or fucking crazy, not calling her parents when hungover and bringing you the best of the 7x7 everyday of the week. [By the way, I wasn't kidding about the date thing; if you love food, booze and shoegaze, get at me.]

3 Comments

  1. budget-conscious says:

    I’ve recently been having the same dilemma, most of my clothes from Forever 21 and H&M go out of style or fall apart within a couple months. While there are still a few higher qualities pieces from those places that I love, overall I’m swearing off of them. I’ve decided instead to shop the sales of the higher-end clothing stores such as Banana Republic, J.Crew, Anthropologie and Nordstrom. Right now, they are all having big sales before bringing in their fall/winter stuff. I got a great deal on a sweater from J.Crew and I know I will love it and it will last me for years.

  2. Nikki Light says:

    Yes, fashion is a big problem I’ve thought about a lot. I try to lean towards the 100 Thing Challenge. I want minimalist UNIFORM. Thrift stores and free boxes and Clothing Swaps and re-making old and found things helps be responsible while still experiencing the creative play in dressing up.

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