It’s Fashion Month! Quit Buying New Clothes

For those of us who are fashionistas (and yes, I plead guilty to that), September is usually the month when we gleefully peruse the fashion magazines and store racks for all the lovely new frocks on display for the new season. But this year, Oxfam in the UK respectfully suggests that we instead stop buying new clothes.

So that’s what I’m doing this month. I’ve got enough damn clothes. I love trying on and buying new dresses as a favorite treat for putting nose to the grindstone with my writing, but really, I need to stop. My closet (and my supplemental closet) and dresser drawers are full. I have something gorgeous to wear for every occasion you could possibly name.

And as an environmentalist, I know I need to do my part. The “fast fashion” movement of manufacturers cranking out cheap frocks for low prices have produced massive additions to landfills, not to mention our closets and charity shops. Visit any Goodwill shop and you’ll see what I mean: racks and racks filled to bursting, so tight you can hardly get through the aisles. 

Collectively, we Americans have gone on a clothes shopping binge during the last several years, and we need to just stop it. Here’s what you (and I) can do to save the planet and lead more fashion-sober lives:

  • Shop the charity stores, like Goodwill. It’s okay. I bought a lovely cotton knit dress there that’s one of my favorites. You might find something terrific you couldn’t afford if it were new and in the department store. Nobody will know where you got it. 
  • Shop the closet. You probably have great clothes in your closet already. I pulled out a ten year old Ralph Lauren dress out of the closet today, and it still looks great. If Kate Middleton can re-wear old frocks, you can too.
  • Go on a fashion diet. Set a specified time (say, one month), and pledge to not buy anything new for that time period. To feel extra virtuous, donate what you would normally spend on clothes to a charity for those in need (like Bahamas hurricane relief).

Celebrate Fashion Month by appreciating the clothes you have. If a garment is well designed, durable, and made of quality materials, it should last for a long time. You won’t need something new, and you’ll do your part in saying “no” to the collective American fashion addiction. 

For more information on Oxfam’s “Second Hand September”, go to:

Recommended reading: The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline, a terrific new book on fashion and sustainability issues. 

Cynthia Coe is the author of creation care resources for adults, youth, and children. Her books Earth Our Garden Home, Wild Faith, and Considering Birds & Lilies are all available in print and e-book editions and included in Kindle Unlimited.

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