Where do you draw the line between wearing clothes that are functional and comfortable, and those that might flatter your figure better or be more fashionable?
I picked up a copy of Adena Halpern’s Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown from the library yesterday, thinking that it might be an interesting rumination on the subject of clothes. Well, it was an interesting book if one wants to learn about the many designer outfits of the author, and how her well-heeled boyfriends have responded to her fashion choices. But not enlightening to me.
I’m sort of a fashion scrooge, I think.
Well, really, I love beautiful clothes. I enjoy looking through catalogs and fantasizing about owning cashmere sweaters, dresses of velvet and satin, or the perfect pair of butt-flattering jeans. And even though I do regularly spend money on clothes, I do so quite begrudgingly and with loads of guilt. The guilt doesn’t so much come from the money that I spend (although that can certainly be a factor). Rather the guilt comes from buying a commodity that, deep-down, I see as superficial, even worthless. Because I know that my body rarely needs new clothing. I have a closet and a chest of drawers full of items that I can wear for warmth and protection. So the guilt of from knowing that any clothing that I purchase is solely for my vanity. I do not NEED new clothes. So why do I keep buying them?
And I also know that clothing manufacturers routinely exploit women in developing countries, that many cloth fibers are grown in ways that pollute our environment, and that the modest amount of money I spend on clothes each month could easily support a family in Africa.
So, taking all of that into account, what’s a girl to do? Blow off fashion and continue wearing (and re-wearing) older clothes? Only buy from environmentally-responsible companies? Buy clothes with impunity, knowing that one’s choices are hardly a fraction of a drop in the bucket compared to worldwide consumption?