Stop the cycle of clothes clearingouts and binging. It is time to restore, repair and renew the things that we love
It says something about fashion that although I’ve been writing for over 20 years about clothes, my favorite T-shirt is missing its collar. I don’t know how to fix it. My sewing kit is what you would find in a hotel room. I have a closet full of fashion show notebooks. It’s probably not worth anything, but I don’t think so.
But I still love my clothes. To me, throwing away any of my clothes is no less sad than burning books. You can call me an intractable romantic, but I think I could live happily every day with the clothes that I own. While I don’t rule out weakness, I do occasionally feel a little shaky when wearing hoop earrings or leopard print. Sometimes things wear out and need to be replaced. My wardrobe would be my home for the rest of my life.
What is stopping me from achieving a life of endless wear for my clothes? The aforementioned lack in maintenance skills is a good start. Moths. Poor napkin control when eating spaghetti arrabbiata. Teenagers who “borrow” items. Fashion is the greatest enemy to the beautiful clothes you already have. Fashion is something I love, and will always be. Fashion is a celebration that you are alive. Fashion as a modern industrial complex has its dark side. It is all about falling in love with clothes and then quickly getting rid of them so that you can buy new ones.
Fast fashion is like buying Pringles. You want to continue and you start. This is the slo-mo way to buy cute sundresses online. It’s not the right dress for you. It’s the rush to buy something new.
It’s nothing personal, Ms Kondo. But enough is enough with the clearout obsession. It’s absurd that clothes can be sent to landfill as a “wardrobe detox”. It is absurd that you can discard good clothes in order to make way for better ones. Fashion will occasionally come up with something new, but it’s almost always about what you wear the clothes you already have. You can change the silhouette by wearing a belt with a blazer or dressing in neutral colours.
Your wardrobe should be considered a permanent collection and not a shopping mall. This will help you to resist impulse buying. My ineptness at fixing clothes motivates me to ensure that what I buy doesn’t fall apart. This doesn’t only apply to expensive items. To see if a dress is durable, look inside it before you buy. A piece that has been cared for will have details such as a hook and eye fastening at the zipper opening. Stray threads that are threatening to unravel are the reverse. This is common sense, although it can be tricky if you buy online. If you purchase secondhand clothes, you make them live forever.
Clothes repair has become a growing industry. There are many chic ateliers that specialize in restoring bags and shoes, like The Restory, Make Nu have embroidery fairy godmothers that will cover any snags in your favorite sweater with a daisy. You can connect with a tailor to make your vintage treasure fit like a glove.
The celebrity personal trainer is no longer the best option. The hot restorer is what you need to know. Perhaps the fashion industry is in a resurgence. Even if my favorite T-shirt isn’t.