Buying for longevity

Buying for longevity

2021 is a new opportunity to buy less but also buy smarter and with more consideration. We spoke to Alice, a staff member from Brisbane about her journey.

I’m heading towards thirty. In many ways, ageing has meant greater freedom. Although, I still feel pressure as a woman to ‘look a certain way’ it definitely has become less often. Partly due to some life experiences and also as a feminist, I dress mostly for me now, which is nice. 

Being skinny or putting on makeup everyday is not as important to me now as it was 10, or even 5 years ago. Working in the arts has definitely helped with this, as my workplaces have generally been inclusive and have not required me to invest in my appearance beyond good hygiene, clean jeans and a decent haircut, every now and then. I’m really thankful for this. 

I have noticed that 10 years ago, I had a very different attitude to fashion and spending. I bought often and gave things away frequently, or they got left unworn in my cupboard. This is not something I’m super proud of. On the up-side, 5 years ago I decided to do better. I decided to start buying for quality and longevity. It hasn’t been straightforward but I am proud of my efforts to curate a smaller, more versatile wardrobe, with greater consideration for the planet. 

My tips are:

  1. Browse second hand often – whether this is on eBay, at your local thrift store, or clothing exchange, or a combination! Browsing frequently helps to hone your sartorial eye, but can also increase what you see. To come across gems you need to do the groundwork, remembering you don’t have to make a purchase every time. There’s no harm in seeing what’s circulating, trying things on for size and making a decision later. It’s taken me awhile to find second-hand denim that I love and it’s always a process of trying on styles and sizes, when some items don’t exactly match today’s sizing charts. It’s also worth noting, many shops are now curating colours, brands and garment types to make your experience easier. 
  1. Invest in good shoes – shoes are beautiful don’t get me wrong, but I’ve found that having less of them and making what I have more durable, has me saving financially and not amassing things I don’t use. I now own one pair of running shoes, one pair of lifestyle sneakers, one pair of dressy black boots, one pair of black heels, brown flats and blue sandals. When I find myself browsing the web or looking in shop windows, I ask myself, will I wear it in 3/5 years and what does it go with in my wardrobe? If the answer is YES, I make a move. I do tend to spend $100 or more on a pair of shoes, which I know may not be possible for some people, but if it means they are comfortable, well made and will last in heat and wet weather, I am happy. Veja, Allbirds, SAYE and Doc Martens are some good options. I’ve also seen great second-hand Vans, Converse and Onitsuka Tiger shoes at Suitcase Rummages. 
  1. Buy second hand wool and leather. If I am going to buy boots or a jumper, there is a good chance leather or wool will have been used as a material. For this reason I like to go second-hand as much as possible. We have far too much supply and far too little care and gratitude for animal products in clothing. In the past, these materials were highly regarded and used for protection against the elements. Going second-hand for these items is a good choice for the planet and considers that these materials take time and resources to produce.  
  1. Go secondhand or vintage for weddings and celebrations. For a special event sometimes you want to try a new look. Often it’s more glamorous than your everyday wardrobe. If you plan a little in advance it’s totally achievable to source your outfit or some of it secondhand! It can actually be a really fun experience to head out with a friend or family member and browse the racks of a local op shop. An app like pinterest is great to make a mood board of styles, materials and colours to assist you while shopping. That way, you are not totally overwhelmed when starting out. It’s such a great feeling to go to an event knowing you look awesome and what you’re wearing is secondhand. Often you get heaps of compliments because your look is unique and hasn’t hurt the bank or the planet.
  1. Active Wear. I’m always on the look on for second-hand t-shirts to work out in. This isn’t for everyone but I don’t see the need to buy new activewear just to sweat in it! It’s also fun to look for shirts with a story. Oftentimes you find old shirts that were linked to a cool event, or a retro brand named tee with cool graphics.

I’m really glad I’ve changed a lot of my buying habits over the years. I now save a fair bit of money that I once spent on new clothes – and now it goes to charity shops or local businesses. 

I write this article knowing that fast fashion is a far larger and pervasive entity than it was in the 90s or early 2000s – so in a lot of ways, I haven’t had the same pressure and advertising young women face today. However, I do think the tide is turning and people are becoming more educated about who made their clothes, from what materials and how the garment industry works as a whole.

I hope you have enjoyed this read. Here’s to your journey. May it be considered and empowered.