Why I Stopped Shopping at the Mall

It’s been about six months since I started wearing the skirts everyday. It was done in part so I could connect with my more bohemian self, and also so I could simplify my outfit choices. It worked wonderfully at first. And then, in one misguided trip to Macy’s I got carried away. I bought about $150 worth of clothing, on sale and all that.  I walked away with two giant bags filled with stuff.

Now that I have many more clothes, I find myself at a loss of what to wear most mornings. Without blogging, I find myself falling back into my old habits. It’s time to purge again and get rid of the junk. (And return to writing, too)

Furthermore, I haven’t had most of this stuff more than a couple of months and some of it already looks like crap.  These clothes aren’t meant to be worn frequently.  I feel like I’ve wasted my money. Many times I don’t want to wear what I have simply because it looks shoddy.  How often does that happen to you? I’m tired of it happening to me, so I have officially quit shopping at the mall.

It is  a shame that these large companies don’t take the time to put together quality clothing, but it’s not surprising.  I mean, they are paying scraps to little kids in China to put these scraps of clothes together.  Clearly, they care more about their profits than anything else.  If profits weren’t their main concern, they’d pay their manufacturers better. Why not cut corners on quality, too?

Do you know what “pilling” is?  It usually happens when a fabric has little tiny balls of fabric stuck all over it. So if a canvas tote bag you’re carrying rubs up against a synthetic, polyester t-shirt, you get pilling. Pilling is the bane of my existence.  It makes relatively new clothing look pretty shoddy. I’m starting to think clothes were only meant to be worn once.  I saw an article on Yahoo! over the weekend, “Britney Spears Explains Why She Wears the Same Outfits in Public.” We as a people in this country have serious problems if we have to explain wearing the same clothes over again. I know it doesn’t apply to me, the regular, not-famous human, but the fact that this even made the tabloids, speaks volumes about our society.  And us normal people don’t want to repeat outfits too frequently either. So of course  clothing manufactures can get away with selling this clothing of such poor quality.  Besides, this low-quality crap is the only thing that most of us can afford.

Nonetheless, I know how to pick out high-quality items on sale.  However, the time required to find the style/color/size I want coupled with the availability of superior quality items (and fair price, anyone?) makes it very difficult to find what I’m looking for, especially last minute–and that, of course, is how I do most of my shopping. It takes work. Work that I’m just not interested in doing. Malls really aren’t my favorite place, ya know?

So at one point, I thought, to save money (and time, and stress, and frustration) I should sew my own clothes.  I thought that going old-fashioned was the solution to the crap at the mall. “Old-fashioned” has been my solution to slowing everything down a bit.  It worked very well for improving my diet, but apparently not for my personal style. See, I’ve had the machine for a while now and the only thing I’ve made is a giant pillow-bed for my dog.  I’ve hemmed a couple of things, but I really don’t think I’m going to do much more sewing than that.  Sewing projects really just aren’t for me. I think it is an important skill to have, but I’m going to stick to crocheting hats and scarves for now. So lately I’ve been perusing Etsy for people who hand-sew clothing.  I bought a hand-sewn purse a good while ago (not online) and it is still in wonderful condition.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything of that quality at the mall. I paid $50 for it. A tote of that quality is worth FAR more than $50 dollars retail. 

It is clear that these big companies, really aren’t looking out for the needs of the consumer.  I need durable clothing (purses and shoes) that can stand frequent wear. I think I would save far more money if my clothing didn’t wear out as quickly as it does now. The items I buy would stay nicer, longer. The reality is, I’m just not going to be able to find that at the mall, for the amount of money I’d like to spend.

P.S. I also decided to stop shopping at the mall because I want to support black businesses.  It is very difficult to do that at the mall.  My community is suffering and the least I can do is spend my money where it’s needed. 

What You Should Stop Stressing About Right Now: #2 What to Wear

Clothing is a mode of personal expression, personal style, culture and history.  They keep us warm and dry. And without clothes, we’d all be walking around naked. We cannot escape these simple facts.  For me, however, I’m starting to feel like making clothing choices is taking too long. As I researched my Fashion for Minimalists post and began a massive clean-out of my closet, I realized it doesn’t matter if I have fewer clothes if I’m still spending all that time pondering what to wear.

Yesterday morning I changed my outfit three times. If I hadn’t, I would have been on time to work. Living a slower-paced lifestyle to me is about spending more time on things that matter and less time on trivial  things.  My only requirements for work clothes is that they’re comfortable, cute, modest, and keep me from being mistaken for a high school student. And even with my new reduced wardrobe volume, I lose 3.5-4 hours a week thinking about clothing, trying to figure out what to wear, changing outfits, and changing back.  I could have been writing, sleeping, or making breakfast. How much time do you spend picking out your clothes?

As most people in the USA probably have noticed, most guys take five minutes in the morning to get dressed.  Why is that? It can’t be that most of them are dirty, stinky slobs. No, many of them just don’t value the meticulous coordinating that women do. My boyfriend has 10 of the same shirt he really likes but in different colors; many men do this.  It is simple to get dressed in the morning if all you have to do is choose one of those shirts; you just go with whatever one is clean. Yet every single article currently in my closet is different in style/shape/color than every other article.  It’s quite silly really; having such a wide variety of clothes seems ostentatious when I think about.

This past weekend, I was staring at my closet after the massive clean out I was telling you about. It was pretty empty. And I thought to myself, “What a beautiful, stress-free wardrobe!” I had to keep myself from getting too relieved because I had a good amount of dirty clothes that needed to be laundered and put away.

Still, I saw the light.  I’ve realized the potential in having fewer options of what to wear. When I researched my Fashion for Minimalists post, I wondered if other people would wear the same clothes every day. Apparently they do. Johan Woods, in his article “Why Mark Zuckerberg Wears the Same Clothes Everyday,” says:

By turning daily choices into a routine (like how you dress), you free up mental and creative energy to be used for higher priorities.

The article, and that quote expresses my sentiment exactly. Spending time selecting clothing, especially for someone who is already pressed for time and energy, is a waste of time. Thinking more and more about it, I realized I WANT THAT! In theory, it seems so easy, so effortless. I want to get up in the morning, take 2 minutes to put on my clothes, not even thinking about what I’m wearing,  and get on with my day.  Well not the exact same clothes, but the same outfit.   Now I’m not going to strip my wardrobe down to 7 identical tops and 7 identical bottoms because I’d like some variety when I feel like getting dressed up.  Maybe one day I will. For now, I am going to make more changes that involve limiting the diversity of my wardrobe.  (I’ve realized that I have some transitioning from grad school clothes, to grown-up/professional clothes and therein lies part of my clothing issues…)

I decided that having multiples of my favorite pieces and wearing those often is the way to go. I’ve purchased two of the exact same black skirts that I’ve been rotating along with some other maxi skirts; getting dressed in the morning has become a lot easier.  The black maxi skirt is pretty neutral piece that can be dressed up or down. All I have to do is pair it with one of the bazillion (smh) shirts that I have and I’m good to go. Once I get my shirts paired down to the essential few, for work and for weekends,  I’m good. The idea to never have to have that issue, “What am I going to wear today?” take up more than a few seconds of my time.

Stressing out about clothing is really a pointless endeavor. While our society is vain, judgmental, and probably cares too much about what people wear, don’t you want to wear something that fits within your lifestyle? That is what this is about for me. I could try to coordinate many different outfits and keep up with the latest fashion trends, but it hasn’t been working for me. I’ve often gotten stuck wearing things I don’t want to wear because my job requirements, or its so freaking cold in the office that there isn’t a choice… I’m just trying to get to the point where I can wear what I want without it requiring any extra thought or effort on my part. Time and energy conservation is all part of the slow life.