1.30.2018

buying slow fashion on a stay-at-home mom budget

i was fed the lie that i needed to constantly buy & believed it wholeheartedly. 



my journey to an intentional wardrobe began with the want for less. over the past few years i've been working towards simplification in my life. reflecting on what was taking priority in my life. finding out what things were causing me to stumble in my walk with jesus. wanting to know life, stripped down, away from the noise of commercially driven lifestyles. 

i had recently quit my job to stay home with two of our children at the time. i no longer wore my dress pants for work everyday. i wasn't walking around in heels. i wasn't traveling & spending my free time browsing the local mall. my life had changed & i was ready to change with it. 

i stared at my professional closet full of great deals & super buys & began to plan. (click HERE to see how i got started with my first capsule wardrobe.)

as i started planning my closet takeover, i continually found myself drawn to a couple of company's design ethos over & over. my style was starting to take shape. i started keeping a detailed list of specific items to start saving for & possibly purchase over the next year, broken down by upcoming season & individual cost in the notes on my phone. 

yes i plan specific purchases a year in advance. 

as i started getting acquainted with some of these companies i was admiring, i started learning more about their stance in the fashion industry & their niche in the slow fashion world. read HERE to see what the new york times is saying about slow fashion & the rise of elizabeth suzann & other designers who are pushing back against the pressure to constantly deliver new product. 

one thing was clear, the designers & companies that were producing made-to-order, quality items were carrying a much different price tag than i was used to seeing...but for good reason. 
one top at elizabeth suzann could cost $185. 
here's an estimated breakdown of how that top's price point is determined:  
$63 to produce (labor, material, wastage) + $121 gross profit margin ($103 operating costs + $18 net profit) = $185 price tag
everything you'd ever want to know about how her process & pricing works is detailed & transparent on her website, just click HERE
the reality is, me a few years ago would have looked at a $185 price tag on a shirt & laughed at the thought of actually purchasing it. do you know how many shirts i could buy with that much money?? then it was all about how far i could stretch a dollar. quality didn't matter. fit sorta mattered. longevity was not a priority. i just knew i needed a closet full of clothes because i "never had anything to wear". fast fashion had me.  i didn't know there was any other way.

i finally saved up enough & purchased my first quality linen piece from elizabeth suzann. i was hooked. i suddenly began thinking about the possibility of a capsule wardrobe, a small collection of seasonally appropriate, mix & match clothes. this was something elizabeth suzann believed in & designed for. having pieces like this would make outfit planning so much simpler & more streamlined, saving me time & energy each day. 

no need to call the electrician. the lightbulb just came on. 

i knew in one trip to target i could easily spend $100+ on clothes & accessories. and that was just one trip. if i was bored or wanted something to do with friends, i would shop. i'd browse racks & racks just to see if anything jumped out at me. i'd buy something just because it was cute. i was always hunting for the most amazing deal. the cheaper the price, the greater the deal, the greater the momentary excitement & ultimate dissatisfaction.

over & over again, i'd come home, to my closet full of great deals, and feel unfulfilled, uninspired & quite honestly, frustrated. 

i suddenly realized i didn't need a dozen different cardigans. i didn't always need a new pair of boots just because these were different than the ones i owned. i wanted to stop spending too much money on cheap, trendy purchases that i hated a week later. i wanted to stop thinking that just because something was a good deal meant i needed to buy it. i wanted to purchase items that represented me, that inspired me. i wanted things that would last more than a couple wash & wears. i wanted to break the cycle of buying more & more & more just because it was "in" then throwing half of it in a trash bags months later where it ultimately ended up in a landfill somewhere. 
did you know the average american throws away at least 80 pounds of clothing every year which adds up to almost 26 billion textiles and clothes ending up in landfills. i could go on but just check out what all this fast fashion & our constant buying & dumping is doing to our planet. click HERE. it's a serious problem, folks.
honestly, i was tired. tired of chasing the trends. tired of trying to keep up. i wanted a few key pieces that made me feel confident, kept me feeling comfortable & would last longer than one season.


so how do i buy slow fashion on a stay-at-home mom's budget???

we are a family of seven living on a principal's salary. i take home a little income on the side but it's only about $30 a month. when i began purchasing for my intentional wardrobe, i didn't automatically have cash sitting around & i don't use credit cards. i saved any money i got for my birthday (thanks grandma). i put back some money i received at christmastime (thanks parents). it all-eventually-added up! patience is important & i appreciate the amount of time it takes me to save because it ensures that what i'm planning to purchase is something i truly want to invest in. 

another way i've been able to generate some savings for my new wardrobe may be obvious but it has made all the difference in me being able to purchase a few new quality pieces in the beginning. i sold my old clothes. and coats. and shoes. and purses. it was all part of the simplifying process for me. not gonna lie, it wasn't easy making the choice to let go of some things, but NEVER HAVE I EVER looked back & thought, dang, i wish i still had that. the more i let go. the easier it got. the clearer my goals became. i sold some of my nicer things (top brands in great condition) online for maximum selling price potential, then i had yard sale after yard sale. if some of the nicer items didn't sell right away, i put them back for a month or so & tried again. i was okay with working slowly on getting the most cash out of my things because they would be funding my new purchases. that helped jumpstart me financially. 

after i started making some specific purchases based on my "what am i looking for" shopping list,  i would reevaluate each item in my closet at the end of every season. if a piece of clothing wasn't working out, then it was sold to fund a new purchase. the same went for if i wanted to add another item to my closet...something else needed to go. this thought process really made me think about the versatility & quality of clothing i was buying. 


now, please don't think this means i have taken an oath against purchasing anything from any big chain stores. (at least i haven't yet ;p) i have a cardigan that i found at walmart that i love, a denim button up i've had for years that i bought from a kmart & a pair of booties that i got from a cato's store YEARS ago that i'm going to wear until they fall apart. it doesn't have to be so black & white. it's not about following anyone's "rules" but i think it is important to do something with the knowledge you have. to make better choices once you understand the ways things work. 


i've also embraced the fact that i am never going to have a perfect, forever wardrobe. i was frustrated that i was buying & selling at the end of every season, but the reality is my taste will evolve through the seasons & over the years. it's not about getting to a place of forever contentment, but it is about changing shopping habits. it's about making conscientious choices. about being intentional. about putting my money where my mouth is. about supporting small business. supporting women-run businesses. supporting companies who care about our carbon footprint. supporting designers who are bucking the overtly sensual design of clothing & actually designing for curvy women (click HERE to see more on elizabeth suzann's diversity campaign & HERE for more about my experience in participating in it).

these things are important when we talk about where our money is going & need to be part of a bigger conversation.

plus, i'm just plain tired of the fast fashion retailers telling us what to do.

;)


*we, as women, are more than just great deal hunters.*



2 comments:

  1. My daughter tagged me in this and I have to say I love your perspective! I grew up in a family where we had no disposable income and my parents bought quality pieces that lasted a lifetime. (My dad wore Florsheim wingtips he had resoled probably 10 times)...most of my clothes were handmade growing up. I remember my first pair of pumps were about $90 (which was a lot 30 years ago) but I wore them for probably 10 years and they were still in great shape. I'm moving from quantity back to quality as I grow older...I'm in a weightloss mode so I'm not as picky because I am getting smaller and can't invest a lot ever few months...my goal is to get to a size and commit to it because I can't afford to buy bigger haha!

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  2. This is a great post. I’ve been working towards a more ethical closet for the last few years but I am an at home mom as well, and while I could afford to buy the T Sweater I’ve been dreaming of (at $248), I simply cannot justify it. I won’t go spend that money on a bunch of cheap clothes, I’ve just been searching for something similar, or searching eBay etc. I’ve recently been diagnosed as having contact dermatitis to formaldehyde-which is used to dye textiles. A good portion of my clothing is the reason why I have constant itching on my legs (especially my daily pair of jeans). It’s been very frustrating knowing that to find clothing that is safe for me to wear, those pieces will be over a $100 each, and jeans around $150+ I am trying to see the positive and remember that I wanted a smaller closet anyway (even though I’d just gotten my winter closet exactly the way I wanted it with ethically made quality pieces). Because I have to be 100% sure of the dye going forward, it means most things will have to be new unless I know for sure the brand only uses the natural dyes across all their lines. The good part is that people rave about the lasting quality year after year of these clothes and the styles are pretty timeless. So onward to building my itch free closet!

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