Gretchen Tries Stuff Episode 17: The One With (more) Sustainable Fashion
There is a lot of pressure when you are a social media influencer, YouTuber, and/or blogger to constantly be on top of fashion/beauty trends and wear new outfits. Even more so if you have affiliate links that contribute to your monthly income. It's difficult to make money, when you aren't promoting items currently available for sale. This is probably the main reason I have said time and time again, "I'm not a fashion blogger." However, I do love fashion. I've been a Vogue Magazine devotee since I was 18, the first section I read of the Sunday NYTimes is always Style (followed by Travel and Food, then real news), I used to attend all the Fashion Week events in Portland, and was a sustainable fashion reporter when I was a full-time journalist—I also covered sustainable restaurants, in case you were curious.
It's my background and love for fashion that constantly makes me feels tempted to write about it more, create more fashion photography for my Instagram, film YouTube videos on outfits, and create shopping guides. So why don't I? The answer is the practicality of it all.
I'm not a fan of "fast fashion." I am firmly in the quality over quantity camp. I'd much rather own less and spend more money on an item that I can wear for 10+ years, than buy something trendy and cheap that I'll likely wear only once or twice. Having 200, 300, or more clothing items to pick from in my closet every morning doesn't personally bring me joy. That doesn't mean that I never shop at places like H&M, Zara or ASOS. One of my favorite sweaters is an oversized grey sweater from H&M, I have a beloved hoodie from Zara that I just can't seem to part with, and I can easily spend hours browsing the ASOS website. But as someone who cares greatly about the environment, the waste generated from the "fast fashion" industry is something I struggle with a lot on a moral level. I'm a big believer that the clothing we wear should last and shouldn't be viewed as disposable.
It's also quite expensive to constantly have a new, fashionable outfit to be posting about. This adds up really fast even if you are buying affordable pieces. After spending a great deal of my 20s searching for what style felt the most "me" — and let me tell you, I struggled with that a lot — I ended up going back to the same core brands that I had liked my entire life. As a kid a poured over the J.Crew catalog the minute it arrived. I loved the photos and the clothing and as a child, I developed this idea THAT THIS is what adults wear (as an adult, I recognize that style varies greatly and everyone has a different way of showing their personality through their clothing choices, so I'll amend this statement to: THIS is what Gretchen as an adult wears). It should be no surprise to anyone that the majority of my clothing comes from J.Crew and Madewell. It's what I defined as everyday fashion when I was young, it's what I feel most comfortable wearing as an adult. It's a style that just feels me and I feel ok spending the money on it because, in my experience, the items last. I'm still wearing clothing from J.Crew that I bought when I was 22-years-old. And while I'd love to buy new items from these shops every season, I can't justify the cost or owning that much new clothes when the clothing I already own are items I still really love.
It feels difficult to blog about fashion, when you aren't personally updating your wardrobe seasonly with the newest trends, when your personal style doesn't very all that greatly year-to-year, and when you make a habit to shop consignment. Half-way through 2018, I set a goal to be more sustainable with my fashion choices. For the past six month, I participated in a challenge to only buy my clothing from a consignment shop (either locally or through online shops like Poshmark). This rule didn't apply to things like socks, underwear, etc. It seemed reasonably to make exceptions for more intimate items. The idea was to help prevent waste by giving an older item new life instead of defaulting to always buying something new. There was also the added bonus of feeling more frugal with my money.
Was it hard sourcing my clothing from consignment shops? Absolutely not! In fact, it was almost too easy. I had zero issues finding items I loved, from brands I loved only slightly used and at a substantial discount. This is an upside to the age we live in. Selling your slightly used clothing is easier than ever. Searching out a specific used item from specific brands is easier than ever. However, I spent way more time in the beginning of 2018 posting Instagram stories or photos of my outfits (or putting together a rare shopping guide on my website) than I did in the second half. I substantially decreased the amount I shared not because I didn't love my outfits, but I couldn't link to anything I was wearing. Nothing I wore was new. If I had a sweater or skirt on that people liked, I couldn't directly tell you where you could buy one for yourself. So I stopped sharing, and I moved even further away from doing fashion content even though I've loved so many more of my outfits in 2018 than any previous year.
Will I continue to source a lot of my clothing from consignment shops in 2019? Probably. To be completely honest, I find the processes of hunting down an item/style I like really fun. However, I have already bought a few new items 2019. In true Gretchen fashion, I bought a couple things from the after Christmas sales at J.Crew, Madewell, and Anthropologie, so while they are new, they are end of season items. In 2019, I'll be sharing some consignment shopping hauls on my YouTube channel but will also try to share anything I do by new for anyone who wants to see some more current items.
Since I haven't been doing fashion-specific content in a while, I don't currently have any affiliate links (outside of Amazon) and thus, don't currently feel as much pressure to only share new items. So in 2019 I'm going to bring back a few things I stopped doing 2018. First of all, I'm bringing back shopping guides—about twice a month I'll produce a themed shopping guide on Fridays called Weekend Picks. In each guide, I'll be upfront about if I picked these items because they are the type of thing I would buy or if I actually own it (I won't own every single item). Second, I'm going to share my outfits on Instagram more. I don't feel ashamed that not everything I wear is brand new in my real life, I refuse to feel ashamed about it in my online life. Will this mean that most of my outfits won't be shoppable? Probably, but at the same time, I think it's really important to show that it's possible to put together a great outfit without out constantly running out to buy something new.
Does this mean I'm becoming a fashion blogger? Ha! I don't think I'd qualify as a fashion blogger. But I won't be shying away from fashion content or sharing my views on issues in the fashion industry.