Today’s guest post comes from my friend and former student Kayla.
As a fashion merchandising student, I’m supposed to constantly be on the lookout for new styles and designers. Also as a student in New York City, there is an expectation to look put together every single day. Beautiful fashion captivates me; well-made, timeless clothing is what I love about fashion. What I don’t love is the growing amount of “fast fashion” we are all being exposed to. Sure Forever 21 and H&M produce cute clothing at great prices but as a general rule of thumb, if the price is too good to be true then you are hurting someone. There are thousands of people quite literally slaving away to produce $5 t-shirts. Fast fashion has gotten the best of men, women, and children all over the world and has become the only affordable option.
In May 2009, a young woman named Sheena Matheiken began the Uniform Project. For a whole year, she wore the same little black dress—but accessorized with vintage and handmade items. In this exercise of sustainability, she was able to raise over $100,000 for the Akanksha Foundation, which provides education to children living in the slums of India. The project is now in its second year and features a new girl and dress every month! On this same note of sustainability, I recently came across the website Six Items or Less. For this project, people could sign up to wear 6 items of clothing (undergarments not included!) for a month and document their experience. I loved this idea and decided to try it for a week.
I looked in my clothes for pieces I knew I’d love to wear repeatedly and that would last. So I chose a purple Uniqlo tank top, a gray American Apparel v-neck, a seafoam Pacsun v-neck, a pair of black Zara shorts, a pair of Seven jeans, and a pair of black Uniqlo trousers. Three tops, three bottoms.
Overall, I really enjoyed this project. I loved not having to think too hard about what to wear everyday. And no one at my job even noticed I was wearing the same six items. I took it a step further and used only six makeup items for the week: two mineral eyeshadows, mascara, mineral powder, mineral blush, and lipstick.
While it is tempting to indulge in cheap retail therapy (we’ve all done it!), we should try to remember where our clothing comes from. Just think about how much fuel it takes to produce and ship one single t-shirt to a store near you! While investing in higher quality organic or sustainable clothing might cost more money up front, classic styles will last forever.
Kayla is currently in her third year of college in New York City. She enjoys the beautiful aspects of fashion, as well as delicious food from her farmer’s market and small restaurants. Cupcakes, traveling, and exploring the city make her happy. Follow Kayla on twitter.