If you’re worried about being caught wearing the same thing twice you’re not alone. This fear is shared by women the world over, me included.
I held this irrational fear for much of my adult life. It’s the main reason I kept a running catalogue in my mind of who had seen me in what outfit and at which event.
When I got over the absurdity – prompted mostly by my sustainable values and a need to save money – I later discovered that wearing the same thing twice is actually well known in conventional fashionista circles as “the ultimate fashion faux pas.”
Wikipedia defines a faux pas as a socially awkward or tactless act, especially one that violates accepted social norms, standard customs, or the rules of etiquette
WHY CAN’T YOU WEAR THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER?
When I began my journey into sustainable fashion way back in 2008, I began to wonder: since when did wearing the same thing twice become socially unacceptable?
It led me on a search to understand the influences of this irrational fashion notion and I found it: pop culture, marketing and media.
We only need look at our culture to understand why we have such a problem with being seen in the same outfit twice. From the reality TV shows we watch such as the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” to the trash magazines we read, our standard of success is based on superficiality and disposability. Glamour, for example, is something people aspire to and there’s something inherently unglamorous about wearing an item you’ve worn before.
Social media has also influenced our thoughts on fashion. We now take selfies and are looking for our own brand of ‘celebrity.’ Take a look at your Instagram feed and you will find that normal everyday people are rarely photographed wearing the same thing twice further feeding this ‘faux pas.’ Getting double taps and ‘likes’ for posing in an outfit (that you borrowed and probably don’t own, or even worse, bought just for the social media occasion) is a high-schoolish way to measure self-worth, but somehow we play these silly games anyway.
Even in sustainable fashion circles, you will still find people caught up in avoiding wearing the same thing – even though it is an unsustainable practice. While it is a positive sign that people are purchasing socially responsible and eco friendly fashion, using the old model of unrestrained shopping to feed never-ending desires is still unsustainable.
Pop culture is also responsible for normalising ‘retail therapy.’ We go shopping to buy stuff we don’t need and probably already have 10 similar items hanging in our wardrobes! It has become socially acceptable to buy something new, wear it once and never wear it again. If our great grandparents were alive today, they would be horrified at our rate of consumption and even more so, the waste of it. A generation that valued hard work and lived simply, our great grandparents would turn in their graves if they could see how we live now.
Fashion marketing has been successful in creating a band of ‘aspirational’ lifestyle worshippers that shuns wearing an outfit twice in favour of wearing something once. Because of this marketing illusion, we all want to be ‘A-list’ people who are stylish, creative, unique and well-to-do. Wearing something once and disposing of it is apparently a behaviour that wealthy people display; it implies you’re wealthy enough to do so and wealthy enough not to care.
Furthermore, by helping to perpetuate the idea that wearing something twice is taboo, marketers and the interests of the fashion companies they represent – also make record profits.
A quick search on Google brings up countless articles shaming celebrities for wearing the same thing twice. One from the Daily Mail is titled: “Frock Horror! Vogue Queen Anna Wintour wears the same outfit twice.” Another article on the Huffington Post is substantially worse with one celebrity criticising another: “Kelly Osbourne Disses Kate Middleton for Wearing Same Dress Twice.”
The media’s scrutiny of celebrities wearing the same thing has infiltrated the lives of us mere mortals and we subconsciously pick up on the fact wearing an outfit more than once is a big no-no.
To be an authentic sustainable fashionista, you need to let go of your fear of being seen in the same outfit or wearing something twice. Not only is this belief and its associated buying behaviour wreaking havoc on our environment, it’ll keep you forever on the shopping hamster wheel. For more style inspiration where I happily wear the same thing way more than a handful of times, check out a previous post I wrote: “Green Fashion Envy: My Vintage Bag.”
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