Week 1 was about getting myself to stop thinking about shopping. But Week 2 forced me to think about it again.
I had two credit card bills due this week from my last month of spending and some balances carried over. Looking these bills over made it apparent, in no uncertain terms, that while I have drastically reduced my wardrobe over the last few months, I have also bought into the ethical wardrobe aesthetic too much. And by buying into it too much, I have spent way. too. much.
I am no personal finance expert (obviously), nor do I cover that topic, well, ever. But I guess we can only make it so long talking about shopping consciously without addressing how a more mindful lifestyle is intertwined with our finances. And I didn’t need to be an expert to know that these bills were excessive.
So here it goes: I had $8,000 on my credit cards.
“Who the hell racks up $8,000 in a couple of months?” Me, apparently. Yikes.
I am a mindless swiper.
I looked more closely at the bills. A lot of the expenditures were pretty reasonable – groceries, a recurring charge for pet insurance, my gym membership. But even more of them were not. Lots of eating out, lots of shopping and so many Uber rides.
For someone who talks about ethical purchases and how ethical fashion can be affordable (which it can be!) no spend month sure has me reflecting upon practicing what I preach. I did say this blog was a journey, after all?
After that rude awakening, I spent a lot of my one-hour commutes this week thinking about why I have always shopped so much. A love of fashion? A compulsive need for blog content? Stress relief?
They all played a role, but it was time for me to be brutally honest with myself.
If I think about, and I mean really think about, the times when I have most compulsively shopped, it has been because:
someone said something critical about me (add to cart), someone rejected me (add to cart), someone made me feel inferior (add to cart), I have made myself feel inferior (add to cart), if I just had that one thing I would be so much happier (add to cart), if I just had that one thing I would be so much prettier (add to cart)…
And the list goes on. And then you end up with a cart packed with all the things you don’t like about yourself.
Subtotal: What are you worth?
Last week, when I tried out my new vegan recipe and desperately tried to distract myself from shopping, it wasn’t actually because I was stressed like I initially said. It was because someone I respect deeply had done something that made me feel really small, and I couldn’t deal. And I didn’t want to admit that to you guys then.
As much as ethical fashion is about being kind to the planet and the people who make our clothes, it is also about being kind to ourselves and knowing we are already enough. I have purchased so many ethical wardrobe pieces in the quest to have the “right” items, but also, in the quest to be the right person.
Through this challenge, I am being forced to take a hard look at myself, my coping mechanisms and my ability to be resilient.
I will not be about faux conscious consumption, buying the right things to be the right person. Shit just got real.
Goblin Shark says
So real! I feel like we often leave our finances out of our mindfulness practice because they’re tough to think about. Like, sure, I can purchase this garment and feel really good about the fact that I’m supporting an ethical brand, but if I have the inkling that I should put it on a credit card instead of paying for it outright “just in case” I am not really being mindful or making a responsible choice. I’m so glad to see you writing about that aspect of responsible fashion so openly! This was just overall a great post 🙂
Thanks so much Renee ???? it was a tough one!
This post is EVERYTHING!! Kellie, I am SO glad you wrote this post…I can relate so well! I totally fell into the ethical fashion hole myself, spending way too much to build a minimal wardrobe, buying clothes that the slow fashion icons on Instagram were all wearing. I love that you were so candid about this topic, absolutely LOVE IT. Because I often wonder how everyone is affording all these ethical clothes!!!! I see women on these feeds who are juggling kids and family and jobs and whatnot, yet they also have time to take daily photos of their fashion and write posts about it, and also answer everyone on IG who comments. I am not condemning anyone here, but I constantly wonder what kinds of jobs people have that allow them to make enough money to afford all these expensive clothes AND have time for all the other things in their lives as well? I am genuinely curious!
I wanted to pull back the curtain a bit for people who were asking me how I afforded it – and the reality is, I wasn’t. I can’t speculate on anyone else’s finances, but I think that Instagram lifestyles can be really harmful, and I’m likely not the only person who was/is in this situation, so I do my best to balance the outfit inspiration and the realities of life out there. Regarding the clothing piece, bloggers do get gifted a lot of things (myself included) – so that certainly helps. Regarding the timing piece – no idea! I answer people a lot and I also don’t sleep a lot. 🙂
It just really helped to know that I wasn’t the only one who was caught in this cycle of needing certain items, and feeling guilt over spending so much money for it, but the justifying it with “well I’m INVESTING in pieces I’ll have for years” (which may not even be true). One of the things that drew me to minimalist fashion initially was that they seemed to have certain basic styles going over multiple seasons, so there was no pressure to buy RIGHT NOW or the item would be discontinued. But I feel like even that’s not true anymore…I certainly feel the pressure of securing certain ES pieces from limited collections, because you know they’ll be snatched up seriously within hours after going online…how crazy is that? I am trying not to succumb to the pressure of FOMO-driven purchases, but a part of me also feels indignant over suppliers not offering certain collections for a longer time. What do you think about that?