In the The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003), the heroine’s erstwhile bestie, Kate, delivers the ultimate fashion condemnation: “Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater!” Most social media influencers or frequent faces on Instagram and TikTok have felt the pressure to wear a different outfit in every photo or video or else be called an ‘outfit repeater’. Content creators who wear the same clothes in every post have feedback sections flooded with comments regarding their lack of versatility. The negative connotation with outfit repetition has led to an increase in cheap and unethical fast fashion and a decline in fashion creativity.
It is not uncommon on social media to see creators within the fashion niche posting £1,000 Shein hauls without remorse. Shein, an online Chinese fast-fashion retailer, was founded in 2008 but has grown in popularity because of advertising by influencers on, among others, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The site entices content creators with inexpensive clothing modelled after the latest trends from luxury brands. The problem with fast-fashion retailers such as Shein is the mass production of low-quality clothing often brings accusations of using cheap and unethical labour. Though most content creators are aware of the negative impact these retailers have on their employees as well as the environment, they choose to continue supporting fast fashion to keep giving their followers new content.
Low-quality fabric and stitching mean that Shein pieces are not made to outlast their popularity. Most consumers may not intend to wear purchases more than once. As someone who regularly shops in thrift and charity stores, it’s not uncommon to see rows of Shein purchases that have been donated. Because Shein purchases come from overseas, it can be cheaper and less of a hassle to give away pieces that didn’t fit or match the description rather than returning them. If the pieces are not purchased from the thrift shop they will end up in the landfill along with 13 million tons of clothing annually. The environmental effects alone are enough reason to stop supporting these fast-fashion retailers.
At the other end of the spectrum, luxury brands, whose designs are often stolen by companies by the fast-fashioneers, have many trending pieces that are of higher quality and are ethically sourced. Though it may be tempting to buy hundreds of quids’ worth of Shein clothing, the better option is to save for pieces that can be worn time after time without them falling apart or going out of style within weeks.
A recent trend on social media, is “The Capsule Wardrobe Challenge”, which consists of choosing 10-30 clothing items and making the correlating amount of outfits. For example, if a participant chose 20 clothing pieces, they would create 20outfits. The trend inspires creativity; the ability to accomplish the challenge is evidence that one does not need hundreds of pieces to create stunning and versatile outfits. I recently had to complete the challenge when I moved abroad to England and was only able to take two suitcases. At first, I dreaded the idea of leaving so many of my clothes behind. When I began to pack, however, I quickly realised how many pieces I owned which I had never worn or only worn a couple of times. The realisationled me to conclude that I needed to be more considerate with future purchases and invest in pieces I could wear multiple times versus once for an Instagram photo. I feel that having less clothing has made me think more creatively when piecing together outfits. I find myself making ensembles I would have otherwise never thought to create if I was buying new pieces every week.
It can be difficult to navigate the influx of fashion trends caused by social media. High-rise jeans are in, low-rise jeans are out. Low-rise jeans are in again. Wear fur. Juicy tracksuits. Sheer tights. Uggs. No Uggs! It can be overwhelming. So here is my advice to all of you fashionistas out there: wear what makes you feel good and then wear it again. And again. It’s always a good day when you create an ensemble that releases your inner fashion diva. I say, wear it again and again and again. The best way to fight fast fashion and be a sustainable queen is to be an outfit repeater.
Your outfits do not need to consist of completely different pieces. Creativity comes from working with what is already in your wardrobe. Add a different jacket or coat. Layer a turtleneck underneath or a cardigan on top. Accessories this winter with scarves, gloves, and headwear. If you do choose to buy into a fashion trend, choose pieces that are high-quality and timeless so that you can wear and enjoy them for years to come. Combat those that call you an “outfit repeater” with these words of wisdom from Miss Lizzie Mcguire herself, “OK, I might be an outfit repeater, but you’re an outfit rememberer, which is just as pathetic!”
13 Million Tons of Clothes are Filling Up Our Landfills; One Green Planet; 13 Million Tons of Clothes Are Filling Up Our Landfills – One Green Planet
Where Does Shein Ship From and How Is it So Cheap; MUO; Where Does Shein Ship From and How Is it So Cheap? (makeuseof.com)