When I clicked on this article "Beyond Black Friday: 12 ways to care for your clothes," I actually thought I might learn something interesting. I really do "care for my clothes" in the sense of "not putting nice things in the dryer" and sewing on an occasional button. I thought I might find something useful.
Alas, like so many things these days, it's less about practical easy steps and more about "what would your life be like if, instead of having that extra glass of wine, you were learning to iron, darn, and sew?" For example, the article has sentences like "Tom of Holland runs the Visible Mending Programme to highlight the disappearing art of clothing repair."
So here are my alternative tips, for lazier people.
1. Wear lingerie
Or more specifically: wear slips. By "slip," I mean a soft garment meant to be worn under a dress. A slip has nothing to do with shapeware or spandex or anything like that. It is meant to hang sort of loosely around your body. A slip is a genius bit of clothing technology: it protects your dress from getting dirty from your body; unlike a dress, it is easy to wash; it is super comfortable. On top of everything else, when you take off your dress, you look awesome and cute in your slip.
If you wear a slip, you wash your dress like one-sixth as often -- so it will last six times as long.
The fact that the relevant part of most departments stores is 95 percent shapewear and 5 percent slips always astonishes and depresses me. Most modern shapewear is uncomfortable and ugly. People! Why not wear a slip?
2. Visit a tailor
All this blather about learning to sew is missing the point. Whatever is missing/broken/torn on your clothing, you can bring it somewhere to get fixed. In my neighborhood, the people at the drycleaner also know how to fix things. They even fixed my backpack.
Yes, bringing your clothes to get fixed costs money, and is more expensive than fixing them yourself. But this is where straightforward accounting gets you into trouble. Because the comparison you should be making is between paying to get your clothing fixed and paying to get a new piece of clothing. And the answer is obvious: pay to get your clothing fixed.
This same accounting problem comes up a lot in my life because I don't have a car and sometimes I take a taxi. And people are like, "A taxi! So expensive!" But no: compared to cost of a car, it's almost nothing, even when you add it to the cost of a bus pass. The fallacy is thinking of the thing in terms of what it seems like it should cost relative to cheaper ways of getting the same thing. Stop. That is not the comparison class. The comparison class is the other options you'll actually use.
3. Don't be afraid to look a little weird.
There is no doubt that if you want to buy less and throw away less, there's a huge margin in not minding looking weird. Keeping up with "trends" makes you fashionable, but means you're buying new clothes constantly.
I have jeans I bought ... oh, probably over twenty years ago. They sit low on the hips, and they flare at the bottom. It's the opposite of the "skinny jean" look so trendy today. Though my jeans are out of fashion, as long as I pair them with my shiny ankle boots and/or some cool sunglasses and/or an innovative hair style, the overall look can be good. It's true that the line between "individual sense of style" and "looks weird" can be thin. But who cares?
Fast fashion is destroying the planet with the production of cheap clothes you can wear a few times then throw away. The answer doesn't have to involve reevaluating all your life choices. Just hang your stuff up, fix it when it's broken -- and wear it a lot. Voilà!