You don’t need to buy new clothes every season.
If you want a TLDR of the blog post you’re about the read, that’s it.
I never imagined writing a blog post like this, because I have happily sailed through my entire life completely oblivious to seasons or the idea of seasonal fashion. Perhaps some of this is due to being from Newcastle, where the weather is just one state of cold aside from two weeks in the summer. Perhaps it’s because for me fashion (as I have previously discussed) has always been about being unique, which is inherently the opposite of following a trend.
But, when you get into the online world a bit more, you do start to notice things that people are talking about, even when they make no sense to you. I first noticed it with fast fashion influencers: every time the weather started to change a slew of hauls and ‘explainers’ of the latest trends were everywhere (fun fact, I ended up writing a 15,000 word dissertation on some of these behaviours. Academic papers do exist that examine haul culture and they are very interesting). The thing about this kind of content is that, while it may not make people want to buy each specific thing discussed, it does encourage an idea that we need to buy a large array of things four times a year just to keep up.
The fast fashion industry knows this of course, and it has taken it upon itself to push this culture even further, to its most ridiculous endpoint.
The spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons are artificial constructs that do not reflect the way consumers now shop for clothing, an expert panel at the Drapers Fashion Forum said today.
“People want newness,” argued Miriam Lahage… Some brands, such as streetwear label Supreme, have weekly drops, rather than waiting for a change in season.
Time, my friends, is a manmade construct. We all know this. Fashion used to have two seasons: spring/summer and fall/winter, then it became four seasons, then every week. The idea of time has been morphed and manipulated into what is most convenient for the fashion industry to say it is. The idea that seasons are at all important to personal style, fashion or lifestyle choices just isn’t true.
And now, this:
Cline points to the Spanish retailer Zara for pioneering the fast-fashion concept with new deliveries to its stores coming in twice per week. At the time of writing, she says H&M and Forever21 both get daily shipments of new styles, while Topshop introduces 400 styles a week on its website.
I think most of us can agree that is some straight-up madness. 400 styles a week? Daily shipments? Who on earth has the time or mental capacity for that?
Not me, and I imagine not you either dear reader.
Because here’s the thing, the fast fashion industry is not rigged in your favour. It never will be. And so, therefore, seasonal shopping never will be either. If you embrace seasonal thinking you will always feel like you’re behind, and you will never win.
Seasons create overconsumption
long sleeve top by The Natural Edition, jeans secondhand
Sure, put a coat on if it’s cold or shorts on if it’s warm. But don’t wait until the ‘season’ changes to specifically go and buy these things. Buy them whenever you want, especially because secondhand options will usually be cheaper when ‘out of season’, and then keep wearing them each year. Repair them, alter them, and find ways to keep them around for a long time. Put them away when they aren’t needed, so that when you bring them out again it will feel like a new discovery. And rotate your clothes, so they continue to feel fun and exciting to you.
The idea of seasons can be helpful for some of these principles. Especially if you have a capsule wardrobe, as you may bring out thick jumpers and put away very light summer clothes and rediscover them next year, avoiding the temptation to buy new pieces.
That being said, the idea that we should constantly be rotating our consumption doesn’t make sense either. If switching out your capsule wardrobe clothes for each new season becomes an excuse to go out and buy a lot of things for the months ahead, there’s a chance that you have a consumption habit that might be unhealthy, but is conveniently masked by a guise of sustainability.
Capsule wardrobes are a great tool but, alongside any other model you might utilise for a more conscious lifestyle, they shouldn’t become a crutch either. The fashion industry has moulded time and seasons to mean what is most convenient for their business models, and so there’s always a chance we can fall prey to the same thing. If this has happened to you and you didn’t realise, that’s ok. I’m not exactly a saint who has never had an unhealthy habit (none of us are). This is, however, a gentle reminder that seasons don’t mean anything, and that maybe it’s time to let that go.
Instead, I think it’s time to fall in love with layering.
Learn to love layering
Loved clothes last, and they also make great layers.
The silliest thing about the idea of seasonal shopping is that in the UK at least, we barely have three seasons. Even if you don’t live in the north the difference between spring and autumn in the UK is minimal. As climate breakdown continues, there’s also no guarantee about weather at any time of year.
So, why would you need to buy a new coat in autumn when the layers you were wearing in spring did just fine? You don’t! You’ve just been lied to!
I too was hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, lead astray!!!
— Ja Rule (@jarule) January 20, 2019
(Me, when I realised ‘seasons’ were made up by an exploitative capitalist system)
Here’s an example:
In this photo I’m wearing a black long sleeve top from The Natural Edition and some jeans that I got secondhand for £6. This photo was taken in the springtime in April, but I’ve worn these pieces in multiple different ways through summer, and now autumn. When it was hot I took the long sleeve top with me to wear at night when it would cool down. It rolled up so small that I could fit it in my Mahla bumbag and whip it out as needed. I did this constantly through summer. Now that it’s colder, I can wear it as a standalone top, and I can layer on top of it as winter comes. The jeans were also perfect for warm weather; combined with a t-shirt/vest and birkenstocks made them a go to all summer (here I am wearing them in August, for the official record). Now that it’s colder I just wear them with boots or trainers, and a jumper. It really is that simple. It’s just layering!
There is no ‘sell by date’ on an item of clothing, and there is no ‘buy on this date’ either. All of that stuff, well it’s just made up. Instead, I generally go by the Yin Yang rule of personal styling. I either get a staple that can be worn with multiple other things and layered endlessly for different weather and requirements (most often for me it’s the items from The Natural Edition’s basics collection, which I also often wear as extra layers for exercise on top of normal wear because they’re so multifunctional), or I get something that is more experimental that I can pair with my various different basics. As long as it can be layered, taken through seasons and partnered with multiple things I already own, it can stay. I try to see everything I bring into my life through the lens of where it will fit and how it can be layered up, which also opens up more fun options for styling and experimenting too.
There are only certain items, like very thin summer dresses/shorts or huge jumpers, that are exceptions to these rules. These things go away (into under-the-bed storage) when they aren’t needed, ready to be rediscovered and reloved when the weather demands it.
The same long sleeve top, just paired with vintage yellow shorts instead
Personal style has nothing to do with seasons
As Autumn rolls on, and winter is just around the corner, this whole post is basically just a reminder that you don’t need to buy new stuff! Instead, focus on building a wardrobe with great staples and basics to layer, partner them up with your fun finds and you’ll be fine year-round with just a few tweaks.
When we get caught up in seasons, especially as they get continually faster, we actually lose the opportunity for creativity. When you always feel like you’re on the back foot chasing a trend, there’s no time to explore the aesthetics you might actually enjoy personally. When you instead choose to intentionally slow down, consider, and bring items into your life on your terms rather than those of a hyperconsumerist culture, then you can find way more space to get creative. And when you abandon trend ‘advice’ that is designed to simply get you to consume more, then you have way more agency to find ways to truly express and be yourself.
Nothing about the fast fashion model is designed to empower or encourage anyone in the supply chain. Not the exploited and enslaved people making the clothes, and not the consumer who buys them. It’s designed to give a small handful of people a lot of money, that’s it. If you want to really enjoy and explore personal style, then leaving seasonal fast fashion behind is a really helpful step.
So that’s my advice: sack off seasons, build a durable, multifunctional and layer-loving wardrobe, and have fun with it! Get the neutral basics but also get the secondhand pink jeans, green trousers or rainbow shoes (I own all of these things), as long as you can combine them all together in multiple ways that work for you. Get them whenever you want and wear them whenever you want, and ignore any trend advice that tries to tell you otherwise because it’s completely made up simply to create profits.
So be free! And have fun exploring instead.
(Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for The Natural Edition, however this blog post isn’t specifically sponsored. I decide when/where/how I would like to feature TNE, when I feel like it already fits what I’m writing about)