Why shopping sustainably is not shopping at all…

A few weeks ago I experienced something that I had never before felt, a deep sadness while shopping. Why? Because I couldn’t buy anything.

I went shopping with my mom to a few places which were once wardrobe staples – Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, H&M, etc. It was so depressing. All I could see were things that I was never going to have. It was all trendy, cheap, and I wore smaller sizes than I had previously. (I’ve spent the last year really getting my fitness and eating in check, but that is another story.) I was so so sad. I actually went home and cried afterward. After the tears, came a few revelations:

1. I love shopping. By that I mean the physical act of shopping. I thought it had to do with spending money, but really it was playing dress up. There is such a difference between physically driving to a store and trying things on in front of those gargantuan mirrors and clicking the “add to cart” button and trying on something in your own home. Something about packaged clothing destroys the joy of spying a beautiful garment on a hanger surrounded by other beautiful garments.

2. I do not live in a big city. Lots of the brands I have found do have retail fronts. However, those retail spaces would probably never show up in my city. The closest cities I could shop would be Seattle and Portland, but the cost of travel plus the cost of the clothing itself is something that would need to be planned for as far as time and cost.

3. I am on a budget. It still perplexes me how I have a professional career and I have less money now compared to when I worked 40 hour work weeks before. Is it inflation? Do I have more responsibilities? Am I just trash with money? Who knows.

4. Transitioning to sustainable fashion is hard and a process. I will not lie. I have been looking for a lightweight cardigan and I have yet to find a sustainably made, plain cardigan for under $50. This is such a big transition from popping into a store and picking up exactly what I am looking for for under $20.

Things that I took away from this are that I need to plan my purchases better/create a fashion reserve for if I find something amazing that I love AND I need to give myself a break for being bummed. I also want to thank all of you for sticking in with me, especially when I struggle.

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