Mindful Shopping: Clothes

Last week I confessed that in the past, I’ve been a heartless shopper. If you missed it you can catch up here. Get your free printable/download by subscribing here. I just save mine to my phone! 

This week, in part deux, I’m here to share what I’ve learned about purchasing clothes. 

There is A LOT of information out there about the clothing industry. It can be overwhelming. Today, I’m going to try to focus more on how to make smart purchases than why. I don’t want to bore you with tons of horror stories and statistics, so I’ll be brief with my explanations. Also, your reasons may be different than mine. Be sure to search for the answers to all of your questions. I’d love to get an e-mail from you with your biggest questions about the clothing industry! You’re not shopping smart unless you’re shopping informed. 

My goal is to teach you how to shop rather than tell you where. If you’d like a suggestion on where to find a specific article of clothing or accessory, shoot me an email via the contact page. Here goes:

Keys to Mindful Clothes Shopping

First, if possible buy clothes made from organic materials. I’ll go into a little more detail next week when I talk about food. Suffice it to say that conventional growing methods have long term drawbacks for both agriculture and human health. So even if you’re not all about saving the earth, just remember the human lives that are effected first hand by the consequences of conventional growing methods.

I recognize that organic labeling isn’t a perfect system which is why this isn’t a deal-breaker for me. But I try anyways!

Second, check into the company’s ethics. Word on the street is that “fair trade” factories are exactly the same as any other. I’m hoping (being an optimist and all) the employees at least get a descent wage, but apparently some companies will just jump through the minimum amount of hoops to get the stamp.

Instead, do a quick search for the company’s ethics policy. If the company is at all conscious, it won’t be to hard to find. 

  • If you find nothing, assume the worst.
  • If you find a cheerfully vague statement that tells you basically nothing, also assume the worst.
  • You may find that some companies are not perfect but still transparent. Generally if things look okay, I take this as a step in the right direction.
  • There are some companies that are rock stars and can tell you everything because there is nothing to hide!

Look for specific information on sourcing materials, relationships with employees & local communities and working conditions. But don’t be fooled, a lot of large corporations will throw that community involvement stuff around like marshmallows at a campfire thinking it’ll make everyone happy. Read and think about what they’re saying. Just because their factory is in a community, doesn’t mean it’s truly taking care of its people.

It can be helpful to just ask yourself, “Who made this?” Picture a real person in their workplace. Are you comfortable with the image that comes to mind? I’m super visual so this has helped me put back many a good deal that I would’ve regretted later.

Also, ask yourself if you really need it. We live in a culture of such abundance. And we’re pretty desensitized to it. Going to a third world country helps. Teaching kids to think helps too.

Got example, one time my 5 year old asked where all of the cars go when people are done with them. I was taken aback. I’d never thought of that before. According to this  LA Times article, in 2016, 17.55 million cars were sold in America. 

What happened to last year’s daily driver? We have a lot of junk made for our enjoyment. Where do we put it all?!

I’m not suggesting that you should always go without. But could you reuse? Check local ads, internet pages and second-hand stores. Ask your friends! The ladies around here pass/exchange clothing so much that I finally made a community closet as a place to organize, store and share with everyone! 

I hear so many reasons that people don’t shop at thrift stores: time, pride, germs…but are any of those more valuable to me than the life on the other end? I personally can’t stomach supporting a company that doesn’t value that person’s life. 

And finally, choose well. When you do make a purchase: 

  • Make sure it’ll last for you. Try to choose things that fit you well (now, not your goal body). 
  • Take note of styles & colors you wear a lot and stick withwhat works for you! 
  • Also, make sure you have things to wear with the item before you buy it. 
  • Avoid buying something you’ll never wear again after this season.

It can be incredibly difficult to find clothes that would get an A+ on all of this. Remember to strive for progress not perfection. This is that part I want you to remember! It can feel futile if you feel like you’ll never get it all right or you’ll never make a difference. And I’ll tell you what trying to find ethically made underwear is so hard I’ve thought about starting an Etsy store and making them myself. The tiniest piece of clothing! Seriously! It’s totally in my list if backup career paths.

Anyways, don’t get discouraged. Every step you take to be more disciplined and thoughtful makes you a better you. And that is better for the world around you. 

Strive for progress not perfection.

Don’t forget, I made you a little free printable to help you along the way. Subscribe here to get yours! I’m always willing to answer questions in the comments via e-mail or contact form. Happy shopping!

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