The notion of self-indulgence would often become appealing when there is a need to improve our mood and self-worth. Fashion is a medium of communication as “it is through fashion and clothing that we are constituted as social and cultural beings”; a way for us as individuals to communicate our identity.
Through sporadic purchases, we are reassuring ourselves that these purchases will make us better looking and improve our self-esteem. After a stressful day, walking into your favorite store, and finding must have items within a few minutes that will make your life better leads to impulse purchasing. Similarly, the result of scrolling through online stores and with each click the shopping cart is close to becoming the dream wardrobe. The convenience of online shopping results in parcel of delights delivered straight to your address within a few days. At times, it is more appealing when the product price has reductions, a guilt free treat at a bargain, despite not loving the product immensely.
Most times when purchasing clothing, we would opt for styles and looks for an illusionary image we aspire to be. With a fast paced lifestyle and busy schedules most people don’t try on many clothes before purchasing in store and online. However, these instant purchases are not always wise, as some of these styles might not suit our figure, or choosing a dress size down (hoping that the latest weight loss regime will work!) can result in having a number of brand new clothing items left unworn. Through impulsive purchases just to improve our state of mind, consequences with an ever-growing stack of unwanted clothing items, which have been worn a few times (if any). This act of overconsumption is not sustainable.
So how have we as consumers in this developed society fallen into the deception of constant purchase for indulgence? Moreover, why do we feel the need to continue to keep buying more, despite already owning so many items? Perhaps we are constantly instructed in how we should appear and comport, which is often initiated through social groups and influential fashion marketing. Daily, we are bombarded with imagery of what the latest ‘fashionable’ looks are; either through digital networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or online magazines, but also through TV ads, magazines, billboards, shop windows – basically it is everywhere! We are constantly being informed what is the correct way to dress and look, and if you follow these impromptus memos you will be perceived as part of this aspired social hierarchy.
We are constantly judged by what we wear; each morning we have a choice in deciding in how we assemble our outfit and who we want the world to think we are. Despite being influenced by media and social groups, we all attempt to dress differently from one other, it is important to maintain a touch of individuality. Through ‘fashion and clothing [there] are ways in which individuals can differentiate themselves as individuals and declare some form of uniqueness’. With the range of clothing available, we have options in how we choose to present our individuality. At times, our choice of clothes can also be a way for us to be ambiguous in how we want to be perceived by the world as ‘fashion and clothing are the products of ideology, they are deceptive and misleading’.
It seems that we continue to purchase clothing items frequently because we want to make a statement of who we are; either to fit into society, show our identity or to put on a farce. The beauty of putting an outfit together is to communicate and to choose to be anyone at any given moment; at times this is all we need to improve our self-worth. However, we must remember that impulsive shopping is not an act of conscious consumerism as we are consuming more products without a lasting appreciation. We must start to be considerate and be thoughtful when purchasing, asking ourselves if these purchases are really necessary.
Note: Quotes and initial ideas from Fashion as Communication by Malcolm Barnard.