Summer Shop

As I was reorganising my wardrobe for the impending Melbourne summer, I internally despaired about not having anything to wear. A great chunk of my wardrobe is still from my early teen days, and there is a distinct lack of colour and excitement that I am planning to embody this summer. It comes to a point where you need a change – but an inexpensive one for a mere student like myself. Rather than immediately scoping out some online stores or setting a date for a ginormous shopping trip to Chaddy, I headed to the local op shops (otherwise known as thrift shops). I have found some of my favourite clothes from op shops, and the satisfaction I receive from finding a treasure is much greater than getting a really good deal from a normal store. Plus, it’s completely sustainable and ethical!

The other day I discovered a periwinkle blue top originally from Nicolangela, and a floral skirt originally from Topshop. I tend to shy away from these lighter colours because I don’t believe they suit my skin tone, but I actually love how much the top compliments the colours in the skirt. The transparency of the skirt gives it a slightly sexier look and the light-weight material will be perfect for the summer heat, which is often difficult to come by with maxi skirts.

This summer outfit cost me $13, which is incredibly reasonable and guilt-free. So, if you’re looking to spend less or re-energise your wardrobe, consider taking a trip to the op shop.

I always rely on these tips for a successful op shopping trip:

  1. Go for quality: There is plenty of treasure amongst the trash, but there is still trash. Unless you’re willing to put some effort into it, don’t purchase anything that is already pilling, has fuzz balls or is broken because it is unlikely to last much longer. You can also often tell by the brands if the labels are still on the clothes, as I try to avoid purchasing any clothing from brands that are known for their cheaper quality.
  2. Sizing doesn’t always matter: Look at the all the clothes that are your size, and then branch out. I’ve purchased some things that fit absolutely perfectly and I can’t believe they’ve existed. I’ve also purchased clothes that were beautiful but too large, but I’ve been able to make them work through wearing it in a different style from what was intended or resizing them.
  3. Don’t overlook anything: Carefully comb through every item and consider how they could fit in your wardrobe. I find the best items are the ones that challenge my style and add something different to my collection.
  4. Don’t stop at one op shop: Visit all your local ones, and then head out to more areas where there may be a greater variety of clothes. Also, the smaller ones often make for the best finds, so don’t skip those!

Good luck with any future op shopping endeavours, and thanks for visiting my blog! x

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The Other ‘F’ Word

Credit: harpersbazaar.com
Credit: harpersbazaar.com

Fashion and feminism do not always come hand in hand; scores of women view fashion to be an oppressive sphere that attempts to convince women that the only way to be considered ‘beautiful’ is to conform to standards laid out by the dictators of the fashion industry, who are often men. Plenty of women regard Vogue Magazine, considered the fashion bible, as a beacon of sexism that undermines a woman’s worth. And let us not disregard the lack of diversification of the female body as plastered in magazines and seen strutting down runways in nothing larger than a size 2 mini-skirt. It is far from perfect or positive, and the fashion industry appears to exude a certain unattainable exclusivity thanks to celebrity endorsements and high fashion magazines. It is clear that the industry has plenty to work towards, and as someone who wants to work in the industry, it is an unsettling reality. Although it is necessary to acknowledge the negative aspects of the fashion industry, fashion itself is not a rigid and institution. For me, it is the most liberating medium I can use in order to express myself.

Fashion has been a facilitator of my exploration through feminism. In a world where women have historically had a lack of means to express themselves and communicate their thoughts, fashion has been used as defiance to their oppression. Some of the most iconic and outspoken women paved the way for change using the clothes they wore, setting aside cultural and societal conventions to make way for female empowerment. Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker and Audrey Hepburn are just a handful of women who each showcased unique and controversial styles, proving to women all over the world that being yourself and staying true to your values is a wonderful thing. Thanks to these women, others were inspired to push against their limitations and explore their capabilities in a way that led to cultural revolutions and the success of the feminist movement. It is remarkable that such power stems from style, which is essentially comprised of clothes, individuality and a hint of courage.

I’m not planning on instigating any cultural revolutions anytime soon, but I think I will start with using fashion as a way to summon confidence within myself. In the end, personal style showcases your individuality and is not indicative of what you can achieve. I would hope that when I choose to dress in a feminine way that I am not considered to be naïve or less capable, and if I want to dress in a way that is considered sexy, that my value as a person is not undermined and I am treated with the respect I deserve. It is most empowering when people can make decisions about the way they look without concerning themselves with the opinions of others or the stereotypes of gender, sexuality, age and ethnicity. And this is a message that must be relayed by the fashion industry.

There is no doubt that there have been notable changes in the industry. The androgynous look is on the rise, there is a growing response to the call for a greater variety of body shapes and skin colours on show, and there has been outward support for feminism by designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who is the first female creative director of Dior. Despite being long overdue, these acts are crucial as they give people the confidence to embrace who they are and to explore that through fashion. Although I don’t need affirmation from high profile designers that the feminist movement is important and necessary, it does raise awareness of the fight for gender equality and garners acceptance. And supporting the movement for gender equality is something I will continue to do through self-expression as conveyed by my fashion choices.

NOTE: Care must be taken to ensure that the clothes you’re putting on your back to proclaim your feminism or self-identity is not contributing to the exploitation of children and women in the textiles industry, which is something I have learnt recently. Being a feminist means supporting other women and preventing their mistreatment, and one sure way you can do that is through shopping ethically. Click here for a list of how top fashion brands rank in worker welfare.