Fashion + Psychology

Why have we adapted to the ‘wear it once’ culture when it comes to our wardrobe?

As the world starts to go back to ‘normal’ after the global pandemic, we are able to get dressed up and head to the bars and restaurants. But let’s be honest, alongside celebrating the end of lockdown and finally celebrating the events we have missed such as birthdays and weddings it seems like a perfect excuse for splashing the cash on various new outfits. Wanting something new isn’t a bad thing but do we ever consider how many wears we’ll get out of it?

Many of us have an irrational fear of wearing the same thing twice but where does it come from? Surprise surprise, social media plays a huge part in why people have a throwaway attitude to their wardrobe. Most of us only wear clothes once because usually we have bought an outfit and gone out in it then take a picture. Once an outfit has been ‘gridded’, there’s a chance we won’t wear this outfit again, the satisfaction of a new outfit and the compliments that come with it are gone. By us sharing an outfit once and once only, it allows us to feed into a never-ending cycle. Often people share a photo of their outfit followed by #OOTD (Outfit of the day) which helps the post receive more likes and comments which can often give people some validation of their outfit. The #OOTD hashtag introduces us to new types of fashions and outfits that we perhaps would never consider for ourselves before. Although social media plays a certain factor in the ‘wear it once’ culture, there are psychological reasoning behind our hyper consumerism.

“Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives us pleasure, it is worth doing well.”

– Vivienne Westwood

Many of us consider fashion to be important as it’s a way of portraying ourselves and it a way of us having control of how we want others to perceive us. Fashion can also satisfy our needs such as receiving comments and evaluation from others which can provide self-knowledge leading to influencing self-concept, self-identity, and self-esteem. Fashion can also ease social anxiety, we use our clothes as a canvas for self-expression as well as creating a sense of belonging to our outfit.

Fashion choices also reflect our growth as well as our values in life. We like to dress in a way that transitions our values and traits and we are able to do this by expressing ourselves through fashion choices. Fashion is important to most people but specifically younger people as they go through stages of psychosocial development which is an integral part of their development and it helps give them a sense of self wellbeing and also helps give them social confirmation.

The habit of wearing clothes only once and chucking them out can be reversed, we can be seen in the same thing twice. The majority of people will not judge someone else for re-wearing a previous item or even the same outfit, especially if it’s an outfit you look amazing in.  But if you are cautious about re-wearing an outfit, remember you can transform your outfit using accessories, adding a jacket, changing your hairstyle, or even if you’re good with the sewing machine to reshape/redesign the outfit to a completely different style and look. And yes, you can take a picture in the outfit again and add it to Instagram. This will help you change your mind-set to this ridiculous taboo and you wearing something you love isn’t a bad thing.

The ‘wear it once’ culture may seem difficult to get out of but once you educate yourself on the theory behind it, the social pressures, psychological drivers it becomes easier to understand. Of course, understanding it isn’t a way to carry on with the hyper consumerism but it should help you look beyond. So next time, you’re spending your well earned money on purchasing your next outfit, consider an outfit that you’ll be able to dress up or dress down, rather than an outfit that you’ll wear once. Have a thought process of will I get #20wears out of this outfit.

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