Fashion + Psychology

Habits: Combating Our Collective Habit of ‘One-Time-Wear’

Just another thing to leave behind in 2020. Unloading how social media reinforces the habit of one-time-wear and how to avoid it.

What is ‘one-time-wear’?

The expression ‘one-time-wear’ refers to our relationship with fashion and the way many of us feel about it. When shopping for new clothes, we often have a habit of thinking of a particular event or occasion in mind. These thoughts encourage the idea that many items of clothing are only suitable for one occasion, which is also known as ‘disposable fashion’.

Where did this habit come from?

The concept of one-time-wear has been introduced through society. Casual terms such as something to only be worn on ‘special occasions’ or items of clothing being labelled as an ‘occasion dress’ for example, persuade us as consumers to believe some items of clothing can only be worn on one occasion. This has developed further into a popular (and a highly unsustainable) habit where we expect new, on-trend fashion pieces for each event and occasion we have coming up.

It has become more apparent within the last few years as social media sites, such as Instagram, only become more competitive. If someone uploads several pictures in a row in the same top, they may not be deemed as interesting to follow compared to someone who uploads daily in new, on-trend clothes.

Why is the habit deemed bad?

There are three main reasons why one-time-wear is not something you should encourage or contribute towards.

Firstly, it is an endless cycle of consumerism (which fashion brands know and will use this to persuade you!). You may buy a new blouse for the weekend, then when it comes to the following week, you feel the need to buy another. Brands often use this as a marketing strategy, which can explain why you may get several discount codes emailed to you on Thursday to persuade you to buy something new to arrive for the weekend (sound familiar?).

This leads on to the second issue, it is often an expensive habit. There is no real need to buy something new for every occasion; clothes can look entirely different depending on how you style them.

Lastly, it is another, unnecessary habit which contributes to fast and disposable fashion which is harmful to our planet.

How do I avoid contributing to one-time-wear?

The easiest way is to re-wear your clothes, and with confidence! There is an endless amount of ways to re-style pieces of clothing, changing the entire outfit and making it appear brand new. Initially, you bought that item of clothing because you liked it, which shouldn’t change after one wear.

If you are someone who tends to dislike statement fashion pieces quickly, opt for more basic pieces of clothing that you can style up with accessories and jackets. These more basic pieces also double-up as wardrobe staples, for example a pair of jeans or some plain t-shirts, which can often be kept for years without feeling the need to dispose of them from boredom.

However, you can’t stop at your own habits. Encourage friends and family to re-wear a top that you liked them in last week. If they reply with the infamous “I can’t wear that again”, reassure them that no one really notices if you have worn something before. And if they still don’t believe you, help them choose something to change up their outfit from the last time they wore it. The more people who change their opinion on one-time-wear, the more it will help break this norm down.

Let’s talk re-styling!

Playing around with accessories and layers can change an outfit entirely. Let’s use an example of a maxi dress. With some dainty jewellery, a light cardigan and a small shoulder bag, you have a more ‘dainty’, day look. The next time you wear it, try throwing on some chunky boots, an oversized jacket, a belt and some dark sunglasses and you’ve got an entirely different, grunge-look!

Layering is a smart approach many ‘influencers’ use to re-style clothing. Some popular tips would be throwing a knit jumper over a maxi dress, creating the appearance of a skirt. Another would be pairing a piece of clothing with different colours. For example, wearing leather in an outfit often creates a ‘darker’ outfit, whilst, wearing lighter coloured denim and knits create the appearance of ‘lighter’ outfits.

Another great tip, is to use websites such as Pinterest, to find a variety of fashion inspiration. Many use the site to demonstrate different ways to wear the same piece of clothing. You can use this to your own advantage and adopt as your own.

What to do when you really are finished with your clothes

There will be times when you know you will not re-wear something and when this time comes, I recommend doing one of four things.

  • ‘Hand-me-down’ – Give it to a friend or family member who likes it. Beneficial to both of; you may get offered some of theirs in return.
  • Upcycle – If you can, try to refresh clothes yourself! For example, sew a piece of fabric over the pockets of your jeans, or customise your bag with some pins to personalise them.
  • Sell to a new home – Take advantage of sites such as Ebay or Depop and get your money back! (This method is also an easy way to shop for clothes without giving in to fast fashion corporations).
  • Donate – Charity shops rely on the clothes we no longer wear! They are also a useful option to get rid of a bunch of clothes instead of contributing to landfill.

So for now, encourage, re-style and break the habit!

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