Wow! It has been a really long time since my last update. For the past couple of months, things have been going well. The challenge I’ve faced recently is just the challenge of having a limited wardrobe. I was wearing the same pair of jeans two or more times in a week because I only had a few pairs that fit well. I have to be honest – starting the University has been difficult on my self-esteem. It is hard to walk around a campus and see what others are wearing and know that I don’t have what they have. I have had feelings of inadequacy, which I’ve never really felt before. It’s been hard to supress those feelings and remind myself of who I am in the Lord and of the things that are really most important in my life.
I also have been questioning clothing companies in and of themselves, lately. One of my favorite clothing stores is known for its trendy but ridiculously affordable clothing. What I starte to wonder is why these clothes are so cheap. Looking on the label, I noticed that everything is made in Taiwan, the Phillipines, India, Turkey and other countries. I started wondering about the people who actually had their hands on my garment. Are these people treated fairly? Are they given fair wages? Do they work twelve hour days in poor conditions? Could they even afford the clothes they’re making?
My heart started to ache for these people. How could I live with myself? I am so concerned with my wardrobe that I am supporting a company that may have business practices with which I do not agree. I have realized that this is a catch-22. Outsourcing provides employment in countries that desperately need economic growth and development, but… at what price? I read an article once about clothing workers in Asia who worked twelve hour days and were forced to live in these tiny, substandard dormatories. They worked in horrible conditions and were not allowed to see their families. But, they had a job, so it was seen as a good thing. I’m just not okay with that.
So, I started thinking about other ways to buy clothes without supporting certain companies. If you’ve ever noticed, very few things are made in America these days – particularly clothes. I would have to never buy a single article of clothing ever again if I wanted to avoid it altogether. But, it’s impossible. I have really needed new jeans and have been debating whether or not to buy any. Well, finally, I broke down. So, I went to the consignment store and stocked up. I bought four, maybe five, pairs of jeans and two shirts for just $75. That’s still a lot of money, but a steal compared to what I would have paid if I’d bought jeans at their retail price. Normally, I buy jeans that run about $60 per pair. This $75 was from the $100 my mom gave me upon starting this project.
Consignment shops are great for two reasons. Firstly, when you shop at a consignment store, you’re supporting local business. The two shops I go to are in downtown Tuscaloosa (Twice As Nice and Deja Vu). I know that my money is going to their families and to the employees who work there, which is the second part of their greatness. When you shop consignment, you are able to stick it to the clothing companies…. even though it’s on a pretty small scale. You are getting the benefit of their designs and clothing without any money going directly to them. Sure, everything may not fit perfectly and you may not be able to find something every time you go. This was actually my second trip to the consignment store in search of jeans. The first time I went a few weeks ago, I came out empty-handed because they didn’t have any jeans in my size. Normally, I could have just gone to the mall and walked into my store and purchased jeans without even having to try them on. But, I had to be patient, creative, and willing to take what I could get. I eventually found a few pairs of jeans that fit pretty well, so I bought all of them. That’s the other rule to consignment shopping – if it fits and you need it, buy it! You can’t put the jeans back and “think about them” and then go back a few days later expecting them to be there! You have to take advantage of what’s there at the time, so I did.
And I am glad I did! I am happy with my purchases and eager to wear every single pair until they fall apart at the seams!
So, Phase Two has begun. I’m now going to focus my efforts towards learning more about clothing companies and the effects of our spending.