My Two Cents: On Sustainability and (Plus Size) Fashion

Sustainability has become THE topic of conversation over the last 5 or so years when it comes to fashion and for good reason considering global warming is only getting worse with every passing day. However, I can’t help but notice how it has also become a weapon of shame used against those of us who are unable to shop the same way our well-off and/or straight size peers can.

Speaking from experience, when your income is low you typically have no choice but to shop places that will allow you to stretch what you little you can spend. Often what happens with this is that thoughts around quality and even quantity goes out the window. For the most part its a “you take what you can get” kind of mentality that takes over so the last thing on your mind are fashion trends and/or social issues. And this gets harder when it comes to shopping plus. Which is not to say that no sustainable plus size fashion brands exist, they do. However the reality is that many of us can’t afford to put down $100-400 for a dress or basic top even if it is for a good cause as “saving the planet.” However, if you are in a position to support those brands, please do, just don’t come for those of us who can’t.

I’ve said it many times before that the expectation that one should always invest on what they wear is ridiculous, and this is also pushed hard onto the plus size community whenever one of us dares to voice an option in regards to the cost that comes with shopping plus size fashion. At the end of the day “fashion” is just clothing used for personal expression; style is how you decide to express yourself. Trends will come and go, but only you get to define your style and that doesn’t need to solely include shopping simply high-cost fashion pieces.

With the pandemic I have made a point to slow down on my spending overall, mostly because I have been saving what little disposable income I get just in case I’m furloughed or laid off again in the future. (After all I have a family I’m responsible for.) Which is not to say that I haven’t been shopping at all. Shopping is an addiction I don’t think I’m going to be stepping away from any time soon.  No, I’m just being a bit more selective on what I buy and when it comes to my wardrobe this has also meant making sure any new pieces I buy work with at least 3 other things that I already own before adding to cart.

I’ve also become more intentional in removing (and donating) things before adding more as my closets are pretty full to begin with, though mostly with options for fall and winter specifically; my spring/summer wardrobe has always been lacking which is not really surprising considering my love of colder weather and layering. Doing all this has definitely helped me realize I have a bad habit of buying mostly statement pieces and I should also make a point to include some more basics as well to help mix things up a bit. Like this is the first year I’ve ever owned a basic white button down top since sophomore year of high school and its all thanks to my best friend, Brooke who invited me to shop her closet during one of her own closet purges earlier this year.

Dress (old , similar here)

However, all of these changes got me thinking back to this trend* of sustainability because in essence how I’m shopping now is still works within its basic concept. I’m buying to reuse and remix, not to dispose of after one use. Take for example this velvet cami dress I’m wearing here. I got it at HotTopic about 3 years ago and while this is the second time I’m featuring it on the blog (though styled differently) I’ve worn this piece out in the real world more times than I count. I think this says a lot about how we go about treating our clothes regardless of where we get them from.

That being said, even if someone buys a top from a fast-fashion brand like Shein but they take such good care of it that they then wear it over and over across a couple of years it isn’t as bad as people have been making it out to be. (Also keep in mind the fact that for the most part these are only places plus size people can shop to stay on budget that also allows us to find pieces in styles that we can’t find in places like Lane Bryant or Torrid. )The problem does come in when someone shops from those same fast fashion sites, buying in mass simply to follow the trends of the moment only to  then immediately throwing them out once the season is over. This is something that we should work on changing as social media has only made such hauls even more popular than before, but let’s move away from shaming people for their shopping practices.

I’m currently on my second closet purge (the first was done at the start of fall last year) and I’m hoping that by the time I finish this round then I could finally see about getting these pieces either donated or sold via the Curvy House Closet so other women can use them. (Stay tuned on updates on this Instagram.) At the end of the day I’m still being sustainable even if it doesn’t fit what is currently on trend.

But of course these are just my own two cents on the subject. What are your thoughts about this whole sustainable fashion discussion as to how it relates to plus size fashion? Let’s talk about it.

*I say trend here because it is what it has become given the rise of sustainable fashion brands and influencers who love to use this shame narrative in their content. 

3 thoughts on “My Two Cents: On Sustainability and (Plus Size) Fashion

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