Making the Most of Fast Fashion

About a year ago, I stopped buying any clothing that couldn’t be worn to work in a business casual office. So with the exception of an odd t-shirt or two and a couple of pairs of jeans, most of what I own could theoretically be considered business casual. However, as first a student and now a penny-pinching post grad I haven’t really be able to afford investing in more expensive clothing. Most of what I have comes from places that are considered “fast fashion.” In other words, it’s cheap.

On the one hand this is ok. It allows me to update my wardrobe more frequently with newer trends and gives me a certain amount of variety that I couldn’t afford with more expensive clothing. It wears out at around the same frequency that I get tired of it. It also satisfies the frugal part of my brain that says, “Why pay $40 for a plain white button-up here, when I could get two from over there for the same amount?” Higher end labels don’t always guarantee quality, either. On the other hand, I also know that when it comes to staple items its best to put money down on the front end rather than replacing the same items repeatedly. So I do have a few more expensive pieces, too, like dress pants and blazers, that I wear all the time.

In order to make the most of my closet, I’ve developed a few strategies for protecting the quality of the clothing over time. I’ll share those with you now.


Keep Your Work Shoes Indoors

I don’t know about you, but I own exactly two pairs of flats. And since I don’t wear them other than when I’m at work (they make me feel shorter than I actually am), I leave them in a desk drawer at the office and walk to and from work in a different pair of shoes. This means that my work shoes have literally never been worn outdoors. Pavement is a lot rougher on the soles of your shoes than either the carpet or wood floors you have in an office. So if you want to make them last longer, just keep them inside. It protects them from aggressive wear, weather, and keeps them clean.

Avoid the Dryer

When I do laundry I separate my clothing into two piles: dryer friendly and hang-to-dry. I’ve learned over time that most of the tops from fast-fashion places will last a lot longer if you don’t put them in the dryer where they’re more likely to shrink or rip. By investing in a drying rack, I’ve managed to maintain the quality of $12 shirts for years longer than they’re actually supposed to last. So if you can, avoid the dryer.

Read the Label Before You Buy It

Everyone always tells you to read the label before you wash something. The label tells you if its dry clean only, tumble dry, etc. so that’s really important advice to follow for knowing how to maintain the quality of your clothing. But when I go shopping, I’m far less likely to buy something that says “hand wash only ” on the label. No matter how much I like it, those three words make something infinitely more complex to take care of and I know how easy it is to be lazy with laundry. If you stop to read the label before you buy something, you’ll know what the maintenance requirements are for that item up front. Keeping that in mind will help you take care of it in the long run.


Have any other advice for protecting your clothes? Let me know in the comments down below!


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