I’m reading a lovely book called Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You about Diet, Thrift and Going Green. I saw in my local library and the title immediately grabbed my attention!
I am equally amused & impelled and by some of the comments in the chapter on fashion. Whilst I have never queued up for a piece of designer something. I think on some level we can all relate, we are all being sold things that we don’t need.
“A wartime mantra was ‘If you see a queue- join it’. Our grandmothers formed an orderly line outside shops in the desperate hope that some hard to come by item (nylon’s, shoes, fish, lemons) might still be being sold by the time they reached the head of the queue. They queued because it was worth it.
In the early noughties we queued because we’d swallowed- hook, line and sinker- the notion that we’re worth it. Many of us fell for the idea that it wasn’t just a product we were purchasing when we bought a Kate Moss waistcoat in Topshop, but actually a scintilla of her glamour and a taste of her celebrity lifestyle.”
The chapter goes on to say that this idea of ‘being worth it’ is a pernicious one. Certainly, it’s L’Oreal’s tagline! With the liberation of women from domestic drudgery- what have we done? Gone out and spent more than we are actually worth on a plethora of high street products, all promising us different things. Where our grandparents saved for the national good, we spent ourselves into debt, persuaded by marketeers that it was good for the nation. How many people are still falling for all these lies? Every successive Government still tries to convince us to spend for economic growth and security!
This book also highlights certain other curious facts:
- The average women spends more than 8 years of her life shopping
- She also spends 95 hours a year on food shopping, but 169 hours clothes shopping!
- Most women have no funds left over at the end of the month for savings and habitually buy items of clothing they do not need
- In 2007, the average women bought twice as much clothing as she did in 1995
- From 2003-2008, local councils saw a 23% increase in the amount of textiles thrown away
I dread to think what more up-to-date versions of these figures would tell us. I am certain that things will have gotten worse, not better. This phenomenon has also been dubbed ‘The Primark Effect’- this is what cheap, throwaway fashion does to our society. Let alone what it does globally which you can read about in some of my previous posts.
What seems to have disappeared from our society (and not just in terms of clothes buying, but much more widely IMHO) is common sense! Whereas our grandparents generation would have bought clothing based on need, we now buy based on fashion. I am totally guilty of this kind of shopping based on desire, not need and I am seeking to mend my ways.
My husband often comments on how many clothes and shoes I have, in comparison to his. It’s a bit of a joke, but it highlights the very different way in which men and women shop. Men seem to be much more logical and orderly. Women, myself included, are often in search of a bargain- it must be that scarcity mentality kicking in (again, you can read about this in previous posts).
There have been a lot posts by bloggers that encourage Minimalism in relation to clothing, but many of these have been year long projects. Temporary experiments and many times, people probably creep back into their old habits. What about contemplating making the change for a lifetime? I need to make this change myself! Could you manage on the amount of clothing shown in this British wartime poster from the 1940s? Food for thought, isn’t it?
I will be posting more about clothing in my next blog post- in particular second-hand clothing (a passion of mine), so look out for it!