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It’s Possible: How To Pick Out Investment Pieces In Fast Fashion Stores

Say good bye and good riddance to growing piles of fast fashion pieces that you've barely touched with these four (and a half) rules.

Fast fashion, an easy term for something quite complicated – and problematic. Simply put, fast fashion refers to clothing that are on-pulse with the season’s trends, but produced in massive quantities and at low costs. It’s all about getting it out quick and affordable. Unfortunately, you don’t need us to tell you that such a model comes with serious baggage, particularly on the environment. There’s the waste and pollution at the production level, and then there’s the waste at the consumer level i.e. you.

There are ways to help. One is to go for sustainable or eco-friendly brands, the other is to go for stuff that will stay with you for a long time instead of being tossed aside after one wear. It’s a waste and you waste your own money. Because of the affordability, the temptation to buy fast fashion – and to buy a lot of it – can be very strong. We’re guilty of it as well. However, “cheap” and “investment pieces” are not mutually exclusive things. It is possible to find good, affordable pieces that you will wear until you can do so no longer because it’s been worn to smithereens. These are the four rules to follow and one suggestion.


#1: Feel It Good

A common fast fashion myth is that because it is cheap, the make must be bad. That isn’t always true, but it is good to help yourself along the way. Look out for materials that have a good weight and can withstand repeated washes. Take note of the stitching as well. You want to avoid pieces that have loose or inconsistent stitching, puckering or pulling of the seams (this is especially so for pants and longer skirts). Be that person who has to scan every inch of a dress in a store if you have to. No shame!


#2: Think About Ease (And Essentials)

Affordability is one thing, wearability is the other, versatility is the other…other. If something is too troublesome – too sheer or too revealing for the office, too many things to button or tie, for instance – or too uncomfortable or too mind-boggling to wear, you’re less likely to reach for it, and even more so if you got it for cheap as there’s less guilt. We’re always going on about wardrobe classics and basics for good reason: it helps you dress and shop easier.


#3: Are You Buying It For Now Or For A Hypothetical Future?

Something that I do (and I’m sure many do as well) when I’m undecided about a fast fashion piece – but only if it passes #1 and #2 – is think about at least three ways to wear it or three situations to wear it to. If I’m only going to wear it once in some distant, distant future, I walk away. I was on the fence about it anyway. Don’t give in to the “buy it now because it’s cheap, deal with the matching later” hole. If you know you like it, but you’re unsure of its versatility, take note of the return policy: if you can return it and you have time to return it, buy it first and mull over it at home. If there’s none of that, walk away.


#4: Consider The Higher-Priced Option

Fast fashion stores often offer one thing at two price points. Let’s say a black blazer. You have one at $39.90 that doesn’t look too bad, but sags a little on a hanger. You have another at $89.90 that is lined, made of a firmer material, double-breasted with shoulder pads, holds its shape on a hanger and is long enough to double as a mini-dress if you choose to wear it that way. The latter costs twice as much as the former, but you’re getting a better made piece in return, which you will likely be satisfied with and hence keep it around for quite some time. So, instead of buying a more affordable piece that you’re only “okay” with and end up buying another “okay” one down the road because the first did not satisfy and still end up dissatisfied, consider pooling your resources to buy the slightly pricier option. (This black blazer story may or may not have been based on a real life experience…)


#5: The Alternatives To Buying Constantly

On one hand, you like options and fast fashion allows you to have more for less. On the other hand, you feel guilty about all the things you’ve bought for cheap but wore only once. A way to get options without accumulating piles of clothes that you feel lukewarm about? Clothing rental subscription boxes. The one on everyone’s lips is Style Theory where you pay a monthly fee, choose what you want, then return it when you’re done so someone else can have a go at it. They even take care of the laundry. Easy.


And Now, Some Very Good Things Under $100…


What To Read Next: 5 Very Big Pants, 5 Very Small Bags, 5 Spring Personalities, A Guide To Picking Out The Perfect All-Around Trench Coat and Our Best Places To Shop For Basics, From $5 To $500 | Cover Image: YOYOKULALA.com

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