Ain't no shame in being a repeat offender in fashion


By Sujata Assomull

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANSlife) There was a time your Instagram feed featured every Malabar Hill Memsahib and South Delhi diva unboxing their latest luxury buy. It has been my pet peeve with these self- appointed content creators for a while now.

Spending money is no indicator of having style, in fact sometimes it's quite the opposite. The lockdown seems to have knocked some fashion sense into these women, as their videos now show how to wear one garment five ways. I am not sure whether this is because showing off seems vulgar in these times, they want to keep up with the trend, or because there is a push to become sustainable and value conscious in fashion.


As the daughter of two accountants I have always been a repeat offender, and "cost per wear" has been my mantra since my teenage years. I shop by Dame Vivienne Westwood's commandments, "Buy Less, Choose Well and Make it Last."

A smart shopper, who really understands fashion, will invest in pieces that are timeless. It is about buying quality and not quantity. The idea behind purchasing well-made clothes, tailored with excellent fabrics, is that they will last. Yes, you want to be au courant with trends, but a real fashion girl knows how to update her look without buying a whole new wardrobe every season - she mixes her key pieces (which she spends the major chunk of her budget on) with a few clever seasonal buys.

In pre-Covid times, many 'fashion girls' worried about being snapped in an outfit they had already worn. But since you invest both time and money in your outfits don't they deserve several outings? Surely they are worth more than one post, and, in fact, to wear them in several posts only shows what a good buy they were.


When leading sustainable fashion advocate, Livia Firth started her "30 wear campaign" a few years ago, it was easy for me to take to the movement. The idea was to make women aware of the repercussions the "Outfit of the Day" culture had on our environment. We are drowning the earth with our buys, an estimated 50 million tons of clothing every year, the impact of which is life threatening.

And then there is the issue of water, climate and ethics. Unless fashion cleans up its act; it will be responsible for ending life on earth as we know it. Did you know that by extending the lifespan of your clothes by just nine extra months of active use, you can reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30 per cent each?

Recently many celebrities have made it a point to repeat their clothes. One of the last global personalities to visit India before lockdown was Ivanka Trump. She wore many outfits in her two day visits, but the one that received the best press was a Proenza Schouler powder blue georgette dress. It made a bold statement on sustainability, as she had previously worn the dress on her trip to Argentina last year. Its eye-catching print meant Ivanka had to know that people would recognise the dress; she wanted people to know she was repeating her outfit. But I bet another reason she wore it again was its cheerful outlook and easy yet tailored silhouette, making it a piece she enjoyed wearing.


Kareena Kapoor Khan sports this pink summer cotton more than a couple of times on her Insta feed

Which is why I have a simple rule when indulging in retail therapy: buy something when you love it. When you love something you will want to repeat it. It is chic to repeat. It all starts by having the right attitude.

As malls have started re-opening and new drops for the season are now available on the e-commerce sites, it is the time to adopt a new approach to shopping. Don't let all the sales of surplus stocks, tempt you. Only hit those malls when you feel good about yourself, you tend to shop less when you are in a positive frame of mind—which is why you should never shop in your tracks (even if we are embracing a #WFH dress code right now).

If you have a habit of checking e-tail sites when bored, add the pieces in your wishlist or keep them in the basket but DO NOT buy. Wait a day and in that time ask yourself these questions: Do I love it enough to wear it at least 30 times, is it filling a gap in my wardrobe and does it work with the other pieces I own?

Remember evening pieces are meant to be special buys (and let us hope we will be back to having evenings out soon)--- if you know you are only going to wear it once, perhaps look at renting. For statement accessories, pre-loved is an option that is better on your wallet and the environment.

And that is what good fashion is all about today--- being good for you, the environment and still full of style. It's about being a conscious consumer, and still having fun with fashion. And who does not want a more stylish wardrobe?

(The writer Sujata Assomull is an IANSlife columnist. Assomull is the author "100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes" and was the Founding Editor In Chief of Harper's Bazaar, India.)

(IANSlife Features can be contacted at )


Sujata Assomull / tb/sdr/


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