Ditch fast-fashion trends, find liberation through outfit repeating

By Halcyon Orvendal

As someone who can regrettably be labeled as “chronically online,” I am inundated with fashion content every day. With thrift hauls, fashion influencers and the relentless pursuit of the next big trends shoved down my throat like government propaganda, I can attest that our culture has become dominated by the pressure to consume. However, obscured by this relentless rat race lies a quiet rebellion—the subtle art of being an outfit repeater.

Lewis & Clark’s student body presents an interesting fashion paradox. We are a campus that prides itself on sustainability and progressive political ideology, yet many of us are guilty of relying on fast fashion, even with copious thrifting, to keep up with cultural shifts in individual expression. This fixation on individuality forces us to constantly reinvent ourselves as more unique than the next person. But the consequence of this phenomenon is environmental destruction. 

The fashion industry generates trillions of tons of waste each year, draining global resources and polluting the planet. The production and disposal of clothing is an international issue that cannot readily be solved by individual actions. However, when coupled with political actions that hold fast fashion corporations accountable, committing to slow fashion can help ease the stress placed on the environment. By embracing outfit repetition, you can promote sustainability and challenge the attitude that fashion is disposable.

If sustainability is not enough to convince you, consider how much you spend on clothes each year. The constant pressure to keep up with trends manufactured each week can take a toll on your finances. As college students, there are better things for us to be spending money on. 

Becoming an unapologetic outfit repeater signifies a departure from the oppressive climate of consumerism that has been pushed upon us. It shows that true style is not measured by the frequency of new purchases but by the creativity exercised in combining and styling the clothing we already own. This paradigm shift enables us to allocate our already limited resources to more meaningful pursuits than trends that will not even exist a year from now.

Our obsession with individuality manifests itself as the need to adopt niche micro-identities. Will you embrace a Lana Del Rey, coquette, old-money aesthetic or be an everything shower, green juice, clean girl today? Do any of those words even mean anything? We are all rabidly fighting for attention, appealing to algorithms and nebulous societal audiences, hoping that we can be special in any way. Our identities have been commodified to the extent that we do not know how to exist outside of consumption. So we force ourselves to perform personhood again and again until we lose what made us unique in the first place.

The act of repeating outfits serves as a declaration of authenticity and security in one’s sense of self. It challenges the notion that our identities can be defined exclusively by how we present ourselves. Instead, it celebrates the uniqueness of personal style and offers an opportunity to showcase the sentimental connections we have with certain pieces. Furthermore, outfit repeating reduces our tendency to rely on external validation to establish our self confidence. In this way, outfit repeating can be transformational for self-actualization. 

Still, our generation’s unfortunate social media addiction has shaped our understanding of personal expression. We view creative expression as a performance, something that we do for the sole purpose of being witnessed. Not only does this limit our satisfaction with our artistic tendencies, but it also perpetuates the belief that a cute outfit is meant to be showcased once and then retired for good. The pressure to present a highly curated, nuanced image online can be overwhelming. We market ourselves to our peers as if we are products. 

This cycle is exceedingly difficult to break and it permeates every aspect of our lives. Proudly repeating outfits is a rebellion against this digital facade. It subverts the unrealistic standards set by influencers and allows us to show off realistic, repeatable fashion that more substantially resonates with the people in our lives. The unconscious desire to document and display our every creative inclination can be left behind if we push ourselves to break the norm.

In a society where consumerism dictates our creative expression and self-worth, the art of being an outfit repeater serves as a form of liberation. This practice aligns with the growing political shift toward sustainable practices. It alleviates the financial strain imposed by constant purchases and makes room for genuine self expression. It can even promote greater authenticity in both online and offline spaces. 

By embracing the beauty that lies in repetition, we can redefine the narrative around Gen Z’s fashion and create a more compassionate approach to creative expression. Being a proud outfit repeater is not just a choice, it is a statement. Let us challenge the expectations imposed on us and embrace a more meaningful approach to the way we dress.

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