Dismantling the Stigma Surrounding Outfit Repeating

Dismantling the Stigma Surrounding Outfit Repeating

Dismantling the Stigma Surrounding Outfit Repeating

Last week we looked at wearing items from other people’s wardrobes (second-hand shops, depop, vintage etc.), this week it’s about what’s in our OWN wardrobes.

To kick off our third week of #KeepBuyingLess, we’re looking at the stigma that surrounds rewearing our clothes, and how we can start to dismantle this to go further on our sustainable journeys to becoming better citizens of the earth (and kinder to our pockets!). We have deduced what we think are the key reasons why rewearing is frowned upon, suggesting how we can rid ourselves of the stigma and start rewearing clothes that already exist, either in our own wardrobes or the wardrobes of others!


“Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater” 


This scene above is from the Lizzie McGuire Movie, and I’ll certainly never forget it! It has plagued my thoughts of rewearing a statement outfit since I was young. 

There is a widely believed societal rule, that once an outfit has been seen on your instagram page, it CANNOT be worn, let alone posted, again. This leads to clothes being worn once and then discarded, wasting not only money, but valuable textiles, with the UK taking 4th place as one of the largest producers of textile waste in Europe. Shouldn’t we be applauding outfit repeaters for not contributing to this problem, as opposed to shaming them?

With the growing profession of the ‘Instagram Influencer’, fast fashion companies enlist their help to promote sales. Offering discounts to followers who buy items linked by the influencer and collaborating with those fresh out of reality shows like Love Island, new items are posted each day, designed and produced for the purpose of wearing one time. The poor quality is revealed after one wash when holes suddenly appear in the thin fabrics! We’re expected to buy these new items each time they appear in order to stay ‘on trend’ and ‘relevant’. But at what cost? There is also an equal desire to achieve the appearance of celebrities - not only through plastic surgery but through fashion choices - resulting in copycat outfits on fast fashion sites like Missguided, boosting sales through the roof as everyone tries to replicate Kim K. By not following this consumerist model and rewearing the clothes one already owns, there is an idea that it is shameful and demonstrates lack of money and style. 



Rewearing clothes is such a normal thing to do, it’s why we bought them in the first place, right? So if a person does rewear their clothes why is it seen as something that means you don’t have enough clothes or that you are poor or low income? Somewhere along the way we have fallen into the trap of the idea that more equals better, and because a person has more clothes and is never seen in the same outfit, they must be ‘well off’. The fact of the matter is what a person wears is no reflection of their income levels. In fact many women overspend to keep up appearances, so it works both ways. Our solution? Love your clothes! Love them so much you want to wear them again and again. When a friend is wearing the same outfit, tell her how good she looks and how much you love that look! 

My experience

Outfit repeating is something I’ve struggled with myself. I have a pretty visual memory, so tend to be able to remember the outfits people have worn to events, especially if they made an impact. I feared that if I re-wore a dress, others would remember and judge me for it, even if I don’t judge those who do the same and will encourage my friends that there’s nothing wrong with wearing a dress again (classic case of not being able to take my own advice!). The result? A wardrobe full of beautiful dresses and jumpsuits that haven’t been touched twice. 

Now, when it comes to events, I try to wear two pieces so I can restyle them for different outfits, equalling more wear out of both pieces. Ensuring I have these items available, like trousers and skirts, there’s no need for last minute purchases; I can just borrow a dressy top from a friend and voila - new outfit!

Remind yourself: NEW ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER. 

It's time we take a leaf out of Tiffany Haddish's book. Learn to ignore the devil on your shoulder reminding you when you last wore an item, and who may have seen it. When a look is so fabulous, why should it only be seen once? Does it really deserve to sit in your wardrobe hopelessly waiting for another time to shine? If you still feel conscious about the fact that you’re wearing the same outfit in a post, or in person, then make a joke out of it! Imply that you’re well aware of this reality, and that you’re proud. If anyone makes a comment to you, remember Lizzie’s comeback: I’m an outfit repeater, but you’re an outfit rememberer, which is just as pathetic! 

If you still desire something ‘new’, you don’t even need to go shopping, just update your styling and DIY skills (tie-dye is easily achievable at home with some packet dye and a couple of elastic bands). Rewear that birthday outfit with pride! Be a leader, not a follower.

P.S. Check out the hashtag #outfitrepeater on Instagram for some encouragement and inspiration!


Tash x