Is Socioeconomic Status Still Limiting Style?

Just a few days ago my Fashion Club at school held a “Diversity in Fashion” discussion with people from different cultural organizations on campus. We focused on a few questions that were important to this group of people; one of them being “does your socioeconomic status affect the way you dress?”.

It was unanimously agreed upon within the group that the answer was an absolute yes. However, while this was especially the case 10 or 20 years ago, is the answer to this question beginning to change?

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Ever since I was young my mom would give me a budget of a few hundred dollars each school year to spend on my seasonal wardrobe. I had to choose carefully which pieces I spent my money on. Did I want to splurge on a pair of jeans I would wear over and over again? Or did I want to head to the fast fashion stores for a few trendy items?

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It really was a fun little game to me. Fun until I had spent my entire budget and later found a pair of shoes I loved but were no longer in the budget, that is. It is definitely hard to create a diverse wardrobe with endless outfit opportunities when you can’t afford to shell out the money for every item you love. However, new fashion trends and brands are making this easier and easier.

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Macklemore made thrift shopping cool in 2012 and it has been a trendy thing to do ever since. I guess this is one positive thing we can thank modern-day rappers for. Thrift shopping gives us all an opportunity to find trendy, vintage pieces at an affordable price point. It even gives us a chance to find brands we wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy. Before 2012, thrift shopping was viewed as an activity for those who couldn’t afford new clothing. However, current trends in the industry have shaped it into an acceptable and fun way to shop.

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Fast fashion stores are also trendier than ever. Stores have completely re-branded themselves to fit the latest styles showcased on the runways and by celebrities. Target is the perfect example of this. It is a store available to everyone all over the country, whether you are in the city or suburbs. Target has recently launched new brands that focus on trends prominent in the industry today. They have even launched a plus size fashion line with these same fashion-forward pieces.

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I was able to find this jumpsuit for $18 on the sale rack at Target. Not only are the prices at these stores more affordable, but they also offer a vast selection of stylish pieces in the sale section. If you are smart about the way you shop, it is absolutely possible to be fashion-forward on a budget. Not to mention my shoes are also from Target! I have been on the hunt for a pair of white mules for awhile now and was able to find the perfect pair for less than $50.

However, anything becoming more affordable always come at some sort of price. In the case of fashion, that cost is ethics. As clothing becomes cheaper, unethical practices in the fashion industry become more prominent. Big corporations are stealing smaller artists’ designs, toxins are being released into the environment, and children are working long hours in factories in Third World countries. The issues are endless. Our struggles in America are causing greater struggles in countries halfway around the world.

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So while we may be happier here that we can finally afford to be fashionable, others around the world are suffering because of it. There really is no way to win unless we can find a way to make fashion affordable and ethical.

Do you agree that it is becoming easier to be stylish on a budget? How do you feel about the hidden costs behind this? I would love to hear your thoughts below!

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Show Your Love for the Earth Through Sustainable Fashion

April 22nd. Do you know what day that is? No, it’s not International Pancake Day or International Wine Day, two “holidays” that millennials are probably more familiar with than this day. April 22nd is Earth Day, a day that is dedicated to caring for our planet and making eco-conscious choices.

I find it ironic how millennials are “Earth-activists” and care about the environment, yet most do absolutely nothing to help it. While yes, part of Earth’s future lies in the hand of our President, it is our decisions in our everyday life that ultimately effect the health of Mother Nature. Being a millennial myself, I admit that I am not the best at recycling or reusing my resources. However, I am also not preaching for everyone else to help the Earth but not help it myself. So this brings me to ask you, how have you planned to help the Earth on this lovely upcoming Saturday?

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I think we can all sacrifice a few hours of our day to pick up litter in the neighborhoods surrounding us. I highly recommend organizing a neighborhood clean-up and picking up  litter in your surrounding area. Just imagine if everyone did this; the Earth could be completely clean for a few hours! Growing up, my mom would bring my sister and I to participate in our neighborhood Earth Day clean-ups. I actually ended up always enjoying them, walking away with a sense of accomplishment that the patch of ground was clean because of my efforts. One time I even found an old love letter hiding in the litter alongside the highway. Not only are you helping your community, but you could find your own little treasures!

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You may be asking yourself, well how can I make a change that will permanently help the Earth? My answer for that is sustainable fashion. Many people, specifically Earth-activists, do not realize just how detrimental the fashion industry is to Mother Nature. Not only is it the fabric itself that is unethical, but the services of those who are making the clothing, the dying of the clothing, the shipping of the clothing… It is truly unfathomable how much harm fashion does to the environment.

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Fast fashion stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara are doing nothing but harming the environment with the toxins their factories release into the air, the unsustainable fabrics, and the strenuous practices that they put their workers through. Unless we stop buying from these stores, fast fashion companies will only continue to gain power.

Eilen Fisher fashion blogger

While I know it is hard not to shop at these stores, because lets face it, they are the only thing in our budget, but it is essential that we at least support companies making efforts towards sustainable fashion. My favorite company working towards this goal is EILEEN FISHER. Last summer I worked as a Social Media and Public Relations Intern for them and  experienced first-hand how ethics and safe environmental practices are the core of their company (read more about my experience here). We need to support companies like EILEEN FISHER who are making an effort to change the fashion industry as we know it.

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Not only do these two companies design and produce their clothing with the environment in mind, but they make an effort to truly educate consumers. Look on either of their websites and you will see environmental statistics plastered all over. They don’t try to hide how and where they produce their products, which most companies do. Try to find out where fast fashion retailers make their clothes. Hint: you won’t be able to. They don’t easily disclose this information on their website. If this information is found, it is usually in a news article titled “Forever 21 Clothing Made in U.S. Sweatshops for $4 an Hour” or “Forever 21, H&M, Zara, Uniqlo: Who’s Paying for our Cheap Clothes?“.

Eileen Fisher fashion blogger

Earth Day may be April 22nd, but every day should be Earth Day. I know we are all not perfect, but we all can do something a little extra to make the environment a healthier place. I’m not talking fighting legislation or joining the Green Party, but something we can all easily do every day, like make sustainable fashion choices.