The Importance of Shopping Small

I’m not actually sure when I became fully passionate about fashion and style. 

A lot of people can pinpoint the exact moment, but I don’t really know. 
Whenever I did have that realization, there were only two things I cared about when I went shopping–getting the lowest price and following trends. The combination of those two factors has produced and perpetuated the “fast fashion” mentality, as seen in chain stores such as Primark, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, etc. 
I was a devout follower of “fast fashion.” I kept buying, then wanting to buy even more after. It was like nothing was ever enough.
Then something changed. I learned more about the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. What it means to be an ethically conscious brand in production, distribution, and consumption. Fair trade. How certain color dyes and fabrics can be carcinogenic. Organic cotton and, more specifically, organic bamboo and hemp fabrics, are more sustainable than conventionally grown cotton. 
In general, shopping local is more environmentally friendly practice–The Huffington Post and ELocal lay it out–but the most important thing about supporting local businesses is that it supports the entire community both economically and spiritually. When I say “spiritually,” I’m referring to shopping local as a way to strengthen ties between businesses, friends, and neighbors in the community. 

So, what’s the connect between fashion and shopping local?

Time and time again, many designers have pointed out that fashion and style are two different things–just search “fashion quotes” on Pinterest and you’ll see. Fashion is for people obsessed with constant consuming to conform. Fashion can easily lead to mindless excess. Fashion is superficial.
Style, though, is a mindset, a more wholesome approach living. 
It is entirely possible to balance fashion and style–it’s just important to know the difference. By incorporating the “shop small” mentality in your consumption of clothing and accessories, it heightens both your sense of style and sense of community–this is what I’ve done and I notice the difference in the way I think about fashion.
I buy less. I visit designer consignment shops and have come to appreciate vintage. I’ve gotten to know boutique owners and have met great people.
I will be honest–I do still shop at H&M and Forever 21 on the rare occasion. Why? Because I’m a twenty-something on an entry-level salary with rent and student loan payments. As much I would love to shop local all of the time, sometimes I just can’t. It’s a joke that I live a Whole Foods lifestyle on an Ocean State Job Lot budget…
Making the effort to shop local–whether its at designer consignment boutique or fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market–makes a difference. Choosing to invest in your community is the best way to build a better future and be a conscious consumer.

It’s great to have a sense of style, but knowledge is always in fashion. 

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

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