This blog post was written for and originally published on 2 Degrees East website. They gave me a full permission to publish it here.
One thing is clear: the news has been heavy in the past few months. Especially on the environmental front, from the IPCC report going public to all the floods, wildfires, and hurricanes. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you.
I’m not going to lie, it’s exhausting. It’s frustrating, sad, confusing, stressful, out-of-control, and makes you feel like you’re shouting into a void. If you feel any of these, I want you to know that you’re not alone. You might be feeling symptoms of eco-anxiety, something many of us are experiencing too. While the impacts of climate change on our environment and societies are evident and well-studied, the impacts on our mental health are sometimes less obvious. But they are real and scientists agree that we need to learn to take care of our mental health too if we want a brighter future.
This will look different for everyone of course. But today, I want to give you one way of taking care of yourself and your mental health, one that is available to all of us. That is through fashion.
I want to propose that we can improve our overall well-being, by slowing down our consumption of fashion,
Here are just 5 benefits that slow fashion has for our mental health.
1. Less noise = a calmer mind
Slow fashion essentially means stepping out of the endless cycle of trends, new styles, sales, and intrusive advertisement. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we stop buying new clothes altogether. Slow fashion implies that we are distancing ourselves from the urge to buy all the time.
This might sound like a minor thing but moving away from all the noise of fast fashion means that we are freeing our cognitive space. We already live in a world where there’s a constant influx of information. Limiting some parts of it gives us room to breathe. Our brains are less stimulated, which may lead to increasing our resistance to stress and burnout.
2. Better focus
You might come across the idea that slow fashion means buying and wearing clothes mindfully. Now, people may interpret this differently and there is numerous definition of what mindfulness means. Yet, the way I see it is a form of an invitation to focus on things that matter to us. And enjoy them as fully as possible.
Fast fashion promotes the idea that clothes are passing, almost disposable objects, which come in and go out of our lives quickly. Apart from this being an evident environmental and social problem, this philosophy also makes us detached from what we wear. As an opposite, slow fashion encourages us to wear our clothes more and to carefully choose what we buy and what we don’t buy. It invites us to focus on things we already own and rediscover how we can wear, style, and connect to them.
This brings me to the next point…
3. Crafting and enjoying your style
When we focus on things we like, rather than what’s in trend, we are starting to craft our own style. And before anyone even dares to tell me that they don’t have the style (trust me, I heard it many times before), I’m here to tell you that we all do. We all have our styles.
The modern fashion industry made us believe that being stylish or fashionable is being highly aware of the current trends. But fashionable is also wearing things that are meaningful and practical to us. Things that help us express ourselves and celebrate our bodies. This will look different on everyone.
You might feel joy when wearing bold colours, or you might prefer neutrals. You might like feminine silhouettes or you may aim for an androgynous look. Well-tailored jackets or spacious shirts. Minimalistic and simple or statement jewellery. And anything in-between. All of these will be fashionable at one moment and out-of-style at another. But once you understand what styles, colours, shapes, patterns, and designs make you happy, it won’t matter if others are wearing them.
You will wear them for yourself and that, honestly, is empowering.
4. Less clutter in your life
I often see a focus on buying better. Don’t get me wrong, that is a good thing, if we have a choice. Buying things that are made ethically and with a lesser impact on our planet is important. Yet, slow fashion is ultimately about buying less stuff.
In the slow fashion world, we avoid overstuffing our closets with clothes and accessories that we forget about. It also leads to simply having more room and less clutter in our lives. That, of course, doesn’t mean that you can only have a certain number of t-shirts, dresses, pair of shoes and so on. You don’t even have to own a capsule wardrobe unless that is something that fits your style and needs. The clutter I’m talking about here isn’t necessarily about the number of things we own. It is about the unnecessary stuff we have around us, that just take up our living space, without us getting any use or pleasure out of them.
Reducing this sort of clutter and mess is another way of reducing the noise in our lives. Plus, removing excess stuff can increase our productivity and make us more creative.
5. Making healthier choices
As I said, slow fashion doesn’t mean never buying new stuff again. Yet, when we buy something, we learn to make choices that are healthier for us, the planet, and others.
Let me explain what I mean by this.
Buying in a slow fashion manner takes various forms. It can mean buying second-hand and thus wearing clothes that already exist and would otherwise end up in the landfills. This saves up our common resources and reduces waste.
It can also be buying from better companies. Those that choose to manufacture ethically (thus benefiting the workers) and use the resources smartly. Whether they use recycled or organic materials, looking for brands that care about their environmental footprint means supporting businesses that care.
In both cases, we are making choices that are healthier for the life on this planet. Sure, our individual choices are truly just a drop in an ocean. But combined they make a difference. The fashion industry today is well aware that it needs to progress towards more sustainability, inclusion, and justice. While the responsibility should never be on the individuals only, our fashion choices send a strong message. When we make a slow fashion-minded purchase, we are supporting the positive changes that are already happening. Those changes are ultimately better for us too.
Has slow fashion helped you and your well-being? Let me know!