About a week or so ago I started doing Project 333 which aims to help you simplify your wardrobe down to just 33 pieces. This, I have discovered, is going to be an on-going process for me as I am so confused at the moment about my own personal style. I have managed to get my current wardrobe (which will stay the same until July, unless it gets too hot) down to about fifty items of clothing - not counting shoes and accessories. I have decided to diarise what I wear and if I feel the slightest bit frumpy, unattractive, grey, uncomfortable, shabby etc. in any item it will be donated or put on the ever-growing pile of stuff to go in our up-coming yard sale (more about this soon).
Today on Question Time on Radio 4 the panel were discussing the awful events in Bangladesh at the collapsed clothing factory (Guardian article). I hadn't been following this story and they mentioned that one of the floors of the building was owned and run by Primark. I have recently bought a lot of stuff at Primark, some clothes for myself and lots of stuff to get my son Elliot off to boarding school. In fact while I was listening to the discussion I realised I was wearing a Primark jumper.
There is no doubt that by buying the basics from Primark I have saved a huge amount of money to get Elliot off to school, and I do love my Primark jumpers, I am not going to lie. However, having embarked on project 333 I have learned an awful lot about my buying habits when it comes to clothes, and that having more of a lot of cheap items is really not the way to go. It is very easy for me as a middle classed affluent woman to say that we are all buying too many clothes. A lot of people on low-incomes use shops like Primark to buy the items they desperately need, at a price they can afford. But I also know that there are many of us who have way too many pieces of clothing, and shops like Primark can fulfil that much needed short-term comfort pick-me-up that we all crave sometimes.
Am I going to carry on wearing my Primark jumpers? Well yes, as I don't want to waste them as they are incredibly useful and have turned out to be part of my wardrobe that I use a lot. But I have decided that I will try and find replacements, when they inevitably wear out, of a much better quality, which will most likely mean at a higher price. I want to find items that look great, that will stand up to being worn and washed over and over, are made by companies with a good track record for the treatment of their staff and suppliers, and make me happy, not just for a moment but for a long time.
There will always be a need for cheap clothing, and how we square the circle of providing good working conditions for the people who make them, while keeping unit costs down is a very difficult issue. I would like to live in a world where the true value of a piece of clothing is reflected in the price it is sold at, where we learn to value the old as well as the new, and re-learn the skills of looking after what we love.
Please feel free to comment on my post, Louise