Let’s get something out of the way: I have a lot of clothing. A lot. You could say it comes with the territory as a Vogue editor, but my twin sister, a neonatal nurse practitioner, is equally guilty of loving clothes. It isn’t fashionable to admit this right now, of course; we’ve all been encouraged to “edit our wardrobes,” to “buy less, buy better,” to somehow become immune to the dopamine rush of a beautiful new thing. And for good reason: Overconsumption has surpassed overpopulation as the leading cause of climate change, with fast fashion’s endless stream of cheap, disposable stuff (driven largely by high-fashion trends) pumping carbon into the atmosphere and clogging landfills with polyester.
Understanding that will naturally change the way you shop. I don’t buy fast fashion, I avoid synthetics (including recycled blends), and I meticulously research how my favorite brands operate. In truth, I rarely buy anything new at all, and when I do, it’s often vintage, secondhand, or a quality piece I know I’ll keep for a long time. That’s hardly a revelatory thought process, but fashion has conveniently aligned “investment shopping” with “conscious consumerism” nonetheless.
Most of my friends and colleagues adopted a similar mindset during the pandemic. In 2020, we learned what we could live with—i.e., much less—and gained a better understanding of fashion’s environmental and social impact. If climate change didn’t put you off $5 T-shirts, the plight of unpaid women who made them should. Many of these friends still aren’t shopping much; they’re either spending their money elsewhere or enjoying the extra cash (and a cleaner closet).
But here’s the real test: Will we keep it up now that Fashion Week is back? The September shows have always come with the pressure to look put-together and current, but after 18 months of glitchy Zooms and waist-up dressing, we’re likely to see more “flexing” (as Rick Owens put it) than ever before.
The spring 2022 shows begin in New York on Tuesday, and yes, I’ve already had the “nothing to wear” mental crisis. But like I said: I have plenty of clothing—and a lot of it is pretty old, including some pieces from college, some from my mom, and some even from high school. My NYFW resolution isn’t just to refrain from buying new things, but to “shop my closet,” for lack of a better term, and find ways to wear the items I’ve held onto the longest. On one hand, it’s a testament to things coming back in style—like my 2009 high school graduation dress, which I’ve worn a few times this summer—and a riposte to the narrative around constantly purging our wardrobes. I’m glad I never got rid of that dress, ditto the pieces I haven’t worn in years but am happily revisiting now.
Lately, I’ve enjoyed mixing them up and dressing a bit more freely than I ever did pre-COVID. I’m not alone, either: The seemingly thrown-together, highly individualized outfits we’re seeing on the streets, on the runways, and on Instagram reflect a similar urge to “freak it” and experiment with what you’ve got rather than accumulate more stuff. It’s definitely more fun this way—and I won’t have to worry about seeing anyone at Spring Studios wearing the same dress as me. Now, a challenge for my Vogue colleagues and industry friends: Who’s with me?