Christmas Party season: What’s the problem with outfit repeating?

Last week, I made a bold decision. A decision that defies an age-old social stigma. A decision that could see me outcast by all those around me.

Last week, I made a bold decision. A decision that defies an age-old social stigma. A decision that could see me outcast by all those around me.

I have decided to wear the same dress twice.

Ok, I may have exaggerated a little, but wardrobe recycling is a bolder move than you may think. Most fashionistas would tell you in a second that outfit repeating is a massive no-no. But is it really that bad?

For the past month of so, I have been continuously looking for ‘THE’ New Year’s Eve dress. You know the one I mean- a total showstopper, one-of-a-kind, a dress that makes you feel like a princess. But my search has been to no avail. I have realised that I’m just too picky and my penchant for designer garbs has predisposed me to be massively unimpressed with anything the High Street has to offer.

So, with that in mind, I decided that I would re-wear my favourite former New Year’s dress- a strapless, Blackwatch tartan one with a structured bodice and full skirt. For surely it is better to wear something I know I look and feel amazing in, than to settle for a sub-standard dress purely because it is new?

I got my dress in 2011 for £80 or so in Jack Wills and, surprisingly, I’ve managed to wear it a few times. It was perfect for my work’s Christmas party as they are a Scottish woolen mill; I managed to pull it out the wardrobe again for a friend’s 21st ceilidh; I even lent it to a friend, who appreciated its luxurious print and jewel colours made it perfect for a January gathering. Every time I’ve worn my favourite party piece, I’ve felt subtly glamorous and luxurious.

What’s the Problem?

So, if an outfit makes you feel like a goddess, why is it such a big deal to wear it again?

Well, apparently its not. Out of all the girls I spoke to 85% said they would wear a dress again.

Jennifer, 19, said: “I would happily wear a dress or an outfit over and over, I’m too poor not to. As long as it’s not the same thing all the time.”

On the other hand, Sarah, 19 argued: “after wearing something once I don’t get the same kick out of wearing it again. It’s just not the same for me if it’s already been worn.”

One thing all the girls seemed to agree on was if the dress is the same, the accessories should change. That way, you get to create a whole new outfit- without spending a fortune!

Interestingly, the impact of Facebook was mentioned. If there were already lots of photos online of them wearing the dress, several of the girls said they wouldn’t want to wear the same thing again. Yet we’ve already seen that most girls don’t mind outfit repeaters. Are we just putting this pressure onto ourselves?

Blame it on the High Street

Every week, shops such as Topshop and New Look release dozens of new “must-have” items. If you’re anything like me, every day you will receive several emails from fashion retailers, trying to entice you with their new items and the latest deals. No wonder we feel so obliged to spend, spend, spend!

But before you go splashing your entire student loan, remember this: these businesses spend thousands on thousands to persuade you to purchase items you don’t really need. Everything from the positioning of items in their shop, the music they choose to play and the wording on their advertisements is designed to get you to part with your cash. Feel a little manipulated? You should.

The High Street has also helped to manufacture our throw-away culture. All of us have bought an item in the sales (or on a routine trip to Primark!) purely because it was cheap. We then wear it once, if that, and before long off to the charity shop it goes. So are these bargain buys actually saving you money? It would appear not. And at the same time, our spending habits are harbouring a wasteful trade of fast fashion, where durability and craftsmanship are no longer valued.

British designer, Vivienne Westwood, is a passionate advocate of quality over quantity. Her Vivienne Loves collection is a partnership with superior British manufacturers who share her view of “buy less, choose well, make it last”. For surely it is better to have ten outfits that look and feel great and will still be wearable in five years time, than a whole wardrobe of clothes and absolutely nothing to wear?

I will admit, until now I have been the worst for throw-away fashion as I have been very trend-led in my style. This means I’m lucky if I keep an item for more than a year as by that point, I’ve moved onto a new look. However, I have realised it’s all about finding investment pieces. The perfect little black dress? Instantly reinvented by this season’s accessories. A classic trench coat? Goes with anything. A good leather handbag? Will last you for years to come.

So, this New Year’s Eve, as I slip on my favourite party dress with some new sparkly accessories and some fashionable Jeffrey Campbell boots, I’ll feel confident instead of self-conscious. For as Coco Chanel once said: “Fashions fade. Style is eternal.”

Image: K.oa