As someone who has loved fashion and clothes since I was little, being labeled as an “outfit repeater” would’ve been considered a huge embarrassment for me. Between big retail corporations pushing back to school commercials telling me that I wouldn’t want to be wearing the same jeans I had last school year, to the media and TV shaming a celebrity for rewearing an outfit on a red carpet, there’s always been a huge stigma around rewearing clothes for me.
But now, since fast fashion and Instagram play such huge roles in everyone’s daily lives, the stigma has gotten even worse. Not only is this reputation harmful for people because of the fear of judgment from others, but it is also damaging in regards to textile waste, since clothing items are being discarded as people don’t see much use for them after a couple of wears. This then feeds into the cycle of wearing something only a couple times, getting rid of it, then buying something new.
Rather than people feeling proud to rewear a clothing item that they spent money on, this tainted view discourages it and makes it harder for us to truly love the clothes we own already.
I’ve found most of the information there is about this stigma on social media platforms, such as Instagram. I know for myself, I’ve avoided posting pictures because I already had photos in the same outfit and didn’t want anyone to notice out of the fear of being judged. Social media makes it easier to put your content out there, but at the risk of possibly feeling criticism from peers. I’m sure everyone thinks about how other people will view the content they are putting out, and this could be why outfit repeating is so frowned upon.
My own Instagram followers range from ages 18-24, are 60% female and live mostly in places around the East coast of the United States. I wanted to ask them how they felt about rewearing, since I consider myself and my peers to be on Instagram frequently and care about how we’re viewed on social media. I got answers from 150 people who gave me their thoughts on this stigma. There were the rare few people who said they’ve never looked at rewearing in a negative light and didn’t know about it. But the majority of people realized that they even carried these feelings and shared their opinions through polls and short answers.
The most interesting statistic was that 63% said they didn’t post a picture on Instagram because they already had a post in the same outfit, yet 64% said they don’t even notice when others post multiple pictures wearing the same outfit. Instagram influencers are an essential part of social media yet, 68% of people said they don’t expect the influencers they follow to always be wearing something new in their posts, either. It’s interesting that we are self-conscious about being seen on social media in the same outfit twice, yet most of us don’t even pay attention or notice if someone were to outfit-repeat in the first place.
The want by some to be perceived as a certain class or status were in the bulk of peoples’ answers when I asked why there was this stigma in the first place. It’s generally considered to be a high status symbol to constantly be wearing new clothes and it’s a goal for some to achieve a status like that. People felt that, if they were seen in the same outfit multiple times, then another person may think they can’t afford to buy new clothes.
I think this has a lot to do with the media, since the people usually shown to us are celebrities who can afford and have the privilege to own enough clothing to never be seen in something twice. But then, that puts pressure on the people who can’t afford this.
The second biggest reason that people felt there was this negative connotation towards rewearing was due to fast fashion and our addiction to consumption. With fast fashion, we are constantly being fed with new trends every couple of weeks, and we need to comply by buying new clothes. If we don’t get our hands on the latest trend, then we are made to feel like we aren’t keeping up with fashion or taking pride in our appearance. In my opinion, fast fashion can satisfy the addiction of wanting to be ahead of others, especially on social media. People want to feel like what they’re doing and wearing is the latest style until another trend comes along and they buy something else to keep up with that, too.
Trends in fashion are constantly changing, and I think that rather than keeping up with them, we should take pride in having our own individual and unique style. Instead of buying clothes to keep up, we should buy things that we actually like and feel the most confident in. Think about buying clothes as making an investment in yourself and your overall comfort.
Nothing in your wardrobe can ever go out of style if it’s true to you and your style. We can be confident in rewearing our clothes by finding pieces that can be styled in different ways, and can even be worn in different seasons using techniques like layering. Reworking what we already have or even wearing it the same way every time just shows how much those items are loved and cherished, which is how we should treat all of the clothes we decide to buy.