Am I the only one concerned about maximising every fashion item I have?

Am I the only one concerned about maximising every fashion item I have?


Text: Michelle Yeoh

Editor: Cheryl Chan

I would argue that there is no better time for the most gratuitous, kooky revelations to creep up (especially if you are an equally kooky overthinker like me) than lying restless at night after a prolonged day of spending too much time alone. Allow me to set the scene: I was wide awake in my ketchup-stained T-shirt when the thought had hit me I own a pair of white calf leather mules from Joseph that are set almost delicately atop slim, architectural Jenga-shaped wooden heels. I love them to the point of being an overbearing parent they're still tucked neatly in the box they came in and have yet to be subjected to the rocky terrains of the outside world.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, because I think it's very self-indulgent of me, but that night, I had somehow made up my mind with absolute resolution that I would start wearing those Joseph mules around the house. That might prompt you to go ok, that's not that strange of a revelation, but wait, here's the good part — it's only because I was worried the glue on the soles would break down and they would disintegrate if I didn't start wearing them pronto.

Compared to the harrowing state of the world right now, my problems are downright trivial, so my knee-jerk reaction was to reject that concern and start chewing over issues of substance instead (hi, this way please).

However, analyzing that episode made me realise that I had a bigger sartorial viewpoint worth exploring: I have a need to maximise every item I have. Before a clothing meets its time at the fashion graveyard i.e sporting too many rips/holes, or is *gasp* no longer my size I have to know that: a) It had served me well in its time and b) I have fully optimised its cost-per-wear count.

Cost-per-wear is, of course, strictly hypothetical. The equation is derived from dividing the price of the item by how many times you have worn it. For the fashion industry, this is usually applied as a means to justify something that is very expensive. "But, you'll be able to wear it forever!", said every luxury sales assistant to an unsure buyer on the precipice of making a huge (and usually costly) purchase.

For me however, the concept of what an "optimised" cost-per-wear is contingent on pure emotion and nothing else. If I feel like I've made the most out of an item by taking it to memorable events, garnered enough compliments on it or simply wearing it to dissolution, then yes, I would be fully ready to let go if it in peace.

Before COVID-19 had hit, I never really thought twice about chasing the high that retail therapy gave me. I try not to buy things that I would very obviously never wear, but I was also admittedly a classic impulsive buyer on multiple occasions. Indulging in a new fashion item felt to me like a new shot I had at reinventing myself, as if the purchase of a new cashmere henley could make me one step closer to becoming the sensible woman I long to be. One might think that it's rather counterproductive to, at the same time, shop heedlessly while vexing over the accumulation of more stuff well, one might think correct.

Quarantining has forced me to parse through the clothes I own, and the ownership they have over me since I no longer have any practical use for them. The idea of indulgence once again comes up, as I no longer want to engage in retail therapy and the temporary thrill it provides. Today, as I sit here typing this in a pair of linen ruffle-trim shorts and the royal blue cotton pyjama shirt I have yet to change out of, indulgence has taken a vastly different meaning. Genuine indulgence, if there is such a thing, is about taking a step back and luxuriating in the things that make ME feel good.

These days, I find that I get immense glee from wearing my striped COS pyjamas simply because they make bedtime feel like an actual recreation worth dressing up for. I also derive satisfaction from wearing these Yan Yan multicoloured knit pants routinely. They've been a major source of comfort for me despite me thinking that they were an impulse buy before I never imagined I'd wear them this often while isolating at home.

This has led me to properly access my shopping habits; purchasing less has definitely been at the top of my agenda. What I really want to be putting my money into are a small number of carefully considered items that I can wear on rotation (aka the highly lauded capsule wardrobe) and make me feel like the best version of myself. Which brings me back full-circle to my initial concerns over cost-per-wear: perhaps by purchasing and owning less, I can pay really close attention to the things I own and give them additional time in the sun.

To that point, I wonder if my items of comfort would lose their magical appeal once quarantine ends and I would have to start dressing to leave the house again. Would my Yan Yan pants return to the state of being an ordinary pair of pants I once capriciously bought and would never wear again? The emotional connection I've formed with them leads me to think otherwise, but just to be safe, I'm off to mentally collage a bunch of possible outfits I can wear them out with.