If you google outfit repeating, a couple of the results on the first page will be articles about Kate Middleton, royal outfit repeater, where they rank her 50 most popular reworn looks.
You may even come across photos of Jane Fonda wearing to the 2020 Oscars the same Elie Saab that she had worn to Cannes in 2014. We love a serial outfit repeater.
These are just a couple of examples of public figures being outfit repeaters. No matter the reason, royal PR or actual climate activism – mind you that just a couple of weeks before rewearing her red dress, Fonda had been arrested at a climate protest –they are being praised for it.
Then, it seems to be a-okay when a famous person wears the same McQueen to two different galas. Or, like in the case of Steve Jobs, when they have a signature look that defines them.
But I still feel the need to make a case for outfit repeating. Because what about real people in real-life situations? Would we praise our coworker for wearing the same outfit twice in the same week?
“The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe”
This is a quote from Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, and I think it’s spot on.
Every year we buy 80 billion pieces of new clothing worldwide, and only in the US 10.5 million tons of clothes are sent to landfills.
This screams unsustainable.
And did you know that on average each garment is worn 4 times? Read this post to learn more facts about fast fashion and waste.
But what if we learned to make the most out of our wardrobes?
Fashion is not single-use. Fashion should be used to enjoy, to express ourselves, to make us feel something, to tell a story.
Not to end up in a landfill after a year in our wardrobes.
Why aren’t we falling in love with our clothes? Why don’t we see them as long-term commitments? At the end of the day wearing and rewearing what we already have is the best way to experiment with (or find) our style and make it evolve with us.
You can read more about sustainable fashion here.
Then, why is outfit repeating stigmatized?
I feel that wearing the same outfit to uni or to the office twice in the same week is taboo. But if wearing the same gown to two different galas is permitted, so should be wearing the same cut of jeans two days in a row.
I came up with 4 little theories on why we don’t like repeating outfits, but I’d also like to know what you think about it, so leave your thoughts in the comments!
Are we addicted to fast fashion?
Fast fashion (and the current fashion industry in general) promotes a dizzying pace for the creation, production and consumption of fashion. Then, if you don’t follow X trend in Y time, you’re outdated.
This means that each outfit has a very short life – if you want to call yourself trendy that is. Each year, 52 new collections make it to the storefronts of fast fashion labels all over the world and we’re bombarded with trends that we think we need to follow.
And guess what? Trends pass and if we blindly follow them we’re doomed to forget what defines our style and what waits in our closet.
Of course using trends as inspiration is fun – at the end of the day fashion is art, an expression of each time – but don’t forget that your style is yours and no trend should dictate it.
By blindly following fast fashion and letting trends guide us, we’ll always look for the next and the newest pieces, and we’ll never be fully satisfied with what we have (and with our personal style)
Should we blame social media?
Take your fashion influencer of choice, go to their page and look at the thousands of different pieces of clothing that never appear twice.
In the case of fashion influencers, it’s understandable that each season they need to show different styles, but isn’t it a bit extreme? Why does this happen?
I love this article by Vogue, and especially this part in which Adi Heyman, Instagrammer, answers our question: “Why repeat an outfit when each post offers a potential paycheck? Not to mention, fresh, flash content garners stronger engagement, influence, earnings. If I’m wearing something I genuinely like multiple times, it takes away from the clothes that advertisers are paying me to wear.”
So are we picking up this habit of not repeating outfits to mimic the influencers on our feed? Probably this just reinforces the idea that something repeated or old isn’t desirable. And, once again, maybe we need to learn the difference between trendy and stylish.
Thankfully we have the sustainable fashion side of social media, which promotes making the most of what we already own. My favorite way to find new inspiration in my own wardrobe is using the @showoffyourcloset challenges.
Do we just get bored of what we have?
I partially agree that wearing the same clothes over and over again can be mentally exhausting, and especially if you’re the creative kind that finds excitement in playing with fashion.
But creating your own signature look and repeating outfits every once in a while doesn’t mean that there’s no room for experimentation. Maybe when we think about this our minds wander to boring and shapeless school uniforms with 0% personality.
That couldn’t be further from the reality.
Once you have that “a-ha” moment and find the style that defines you, I bet you’ll be happy to wear your favorite pieces time and time again.
I get it, monotony is not exciting, but having a signature look doesn’t mean having a uniform. And can you really get tired of a signature look that completely represents who you are?
If you want to learn how to start exploring your style and maybe even create a capsule wardrobe, read this post.
Is outfit repeating “not classy enough”?
Storytime: I study in Eastern Europe and it’s always super interesting to listen to my professors talk about their childhood under communist rule. Of course, back then the idea of consuming was completely different from what it is today, and fashion was the last of their worries. One of my professors went to university in France and one of the biggest cultural shocks was seeing all the clothing options people had. He would walk down the main street of the city and see storefronts with different models and styles at different price points, and people would wear completely different clothes each day.
Back in his home country, options were limited and whenever people wanted to buy clothes, they would buy a bunch of basic pieces: comfort over everything else.
So when we think about repeating outfits do we subconsciously link it to poverty or scarcity?
I find topics like this fascinating – why do we consider certain things acceptable fashion-wise, why do we consume fashion the way we do, why do we accept (or at least ignore) the dirty side of the industry,…
So I’d love to hear what you think about it. Tell me down in the comments or come say hi on Instagram!