Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice! Today’s letter comes from a woman with a major addiction to her fashion… and it’s costing her too much.
My question isn’t as high-stakes as your other ones, but I still thought that I would write in. How do I cut down on my shopping addiction? I know fast fashion is bad for the environment, but no matter how much I buy, I never have enough to wear. I can’t stop splurging on trendy tops and cute earrings, though. Help!
I can help, but you’ll need to do a very painful thing: get your bank statements.
No, really. You say that you have a shopping addiction, so you must also have a bank account and an income stream of some sort. Get your statements from the past month, and go over them with a highlighter pen. Figure out how much you spent during that time, which clothes you kept, which ones you returned, and which ones you are likely to throw away. Then, take a nice, long look at the numbers and ask yourself, “Is this spending pattern really worth it?”
Ouch! Way to be a bitch, Ada. Can’t you tell me to watch “The True Cost” or something like that? Why does this all have to be about my money?
Because appealing to your higher senses won’t work. If you’re serious about cutting back on your shopping habit, sit down and start highlighting.
Look, it’s no secret that sweatshops overseas make most of the cheap clothing that we buy. We’ve allowed clothing manufacturers to do this since the 1980s. Working conditions in the third world are not high on our priority lists, and with tight wages, sustainable retailers may not even be an option. Long live capitalism!
I’m not here to solve capitalism, though. I’m here to give you advice.
First, figure out your true costs, then decide where to make changes. Maybe, you should go on a low-buy. Maybe, you should take a second look at your “unwearables” and see if they can be mended or tailored. Perhaps, you should block fashion bloggers on social media to remove the temptation to spend on their pieces. Maybe, you should explore thrifting or doing clothing exchanges with your friends. I don’t know your situation, so you’ll have to figure out what works best for you.
Your shopping addiction will never change if you think of fast fashion as irresistible or affordable, though. As long as you tell yourself that you can’t stop spending, and your habits don’t matter anyway, you’ll never get off the hamster wheel.
Change only sticks when you change for your own sake.
Make this issue personal. The rest of the world can only follow you.
(Please note: We are not a crisis hotline. If you need crisis response, Google is your best friend right now.)