Valentine’s Day is one of those days of the year when many people (and we’re including singles who like to embrace the day in a big way) like to get dressed up. We’re not here to judge whether your plans for Valentine’s Day fall into some “consumer trap” or not. Is Valentine’s Day a manufactured holiday created to sell products? Largely, yes. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace Valentine’s Day in a way that celebrates love (of another, of yourself, even of a good book) and that doesn’t feed into consumer frenzy. If, for you, that means going out to a nice dinner or event where you can get dressed up, we’re all for that. But there are ways that you can accomplish that goal while not harming the planet or caving into consumer media pressure. After all, Valentine’s Day does mark the tail end of consumer season, so be wary! Here are five tips for getting spiffed up without hurting the environment or your budget.
Tip Number One: Avoid Buying Items for Only That Night
At one time or another, most of us have bought an item that we’re only going to wear once. It may have been a wedding dress, a prom dress or even clothes we bought for a Halloween costume. The reality of the situation is that, no matter how much you may love a dress, a pair of shoes or even a piece of makeup, it’s a waste of money, resources and carbon emissions to buy items that you’ll only wear for one night. Look for items you’ll feel beautiful in but that can then be repurposed for other events in your life. For example, you may find a dress that you love that could also be worn to work if you “dressed it down” with a cardigan. As fun as it may be to play and buy for dress up night, you don’t need another item sitting in your closet that you only wore once. Remember, the memory is its own entity. It’s not manifested in the dress! If you do fall in love with a one-time wear dress, you can negate the impact by…
Tip Number Two: Donate Items After Valentine’s Day
Stop for a moment and think about how incredibly fortunate you are that you have the ability to purchase items for Valentine’s Day dress-up events at will. Then stop momentarily and think about all of the people in the world who can’t and who would be thrilled to come across your barely worn item in a thrift store. We understand that, for many women, the idea of giving up or donating a dress that you spent a special (and likely romantic) night in may feel hard. Take a moment. Breathe. Remember that nothing about that night is “trapped” in the dress itself. You have memories and, most likely, you have pictures that remind you of that night. The dress is more special if you allow it to make somebody else feel special, too! Another great resource to consider donating to is Dress for Success, which provides clothing to women who were displaced by domestic violence. On the other hand, if you can’t bear to give it up but don’t want it to sit untouched in a closet …
Tip Three: Upycycle or Recycle Your Valentine’s Day Dress Up Clothes
That silk or taffeta or fancy dress may not be useful in your day-to-day life after Valentine’s Day, but the material from it may be. And if you turn it into a craft project you’ll be able to look at the fabric and remember your wonderful, romantic Valentine’s Day night every time you see it. Some of our favorite ideas for upcycling fabric from single-use dress events are girlie in nature. Use the fabric to line or cover a jewelry or memento box. Create a purse or scarf from it that you can then wear more casually. We also love the idea of creating a pillow and then, over time, building up a collection of pillows made from fabric from meaningful events in your life.
Tip Four: Buy Vintage. Buy Thrift. Be Unique.
Of course, one of the best ways to ensure that you’re not hurting the planet, feeding the consumer machine or breaking your budget is to shop at vintage or thrift stores. You may find yourself surprised by what you can find there. You can also look for charitable trunk shows which are quite popular these days (traveling dress sales of premium goods that benefit charities and nonprofits). Consider Esty or other craft markets for pieces that are made and sold outside of the major consumer machine. The other benefit of looking for a Valentine’s Day outfit in a less traditional venue? You’ll be unique.
Tip Five: Buy Eco-Friendly
We’ve have mixed feelings about the eco-fashion industry (we’ve covered those feelings in this article). On the one hand, eco-fashion still feeds the fashion consumer machine and sends often questionable messages about women and appearance. On the other hand, it’s a significant upgrade from buying clothing made using questionable eco-practices and potentially using workers that suffer human rights violations. At the end of the day, everybody needs to find their own comfort zone. We’ll leave it to you to determine where yours is.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about waste and excess, but you don’t need to ignore it either (unless you want to!). Make wise decisions that are well thought through about what you want – and don’t want – your Valentine’s Day to include.
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Photo Credit: Photos by Zoe via Flickr