Monday, September 13, 2010

when...




All-that-excess at Forever 21...

will minimalism be back? I like layering and jeweling and overdoing just as much as the next girl, but really, what happened to less being more? Looking back through personal photos from the past few years, I witness the overdressing trend evolve. A photo of me from 5 years ago wearing a then-very-chunky necklace and bracelet looks oh-so-demure and understated now, when at the time I thought I was pushing it. I think we have gradually given ourselves permission to be more and more self indulgent, owning not one or two nice bags but twelve - and well, let's not talk about shoes. Accessories and clothing are so low cost now that they almost seem disposable. I think sometimes about the boxes of my grandmother's costume jewelry I used to play with as a little girl (and would KILL to have now, alas) and how it took her a lifetime to amass such a collection. Then I think that my granddaughter's dress-up drawer is almost fully funded now and I am scarcely out of my twenties. Something is a little off...

The same really is true with product design in general. Walk Target. Everything is "designed." Kitchen sponges are purply patterned, air fresheners are meant to be smelled and seen. And then there's the bevy of dishwashing liquid in overdone scents like ylang ylang and persimmon pomegranate. All of this is meant to give the shopper more choice, and more opportunity to showcase their individuality, but through utilitarian objects? Good industrial design is one thing, I have a huge appreciation for a well designed fork or a chair with some character, but when it comes to products that should be tucked away anyway? Not so sure. Is this a reaction to the economy being tough and therefore bringing small affordable treats to the marketplace, making every day objects feel luxurious? Same with the influx of cheap-o but cool accessories? I suppose I get that, sometimes a little boost is what you need, I guess it's about balance. It's a catch 22: I like that there are affordable, fashionable options out there, but I hate that it seems to encourage excess consumption. It is mind boggling to think about how much stuff is designed, manufactured, ordered, shipped to a distribution center, shipped to retailers, shipped to consumers, re-shipped as gifts, returned, re-gifted and eventually thrown out.

I cleaned out my closet this weekend and realized how much crap clothing I have bought in the last couple years... How many wrap cardigans from Target and H&M can one girl have? Seven, the correct answer is seven. So, this fall I am going to try to focus on fewer, better pieces and really think before I spend or bring something home. Not just because I want to look sleeker, simpler or more modern, but frankly we are running out of space chez moi. Maybe I'll even end up with a few real heirlooms in the process for my sure-to-be adorable granddaughters.

5 comments:

L said...

I realized that I had accumulated a pile of crappy shoes all beyond wear. If I had spent the total amount I spent on multiple cheap shoes on 2 pairs of really good shoes, I would have saved money in the end!

eyeheartorange said...

Yes! Exactly!

brettjsmith said...

Does this mean I have to return the Dale Earnhardt Jr. starter kit I bought at Wal-Mart last weekend? It included a trucker hat, beer koozie, t-shirt, #88 towel, and an official 2010 die-cast 1/18th scale model car. It was on sale because the 2011 kits are coming next month. Can I get one of those too when they come out? Please!? I hear they're going to put "bold new graphics" on the box!

Katie said...

Check out www.rowdykittens.com. A teeny bit extreme but lots of great ideas for reducing your dependence on stuff. We took part in a community garage sale last weekend and got rid of a ton of crap! What didn't sell we put on the goodwill truck before we left.

Courtney said...

I have gotten REALLY good at walking away from things I think I need, and if I am still thinking about them down the road, I make up a challenge for myself to determine when I can re-evaluate the purchase...more times than not, I don't even WANT the thing by the time I complete the challenge.

I've definitely gotten my closet WAY trimmed down, and can say that I love just about everything in it.