From feather-adorned cocktail dresses and colourful showstoppers to about two dozen little black dresses (LBDs), my closet is full of fancy frocks that I’ve accumulated over the years.
And I’ve worn 99 per cent of them at least twice.
While there’s always something special about slipping into a new dress that hugs your body just right and inspires both conversation and social media-worthy snaps, there’s nothing wrong will recycling something from your closet, allowing it to once again see the light of day and shine in all of its glory. Just ask Kate Middleton and a slew of other famous faces who have – gasp – shamelessly rocked the same (amazing) outfit on a handful of occasions.
The Duchess of Cambridge is famous for recycling her outfits – from maternity wear to coats, jeans, shoes, and gowns – and has been doing so for years. In the weeks since the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, media outlets have been abuzz about how Middleton wore her white-looking Alexander McQueen coat dress not once, but three times in the past: first at Charlotte’s christening in 2015, again at the Queen’s birthday later that year, and last year in Belgium. However, new reports claim it is actually a different dress, distinguished as “primrose yellow” versus the white one in question. Whether the dress was a debut or a re-wear, the point remains that Middleton is definitely a repeat wearer when it comes to fashion.
Actress Tiffany Haddish has also unapologetically worn the same Alexander McQueen dress a handful of times. All within a year, for that matter. She rocked the $4,000 dress to the Girls Trip premiere in July 2017, wore it a few months later when hosting Saturday Night Live (SNL) in November 2017, and then brought it out again for the Oscars in February. “I don’t give a dang about no taboo; I spent a lot of money on this dress,” she said during her SNL opening monologue. “This dress cost more than my mortgage … I’m gonna wear this dress multiple times. If someone invites me to a bar or bat mitzvah, guess what? I’m wearing it.” Amen.
Haddish’s sentiment makes complete sense: The higher the rotation, the lower the cost-per-wear – something that makes the pricy splurges a little more justifiable. But even though the stars can do it, many young professional women wouldn’t be caught dead in the same dress – especially at a highly photographed event (and these days, everything is a highly photographed event). For all of the outfit inspiration it has inspired, social media has definitely complicated things when it comes to re-wearing something that currently occupies real estate in your closet. While we used to be able to get away with re-wearing something to a handful of different events in front of different crowds of people, we’ve moved into an era where if you’ve worn it, it’s definitely been documented.
Fuelled by social media, fashion cycles are moving quickly. Brands churn out more styles at a higher-than-ever rate. “Fast fashion” has become a buzz term, with mass-produced apparel more affordable to consumers. When it comes to social media, it’s easy to make sub-par quality look like couture with the right filters and editing. Plus, if we never wear it again, it doesn’t leave a dent in the wallet anyway. So, many now turn to cheaper, fast fashion as opposed to investment pieces that are designed to be worn many times. While this may be healthier for your wallet, it’s not for the environment. The fashion industry is one of the “dirtiest” in the world, with a polluting impact on our natural resources, energy, and water.
In addition to choosing brands with environmentally sustainable production practices, we can fight fashion waste by developing more sustainable wardrobes. It’s easy to recycle things that are simple, classic, and neutral, enabling you to switch up your look with different accessories and shoes with each wear. You can also have social media actually help your recycled outfit cause by scrolling back in your photos to see how you styled a certain piece in the past so that you can give it a fresh look. Instead of throwing out the items that you’ll never see yourself wearing again (we’ve all made bad choices), donate them or re-use them as cloths or material for other garments.
Rather than buying something you’re only going to wear once before it collects dust in your closet, many event-going young women are also renting dresses from a growing number of spots in the business. In Toronto, such spots include the dress-filled walls of Rent Frock and Repeat, Studio Fitzroy, and Boro.
When it comes down to it, there is no shame in wearing the same dress more than once. Instead of looking “cheap” or “lazy,” it is seen as a smart, statement-making, and sustainable choice at a time when minimalism has become stylish. Let’s not forget that some of those near forgotten-about dresses in your closet probably actually look better on you than something you grabbed hastily off the rack simply because you “needed a new dress” for that charity event, wedding, or night out.