Fashion is an Unworthy Leap of Faith, with Amanda McCarty

You’re about to receive just a taste of what the fashion industry is actually like and learn how much impact the clothes you wear actually have in this life. Alongside Amanda McCarty, the host of the Clotheshorse Podcast, we explore our identity, ethos, and political associations with what we choose to wear for the day. If you are an emotional shopper, you are not alone – get ready to be seen.

◤ CLOTHESHORSE’S IG: @clothehorsepodcast – Amanda is an incredibly abundant resource on the realities of the fashion industry, and an excellent guide on practicing sustainable and political wardrobe choices.◗

AMANDA McCARTY

For me, as a recovering, emotional shopper, it seems like these sad, lunchtime Zara shopping sprees are actually making me feel sadder rather than better when we look at the full trajectory of my experience. So maybe I should just stop and reevaluate, and think about what would truly bring me the most happiness. Whether that’s something specific that I’m going to buy, or something that I’m going to do, or maybe I’m going to go see a therapist, or change my job, whatever. But instead, it’s like, ‘Hmp, well I returned that Zara – you know, now I’m realizing I’m going to have this credit on my credit card. Guess I better buy some more.’ And so it’s like you get in this cycle of like, ‘this is going to be the thing that changes my life.’ And then it comes, and it doesn’t. And then you’re like, ‘okay, but this thing – this today – this is gonna be what changes my life.’ And I think— we have so much emotions wrapped up in that. We have to divorce ourselves from shopping and clothing being a cure – being the great hope of our lives. You know?

Amanda McCarty is the leader and host of the Clotheshorse movement – yes, my friend – movement. Although I don’t think Amanda would put it that way, that’s how I’m labeling her incredible work in educating and bringing awareness to the realities within the fashion industry. Clothehorse is a podcast in which decodes the retail and fashion industries, but also talks about consumerism, workers’ rights, personal style, and why fashion is a case study in how Capitalism has gone awry. I got that, by the way, from her show’s description. Clotheshorse was a project Amanda launched after being laid off during the pandemic, and the way that it has blossomed and grown such a cult following is nothing short of inspiring. I am honored to have Amanda with us.

YOUR CLOSET DOES NOT DEFINE YOUR SELF WORTH

For me, as a recovering, emotional shopper, it seems like these sad, lunchtime Zara shopping sprees are actually making me feel sadder rather than better when we look at the full trajectory of my experience. So maybe I should just stop and reevaluate, and think about what would truly bring me the most happiness. Whether that’s something specific that I’m going to buy, or something that I’m going to do, or maybe I’m going to go see a therapist, or change my job, whatever… We have to divorce ourselves from shopping and clothing being a cure – being the great hope of our lives. You know?

If you’ve been here before, then you know I love to preach that the quality of the clothes that hang in your closet has nothing to do with the clothes you wear on your body. If you’ve ever thought that way, then this episode is definitely one for you. And it’s important to know that it’s not your fault. Evaluating your self-worth with any form of materialism is a symptom of the patriarchal, capitalistic system we live in. Whew, I know – heavy.

But thinking that you have to compare your worth to the quality of the clothes that you wear is just as heavy – and furthermore, it’s a burden. Just walking down the street and seeing someone else in a stylish outfit used to cut me down to shreds. I would start sobbing inside and think horrible thoughts to myself because I didn’t have the resources to purchase clothes that made me feel and look like a supermodel. I’ve also never had the body of a supermodel, and not being to embody society’s version of perfection never ceased to make me feel less than.

That was until I started working on my relationship to comparison – my relationship with my self-worth. And I started to realize that it didn’t matter what I dressed like or what size my body was, as long as I was happy and felt like the truest version of me. My voice, my power, my contribution – it has nothing to do with the clothes I put on my body. And in fact, after I began to accept that, my sense of style skyrocketed. My taste was no longer defined by other people’s standards and it gave me the liberation to express myself however I wanted to. My confidence defined my style – it was no longer about the clothes themselves, but instead about me who just happened to be wearing clothes. I was the expression, and the clothes just enhanced that.

And it can absolutely be the same for you. You just have to first accept that you are worthy – that you have something to contribute, and that you are enough. Lead with that first. Use clothes as a sense of expression. Tap into your confidence. And you’ll feel a 1000% better. Honorary Scouts Honor.

WHY WE IMPULSE SHOP – THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

Amanda dropped so many truth bombs on why it is we impulse shop. It was absolutely glorious, and my younger self totally felt seen. To get a taste, read the quote we pulled and shared up above.

But here’s the truth on why we impulse shop, or suddenly feel like we need a brand new wardrobe – because we’re looking to escape our current circumstances in life. Now, I’m using the word escape consciously. Here’s the thing, we think we’re doing the work, but in reality, we’re doing whatever we can to not do the work. We’re pursuing convenience over anything else aiming for an immediate transformation. But that’s just not how it happens.

What’s the work? You may be asking. It’s feeling confident, beautiful, and worthy. We often believe – because that’s what we’ve been told through marketing – that buying a new garment or going on a shopping spree is going to give you the identity that you’ve always dream of – that these new clothes you buy are going to save you and make you finally feel like you. Now, if you’re a Blithe Mitrals community member, then you know in your heart the way to feel like the truest version of you is to tap into your alignment.

We need to start to look at clothing as if they are an expression of self, but not the identity of self – that they are simply a tool we use to communicate our sense of I. Nothing more. As you may or may not know, I’ve got a masterclass on how to revamp your wardrobe. Tune in to that episode and get more juice on how to escape escaping. Trust me, it will help.

 

AMANDA’S HOW-TO ON ASSEMBLING AN ETHO-BASED CLOSET

Buy less, buy what you love, shop secondhand first, and do your homework, pick your issue, and shop accordingly.

Buy what’s right for you.

This is where my three types of fit come in really handy. Quickly, the three types of fit are sizing, lifestyle, and expression. Evaluate what clothing you actually need and can find a use for in your life. When shopping, consider if this garment helps express your sense of I. And always make sure to buy what fits your body. If it doesn’t fit, it’s not for you.

Cut out impulse shopping.

As we established above, impulse shopping is a trap that we believe will allow us to escape our current experience of unhappiness. It’s a reflection that we are not enjoying our life and we’re leading with the hope that a quick fix will resolve our issues. And shocker, it doesn’t. So, best just to skip that and instead take the time to discover what it is that will actually make you happy.

Shop second-hand first.

As Amanda shared, there is an over-abundance of clothing on the planet. And there are ample opportunities and resources to purchase clothing that deserve a second-chance. Often times, what we see at thrift shops are clothing that didn’t get much use or were regret purchases. Regret purchases don’t always mean that it’s bad. In fact, it usually means it was simply an article of clothing that wasn’t right for the original purchaser. So take advantage of someone else’s mistake and help save the planet. Buying second-hand is a radical, powerful thing.

Be political with your clothing.

There are so many different issues when it comes to the industry – as Amanda eloquently pointed out for us. If we’re being honest, when first starting out, it’s really tricky to find brands that check all the boxes off on standing up for eco-friendly, sustainable fashion. Plus workers’ rights, inclusivity, diversity, etc. Heck, it’s hard for us to actively participate in all of those movements as well!

Amanda says to just pick one. Start with one issue that you want to keep close to your heart and look for brands that also align with making that same desired change. When buying new, shop with them first. Take it easy, take it slow, and when you can, get political with it. By being so conscious of what you put on your body, you’re casting your vote on the changes you want to see for the world.

POINTS TO PUT IN YOUR BACK POCKET

  • Your clothing doesn’t have any say in the worth that you hold. You are worthy. Period. Full stop.
  • Clothes are a tool of self expression. They aren’t definers on what you have to contribute in this world.
  • The fashion industry does an excellent job of not talking about the fashion industry.
  • It’s important to get political with what you wear. You’re casting your vote for the changes you want to see for the world.
  • People make your clothing. Not factory machines.
  • Cut out impulse shopping – it’s not going to work.
  • “Buy less, buy what you love, shop secondhand first, and do your homework, pick your issue, and shop accordingly.” A.M.

      REFERENCES & NEXT STEPS

      • Did you know that Amanda has a second podcast? It’s called The Department, and it’s all about our relationship with trends. Yes, please! I know I’ll be diving in this weekend.
      • Blaksands – thoughtfully curated vintage & sustainable fashion
      • We discussed the film The Devil Wears Prada (2006) for a bit – and Amanda’s advice is to burn it and do your best to remove it from your memory. Why? Because it glamourizes the fashion industry – by no means is it anything close to a documentary. Quite the opposite.