Everything Old Is New Again

After a little thinking about what purchases served me well last year, I’ve decided to follow the as-published in the Times in 1941 Rationing of Clothing, Cloth, and Footwear coupon amounts this year. The reasoning behind this is that the purchases I made because they were free trade and/or made from organic materials were purchases that did not do well for me in 2014. Both things I purchased especially for their green credentials are now unwearable (shrunken, pilled, ill-fitting), and I feel that they were a waste of coupons. I just found myself ready to buy some organic fabric not because I loved it, but because it was organic, and paused. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake — which should not be a mistake — but what can this Contrary Mary say. I want to love the things I purchase, especially since I purchase so few. I guess my tastes and where the organic clothing and fabric industry are right now not quite aligned.

I do have my own set of ethics that serve me well. I will not set foot in any fast fashion establishments. I will not buy from establishments that my politics don’t agree with (I’m looking at you, Anthropologie; your beautiful items are ruined by your right-wing ownership). I favor the classic and well made so that they will be around for a long time. I try and buy some things used, and try to buy in my town.

Plus, I think the 1941 rationing is restrictive enough ๐Ÿ™‚ Take a look — it’s not too dramatically different than what I was following:




I haven’t purchased anything yet in 2015, so it’s still an ideal time to make this tweak. I wanted to put it out there so that we are all on the same page!

Have any of you experienced this sort of backwards logic — something that should be good but winds up being not so good for you in particular? I am also like this with food. If I try to only eat extremely healthy things I am cranky and eventually wind up eating something abysmal because I feel so deprived. I do much better with healthy foods and the occasional treat — that little bit of indulgence lets me live with healthy eating in the long term.


  1. Last year was my second official year on rationing (in practice my third though) and I too reverted to the Times listing, for similar reasons.

    Most ‘ethical’/’green’ clothes are quite frankly aimed at skinny teens/early twenties folks or ‘earth mothers’ with a fondness for bright colours. There is little choice for a professional woman, who favours below-the knee pencil skirts and a top that can be paired with a quality knit cardigan and pearls.

    Also, the only way that rationing goes is if you work with quality, quality, quality and ‘classic’ (not frumpy) styles that you can dress up/down. I would much prefer to invest in a pair of trousers (think a Katherine Hepburn style) made with a quality cotton corduroy, which lasts me years, than a pair of ill-fitting organic cotton trousers from an ‘ethical’/’green’ label that needs replacing within 18 months. Where cotton is concerned, yes it is preferable to go for organic if you can because of the environmental impact but if that means buying three items in three years rather than one that lasts five years… that simple equation becomes skewed.

    I think one of the biggest issues with the sustainable fashion brands is, is that they are still rooted in fashion which is an industry that thrives on creating new novelty to stimulate growth. They are not interested in durable classics as that is clothing and an investment rather than fashion!

    By the way, when others joined me with the WWC challenge, some complained that modern clothes were not represented by the original listing. I think there is scope for common sense here. A pair of leggings is akin to opaque stockings if you wear them as such. Modern-day knickers use considerably less fabric than 40s tap pants/cami-knickers so common sense is required too. I think the best approach is to be honest but pragmatic in these things.

    The key thing, these guidelines are a tool for moderating behaviour, but also for discovering and finding joy in our own creativity, and I think rediscovering joy in skills, ability, community is key to curbing crazy consumption.

    1. This — exactly:

      Where cotton is concerned, yes it is preferable to go for organic if you can because of the environmental impact but if that means buying three items in three years rather than one that lasts five yearsโ€ฆ that simple equation becomes skewed.

      Thank you for expressing it so well!

      I guess I’m a funny one because all of the things on the 1941 list are things I wear (except for gym tunics and corsets). I am such a fan of the nightdress!

      1. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably pretty partial to brushed cotton ones… ๐Ÿ˜‰ And when did the slip fall from grace…?

      2. You got it ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a just below the chin to ankle one for the cold winter that is my favorite. Black watch plaid.

        I don’t know how people do without slips to tell you the truth! They make everything look so much nicer (unless it’s already lined — and that’s another thing you don’t always find these days).

    2. And one more thing! It struck me this morning that the rationing systems (food *and* clothing, really) devised were very, very fair, and honestly were/are “enough” for a person if you plan carefully, take care of your things, make a few things yourself, and don’t try to keep up with The Joneses. I think things got difficult once shortages happened and you couldn’t find the things that you had coupons for!

  2. I hope that someday “green” can equate with quality–it’s such an obvious pairing. But I’d definitely choose quality and timelessness first–which may explain why I haven’t needed to buy a new winter coat in about 10 years!

    1. I suspect the coat you bought 10 years ago was of infinitely superior quality than most coats available today. It is shocking how quickly there has been a decline in quality.

      1. I remember as a teenager only wearing vintage coats from the thrift. The were in great condition when I got them, lasted years, and we’re able to be re-donated when I was done with them! You so can’t do that with the average fast fashion coat today.

        I also remember getting hand me downs from my cousin that were also in great condition after she wore them until she grew out of them. When I grew out of them they were still good and passed on again! I wonder if people can even do hand me downs like they used to, or if everything falls apart before they can be used beyond the one child.

    2. I noticed before you said you shopped at LL Bean. The things I’ve gotten from them have lasted a good long time! I’m wearing my several years old nightdress from them right now, and it is in great condition despite constant wear and washing! I know people complain that the quality of places like LL Bean and Land’s End has gone down, but it’s still superior to most places you can get clothing these days, imo!

      1. You’re right–one of my winter coats is from LL Bean and another is from Pendleton. Oh, and there’s the wonderful one I got at garage sale for $5!!

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