I've been thinking a bit about the conflict between my love for personal style, aesthetics, clothing/shoes/jewelry and sustainability, ethical issues, and the DIY ethos I try to stay true to in all areas of my life.
Everyone has heard of the term “fast-fashion.” Inexpensive stores like H&M, Forever 21, and handfuls of others constantly release new “must have” items to be snatched up by trend obsessed followers. Since all this stuff is so cheap and easy to get, people consume it like Hershey bars and McDonalds. it's often produced under unfair, unethical conditions, hence the uber low price tag. For the masses who follow fashion magazines, blogs, etc, these stores allow them to pretend their living luxuriously, and artistically, all for less.
Being cash-strapped myself, to the point that the above mentioned stores are often out of my budget, I frequent thrift stores, antique stores, junk stores, vintage stores, and the like for my wardrobe. Mostly, of course, I do it because it's all I can afford but then I realized it's also a much more sustainable approach to dressing. And it requires a hell of a lot more creativity to search through a huge Salvation Army 95% full of undesirables to find those pieces that you will make your own. Sometimes you might find a designer item for an unbelievably low price. Other times you might find some over/undersized garment from another era that you want to rework in a whole new way. Sometimes you see something and instantly imagine how you can cut/sew/transform it into a whole new piece. However you do it, it requires more guts than just walking into H&M or TopShop and effortlessly picking up all the latest looks without having to weed out the junk And who cares about the latest looks so much if you can make your own? I care more about my own personal style that reflects me individually and often has some degree of continuity or theme to it than just thoughtlessly whoring myself in whatever happens to be the edgiest, trendiest, hottest item on the market. That's not style, that's just mindless consumerism. It's primitive and feels competitive and uncreative.
I think the best approach, the healthiest, to personal style is to focus on the pieces that represent you. You should then focus on vintage, second hand clothing, high quality cost sustainably made items, DIY fashion, fashion that doesn't harm animals, and lastly, in smallest quantity, fast-fashion.
Fashion isn't really an artform if you are just constantly consuming the latest trends like an empty barbie doll. Personal style can be an art form, if it represents you irregardless of what's newest and trendiest. It just be mindful, restrained in it's consumption, creative, and deeply personal.