Thoughts on Shopping Guilt


This Aerie sweatshirt wasn’t made ethically or sustainably. It isn’t made purely of natural or recycled materials. I don’t know anything about the founders of Aerie, their factories, or the people who made this sweatshirt.

When I first saw it online, I fell in love with the neutral-colored camo, something I had previously only seen on the likes of a Kardashian. 🙃 At the time, it wasn’t even an option for me to purchase; it was just another fast fashion item that I couldn’t justify so I admired it and moved on.

Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Months went by and I was still looking it up online just to look at it. I dreamt up ways I could style it with items I already owned. I tried looking for a more responsibly-made version of it but came up short. The thought of wanting something that went against the wardrobe standards I’ve been trying so hard to achieve was a big struggle for me. Would this set me back? Would this make me a hypocrite?

Recently I went into an Aerie store for a bralette. I planned to also check out the sweatshirt in person, to hopefully dissuade myself because of poor quality or something. I decided to try it on and it was perfect. It was just as soft as I had imagined. It didn’t seem particularly poorly-made or well-made, it just was. Wearing it, I knew that I would wear and love this sweatshirt for a long, long time so I decided to purchase it.

I went back and forth on the sweatshirt, making myself feel guilty for even considering purchasing fast fashion again. I realized that this was exactly how I felt when I was transitioning to green beauty. When I wanted to buy a Tarte mascara, I beat myself up over it for weeks because it’s not completely clean, the company is notorious for green-washing, etc. etc. I don’t feel that way about beauty/skincare anymore. At least, I don’t let myself. I know who I am, what products work for me, what my standards are, and what I am willing to tolerate. So why was I letting myself feel that way about a sweatshirt? Being a purist 100% of the time is exhausting. I know I don’t want to be living my life in such a criticizing, fear-mongering way.

I’m not trying to stress myself out over clothes. Nobody should! The point of a more conscious, mindful wardrobe is just that — to be more conscious and mindful. There were a lot of reasons not to buy it, but I bought it anyway because I love it. I want to fill my wardrobe with things I love. I even got another neutral camo piece - a soft shirt because I loved it. I feel that those purchases were conscious, mindful, and thought out, and I don’t have any regrets.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, everyone is just doing their best. Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you’re feeling guilty about wanting something that you don’t think you should.

tips on handling the ethical/sustainable shopping guilt:

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself for liking what you like.

  2. Figure out what it is that you like about the item - Is it the cut? The print? The fabric?

  3. Try to find a more responsibly-made alternative with similar attributes.

  4. If you can’t find an alternative, try to find it (or something similar) second-hand - Poshmark, eBay, STSF, etc.

  5. Wait it out - Sometimes the allure of what we can’t have fades.

  6. If you’re still thinking about it some time later and haven’t been able to find a suitable alternative, and if it makes sense in your wardrobe and in your life, get it and don’t feel bad about it.

You’re curating your closet for yourself, and for no one else. Don’t you want it to be full of items that make you happy? Let’s all be a little kinder to ourselves and remember that we are all just doing our best to figure out life, ya know (and our closets!).

- Mayette

P.S. If you’re feelin’ this neutral camo sweatshirt too, here it is on Poshmark. And here’s the shirt.