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  • Writer's pictureReneA

Retail Therapy: Face Masks, Fast Fashion, and the Future

As we’re slowly beginning to reopen, we’re met with the biggest question we’ve had to ask in a long time: Now what? How do we get back to normal?

Obviously things aren’t going to be “normal.” Our old habits will probably not fly in the new age of fashion and social interactions. We are now forced to adapt, but is it for the better? In this week’s reflection, I’m breaking down what I see happening in the future of shopping, the future of fashion, and the future of our personal metamorphosis.

Why Face Masks are a Staple

There has been much controversy caused by the rejection of face masks and face coverings in public. People are feeling their freedom is being revoked due to more stores and establishments enforcing mandatory face coverings. For starters, it is every stores right to enforce face coverings as a way to protect their staff and consumers.

My personal belief is that we should embrace it. Now that Georgia is no longer on lockdown, I’m seeing more and more people walking around as if the pandemic is completely over. No face masks in sight. Social distancing is just out the window! With the number of brands and stores selling face masks and coverings, you would think everyone would have one. The refusal to protect not only those around you but yourself and your family is the reason why this pandemic spread so quickly and took so many lives with it. The research says we’re not out of the storm yet! There very well could be another outbreak during peak flu season in the next couple of months (or weeks for that matter).

But I’m not here to scare you. In fact, I believe the use of face masks could go beyond protecting yourself from the virus. One reason is the protection from the general environment. I wore makeup almost everyday. I found that wearing it created a barrier from me and the outside world. While working in retail, I’m encountering hundreds of people from many different areas. I’m touching products and hangers that traveled across the world and across the nation. I’m exposing my sensitive skin to thousands of contagions and thousands of allergens. From time to time, if I’m bare face, I’ll experience an allergy attack. My skin will start to breakout and my nose will itch uncontrollably. I’ve even found that if I don’t take allergy medicine everyday, my throat will itch and I’m constantly trying to clear it of mucus so I can breathe. Honestly, I could just be allergic to people! But wearing a face masks helps me to minimize the amount of makeup I’m wearing (thus saving me money) and it keeps those bad things out of my system.

Another advantage to wearing a face mask is privacy. I’m a very nice person, (sometimes too nice). But I have my moments where I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. BOTHERED! 

This is a pet peeve of mine. When I’m out in public, I like to mind my business, maybe sing a little song to myself—blow off some steam if I’m just not having a great day. I can be somewhat of a recluse at times. Well, it’s a little difficult to do this while also being a “pretty girl”. Yes, I know I’m beautiful and as my mom says, “You need to get used to men trying to holler at you.” But like I said, I don’t like to be bothered! But I really don’t want to be rude either. Thanks to social distancing, people aren’t supposed to get inside your 6ft bubble. And since I’ve been wearing a mask everywhere I go, I’ll even put in my headphones and go about my day without being disturbed. I know I’m just basically hiding myself from others, but again: I don’t like to be bothered.

Another benefit to face masks is the fashionable benefit. Who said we couldn’t look good while also staying safe? Having an array of different patterns and prints allows me to still express my fashion forward personality (even if I’m donning leggings and a basic tee). A face mask is like any other accessory: it amplifies the look and grabs others attention—and yes, I know that contradicts my “privacy” reason; however, I'm more comfortable expressing myself through clothing. Although, I still don’t care for the attention.

she says as she puts on her sparkly sequin mask paired with large sunglasses and a purse that has tassels that drag the floor

So if the future requires the use of wearing masks and using face coverings, then by all-means I’m ready!

Is Fast Fashion Dead

As much as I would love to jump for joy and cheer…fast fashion is not going to die, at least not anytime soon. But during this time, consumers are asking designers and brands just one major question: Why should I spend what little money I have on a shirt that I’ll wear once? Why am I buying new shoes if I can’t go anywhere? What’s the point of owning fifty swimsuits if I can’t go swimming at the pool or go to the beach with hundreds of people?

Yeah during my much needed self-reflection, I had to get real with myself and my brand. What can I offer to continue to tackle textile waste? First, I think it’s very important that we reevaluate what we’re spending money on. Most likely, we aren’t going on vacations and trips anytime soon. Some clubs may be open, but girls night is just not a great idea right now. So instead of buying pretty party dresses and heels, I’ve began investing more in staples. That means jeans, summertime shorts, more casual wear. I’ve also gone braless for several months, so I want tops that can still support the girls while also not requiring me to put one on. 

I also had to reconsider my love for work clothes. I used to work for a luxury boutique, so I had a certain image I wanted to keep up. However, I’m not looking forward to going back to work just yet. I’m not even looking forward to an office job. Personally, I rather find something that’s more remote. This means no more buying uncomfortable suit pants and jackets and more leggings and rayon-cotton pants to relax in. I even invested in a $30 cardigan from an online boutique! Now, I’m not saying I won’t splurge on a few designer pieces…I did order a gorgeous dress from Megan Fullerton. Do I have somewhere to go in it? No. But it’s for the future.

So the future of fashion is more consciousness in what we buy and how the items last. This includes investing in quality pieces that can transition into more seasons. While fast fashion is still evil, I’m not going to judge anyone who wants to spend less money on their clothes—as long as you make it last a few months or even several years. And of course, upcycling! We can breathe life into old treasures, and with the Repurpose Program, we’re looking to invest in your old clothes and turn them new! So head over to the How to Sell page to order your FREE prepaid shipping label!

The Future: Are we going to survive?

During this time, I’ve probably suffered from more panic attacks and mental breakdowns than before (I’m fine, really). But let’s be honest: this unexpected change in plans and goals have really hit everyone pretty hard! On the one hand you have thousands of people unemployed, not sure if they’ll ever return to work. Then you have thousands of essential workers risking their lives to keep us afloat while they’re not even being properly compensated. And let’s not forget all the graduate Gen-Z’s now trying to enter the workforce while many millennials still haven’t found that one opportunity that’ll help pay down their student loan debt (yep, I’m one of those people).

We’re all stressed out. Mental health is no longer a joke. No one should judge or ridicule anyone for having depression and anxiety. Too be honest, I’ll be shocked if anyone hasn’t suffered from a mental break! It’s a Brave New World, where we have to sit and ask some important questions.

Pay: now more than ever it’s important to have a livable wage. Not being able to miss just one paycheck or even one shift should no longer be the norm. We have to be compensated to survive, and that’s going to be a little difficult seeing how thousands of employers may not bring back their old team or they may be stingy with their money.

Education: I’m hearing rumors (maybe it’s fact) that we will be turning to remote learning, especially during the beginning of the next school year. While this may work for some, others have realized that they haven’t learned a single thing. And no learning isn’t remembering. Online classes will become the norm, but my advice is to use this time to teach yourself or invest in a tutor. Some have even suggested that high school graduates and some first-year college students to back away from enrolling in traditional universities and take this time to enroll in trade schools or community college. You’re going to be paying thousands in tuition only to teach yourself, so take those core classes some where else to save money. As long as the credits are transferable, you can complete your degree at a university at a later date. In fact, I’m planning to enroll in an online marketing certification course at University of Georgia. I have been researching different schools and curriculum's, debating on either getting a certificate or a masters and found UGA will have the best program for me. And with all the work I have put into my business, I believe I can handle the future online course with no issues.

Savings: If you haven’t already, start saving your money. A year after graduating, I began getting serious about a savings account. Sometimes it was $5 a week, then $10. With interest rates going down, it’s probably best to find a good bank or program that doesn't charge ridiculous fees and allows you access to your money whenever you need it. With every unemployment check, I’m putting 15-20% away in my savings accounts, sometimes more!

Credit: Similar to the savings, this is also the time to get your credit right. Along with putting a significant chuck of cash away for a rainy day, I’m paying my credit cards down too. Normally, I would pay the minimum. Now I’m paying up to three times that! I’m also doing the same with my car note. I’m hoping at this rate, I can get it paid off by August! With the extra money you’re probably saving on not eating out or not shopping or not buying gas, use that extra cash to continue to pay your bills and get yourself situated. When all this is over, you may be able to put a down payment on a new house or get a great apartment or even get a new car. While everyone is saying they should use their stimulus check to start a business, get your financial affairs handled first before you make that jump!

Hobbies: I’ll be honest, I didn’t have many hobbies. I don’t consider sewing a hobby…it’s a lifestyle! But before lockdown, I was belly dancing every day for 5 months straight. With everything, including gyms, starting to open up, I really want to find my passion for dance again, but I'm not sure it I'm returning to my previous school. I have also found a love for marketing, and while it’s not much of a hobby, I want it to be another element that makes me special. Hopefully during this time, you had the chance to reconnect with an old hobby or task you enjoyed. This can be anything: reading, watching movies and writing critiques, photography, knitting…shoot if you enjoyed curating stones and rocks then by all means do it!

Social Life: There’s a funny meme going around where people who hated going out and loved staying at home hate that the government is telling them to stay home. Well now that we’re slowly starting to get back out and about, it’s time to dedicate at least one weekend of getting out the house. Being indoors for weeks and months on end really isn’t good for our mental health. While you may not like going out with friends, try to dedicate more time to being social. We need to appreciate our time away from family and remember to check in on our friends. Maybe we can’t have a girls night out, but I’m looking forward to visiting my childhood friend more and trying to reconnect…and she just had a baby and I want to be a cool aunty! So be safe as we start to slowly go out. Keep your distance but don’t be afraid of the outdoors.

Health: I think the biggest change to come is our health. What I have learned is that people are DISGUSTING! And yeah, I already knew this but now I have definitive proof. So increase your water intake. Take some vitamin C. Get regular checkups. The main reason so many people got sick and died from this horrific disease is underlying illness allowed it to take over even more. Sadly, this is an issue amongst the African American Community. While we were shouting to the melanin gods saying we couldn’t catch it…we ended up being more likely to get sick and die. So now is the time to really reevaluate our health. A lot of people have turned to healthy eating with more keto, vegan, or holistic diets. Personally, I need to work on my stress as hypertension runs in my family. I need to also work on my diet and weight problems. I’ve been a little self-conscious about my weight gain and only really complain about it. But now more than ever I need to change. I’m also at the age where I want to start having kids, so I know I’ll get even bigger and getting rid of the weight will be a challenge. Thankfully I’ve reduced the amount of fast food I was eating. I’ve purchased healthier snacks, but most importantly, I gotta get active.

As we’re reshaping the future, what do you think is in store for you? Stay safe, and as always: 

~~with love!

ReneA P.

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