Would You Share Clothing With Dozens of Strangers? – Vogue.com
For as long as I can remember, Iâve had two closets. No, I didnât have a sprawling bedroom with multiple walk-insâI grew up digging through my own overstuffed wardrobe as well my twin sister, Lizâs. While Iâd like to think we were wise beyond our yearsâwe had twice the clothing!âit also just made sense. Weâve always been the same height, the same size, and, most importantly, had the same obsession with clothing. We shared a leopard-print skirt at age 6, patchwork bell-bottoms at 12, a pale-blue Juicy Couture zip-up at 16, and flowery âgoing out topsâ at 20.
As identical twins, weâve always used clothes to differentiate ourselves, particularly in high school. Fashion became part of our identity; we were The Twins With the Good Clothes. We also had unwritten, borderline-obsessive rules on sharing; for instance, if I wore our beloved Free People thermal with rainbow-knitted sleeves one day, Liz couldnât wear it for at least three weeks, lest one of our classmates consider it a ârepeat.â We refused to even wear the same color on the same day, which led to more than a few dramatic morningsââNo, you change!â
Fast-forward to 2013, when I graduated from college and moved to New York while Liz stayed in Indiana to finish her nursing degree. The division of clothing was stressful; I was losing half of my wardrobe! But whenever Liz flew out to visit me, I couldnât wait to get my hands on whatever she packed in her suitcase. Part of the thrill was wearing clothes that felt new, or at least new to me. Thatâs the psychology behind âfashion sharingâ apps like Rent the Runway and the just-launched Armariumâyou get that little buzz without being financially tied down.
Their businesses are based on having âaccessâ to items rather than owning them, and the lack of commitment is probably what gets you hooked. Instead of shelling out $1,550Â at its Wooster Street store, you can borrow Moschinoâs kitschy Coca-Cola dress for $150 on Rent the Runway. Armarium has a similar approach, but stocks more high-end designers and introduces runway collections just as theyâre hitting stores. Sonia Rykielâs glittering Spring â16 dresses are now available to rent for $500 (compared with $3,920 at retail), or you can try Muglerâs tailored, off-the-shoulder jumpsuit for $400 (compared with $2,780 at retail). The idea works particularly well for special occasions, or if you want to try a look without fully investing in it. If you never want to wear it again, well, you donât have to.
Some of us still want to own our clothing, though. We donât live in a âborrowingâ culture, and as we become more conscious of our shopping habits in a climate-changing world, the emphasis is shifting away from disposable items you wear once or twice to clothes you truly love and want to keep forever. (See: the Marie Kondo method; the 2.5 billion pounds of clothing in landfills; et cetera.) âIâd rather spend $400 on something I can actually keep,â one colleague told me. I canât see my other friendsâat least the ones who are 25 and on a budgetâwarming up to those apps for similar reasons, but also because they donât want to share clothing with dozens of strangers. You donât know whoâs worn the dress youâre renting, or what she did while she wore it, or how she treated it before sending it back. . . . The hypotheticals can be a little icky.
As it is, colleagues are incredulous when I tell them I share my clothes with my twin sister, who now lives in New York and shares a two-bedroom apartment with me in Nolita. Their questions range from âWhat if you spill on her dress?â to âWhat if she takes something you want to wear?â In high school or college, those questions didnât really apply, because there was no line to distinguish what was âhersâ and âmineââit was all ours. (Not sure if this is good or bad for our future marriages?) But now that weâre older, wiser, and have spent three years with 700 miles between our closets, things are different. Not only have our individual styles changedâthere are things in my wardrobe Liz wonât wear, and vice versaâweâre also buying higher-quality pieces with higher price tags, so thereâs a new level of care and respect. She would never be careless enough to ruin my favorite vintage blouse, but if she did . . . well, I know where she lives.
In fact, the only problem right now is one I didnât anticipate. Lately, weâve been going shopping only to realize we both want the same thingsâbut rather than buy two of them like matching 5-year-olds, we know we should just share. Which inevitably leads to the question of whoâs going to buy what. (Lizâs salary is higher than mine, so Iâm often guilty of begging her to swipe her AmEx. It doesnât always work.) Weâve found the fairest and most economical way to share is by splitting the cost of an item. Itâs a total game changer, and I recommend it for sisters, close friends, and roommates. Hereâs my theory: If two people have contributed hard-earned cash for a dress or jacket, thereâs a good chance theyâll both take very good care of itâand share it equally.
If only someone could make an app for that.