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Instagram users often feel the pressure to spruce up new dresses each time in order to post fresh stuff

Instagram addicts have probably done it more than a dozen times. Passed over a perfectly good outfit in our closets because – the horror – we were seen in it last week. And just pushed it aside in favour of something more … likeable.

Of course I know that this is pathetic. I also know that no one cares, if they even notice, what anyone wears. I can’t speak for others. But I’d be lying if I pretended the Instagram pressure never gets to me.

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A recent survey found that one third of the sample were worried about being snapped in the same outfit twice. So now you may think I’m an idiot to say this. Fine, but I am not the only one who thinks so.

An online survey conducted by Singapore-based eBay rival Carousell found that 1/3 of the sample (1000 Australian females, aged 18-40, from both rural and urban areas) worried about being snapped in the same outfit twice. The study concluded that the biggest motivation at play here is fear of being judged (29 per cent). What exactly are we so scared of being judged to be?

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“Off trend?” says Beck Lomas, a 22-year-old fitspo influencer with 167,000 Instagram followers. “When I began my Instagram account it was all about fitness, but lately lots of us, all the girls I know who are fitness bloggers, are venturing more into fashion, even if it’s just workout fashion.

“The whole theory behind being a fashion blogger is you wear a nice outfit, you get photographed in it and people like it. Once that’s happened you’re not going to post the outfit again are you? I definitely feel pressure to keep the content fresh. You want people to see something different. Essentially you want to look like you’re keeping up.”

Lomas has started selling her unwanted fashion items on Carousell in an effort to be more eco-aware. “I do worry about the waste. I want things to given a second life,” she says. “As a blogger, I’m often sent free clothes. They pile up. If I wear them once or twice, I have no real emotional attachment to them.” Easy come, easy go.

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According to Carousell, more than a third of women questioned admitted to buying new clothes at least 26 times a year, and a quarter of them had at least 20 unworn items in their closets.

Instagram can be a significant drive to shop for more, says Lomas. “Things pop up in your feed that look great and you can shop them any time. I mean, the internet has totally changed the way we shop, right? And [the rise of] Afterpay means you don’t have to pay in full upfront so that’s another incentive. I don’t want to sound shallow but I do look at things and think, will this photograph well? If the answer is yes, then I am more likely to buy it.”

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But the social media site is also, albeit on a smaller scale, helping spread the word about slow fashion alternatives. In February, Livia Firth posted on her Ecoage account, “Fuelled by fast fashion, today we buy 80 billion pieces of clothing globally each year. This is up 400% from only two decades ago. Next time you buy a new piece of clothing, ask yourself: ‘will I wear it a minimum of 30 times?’ If the answer is yes, then buy it, but you’d be surprised how many times you say no.” Her friend the Fashion Revolution campaigner Orsola de Castro answered,”Actually now it’s estimated to be 150 billion.”

Melissa Singer, fashion and lifestyle editor of The Age, is inspired by it. For her, the cachet of responsible fashion now has more allure than throw-away culture. “A great piece doesn’t require disposal after the first wear,” she says.

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Singer says she re-wears pieces “as a badge of honour. As do women who favour style over trends. Insta-girls maybe not so much. It’s that whole debate, when does something ‘old’ (i.e. not cool) become ‘Vintage’ (cool)?”

That debate may soon be moot as virgin resources dwindle and the rumblings of fast fashion fatigue grow louder. Zara’s profits are down to an eight-year low. The slow fashion movement is putting pressure on brands like H&M and Topshop, which in Australia went into voluntary administration in May. Wasteful fashion is so last season, right? Meanwhile pre-loved fashion sites are increasingly marketing themselves as a green alternative.

InstagramFanny Moizant, co-founder of “re-commerce” site Vestiaire told Australian Vogue recently that she and her business partners came up with the idea for their buzzy French luxury re-sale site after realizing their well-dressed friends only wore a fraction of the designer clothes they owned. “It was such a waste,” she said.

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American site The Real Real calls itself “an innovator in sustainable luxury” and markets its site as part of the circular economy. “Unlike the traditional linear economy of make, use and dispose, the circular economy encourages utilizing items as long as possible, getting the maximum value out of quality goods,” they say. “We are changing how people think about and buy designer goods by offering an easy and lucrative way to extend the life of items of value.’ They believe, they say, “in a world with less waste.”

And you can still look fresh on Instagram.