We may have found a way to justify your shopping addiction.

It’s a feeling with which we are all familiar: you find yourself browsing online or strolling past a shop window, when suddenly you are struck with the impulse to buy all of the things. Do you need a 36th pair of shoes? Probably not. Do you need yet another monogramed handbag? Debatable. But logic be damned, sometimes our willpower actually wins out, and other times our post-shopping-spree bank balance reduces us to tears. That’s just the way of fashion.

But far more than just a shallow indulgence, fashion is actually an important reflection not only of ourselves, our personalities, and our lack of self-control, but also of the era and political climate in which we grow up.

Think back to the era of the Second World War: hemlines were modest, fabric was dark, and females wearing pants became mainstream, all of this a reflection of the growing independence of women in a time of crisis. Skip forward a few years through the 50s and hemlines slowly rose as waistlines tightened, ushering us into the 60s, an era full of mini skirts, sheer fabrics, and very few bras. Women were demanding equality, independence, and “free love,” and it showed through their actions and attire.

Catherine McNeil Versace

Catherine McNeil for Versace Fall/Winter 2017

Fast-forward to modern day, and fashion is as much a reflection of our beliefs as ever (for example, now I would never burn my bra because that’s just a poor financial decision in today’s economy.) And just as bra burning represented the societal push for feminism then, today’s displays, such as Versace and Prabal Gurung‘s recent activistic presentations, echo similar sentiments still.

But not merely reflecting of history and politics, fashion is also a platform for everyday individual expression; if you woke up in a confident, “take charge” kind of mood this morning, you might have ambitiously put on a pencil skirt, stilettos, and a red lip. Or, in the words of Karl Lagerfeld, maybe you “lost control of your life, so you bought [a pair of] sweatpants.” Whatever you’re feeling, from one extreme to the other, there’s simply no mood that style cannot convey.

For decades, women (and men) have quite literally worn their beliefs, needs, and feelings on their sleeves. Our clothes tell a story when we are otherwise ignored, stifled, or too tired to tell them ourselves. So, the next time that little voice in the back of your head asks you to justify buying that inevitable, debatably necessary pair of shoes you’ve been lusting after, you know exactly what to say to quiet it.