Our Clothes - Ourselves
How can re-imagine ourselves & our relationship to clothing?
A while ago I went on a walk with wonderful younger women. I heard some of the same conversations I have had with so many others over the years about clothing.
Trying to find pants that fit me is so exhausting.
And a new twist from today's more globally aware culture.
I don't purchase new clothing anymore except for special occasions. It isn't sustainable and it is just so hard to shop.
Fashion today is stamped out and sent to stores in box after box. Fast fashion isn't made to fit many bodies and tailoring at many stores is a thing of the past. So, how can we shop, be sustainable, and create spaces both physically and spiritually to build manageable wardrobes?
It Starts with Looking at What We Already Own
I heard a startling fact that women in the 1950s had an average of 7 outfits in their closets. I walked into my closet and thought I had more than 7 casual outfits let alone business, workout, or party wear. Our culture has changed much in the past 70 years and our consumption of clothing is just one indicator of the purchase and purge consumerism that is constantly telling us we need more.
"I think a lot of things could be handled locally." Rand Paul
Since I challenged myself to wear Fibershed fashions, I thought that wearing less should also be a part of this journey. Buying less also means I can pay a fair wage for the clothing I am wearing. I know that paying a fair wage isn't always easy, but keeping clothing longer and mending are steps that can enable savings and clothing investment.
This challenge has also meant needing to choose my clothing more carefully. If I am investing in a piece, it must really fill a need in my wardrobe and actually fit me! I think I have been pretty good about this rule, except with a few tops I created that just missed the mark. But I made them out of natural fibers. And if I never determine a way to fix them, they can return to the soil.
How Much Do I Really Need?
This summer has challenged me to purchase and upcycle only clothing that is within the Fibershed movement ethos. With fewer garments, it has been easy to dress in the morning. I no longer fret about 'what to wear.' Without the hassle of choosing from too many options, my time is spent on putting on jewelry or eating a good meal before heading off to work.
"Do I miss having more to wear? No." Mary Ewell
Here's the List:
For summer wear, I have the following garments that I wear on a weekly basis. I don't feel deprived in any way and in fact, feel so much lighter and freer than when I was weighted down by too much clothing.
Two Solid State t-shirts (cost = $39 and $50 - grown and created in NC)
One Ash & Rose Dress (cost = $160 - deadstock material created in MA)
One pair of shorts - Spiritex.net (cost = $52 made in NC from TX organic cotton)
One pair upcycled linen pants white (see blog about fitting here)
One skirt upcycled from Swap in Keene, NH
One cotton sweater from Muriel's of VT - read my post about their business here.
One sleeveless sweater - wool from MA spun at Green Mtn. Spinnery - I knitted.
One woolen crocheted skirt - wool from MA at Green Mtn. Spinnery - I crocheted.
One tank top - lace weight wool yarn from MA at Green Mtn. Spinnery - I crocheted.
So, in the morning, dressing for the day or for work I choose from:
And, I haven't had an issue yet about not having anything to wear.
(Note - When doing exercise or gardening, I wear appropriate clothing that I already own. In light of my challenge, I am only wearing 3 shorts, 2 pants, and 3 tops for activities such as running, cycling, kayaking, and gardening. )
How Often Do I Launder?
I have been using textile tonic from Modern Saint Living and airing out my clothing, especially the woolen pieces. I often wear my dress 3-4 times before washing as I wear it to work where it is temperature controlled. It is made of deadstock synthetic materials.
I spray with the textile tonic between wearings, rehang where it can air, and have no issues with odor. This means that I often don't even have a full load of laundry to do each week. I mix my few items ready to be washed with my husband's clothing.
Bonus - less water and energy used in the home!
What Does All This Mean?
Even after my challenge, I can live with much less clothing and washing. This means I can wear fashions I already own and cycle my clothing that fits so I get to experience clothing from the same season that becomes new to me because I haven't seen it in a season or even a year.
I can also free myself from clothing I can no longer wear. During my Seasonal Wardrobe Audit it became obvious that I was hanging onto pieces of clothing that hung in my closet - and made me feel badly. Why can't I fit into this? I used wear it.
How Can I Re-Home Fashions that Don't fit?
A first easy step is checking out your friends and colleagues. Would anyone like the pieces you need to get rid of that is the appropriate size? Giving clothing to people you know is a great way to build community. And who knows, it might even get a group of people together for casual clothing swaps.
Next, you can look at the garments and see if you might be able to use the materials to make something new. It would not have to be clothing but may likely be. How could you re-imagine these textiles into something different that makes your heart sing and not sigh because the original garment no longer fits?
Great resources on this topic exist on YouTube - just search - how to turn a ______________ into a _________________.
Ex. How can you turn a pair of pants into a top? Or, how to turn a pair of pants into a purse?
I know it will take work to thin down my closet in a sustainable way. But I am game to work on it and share that journey as well!
Is it time for you to reevaluate your closet and figure out what might be possible?