I've often thought of "material things" as bad.
As though they are extras that I want, and don't really need.
But I do have needs.
And I do need materials.
Like I need a place to sleep
which takes material.
and I need a container to drink my water,
which is material.
and I need clothes to wear
to stay warm in the winter.
And I choose to wear clothes that make me feel good.
I choose to wear clothes that I can move in, easily.
Clothes that keep me warm, that represent my personality.
Clothes that make me excited to go out in the world and be myself!
Clothes that can spark a conversation, or bring up an emotion.
A lot of people have been asking me what kinds of clothes I'm wearing
which happen to be some of my favorite pieces :)
I had a bit of a clothing meltdown at the beginning of the year.
I felt like I owned too many clothes I didn't love
and that was how I was presenting myself to the the world.
I didn't feel good in these clothes,
and I wanted to understand why.
So I laid them all out, covering my entire bedroom floor.
I looked at the colors and fabrics and styles…
I made sections and outfits and donation piles…
I compared the pieces I liked and the ones I didn't.
After about a week of investigating this, I realized some things that made me a lot happier about wearing clothing! (which isn't always fun for me...):
- I like to wear clothes that flatter my skin tone, hair and eyes, which are warm, earthy colors. This tends to change seasonally as my skin tone and hair lightens from summer to winter.
- I like soft, breathable clothing. Many of my athletic pants, jeans and bras feel too restricting, so in a way my body literally cannot breathe! I don't want to move through life this way.
- Clothes that are too small or too big on me do not feel good to wear! That's like a constant body shaming happening each time I wear my too-snug dress, or even LOOK at it in my closet.
- I invalidate my desire to purchase new clothes because I don't want to contribute to material waste, or buy something from a source that doesn't operate sustainably. So I often find myself accepting hand-me-downs because to me they feel new, simply for the fact that it is new to my closet and therefore it is better than what I already have.
- The clothing or shoes I own that feel most loved and timeless are ones that were made with a lot of love! These are handmade items, unique, simple, elegant and often made in the U.S. (yay!) and cost more than their Asian counterparts. I've spent more money on these favorite pieces than my others because I can feel their quality. I know they will last a long time because they are made with single organic fabrics or are sown by hand. It feels more like an investment in my long-term wellbeing, like some sort of wardrobe health care.
For an entire week, a friend and I challenged each other to wear our favorite clothes, no matter where we were going or what we were doing. There were days I wanted to hang around in sweatpants…which made me realize I don't like some of my hanging-around clothes, I'm actually embarrassed by them! Some of my pajamas are not even comfy, the only reason I've been wearing them is because I thought they were cute. I also have a big, cozy "ugly" sweater hand-me-down that I tried out one day that I got lots of complements on. Testing out my style on others has helped me to see what works too.
In the end…
I still struggle with wearing clothes that make me happy.
I still buy clothes from second-hand shops or pieces manufactured in other countries.
If I need a new piece because my size has changed and I invalidate my needs, I will resent anyone else who owns or wears it, and I still won't have my needs met.
Going through clothes with a friend is really helpful! Not always easy, but worth it!