Style Series: Consumer Culture & My Closet
Hello and welcome back to the blog my lovely Reader!
I am so happy to be writing about fashion once a week, you seriously have no idea LOL! Today I wanted to discuss some ways that I reshaped my perspective on consumer culture in the area of fashion.
Now, I don't believe we need to be stingy or never buy something new for our wardrobe, but I also think that our culture towards fashion is not healthy, positive, or life-giving for anyone. Not only does it fill our landfills with tons of clothes and accessories every year, but it also causes us to be less creative, resourceful, or happy with our closets.
So let's dive into some ideas and perspectives that helped shape my thoughts towards clothes!
1. I'm not growing anymore!
I think many of us get used to the "back-to-school" mindset from our childhoods, and continually purchase new clothes every Autumn, despite the fact that we still fit into our clothes from LAST Autumn! Sure, our 7 year old child might need a new winter coat this year, but grown adults don't need one every year! Unless you're pregnant or have gained or lost a ton of weight, there is no need for a new fall wardrobe.
My best advice for this is to really consider why you're buying new pieces: is it because you NEED them, or is it because you're acting out some deeply engrained habit of buying clothes at certain times of year? I'm all for a new sundress to celebrate summer, but there is no need to "replace" core items of our wardrobe if the ones we currently have are doing just fine.
2. I want my clothes to be "recognizable"
Do you remember growing up and seeing your mom's friend put on her "Christmas vest?" You knew it was her Christmas vest because she wore it around the holidays every year, and never failed to offer you some sugar cookies while wearing said vest. Sure, maybe you thought it was "momish" but there was also something comforting about that vest wasn't there?
Well, that's what I want for my wardrobe. I think our clothing should be warm and recognizable to others, like the people of old. I don't want to be styled like a celebrity everyday with rentable clothes: I want my pieces to be recognized as "me." You know, kind of like a cartoon character in a TV show that wears the same outfit all the time!
There is somehow a shameful connotation with the idea of being an "outfit-repeater," but I think that should be a compliment! Celebrities get praised for rewearing a piece TWO TIMES! How ridiculous is that! Reconsider how much you need, and reflect on the fact that recognizable clothing IS NOT a bad thing: thats just what clothing companies what you to believe.
3. Clothing is not a hobby or a treat for me
This mindset can cause a lot of problems for people because it causes us to be addicted to the feeling of new and fresh pieces in our wardrobe. Sometimes we can shop just for a happiness boost instead of for a real need. This can be damaging to our wallets, our relationships, and even our psyche! Shopping to feel better might SOUND like a silly problem, but it is really a psychological problem that needs to be addressed.
Spending money is not the ticket to long-term happiness. It is only a short-term hit that will make us feel better momentarily.
I used to shop for happiness until my senior year of college when I had NO money. I remember carefully budgeting out an extra $16 just so I could buy some new underwear from Walmart. Times were tough, but honestly it was so good for me to break the addiction of buying things.
4. The challenge of shopping your closet is good for your brain
Okay, I am NOT one to stomp out the mighty fires of creativity: in fact, I encourage creativity in all parts of my life! It's just that we don't need to constantly acquire or purchase new pieces in order to be creative. Clothing doesn't rot in the fridge-- it's meant to be worn and re-worn, and styled, and RE-styled.
The way to really work your brain and increase your intellectual capabilities is to create connections and identify patterns in the world around you. Sure, this can absolutely take place in the physics or abstract math classroom, but it can also happen in our closets! As we restyle our clothing and create new outfits, we are actually creating new connections in our brains as well.
5. As Christians, we are not to overly adorn ourselves
Yes, I wear earrings, and no, I don't think makeup is wrong. Christians fall on a spectrum with this one, and I think that's fine. However, the one thing that applies to all of us is that we are not to be OVERLY focused on outer appearances, looks, or material wealth.
But does this mean we have to look ugly, frumpy, unstylish, and sad in our clothes? No way! I think a lot of people can actually minister to others more effectively when they like what they are wearing or what they look like. But liking what you're wearing and trying to impress others with what you're wearing are two VERY different ballgames.
Be mindful about why you're buying new items, and consider the fact that your clothing matters, but it does not matter as much as your heart, your relationships, or your love for the Lord.
6. My husband thrives in his minimal wardrobe
I know men and women are different in the area of style, but I don't think that should prevent us from taking some tips from men. The thing I admire about many men is that they embrace SIMPLICITY in the area of style. My husband is an inspiration to me in the fact that he basically has a capsule wardrobe that he has been wearing for the past 2 years, without a single new item! He has certain outfits for certain occasions, and it makes it so simple for him to choose his outfits.
I think simplicity is an overlooked blessing in many people's lives. Our wardrobes can often feel stressful and overwhelming because of the fact that they are NOT simple! Simplify your wardrobe and do yourself a favor: it will be easier to dress, easier on your wallet, and you can finally say goodbye to sitting in front of your closet and crying about "nothing" to wear.
7. Frugally fashionable is a thing!
Let's face it; we all know that weekly trips to Target or blogger boutiques to "refresh" our wardrobe is not a frugal way to spend our money. But we are all about balance here in the brain of Mrs. Midwest, so I don't think it has to be an either/or situation. Rather, I think we can budget a reasonable amount of money we would like to spend on pieces for a season or year, and then stay in that realm.
Also, I do think there are exceptions to this, such as a huge life change, weight change, or even a career change! I invested $300 into my wardrobe a few years ago when I decided to transform my style: I got rid of all the clothes I didn't wear, bought some new pieces, and never looked back. If you need a style makeover, SPEND the money! But make sure you're not "refreshing" every single week because that gets expensive.
8. Conforming to the world
You don't need to fit into the world. Of course, I think we should feel good in our clothing, experiment with our style, and view it as a personal expression, but I also think we are to remain balanced in that creative pursuit and remember that we don't need to fit the latest trends. A style expression doesn't have to be an expensive trendy pair of shoes or jeans; it could be as simple as wearing your favorite color for the day!
Christians especially are commanded to not conform o the pattern of this world, and yes, that includes things as small as shopping. It doesn't mean you cannot ever spend money on this, no, no, no, you know I'm not about that imbalanced life. But what I do think it means is that we don't need to give into the pressure to get the latest sale items, blogger clothes, or crazy trends. Just because everyone else wears or buys something doesn't mean we need to!
Nonconformity in the area of style isn't about the way you look: so many people think they're nonconformists just because they wear a spiked bracelet or a flannel. Nonconformity is more about how you behave in the area of style. Are you following consumer culture or are you following Christlike culture?
9. It's a case-by-case situation
We're not all going to be the same in this area. It's not impressive to me when someone who wears the same 5k Fun-Run t-shirt and Adidas shorts every day brags about how they never spend money on fashion. Like, uh, yeah... we can tell! LOL!
It's going to be easier for some people to cut down spending on fashion than others. Some people truly don't care about clothing and that's fine! The thing that is impressive to me is when a truly stylish and creative person is able to enjoy fashion and their clothing without breaking the bank or the environment. It's incredible when someone can look amazing and trendy without a closet bursting full of never-worn pieces or a stack of credit card bills waiting on their underutilized office chair.
I do think that for some people, it makes sense to spend more money on clothes; having the right kind of job, a bigger budget, or even... an interest in fashion! Those people choose and budget to spend more on their style because it matters to them, and that's fine! The difference is that it's still MINDFUL: when you're wearing what you buy and taking care of those pieces in a mindful way, there's nothing wrong with it!
10. A closet is a TOOL
I don't like the idea of a "clothing collection." Collections are meant to be seen, but not necessarily used. Furthermore, the concept of a collection often brings to mind the idea of buying something simply because you HAVE to add it to your collection (like your great-aunt who cannot stop purchasing swan figurines.)
Instead of viewing your closet as something to continually add to, try viewing it as something to hone and shape. It should be a well-oiled machine, benefitting your life, your day, and your body. It isn't something to have just say you have it! If you have a ton of pieces that don't go together, that is NOT a well-oiled machine. Try filling the gaps in your closet and really think through what you need to round it out.
Sit down and write what you need to help your outfits "make more sense." Do you have pieces that you would love to wear but they need a jean jacket over them? Or maybe you would wear those flare jeans if you had some wedges? Try filling out your wardrobe and finding the missing pieces.
Alright my stylish love! Thank you for tuning into the style series, and I hope you have a fabulously fashionable weekend. Don't forget to take a peek into your closet to see what you've got, and if you can't fight the urge to go to Target, phone a friend! LOL!
Sending you so much love today.