Background photo – Creative Commons: Organized Closet by Emily May on flickr. Overlay added by me.
I’ve decided to dedicate the month of August to exploring what it means to have a conscious closet. Habituating yourself to seeking out and shopping ethical brands is a good start, but it’s ultimately not enough. We’ve also got to untangle ourselves from the materialism our society encourages us to nurture at every turn.
I’ve learned that firsthand over the course of my 2 or so years writing this blog. It was easy enough (once the groundwork was laid) to find better places to shop, but it’s much harder to let go of my unhealthy addiction to buying things. So I’ll be sharing the stories of a handful of women who are living better, less materialistic lives by being really picky about what comes into their closets, whether that’s through a capsule wardrobe, a personal uniform, or some other method.
In Lauren Winner’s Wearing God, a chapter is dedicated to the metaphor of God as a garment. When I first read it, I was disappointed that she didn’t mention conscientious consumerism, but now I think that’s good. Clothing is more than just a thing we consume, it’s a vibrant form of communication that shapes us – sometimes literally – in ways we often don’t pick up on. To use another quote from Daneen Wardrop (cited in Winner’s book):
“the body interacts and changes places with apparel as we wear it, changing ruffle to ankle, in the vision of one motion. We let it affect the way we move, the way we interact, the way we shape affection, the means by which we negotiate others’ opinions of our social standing, the way we cognize our own body.”
Building a conscious closet, then, is more than just what we put in it. It’s how we respond to it, how it makes us feel, who we become and who we dream of becoming while wearing it. It’s not merely choosing to consume or not to consume, it’s choosing not to let our closets consume us, while continuing to acknowledge the cultural and personal importance of wearing clothes.
There’s nothing innately immoral about clothing itself – it’s the wearers that have some work to do. As such, I’ll also be reading a few books on the intersection of consumerism and spirituality in this country. Scary stuff.
I hope you’ll follow along and chime in with advice, questions, and recommendations throughout the month.