Hello twenty-eighteen in all your glorious summer splendour!
I must admit, from afar you looked like that glamorous mum at the playground the other day. Her skin was the colour of almonds and she wore a fitted knee-length skirt, milk-white cami and tan sandals that wound around her long, slim ankles. Her hair was swept into a ponytail, silky and caramel to just below her shoulders. I watched her, as I watched you, out of the corner of my eye, hoping she wouldn’t judge me in my ripped denim, thongs and t-shirt. I was intimidated by you.
But then something happened. We talked. And she was sweet and she looked into my eyes and commented kindly of my children and we laughed together and I walked away chiding myself for being so shallow.
So as I have eyed this new year, like a tray of 12 ice-blocks ready to plonk into the cocktail that is life, I’ve shed the fears. Because I didn’t achieve everything I hoped to last year, you know? I got disappointed and I let myself down. Sometimes I let others down too. Mostly because I’m still getting to know who I am. But I dropped them all at my dear Saviour’s feet, because what’s the use in holding them? The whole minimalist movement applies to the soul too, I’ve found. It’s good to declutter there also.
Already, I’m warming to you. You’re not so glamorous. You’re normal like all the other years. I’ve hit the trails on a mountain bike, I’ve read a few books, I’ve lounged over lunch with friends, I’ve baked my first sourdough, I’ve ripped out weeds and I’ve ruminated on the learnings of a year without buying any new clothes.
Where to now?
That’s the question I’ve been asked. What next? It’s not that I’m a stickler for New Year’s Resolutions, but when you’ve made such life change, it’s important not to turf it like a last-season Supré top. I want the life change to be lasting, to bring more of this freedom I’ve tasted. So here you go. Here’s my response.
2018 and buying clothes
Last year, my hashtag was #nonewclothesforayear
This year, my hashtag is #knownewclothes
See what I did there? This year I’m not restricting myself quite so much on where I purchase my clothes, but I am challenging myself to KNOW the supply chain and to KNOW that my purchases have not exploited people in the manufacturing process.
My go-to fashion purchases manual will be the 2017 Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report. This document is all kinds of awesome. The perfect starting point. It “grades 330 fashion brands operating in Australia and around the world, and assesses the systems they have in place to protect the workers in their supply chain from exploitation, forced labour and child labour.” Basically, each brand is given a rating from A-F based on four criteria: policies; knowing suppliers; auditing and supplier relations, and; worker empowerment. It’s not foolproof, but it’s something that shows the fashion industry that us consumers DO care where our clothes come from. I will only be purchasing new clothes from brands rated A-B. Which cuts out a fair few of my fav brands already. Boohoo!
Here’s some key things I’ll be doing in my fashion shopping this year:
- Shop less. Period. I’m keen to minimise my wardrobe contents and continue paring back the emphasis that is so often placed on current fashion (fast fashion). Less clothes equals less time choosing what to wear!I’m toying with the idea of what I will call a ‘Quota Wardrobe’. That is, stipulating (to myself) how many pairs of jeans, t-shirts, jumpers, dresses etc. I can have and sticking to it. It would mean that, if I bought something new, I would also need to send an item to the charity shop. Good idea? I’m not sure either. Feels a bit military. I’ll keep you posted.
On this point, I’m also going to put to bed the ludicrous notion that has crept into our culture that some clothing can only be ‘seen’ once. This usually relates to occasional clothing: for balls, weddings, work dinners and the like. Ridiculous. So, yes, you will likely be seeing me wearing the same dress two, three, ten (*gasp*) times!
- Shop op shops, markets, second-hand. Yep. I’m hooked. I mean, it’s cheaper, better for the environment, fun and a challenge. Why would I stop now?
- Shop smart. As mentioned above, I will only purchase clothing from A-B rated shops.
- Challenge brands that aren’t transparent. I’ll be writing letters to my fav brands who have a poor rating, or who don’t openly share their supply chain details with customers. Not in an aggressive way. Just a gentle nudge to remind the bigwigs that us consumer folk care about the working folk in clothing production. Who knows, maybe a few letters will make a big difference! I’ve already sent a few.
- Love my own skin and style. This is a perpetual challenge for me. What I want to be clothed in the most is an understanding of how God views me. As his precious, beautiful daughter. That’s the image I want to see staring back at me when I look in the mirror. The one I see when I hop on the scales. The one I see after I’ve chowed down on a big fat custard-filled donut (and enjoyed it!). The one I see when I’m standing beside girlfriends of all shapes and sizes, ages and stages. This undergirds and overrides everything I’ve written in this post to this point. The most important thing of all. Because ultimately, clothes don’t matter a jot.
As Jesus himself said in Matthew 6:28-33, we need first to “seek his kingdom and righteousness”, then everything else will fall into it’s proper place.
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”