Monday, October 20, 2014

the who of the what [slow fashion]

"I like it when clothes have a story, and I like finding things that move me somehow, but I think it’s very important to not make fashion too much of a thing in your life. It’s a tool to show who you are to the world but only if you’re privileged enough to be able to worry about it." Clémence Poésy

"Buy less. Choose better." Vivienne Westwood

. . .

Minimalist fashion and capsule wardrobes are all the rage in blogland these days. Everyone and their mother seems to be paring down and posting about it.

I get it. When we moved this summer, I brought just a handful of items to tide me over until the rest of our stuff followed a month later. Once the panic of "maybe possibly not having enough" subsided, I realized how freeing it was to live with less. To know exactly what was hanging in my closest, or sitting on a shelf, or living in a cabinet, at any given time. Glorious. 

Until I was more or less forced into it, minimalism wasn't an active pursuit of mine. (Looking at the remaining piles of crap around here, you might still judge me a pack rat. But trust me: We've come a long way, baby.) However, there's a huge internal tug that happens whenever I read another one of these live-with-less posts. As I say, I completely get wanting to simplify (try it, you'll like it). But I think it's time to go beyond what we're allowing in our closets and homes. We need to ask better questions. Namely:

Who made this? 


Where did it come from?

Asking these questions makes it much easier to avoid, say, impulse purchases at Target. It forces me to stop and research the practices of the brands and stores I would normally shop. This goes hand-in-hand with a minimalist approach: It's not just about buying less; it's about buying better. And if I can't make the time to figure out the background of an item...Do I really need it? (I realize it's hard to suddenly research the story of, well, everything you buy and own. To which I say: Take it an item at a time. Start anywhere. But start.)

It isn't easy. When I first decided to really find out the story of my stuff (...kinda like that video from way back when...), I went through a lot of "pick up, put down". As in, "Oh, this decorative melamine bowl in on-trend seasonally-appropriate shades of coral and mustard is cute--and it's only three dollars!" Pick it up. "Made in China. Ugh, of course it is." Put it down. Rinse, repeat. 

These days, I don't pick much up in the first place.That said, I am by no means perfect or an expert in this area. Minimalism is a fantastic concept, and I'd urge anyone to try it on for size. But in doing so, again I say: Dig deeper. Ask harder questions. Every item in your closet and home was made somewhere, by someone. Figure out those faces and places to the best of your ability. If you want your wardrobe to tell a story, it helps to know its literal history, too. 

The fact that minimalism has become such a major trend says a lot. We're tired of spending. We're tired of such a low cost-per-wear for cheap stuff we end up wearing once, or for items that fall apart too quickly. And I, for one, am tired of not knowing the human cost (or, sometimes, investment) of the items I allow on my body and in my home. There are faces behind these items and issues. I believe it is our social responsibility as decent human beings, and especially as Christians, to be more conscious consumers. Let's talk about the dignity of the human person, then take a peek inside our closets. 

None of this is new, but it can be difficult, which is perhaps why it still needs saying. So please, in our efforts to "buy less and buy better"... can we also make sure we're asking decent questions about just what that means?

Hopefully a list that will continue to grow! 

Please note: These are not necessarily "budget-friendly" sources. But in the name of quality over quantity I think it's good to consider investing in ethically-made, well-crafted pieces that will stand the test of time. For me, this means no more than a few well-researched and worthy items each year. 

:: I have my eye on this gorgeous basic.

:: Purchased my first tees this summer, and they've quickly become staples.

:: Dream list, big time.

Top photo via