Just like writing and painting, fashion can be a means of expressing feelings and beliefs.
The garments you wear can be representative of your cultural heritage, of the social causes you believe in, or of the tiny personality quirks that make you, you.
But, in the age of fast fashion, more and more women find it hard to use clothing as a means of self-expression because fashion, unfortunately, also has a darker side. It can be used as a tool of consumerism, to create a uniform, to tell people what to wear and how.
The cycle of fashion can be chaotic, making you doubt yourself and forcing you to purchase erratically just to fit in.
If opening your wardrobe in the morning makes you feel insecure and uncomfortable, it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with fashion and learn how to dress mindfully, focusing on happiness, not trends.
Reflection time: what does fashion mean to you?
The first step to dressing mindfully is understanding your own relationship with fashion. What do clothes mean to you? Ask yourself what your favorite garments are and why you tend to gravitate toward them. Don’t focus so much on trends or categories of clothing, but on how certain items make you feel and how they allow you to express who you are.
Don’t let a magazine tell you what to wear. Developing your own fashion sense is a personal matter, based on what makes you feel comfortable, confident, and powerful.
The wardrobe clear-out.
Having a wardrobe that’s full to the brim can feel incredibly claustrophobic, especially if you don’t love every single item in there. A wardrobe clear-out can feel like a spiritual cleanse, and even though it might take you a full weekend, getting rid of all the clothes you don’t love or haven’t worn in ages will be like a breath of fresh air. Keep a pile of clothes that you know for sure you will wear and donate the rest.
If the remaining collection is too small and you’re missing some essentials, here are some tips to shop more mindfully:
Unsubscribe from all newsletters of online fashion stores. You may not realize this, but all the emails with discounts and special offers encourage you to make impulse purchases and buy things you don’t need or might never wear.
Find a tailor. Clothing sizes can be confusing, and chances are you already own a couple of items that could use a few adjustments. Instead of buying them in a different size or feeling bummed because you don’t fit the designer’s size guide, take them to a tailor for adjustments. Tailor-made clothes flatter your figure, make you feel more confident, plus they reduce waste and unnecessary purchases. Or, if you can’t find a tailor, learn sewing and other DIY techniques to adjust or repurpose clothes.
Take care of the clothes you love. The better you care for the clothes you love, the more you will be able to enjoy them. Use high quality, organic detergent and wash them in short washing cycles, no chemical drying, to prevent them from fading or stretching.
Shop local/ethical/vintage. Many popular fashion retailers have unethical business practices and sell low-quality clothes made in inhumane sweatshops where workers risk their lives for a few cents a day. But they are not the only clothes on the market. There is a wide variety of fashion brands that sell ethical clothing, so try to shop local or from vintage stores.
Does the capsule wardrobe really work?
“Capsule wardrobe” is a buzzword that has circulated a lot recently. At its origin, the capsule wardrobe aimed to help women create a curated collection of clothes that went with everything. However, the concept might not work well for everyone—and not because you feel the compulsive need to buy new clothes. If you love the minimalist style and you find the idea of owning precisely 40 clothing items, then a capsule wardrobe is for you. But if you live in an area with varying climate or your weight fluctuates a lot, you’ll have to make additional purchases for practical reasons.
The idea is to create your own version of a capsule wardrobe and not necessarily stick to the original rules. If you need 50 items instead of 40, then make it so. If you’re more of a jeans lover, your capsule wardrobe will include more jeans and fewer dresses. Experiment until you find the right ratio and you’re satisfied with everything in your wardrobe.
Last, but definitely not least: fashion fulfillment should not involve meaningless waste. When a certain fashion item no longer makes you happy and you want to see it go, don’t throw it in the trash. If it is still in good condition, gift it to friends or family or donate it to a clothing bank. If not, dispose of it consciously by sending it back to the store (many retailers have special recycling programs) or to a local recycling spot.
Author: Cynhtia Madison
Image: Kevin Grieve/Unsplash
Editor: Emily Bartran