I am officially half way through my No New Clothes Challenge. Thank you to all of you who have come on this journey with me. It has been enlightening, liberating, sobering, and a slightly more challenging experience this month.
I misplaced two of my favorite items of clothing during my travels. My immediate thought was to try to replace them. Then when I realized I couldn’t, I felt so much frustration and sadness with myself for being careless with my precious belongings. When I was little my mum would always scold me for losing things. “You don’t know the value of things,” she would say. She was right. I didn’t grow up in poverty like she did. Since she was a little girl my mother treasured the few toys and clothes she had. When she moved to Lima and experienced city life and city fashion, she bought her own fabrics and created her own stylish clothes, expertly copying the designs she had seen in shop windows. The pieces that she did buy she passed down to me after decades of love and care.
But sadly I didn’t inherit my mother’s value for one’s possessions. Even though we were a solidly middle class family I was spoiled by the excesses of the First World lifestyle that so many around the world aspire to have. Since we were babies, we were inundated with gifts of clothes and toys — when something breaks or is lost we think nothing of buying a new one. We collect and hoard until our closets and garages overflow, then we get storage units. Sadly we are the products of our capitalist consumerist society.
Where once our ancestors worshipped the sun, the soil and the oceans, now we build malls to worship the gods of Louis Vuitton, Gap, and Urban Outfitters. We equate shopping with status, happiness, and success. And then we wonder why we are so depressed and unfulfilled.
So it’s safe to say that my lack of care for my lost items of clothing sent me into a deep existential portal, and I now have a renewed respect and appreciation for my belongings.
On a more practical note I found myself stressing a little about not buying socks and underwear for another 6 months.
But apart from that it has been a joy to wear the classic items of clothing that I ended up keeping after my ethical closet cleanup. Getting ready to go out for the few lunches and dinners I have attended has been effortless and easy. While at home my style is cozy and practical. Even though Covid has put a halt on lots of events and social engagements I still think I could manage without buying new clothes and not sacrifice style. It just requires a change of mindset.
It has been so inspiring to hear about the many of you that have joined me in this challenge. I really believe that there has never been a better time to challenge the damaging culture of consumerism that has so many of us in its grip.
Waking up from this trance has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and my mental and spiritual health. I’m no longer haunted by hungry ghosts encouraging me to “buy, buy buy.”
On that note, I want to let everybody know about a class we are hosting on Ritual Community called Garment Guardians. Abi Fincham will be teaching how to mend and care for our clothes to extend their life cycle. It is free for RC members but available as a drop in class for non-members via this link. Together, we can learn how to reprogram our relationship to our clothes and possessions.