I used to have a closet full of beautiful shirts. Silky camisoles, cashmere tees, even a suede halter top, beautiful with heels and good denim. I also managed to acquire other fun fancy items over time, like a vintage Pucci dress and some amazing Bottega stilettos. I hardly ever went out, since I was teaching full-time while also attending graduate school. But if the call came to hit the town feeling festive, as it did once in a blue moon, I was ready.
In recent years we have been coming to a deeper understanding of our world and the damage that we inflict upon it. There is no doubt that it is depressing; it can really get to a person. In the same vein, if you follow sustainability topics related to apparel, textiles and fashion, you quickly become overwhelmed, reaching the conclusion that it is both difficult and expensive to make 'good' choices.
This year we moved out of a bungalow built in 1920 and into a rambler built in 1960. I'm not always excited about the change, although in some ways I have been pleasantly surprised. For example, I do not really miss having a third floor (at least for practical matters like having small children in tow). I am, however, bedeviled by our closets. Our 1920s house had added closets from a prior renovation, so we were not experiencing the full storage crisis that we should have been. Our 1960 house needs more closets. More, bigger, with lights in them, closets.
Since I never pictured myself as a mother until I was actually pregnant the first time, I also never took notice prior to that moment of some of the daily tricks of motherhood. Getting dressed is one of those tricks, which might sound a little silly. But think of it this way: you're you, and then you're you feeling like crap every day for several months (at least), and then you're you with an extra forty extra pounds (give or take), but all the while still taking care of things at home and going to work and maybe exercising and probably experiencing change of seasons. During this part, you are probably still at least occasionally (or for some, often) physically uncomfortable. Also your breasts have changed size, maybe more than once, and even your feet have maybe changed size, either permanently, or just temporarily. Every day you're trying to get dressed for all of that, probably without an unlimited budget and probably without a lot of extra free time to figure it out.
Confession: my relationship with apparel sustainability tends toward cyclical. Sometimes an outside force causes me to pull back and examine my clothing habits. Sometimes I read a new book and I feel old questions and concerns renewed. I wish I could say that I steadfastly shun all of the tempting apparel out there, but I do still fall prey to over-priced pretty things that probably contain questionable products and which also probably did not earn their maker very much money. Why is that? The question bedevils me.
So. Spring is in the air (use your imagination). You are feeling festive and even pretty fit, after successful implementation of your New Year's resolutions (again...imagination). You want to celebrate by purchasing some new clothes, but there is no spring shopping trip line item in the budget. Should you fight the urge? If so, how? Should you give in to the moment? If you do, what is the best way to make a purchase that feels both responsible and still fun?
I try not to buy clothes that I don't need, and I try not to buy clothes that are made in unhealthy working conditions and/or of environmentally-suspect materials. But I love clothing...messing around with it...using it to feel great...attempting to make garments I love. These two diametrically opposed positions create in me a strange feast-famine shopping cycle, and have also in the past also led not only to budget disaster, but also to spending money on clothes that disappoint or frustrate me. In the last few years, however, I have been fighting that powerful feast force, using a few simple pre-shopping habits.