WHAT YOU WEAR tells everyone much about who you are. From your toenails to your hairstyle, whether you are male or female, how you choose to dress communicates powerfully to the world something of what you care about, and perhaps what you don’t care about.
I’m not sure I can claim to be passionate about clothing but I grew up in a family where, until I learned to make my own, and later had money to buy my own, all my clothes, including undies and school uniforms, but excluding singlets, swimmers, socks and shoes, were made by my mother. So I was strongly aware of what my clothes told the world about me.
Since I first discovered in grade 8 that if I scooted out to get the early bus I could make it into town by 3.30 giving me time to trail through the racks in the Salvos huge tin shed baking on the side of Castle Hill, I was hooked on the delights of opp-shopping. Finding an ancient lace petticoat, a treasured man’s shirt with original grandad collar, or a 1950s dress in glorious floral cotton, with just two dollars, I was thrilled with my one or two treasures.
I have always preferred natural fibres because of how they feel but in the last ten years or so there seem to be more and more conversations in different spheres about sustainability. These have made me think about the planetary costs of things, the personal, social and environmental burden of our consumerist way of life. I now consider more deeply the costs of the choices we make about various aspects of our personal choices: what we eat, how we live, and what we wear.
FIFTYTHINGS2016 CHALLENGE: In 2016 I have made the commitment to myself to live within a wardrobe of fifty items of clothing. This count includes shoes, underwear, clothes for exercise and encompasses both winter and summer wardrobes. As much as possible I have restricted myself to completely natural fibres. I did not allow myself to purchase anything new to include in the fifty.
Please go ahead and follow my daily Facebook posts to see how it works out and to read about the origins of the fifty items. Your feedback and comments will be greatly appreciated. I am keen to see how this challenge works out for someone (me) with a very busy life. Especially I am interested to see how many of the items will wear out.
THIS IS CLEARLY A FIRST WORLD THING. I have spent much time earlier in my life, when I worked in the development/humanitarian sector, with people who literally only had the clothes they stood in. As I write this on January 7 2016, there are people fleeing bushfires in Western Australia, leaving their homes with only precious memories or maybe a few photos they can grab on the way out the door. There are also thousands of people leaving the bleak destruction of Syria with what can be crammed into a small bag or trunk.
With fifty items my choices are already overwhelmingly abundant and I am enormously grateful. USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT, MAKE IT DO, OR DO WITHOUT.