Have What You Love, Love What You Have
Imagine filling your closet with pieces of clothing that you never want to take off. This means the perfect combination of style, fit, comfort, and of course quality so that you can wear it hundreds of times. It also means no more staring blankly into the depths of your closet and not knowing what to wear, because you’ll LOVE everything you are looking at!
You can have a wardrobe you love, but it takes a little more work and concentration to find it by shopping thoughtfully. By taking a little longer to debate the purchase of each new garment, perhaps 80% of your closet won’t be stuffed with things you no longer like.
Conscience consumption means something different to everyone. Some think of fairtrade, others, organic, locally made, high-quality vintage, some even have to shop affordably or a combination thereof; but perhaps the most important part is that it is something that you LOVE. No more running to the mall for a little “retail therapy” or to buy something just for a single occasion, but hunting down items that fit perfectly on you, and with your lifestyle. The added bonus is that it also cuts WAY back on “buyers remorse”.
If the garment you choose is a perfect reflection of your personality, it will be timeless in your wardrobe. It may involve choosing one pricier perfect blouse over several cheaper ‘trendy’ ones, but there is a logical justification [one my mom taught me and it was also a sentiment shared by the fictional character, Carrie Bradshaw]: Divide the cost of the garment by the number of times you wear it.
For example: lets say you splurge $400 on a nice pair of pants, they blend seamlessly with the rest of your clothing, creating perhaps dozens of different combinations with the items you already own, and you can wear them 2 times a week. Those pants cost you $50 each time you wear them in the first month. But these are really great pants, and are going to last longer than those cheap $25 knock-offs you would have bought at some discount store. So, accounting for seasonality [you aren’t going to wear them year-round] let’s estimate you wear them about once a week for 8 months of the year that’s a fairly modest 32 times: they now cost you $6 per wear. Great quality trousers should last you at least double that length of time. [Clothing from discount stores typically becomes faded, pilled, or warped between wash/wear #5 and #20.] By year 3 the nice pants would cost you less than $1 each time to put them on. Now that is not such a bad price, right? Be advised, we are not asking you to fill your closet with so many Jimmy Choos you can’t pay rent, but better is sometimes… well, better!
What you do with the clothing you love is perhaps just as important as choosing it in the first place. Washing and wearing our clothing is pretty tough on the fabric, but we live in what we love so wear and tear is an inevitable part of the equation, but by laundering carefully and mending, you will extend the life of any garment.
In fact, those little tags inside clothes are more than just suggestions. Laundering instructions are based on rigorous tests of material performance under different laundering conditions according to standards set by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) and ASTM International. Everything from colorfastness to shrinkage is evaluated with each different method of laundering. So, when a tag says “Hand wash, lay flat to dry. Do not iron” or “Dry clean only.”, heed the warning! If you throw it in the washing machine with your jeans and dry it on regular, the end result will likely not be a good one. You may end up with a beloved garment that shrunk, snagged, or is simply ill-fitting after the careless treatment. Sure, it takes a little more time to launder a few garments differently, but the results are well worth the time; plus, this is why companies sell products like Woolite and Dryell. So you can launder your clothing a little smarter, not harder.
For a little refresher course on deciphering laundering labels check out this handy pdf: Textile Affairs Laundry Guide to Common Care Symbols.
Did you know the time and money spent mending a garment is typically far less than the time and money spent shopping for a replacement? Mending is a great way to keep the clothes you love looking great, with far less effort than it appears. Whether you are a skilled DIY seamstress or would rather pay the dry-cleaner to mend it: re-attaching buttons, sewing up loose hems, and even replacing broken zippers does not take much time or money. In my area dry-cleaners charge between $5 & $20 for most repairs, not bad compared to the cost of a new garment or the time spent shopping for it. Mending can breathe new life into old items, perhaps an old button-down shirt could use a little tailoring to update it or fit better after a recent weight loss. Perhaps an old sweater or blouse could also use a minor ‘face-lift’ by changing out the buttons or adding a tasteful embellishment like beading. The options are limited only by your skill and imagination.
Just remember, turning your haphazard closet into a beautifully curated collection does not happen over night the key is to: go slowly, consider new purchases carefully, and care for your clothes lovingly.