Investing in something precious and of good quality requires patience, self-mastery, and persistence.
Admittedly, some investments assume a higher priority than others (ex: residency, groceries, insurance, etc.). Because those are such large investments, we tend to be more aware of the importance of saving and being responsible in those areas, but our invitation to responsibility and good stewardship does not have to end there. There is a way, and a need, to apply this to the clothing we purchase without sacrificing those necessary, prudent investments.
Many of us have read some article or heard from a friend on the why’s and how’s with shopping ethically and sustainably. But goodness, after we hear the issues in the fashion industry we are, more often than not, discouraged by the overwhelming demand to change our approach to clothing. Transforming our shopping habits to be ethical and transitioning our closet to be more sustainable can seem impossible.
We hear you. Our consolation is this—no one should expect you to make those adjustments rapidly because honestly it is impossible to make lasting changes like that overnight. To begin shifting to an ethical mindset takes patience (this includes being gentle with yourself in the process). The fact that you are reading this article and wondering how to approach shopping ethically is a BIG deal.
Our advice is not so much on the where you are shopping as much as the how you are shopping.
When it comes to purchasing clothing, there is sometimes this pressure to quickly change out a closet. This can cause us to purchase pieces we only “kind-of like” or that we *might* be able to make work. We end up with overflowing closets, yet nothing that we really love or feel like ourselves in. We know, we all love a good deal. But we can experience something more substantial and satisfying when we take a moment to think through whether a piece resonates with us. (Read more about stewardship here.)
The first way to approach the way we build our closet or transition our closet to a new season of life is the
intentionality of only investing in a piece that we love. This means to resist the temptation to buy that $7
blouse—even though it is from a store you appreciate, and it is 70% off—but that does not mean it is worth your $7. Here are some things you can ask yourself before pulling out your credit card:
Am I confident in its versatility through this season and hopefully the next?
Ignore the discount for a moment—would this be something I still love and am attracted to if it were full
Will it be essential to my wardrobe if I already have something similar to it?
Shopping can be overwhelming with all the choices and many new things added each day at many stores. Maintain your focus on the couple of pieces you have been diligently searching for—whether it is a particular feel and style of a jean jacket or certain shade of leather in a belt. The intentionality and choosiness in what we are looking for will help us resist buying many cheap copies or “this is almost it” items. When we make an investment, we are more likely to make use of the item to its fullest extent. We are less likely to toss the item and often more determined to make it work in multiple ways.
If we are particular and intentional in what we buy—we will slowly save the funding necessary to invest in
higher quality pieces that will last. Keep count if it helps—each time you say no to fast-fashion or choose to wait until you find just the piece you are hoping for. The dollars will add up quickly if we are willing to hold off on buying into the latest sale or resisting the piece that is similar enough to something we already have in our closets.
To remove yourself from a place of temptation in giving into the sales: avoid going to a store “just to
browse” and unsubscribe from certain businesses that are notifying you of frequent flash sales if necessary.
It comes down to this age old saying: Know thy self.
But seriously, know your weaknesses and strengthen your intentionality by getting creative with your current closet. The more familiar you are with your closet, the more particular you can become with what you believe will assist your wardrobe for the seasons to come. Try to wear pieces you have been putting off wearing and figure out why you are no longer attracted to those pieces.
Saving can become a spiritual practice of building virtue: practicing self-mastery by fasting from the “need to buy” as well as developing prudence through intentional investment. We honor our own worth by challenging ourselves to be creative with what we have, saving our wallet for those things which come from substantial choices, and come to know ourselves more through developing personal style.