Exactly three months ago, on the last day of 2016, after spending the most delightful afternoon sipping tea with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years reminiscing about the good old days and filling each other in on where we are now, I popped into Nordstrom, arriving 10 minutes before they were closing and frantically bought an new pair of jeans, knowing it would be the last piece of clothing I’d buy myself for 365 days.
Inspired by my friend and colleague Michela Montalbetti, who has been documenting her year without clothes shopping (which finishes tomorrow), I considered the idea for several months. I started noticing how often my trips to the grocery store ended with a quick stop in Zara or checking my inbox often devolved into browsing the latest offerings at Anthropologie. In spite of having lots of colorful clothes, I noticed that my “look”, if you can call my uniform of yoga pants + t-shirts a style, is very “fifty shades of grey,” not for it’s sex appeal. Even though I’d done a full Marie Kondo clean out last spring, it seemed that at least once a week I pulled several items out of my closet that didn’t “spark joy.” In fact, few things in my closet spark joy. The rest spark “bleh.”
As I started to notice these tendencies, I started to change my habits. But the idea of doing a clothing-diet kept surfacing, along with a thousand reasons why not to do it, most of them about what items I “need.” And then there was this one: “I can’t.” To which the other voice in my head responded: WTF?! I can’t? I can’t not buy clothes for a year? Seriously? I can stand on my head on a paddle board in the middle of lake, but I can’t refrain from purchasing fast fashion? I can naturally birth two children—one on the floor of my bedroom—and I can’t refrain from buying more yoga pants? This is not the person I want to be. I’m still figuring out who that is, but I’m damn sure that I do not want my predilection for cheap grey t-shirts to overrule my ability to draw a line in the sand and stay on the side of my values.
Because, if I’m really honest with myself, not only do most of the items in my closet not spark joy, but they aren’t aligned with my principles. While I try to be a contentious consumer when it comes to groceries and I’ll pay extra for organic kale (though that has it’s own host of issues), all bets are off when it comes to what I wear. Of course this carries over into so much of our daily life—it feels nearly impossible to participate in modern life and not be an accomplice to injustice and a cog in the machine. And that creates a sense of dissonance and disconnect, a general unease that is always there, but we live with it because what other choice is there?
Well, I’ve found one: push pause. It’s like taking a child’s pose before moving into an arm balance: it offers some time to regroup, reconnect, and ready oneself for the challenge. So I’m hanging out in child’s pose now. Turning my attention away from the shops and inwards to take inventory of my values, and my closet. In my personal quest to experience alignment, it’s a helpful exercise and has been much easier to not shop than I imagined it would be. What’s proving to be more difficult is confronting my aversions and attachments and seeing all the ways that I settle for “bleh” instead of patiently seeking joy. But I know that resistance is a good indication that I’m on the right path out of my comfort zone and into the territory where real growth happens.
And the new jeans help too.