The test of time.

This morning I had to pack to go away for the weekend and I had no idea what to bring! Choice!  Ah! I must admit that I’m not actually looking forward to choosing what to wear again. I have found the challenge completely liberating in many ways, and one of them is when I’m not totally happy with what I’m wearing, knowing that there’s nothing I can do about it and just embracing it.  And no one has said ‘er,excuse me ,you look awful’, which confirms what I’m sure everyone already knows about self-image. It’s all in your head.

I thought it would be a good exercise to look in my wardrobe today and think about what I have missed these past weeks, what I would love to put on today if I could and perhaps most importantly what I’m not bothered about wearing again. I have actually been quite surprised at how easily I have forgotten about my wardrobe entirely. Before I actually looked, the things I have thought about wearing were a red dress that I made last year, my new People Tree cardigan that is hand knitted and amazing  (and was a birthday present I have really wished I have been able to wear for all the evenings I have been chilly), a floral top I made a while ago, a plain white top, my jeans and a skirt from Traid made out of an old curtain.

What struck me was that I miss the clothes I have made myself, and my People Tree ‘special’ items. After the challenge, I am really excited about making more clothes, particularly the things I have been meaning to make for a while. I think Lent has helped to confirm that what is important, and most enjoyable, is having your own sense of style, rather than being ‘fashionable’. I find making my own clothes is a really good way to bring that to  my wardrobe and ensure the only person exploited in the production is myself! Fast throwaway fashion hasn’t stood the test of (40 days) time with me – I haven’t found myself thinking about  fashionable items when I’ve been exasperated about what I’m wearing. Even the high street things that I have missed have been very simple, or classic, which surprised me. I never thought I would miss plain old jeans! Although I expect that is also to do with the fact that none of my six items are trousers, so jeans are looking very appealing!

Thinking along these lines has also made me consider quality over quantity. I have to admit I have been a bit disappointed with the resilience of my 6 items. I do have almost all jersey items, which isn’t a particularly hard-wearing fabric, however even the People Tree items (which were not cheap) have faded and my blue dress is very bobbly. My two non -People Tree items have suffered the most though, (the purple t shirt and grey dress) and I’m wondering if I will actually wear them any more after the challenge. ( I have had them for about 4 years, so they’ve done well!) I have found myself thinking about People Tree the brand a lot during the challenge. I shop almost exclusively with them, and really like their mission and  almost all of their clothes. However it is really expensive, and so I don’t think many people will be converting to them as an alterative to the high street. Their sales are ‘good’, but I do feel bad that I always buy their items at a reduced price, because I believe that we need to think about the true cost of fashion. Are they expensive, or have we totally lost sight of what we should pay for clothing? I am more willing to pay more for hand-woven or hand-knitted items particularly, because I know how much effort has gone into making that item. And I really enjoy buying them, thinking about the story of the person who has made them. For this reason I like buying vintage clothes, and making my own, as I think it provides the opportunity to value them more, consider where they came from, care for them because you want them to last, and wear them with pride.  The difficulty is finding items that will stand the test of time, because today clothing isn’t manufactured to last, which I have found quite depressing.  However, during the challenge, I did what I have been meaning to do for a while and actually replaced a very useful, but very worn out, item of clothing from my wardrobe with a new version, which is ethically traded  and made from bamboo (a fibre which requires less water than cotton) and was considerably more expensive than I would normally pay. It’s really lovely and I’m looking forward to wearing it!

It’s the first step to achieving the capsule wardrobe inspired by 6 Items, full of simple,  good quality items that will stand the test of time – both in terms of their style and their resilience.

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