Thursday, January 1, 2009

No Clothes for a Year

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2009. Chelsea here. I think that New Year's as a celebration is very interesting; it seems to bring out in people a desire to reflect on the past and plan for the future. It seems to inspire us to want to do better at living life to the fullest. It seems to act as a reminder that time is marching along, and we'd better make the most of the year(s) ahead of us.

The whole idea of resolutions has always interested me as well, and while I have never been particularly good at keeping resolutions like exercising daily or becoming vegan (it's just so hard to get around to those ones), during the past year of 2008 I was able to keep one resolution: I did not buy any clothing for one year.

Many good and noble reasons jumped to mind when I started out on this 'fast' from clothes-shopping: I've long been interested in promoting "recylcled" second-hand clothes, the use of sweatshops in the developing world is a terrible problem perpetuated by Western greed, by not buying clothes I would have more money for helping our community, etc, etc, etc. Lots of answers that would make me look socially conscious or whatever. But the real reasons that I abstained from buying clothes for a year were 1) I was becoming obsessed with my exterior appearance, including my clothes, rather than focusing on my internal condition, and 2) I wanted to see if and how God would provide for my needs, as He has promised.

So, with no scientific measures or formal parameters, I did not purchase any clothing for myself for 365 days. No shirts, no underwear, no pants, no shoes, no dresses, no coats. And it was way easier and more fun than I imagined it would be.

By the end of the first two months, I had stopped thinking about how to justify spending on whatever cute shirt was in the window of the shops that week: since it was out of the question, I eventually stopped fussing and obsessing and worrying about it.

At the end of April, we moved into the new side of the house: at this point, since I had to pack all my clothes up anyway, I gave away a full garbage bag of clothes that I wasn't using any more.

Our house held a community yard sale in the summer, where lots of people donated stuff; after the sale was over, there was tons of clothing left over, so I was able to glean a few items before we sent them along to the thrift store.

There was also a Clothing Exchange at the local artist's co-op called Made-For-You; I took in a bunch of clothes, and swapped them for other people's stuff.

A few friends of mine gave me their old clothes when they were finished with them. They also let me borrow clothes for special occasions.

I became much better at sewing and fixing rips and tears and buttons, rather than letting them go.

In the end, this experiment was very worthwhile; I saw God provide absolutely more than all I needed, and I feel as though I've learned alot about identifying with people who simply don't have the option of buying new clothes whenever they feel like it... Like the people who make most of the clothes we find in stores today...

I encourage everyone to try this experiment: give it a shot for a year, don't buy any clothes. Or try only buying second-hand clothes. Or cut your clothing purchases in half. Try something. After all, clothing is just coloured fabric to cover our dangly bits and keep us warm in the winter. It's not nearly as important as the colour and fabric of your soul and mind.


Marty Marquette said...

This must be a woman thing.. I personally do not buy clothes. I ask at Christmas and get my year's supply......
However at the end of 2008 I had to buy work pants I needed black pants and as you know all my working pants are white... Ah - yes I also bought anti slip shoes for safety reasons...
However the shopping thing has tempations for me in other forms and to learn to say NO is a hard thing to do specially if it is on sale. But being broke helps curtail spending, more than will power.

Shannon of the Gendron said...

This is great Chels!

his has been on my mind for a while, and is actually one of my new years resolutions. tyou have inspired me to attempt to buy only second hand clothes this year.

your soul fabric is very beautiful my friend.

Rachel said...

Way to go, Chelsea!

Clothing has been an ongoing struggle in my life. I love clothes. I have only bought second hand for a number of years now - except for underwear - and will continue to do so, but even that leaves me feeling uneasy, especially when I consider the number of people on our planet who have next to nothing. I just don't feel ready to give it up, though.

Anonymous said...

Your blog title made me jump. I thought you were advocating going totally without clothes, as in: "birthday suit"! I was quickly reassured that this was not the case...

Now I can continue to read your blog, knowing that this is a safe blog to read...:)