Thoughts: Considering Clothes & Their Consequences

Thursday, May 3, 2012

(It's been a while since I posted 'round these parts, and while I was away, GoogleBlogger went and changed the whole setup on me. Let's hope my skills as a native English speaker get me through this rough patch.)

What is it about some interests and hobbies that makes them seem noble, while others seem shallow? Why do some strike you as legit and others come off as immature? I'm honestly asking here. Because the thing is that my most enduring interest is becoming more and more clear by the day, and I have mixed feelings about it.

See, I love clothes.

(Side note: I forgot for a moment that this used to be my daily style blog and that you probably already knew that about me. I thought I was revealing something sort of surprising. But I am not. Carry on.)

It all goes back to the 5th and 6th Grades. Pretty sure of it. I had an aunt at the time named Jennifer. (Yes, "at the time," because she is no longer my aunt. She was married to my uncle, but that changed.) Jennifer would occasionally stop by our house and drop off trash bags of clothes she no longer wanted, clothes my mom and I might be interested in making our own. She was fancy and hip. She shopped in Las Vegas, acquiring cooler things than my mom and I found at Wal-Mart and sometimes JCPenney's. Those bags contained possibilities of pretty, promises of popularity. Jeans with leather labels -- mmmmm. I loved Jennifer's hand-me-downs. They gave me that special "Girl, you are movin' up in the world" feeling.

This affection for certain articles of clothing continued on through my years of middle school, high school, and college, but between my introduction to style blogs and my current job as a clothing buyer, it has sprouted roots and grown thick branches. (Yes, this love is a tree, or at least a solid bush.) I derive actual happiness -- a real kind, temporary but sincere and innocent -- from putting on a precious dress or a solid pair of boots. I revel in scarves. And it's not about acquiring things that cost a lot of money -- certainly not. I took stock of my wardrobe tonight, and 63% of it is secondhand. This collection, all in all, was pretty cheap. It's not about money or status, and I'm confident it's not about getting the boys and girls to think I'm pretty. It's just that I lovelovelove wearing beautiful things that help me feel beautiful alongside them.

But am I a superficial nincompoop for feeling so wrapped up in clothing? Am I small-minded? Does this make me a bad feminist? A bad Christian? A bad wife? A bad friend? A bad person? I ask myself these questions. I try to answer "NO" without reservation. Loving music isn't shallow. Loving fine cuisine isn't small-minded. Loving calligraphy or nautical history or birdwatching isn't an indication of poor moral fiber. So why this ambivalence when it comes to the clothes thing? Why does this interest carry a stigma? I'm accepting theories for consideration.

All I know is that yesterday I wore a green skirt with blue roses on it, a skirt that cost me eleven dollars, and when I stood at the bus stop and saw the way that skirt moved in the May breeze, I delighted in it.


  1. Wow, 63% is really specific :)

    Pretty soon I'm posting a story about my own clothes journey on my blog -- it's very different than yours, full of people trying to get me to care about clothes. I find this topic quite fascinating, and a paradox. I think about it in the religious context: God says, "for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart," yet a number of dress standards for "Sunday best" are prescribed for people to wear to church. I remember a particularly interesting discussion ensuing in the old 109th ward. One sister talked about how on her mission a female leader talked to them about not looking frumpy and doing their hair and wearing make-up so that they would look nice (and actually the dress rules for female missionaries have been changed recently so that women will dress more fashionably). Not a minute later, the Bishop talked about how women don't need to wear make-up and that we are inadvertently sending the message to young girls and adolescents that they can't be seen in their natural state. It was an interesting discussion. For me (and probably for most people), there is a danger in feeling that our interests have inherent value while others have less. Honestly, I feel that way about clothes, though you and your complex set of interests are breaking down some of stereotypes in that department. So perhaps you should consider yourself more of a Christian/feminist ambassador for clothing, bringing greater understanding to each circle.

  2. Nothing that is edifying is bad, and different people feel edified by different things. I truly feel uplifted when I'm wearing a great outfit with great accessories.


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