A woman looking through a clothing rack

I was sitting at the conference table waiting on my boss for our meeting to start. In she walked, a few minutes late, confident and elegant as she was every day. Today, I noticed something that surprised me.

My boss wore incredible clothing. Every day she came dressed in these beautiful outfits that were tailored perfectly to her. What I noticed wasn’t that she was wearing a cool, unique dress that day. It was that she had worn it just the day before. I remember noticing and appreciating it just yesterday. In that quick moment, I was really surprised to see it in front of me for the second day in a row

Only a moment later, I quietly smiled and gave myself an imaginary eye roll. What is wrong with wearing the same outfit twice in a row? My initial reaction was a perfect example of the baseless beliefs about clothing that our culture today holds tightly. 

In 1930, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that number is more than three times as much. As a clothing designer focusing on conscious consumption, I still find myself opening up my closet thinking, “I have nothing to wear.” 

I still find myself opening up my closet thinking, “I have nothing to wear.” 

These ideas about clothes run deep in us today. If you struggle with the desire to consume fashion consciously and at the same time feel the enticing draw of more and new, then you aren’t alone. There are so many ways to approach conscious consumption around fashion. Exploring the cultural devaluing of clothing must begin in our own hearts.

Here are a few ways to love the clothing we have right now that are already hanging in our closets and gently hugging our skin. 

Learn about how each piece was made.

Creating a garment is both an art and a science. There is so much about the process to appreciate.

A fiber is harvested in one way or another and spun into yarn. The yarn is then made into fabric, dyed and treated. A designer imagined a piece of clothing and a pattern maker created a two-dimensional pattern fit for a three-dimensional body.

The pattern was tested and altered until it was just right. The fabric was spread across a table and cut into the right shapes. Human hands then carefully pieced it together.

Our clothes tell a story of thoughtfulness and intentional care. It is hard not to place more value on our clothing when we learn the intricacies of its making. 

Our clothes tell a story of thoughtfulness and intentional care.

Restyle your clothes.

I used to donate clothing when I didn’t wear them often. In doing so, I thought I might feel less cluttered, but I found that I gave away too many garments that I could have reimagined in my closet. What I try to do now is restyle a piece I’m not wearing often. I try to wear it in a way I never have before.

Look up a similar piece on Pinterest and dream about new ways it could be styled. Ask your friend how she would wear it. It might be that you would never think to style it in another way. There might be an amazing garment in your closet that just needs to be seen with fresh eyes! 

You can also conduct a closet inventory. This is similar to creating capsule wardrobes or decluttering your closet. To take a closet inventory, go through each item you own and identify what you like about the color, fabric and the fit.

Consider why you love it and how it makes you feel when it’s draped over you. Does this piece make you feel confident, flirty or fun? When we have a stronger awareness of our specific clothing preferences, getting ready becomes more enjoyable. 

Tailor your wardrobe.

A well-fitted garment can transform an entire look. Clothing you buy off the racks are not going to fit you perfectly because ready-to-wear clothing is graded to fit a size generally close to yours. A bit of tailoring can help fit the garment to your unique form and feel brand new to you.

What many people don’t realize is that getting your garment tailored is really easy. There are plenty of dry cleaning or alterations shops that will fit and alter your clothes skillfully and affordably. If there are a few pieces in your closet that you’re not excited about, then consider tailoring them to fit you like a glove for less than the cost of a new outfit! You might feel more yourself in them and thus, fall more in love with this new-old garment. 

Clothing is both a necessity and an expression of ourselves. Whether clothing is simply a way for you to cover up, project leadership, feel beautiful or relax as you snuggle on the couch, clothing influences your life every day. In our culture, we somehow lost sight of the true value that our clothes offer. When we see our closets with new eyes, it’s hard not to see the love our clothing gives us in return. 

Image via Nathanael T. Presley, Darling Issue No. 7

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