Every journey has a beginning and its the best place to start most things. This blog will serve as a record of my journey into the most difficult to beat of my consumptive habits: shoes and clothing. Now, before you roll your eyes and move onto another blog that is more...something, hear me out. I am a critical consumer. I do not shop at WalMart, I try to buy local (at least from local stores) and I love to purchase from markets or local stores that sell one of a kind, uniquely designed clothes: "upcycled", is the de rigeur term these days. So, in many ways I have a very solid foundation of criticism within consumer society to be a hemp wearing, patchouli smelling, hippy type. In fact, when I was younger, this was a path I romanced for a time (kind of). Ten years later, I have my reasonably fashionable version of my Birkenstocks alongside my Cavalli boots purchased in Italy. Just the mention of those boots, raises my blood pressure in excitement. Not because of the price as would affect many people, but because they are so beautiful. I can remember what I felt like buying them, where I bought them and how much I enjoy wearing them. So why, on earth am I questioning all of this? If its something I enjoy so much, why not just enjoy it. Because this is what I do. I question. Often out of curiosity and sometimes out of self improvement.
I am certain that my relationship to fashion is much more intimate than a first glance or reductive perspective would render it. After all, fashion for me has been related to (and not limited to) the following: professional life, body image, stage of life, activities, socializing, conformity and comfort (both sit on the couch comfort and have the right thing to wear to the right occasion comfort). Clothing is one of the first ways we perceive, make decisions about and ultimately socialize with people. I have used fashion for acceptance and resistance. Conversely, it is something I have been accepted because of and rejected on the same basis.
For example, if I walk into a room of left wing and/or hippy academic types in some fancy outfit you are immediately met with suspicion. More to the point, my credentials and intelligence are met with suspicion. After all, intelligent well informed people dress badly in mismatched and bizarre outfits, right? On the flip side, when I walked into my first teaching job in a peasant skirt and sandals, half the staff spent the day questioning "which team I played for". You get the idea.Seriously, these are people whose job it is to educate.
So back to why I like fashion. I like nice things, I like to look nice and I like the idea of wearing quality things. This includes athletic apparel and "gear". The question and focus of this blog is "why?". Why do I like these things and more importantly how does it feed consumptive habits (as opposed to conscious choices)?
I've made the decision that I will not purchase any clothing (new or second hand) for 6 months. This is a big deal for people who know me. Here are the reasons why or the things that have brought me to this point:
1) I'm trying to change my lifestyle so I don't fall back into old REALLY consumptive habits that lead to lots of debt and working for the man.
2) My friend is getting married this Friday and instead of buying something new, I'm going into my closet to find one of the many suitable ensembles I have instead of making up the need to purchase something new.
3) I've moved a couple of times in the last 6 to 8 months, in addition to purging 3 full bags of clothing, I've had entire "essential" pieces of my wardrobe packed for months and haven't missed them at all. Leading me to question this so called need to buy new things.
4) I'd like to lead a simpler life.Which is why the alternative name of this blog is "Simpleton", ha.
5) My winter parka zipper recently broke, the perfect opportunity for people who like to shop (like me) to buy an new coat instead of getting last year's coat fied. I've resisted!!!
So here are the rules:
1) I cannot purchase any new or second hand clothing (including shoes *gasp*) for 6 months, that means from January 4, 2012 to July 4 2012.
2) I can purchase underwear, bras and/or hosiery in case of emergency but not to fill the habitual so called need.
3) Clothing can be gifted to me, but I cannot solicit it. I'm thinking of my mom here, who will occasionally buy me a shirt or something.She can do that, but I can't ask or tell her to buy me something to skirt the rules.
4) I can make and or craft my own clothing by knitting, sewing and/or crocheting. As this would be based on actual skill development (I am a knitter, crocheter and very amateur seamstress) instead of habitual consumption I think this is aligned with my overall goals.
5) I cannot purchase clothing for other people to fill the void.
Other musings I'm sure you can look forward to are: gender analysis, social contexts of clothing/fashion, coveting, anecdotes of my many blunders and general hilarity in my adventures in ... not shopping.