Wardrobe as an Expression – Why I own Less

#ThrowbackThursday: It’s high school for me, early 2000’s, and my style is just……

I had been home schooled until my freshman year and we lived in a mountain community called “The Rathole”……trust me, I wish I was joking.
Overall, I loved being home schooled, living in the mountains, and felt pretty independent and self-sure. Maybe not 100% self-confident, but I generally thought I was likeable.

Looking back at the pictures of myself, I sometimes shake my head and think,
“No wonder I had so few friends!”: I dressed like a weirdo!
Ballet skirts, high heels, vests and a striped pair of leggings, all worn together. I was eclectic, to put it nicely.
I also grew up in the 90’s, which really didn’t do me any favors

Have you ever experienced that moment? When you look back and you think “who let me out of the house looking like that? And why did I want to!?”

I think it’s a fairly typical thought, especially in this current society, where clothes are a sort of representation of who you are.
Are you wearing expensive brands? Then we think you have money.
Are the clothes ironed or well cared for? You must be clean.
Is it the latest fashion trends? You must be cool.
It all really boils down to money and position. What so many people are clambering up the ladder for, sacrificing their families and their lives for. Power. A place in this world. To be known.

But in God, aren’t we already known? Don’t we already have a place? The things we all strive so hard after are things we have already been given in Christ when He called us His own and gave us a place with Him. We no longer have to climb that ladder. When we can recognize our own brokenness, our judgementalism and cynicism etc, only then will we be able to recognize the wonder of what is being offered!
To the self-righteous judger, the Righteous Judge offers no condemnation.
To the prideful scorner, the Perfect One gives acceptance.
To the self-centered cynic, the Self-Less One gives encouragement.
To the greedy enslaver, the Generous Master gives freedom.

I see clothes now as a way to reflect who I am, not who I want to be:
I wear thrift finds or free clothes because I am free and want others to be free also*.
I wear feminine colors and shapes because I am confident in my gender and the image of God I bear as a woman .
I wear many of the same things every year because I am loved in Christ and don’t need to impress the people around me with the latest fashions or trends.
And so much more! If you know who you are, you can live in light of that, even in what you wear.

We all yearn to be wanted and accepted, and I believe that yearning comes from a deeper longing of community with God, only fulfilled in God. But often times we try to be accepted through our attire. I don’t believe it’s wrong to desire to look beautiful or attractive – God is beautiful and desirable and as creatures made in His image we, by nature, are beautiful and desirable! It’s learning to look past appearances to the person underneath that reveals the true wonder. Clothes are awesome, they are an amazing way to express your unique personality and character. And sometimes it seems like it’s constantly changing.
That’s ok!
Knowing who you are is a key element to knowing how to let go and live with less.
If you know who you are, you can be more confident in how you want to express yourself to those who can only know you by a glance. And that will give you the confidence to let go of everything you own that does not reflect or enhance who you are.

Begin to explore who you are on the inside.

Ideas for how to be more confident in who you are in order to express it through your wardrobe:

  • With a pen and paper, set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all the things you love most about yourself. Use the full 5 minutes.

  • Think about the styles(interior design, colors, clothes, eras) you are most drawn towards. Write down the top 5.

  • Go to your closet and pull out the top 10 things you wear/like and put a paper clip on the collar, then put them back. Next, have a close friend or family member do the same thing, asking them to “pick out the top ten things that they feel express who you are”. See if they match up to your picks. Talk with your friend about why they chose those pieces and what it is about the clothes that makes them “you”.

After doing all three things, look over everything you found out.
Do you like who you are? Does your wardrobe as a whole express you as a whole person?
Be confident in the things you like most about yourself, and capitalize on those. Pick a few things you want to strive after, but remember that you are already loved, known, cherished and complete. Walk in light of that towards your goals and LET GO of what you can’t control.


A Way To Start


All the clothes I own (minus workout wear and seasonal)

Minimalism, or the “minimal” movement, started for me close to 6 years ago.

At the time, as most people who are minimalists would say, I didn’t realize being minimal was what I was pursuing. I primarily was just tired of moving my stuff all over and I had no where I could store it long-term(thanks mom and dad! But really. Not like, sarcastically-passive-agressively-thanks).

When I lived on the Island in 2009, I lived for a short time “on campus” at the local Bible College I was attending.
“On Campus” basically meant the school had about 6 condo’s they bought that were used for all the students. I shared a two bedroom condo with four other girls and the occasional cockroach; space was limited!

We were responsible to keep the condo clean for a weekly inspection and I learned real quick that more stuff meant more cleaning, which meant more work, which meant less time for studying and playing. Mostly playing, though.

Slowly, week by week, I started to let go. Did I really need six different swim suits? What about five pairs of jeans? I wasn’t sure I had even worn one pair my whole time there! But still, the thought of “what if” still crept into my mind.
“What if someone comes to visit and they don’t have a swimsuit?!” – realistically, what are the odds they would fly all the way to Maui, forget a swim suit, happen to be my size and not have any money to buy their own?
Come on. That’s ridiculous.

Sure, not every situation is that obvious, but you don’t have to go through all your memorabilia and toss out pictures of great-granny Mary and your second cousin Irene that you love but never pull out of the closet to look at. In fact, you should not go through all that right away! That’s a sure-fire way to depress you and cause you to feel hopeless.

Start with the simple, small things.
Like your wardrobe.
Clothes are seriously a dime a dozen. Most likely every item of clothing you own can be replaced. If you get rid of most of your jeans thinking you never wear them and then you feel regret because it turns out you do wear them, you can buy more.
But most likely you will rid yourself of unworn, unwanted clothes and you will feel a sense of freedom.

Many people hold on to clothes because:
1. They think they are cute or stylish. Maybe it’s not their style, and sure they never pull it out to wear it, but its so dang cute!
-If it’s not you, toss it. Don’t think about it. Let it go.

2. “This doesn’t fit me yet….”
-Let it go! Style isn’t about portraying who you want to be, but who you are. You love the clothes you do wear for a reason. They tell your story. Let the other clothes go to someone else whose story it will tell. And if the time comes where you ARE that size, treat yourself by trading old for new, you obviously worked hard for it!

3.They do wear it, just occasionally.
-If you haven’t worn it in the past month, toss it. SERIOUSLY. You wear what you love. Everything else is just taking up mental space. You don’t need eight tank tops or five pairs of jeans. (with the exception of seasonal items. I am not tossing my shorts every fall.*)
4. They feel guilty for giving it away.
-Even if it was a gift or an heirloom, let it go. You are allowing yourself to be burdened and bogged down by someone elses feelings. If you don’t wear it, don’t let guilt keep your closet and mental space cluttered. BE FREE! Those clothes would be so much better off being used rather than collecting dust. Show love for the giver by allowing yourself not to be held captive by guilt; you will open up your mind and the relationship by giving yourself permission to be yourself without fear of letting others down.

I know that list was long but it is all so true – minimalism is about letting go of things so that you can better hold on to relationships and your own identity. We were not created to be owned by our things but to own them. Not to be dominated by creation but to have dominion over it. To love, cherish and treat with care the things around us,and in doing so we are doing those things for ourselves. So take that step today. Love, cherish and treat with care the things in your wardrobe. If you rarely wear them, let them go to those that will. Learn the art of letting go.

Stay tuned for a good “How-To” for owning less clothes


*I do put seasonal items in a seasonal box. More on that later 😉