Our clothes can be considered an external reflection of how we are feeling/conducting ourselves, and a sneak-peek into the state of our inner being. Consider when you prefer relaxed and casual comfy or like a bit more flare? As with art, our external reality is a relection of our internal state. One trap that many people fall into is wearing 20 % of their clothes 80% of the time; thus not making the most efficient (not to mention sustainable) use of one’s resources. This same consideration can be made for your mental and emotional fortitude along with inner strengths/resources. Are you making the best use of your own unique traits and abilities? What about your time and energy? Are you holding onto things that “don’t fit” anymore, or aren’t (and perhaps never were) your true style?
With the new year, there comes an opportunity to re-evaluate old habits, baggage, and patterns, whether mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical. Decide what you want to keep, what you want to discard, and what you want to repurpose and recycle! Are there beautiful, wonderful, unique, original, and purposeful parts of you that you just haven’t been “wearing & pairing” in the most effective and fabulous ways?
Let’s explore those parts!
In a concrete way, personal stylist, North, shares below in an interview how important it is to consider what we are putting on our bodies and how it represents who you truly are. I really appreciate North’s practical perspective of bringing kindness to ourself, our community, and our earth through style choices and awareness. Because, whether you realize it or not, scrapping what hangs in our closet for the latest consumer fad has an effect on the environment and when our home (aka earth) is not well how can we expect to be?! So without further adieux, please do consider exploring what to let go of/share, what to hang onto and continue working with, as well as how to integrate for a new use or fashion…much like our many parts in therapy or art in session. I hope you enjoy this interview and check out the upcoming community awareness event exploring Art Therapy, environmental sustainability, and personal expression though fashion!
Let the Interview Begin…
1. Why is sustainable fashion important for mental health/wellness and how does it relate to connection to creativity, self, and others? R: Sustainable fashion is important because it involves defining your style and eliminating the pressure associated with following trends or trying to dress in a way that is not authentic. When you define your style and stick with it- it transforms the way you shop and put together your outfits and, as I like to say, eliminates the noise. By this I mean, sticking to a defined style reduces the distractions and noise that come from following trends or seasons or having to have the latest thing. When you dress according to your style(s) you focus on what works for you and what makes you feel like your best self. You can also choose to focus your efforts on fabric type, where the items are made, who made them and where they came from. You choose to be more impactful with your purchases. This can be from deciding to shop at a local consignment store to shopping for organic fabrics that are made with Fair Trade practices from retailers like Eileen Fisher or PACT apparel.
2. How can women, teens, therapists, other helping professionals and aspiring creatives consider sustainable fashion as a means for feeling connected to themselves, their natural strengths and creativity, as well as others? R: Sustainable style asks us to determine what is it we want to project. Owning a style as opposed to following fashion trends encourages us to ask the question how do we bring what is inside of us to the outside? When we do that, we start to look at our best features instead of trying to hide what we don’t like. We also use sustainable style to be mindful or conscious of our choices. To realize that someone made your clothing and that the well-being of that individual matters. To embrace that a new article of clothing should be priced more than $2.99 because that price does not represent the “true cost.” When we own less, we set up a wonderful environment in which to be creative.
3. What are 3-5 tips you’d like readers to know for beginning to incorporate sustainable fashion for themselves and loved ones? R:
- Start with an area you would like to improve. Do not focus on everything at once. I encourage my clients and readers to pick one area from the 3 pillars of sustainability – people, planet or profit. Maybe you can shift where you shop. Try a thrift store or consignment store instead of a big box retailer. Perhaps human rights are important to you, look for retailers and garments made in the USA, that advertise Fair Trade or are a part of Project JUST.
- Critically assess your closet and the style you want to achieve. The path to sustainable style starts by knowing what we want to achieve. I encourage my clients to use Pinterest or other sources of inspiration for their style. Start to use what you own and buy less. We are consuming goods and therefore resources at an unsustainable rate for this planet. It’s important to reduce the consumption and the temporary fix we anticipate with a new purchase. Focus instead on what works for you – size, budget, age and style.
- Lastly, do not forget about the network of seamstresses, tailors and other specialists who can alter or repair your items. If an item does not fit, needs a hem or shoes need new heels, get them taken care of so you can enjoy the items. This serves 2 benefits – you are supporting a local business and you are extending the life of what you already own.
If you need help defining your style, evaluating your clothing and accessories, that is where a stylist can help. An objective and trained eye can help you refine your style and make the sometimes difficult decisions regarding what should remain in your closet. Stylists can also provide shopping services and a network of support for alterations and repairs.
Loren North is a personal stylist and owner of Through the Closet Door. She previously spent the past 14 years as an environmental consultant and works to bring sustainability and style together for her clients. She focuses on restyling her clients’ existing garments and accessories and sourcing “new” items from secondhand and sustainable sources. For more information and to follow her, please visit www.throughtheclosetdoor.com or contact her at email@example.com
So what do you think? Ever considered the sustainability of your clothes or how it might be related to your tendency to hang on or consume more? Slowing down to consider our relationship with the world around us is a large part of what EcoArt Therapy is about. Leave me a comment. Let me know how you slow down to wake up and see these important connections.