It’s the holiday season, which means that millions of people are scouring the mall and the internet in search of the “perfect gift.” Often, though, a gift that seems perfect for someone else can be less-than-perfect for the planet, or for the people who made it. I do my best to shop ethically more often than not (you can read about why I do that here), and I’m focusing on making sustainable and conscious choices even more now that I will be moving into my own home this January. With the holiday season in full-swing, I want to make sure that my gift guides include ethical gift guides, for those of you who want to make similar choices. Today, I’ll be featuring some eco-friendly and fair trade gifts for the “hers” in your life (girlfriend, best friend, roommate, mom) in this ethical gift guide.
September means Fall to me. Yes, I know that Fall only starts in late September, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by me that the leaves are all still green. I don’t care what anyone says – school has started; it is Fall. But the weather seems to disagree.
Here in the northeast, it is still pretty warm outside. As much as I would love to rock a scarf, cardigan, and boots, the temperature doesn’t allow it (this has made my dress project a little more complicated). So instead, my friends and I are soaking up the last few weeks of warm weather in style. Lately, that style has been thanks to Sudara, my favorite ethical fashion company.
This past summer, I spent several weeks teaching creative writing to kids. While I loved all the children I worked with, I grew especially close to those who stayed for more than one week. There was one girl in particular who was there from my first day to my last. At first, she had a very hard time writing. I sat with her and went through her story sentence by sentence.
“I just can’t do this,” she said. “Writing is so hard.”
By the last week, she was writing entire pages by herself. Seeing the change in her after only a few weeks was so rewarding, but it also made me think. Every child deserves an education. Every child deserves the kind of environment and support that will allow them to flourish. If this is the difference that only a few weeks of encouragement can make for one child, how much of a difference can a real education make for one girl? For one generation of girls?
I’m of two minds when it comes to clothes. On some days, clothing is just the material that shields us from the elements, and an arbitrary symbol of status. On others, clothes are like architecture in motion; the external expression of who we are. (If you can’t tell, I like to over-think things.)
The truth, I think, lies somewhere in between. Clothes are, in many ways, arbitrary; they are just bits of fabric sewn together, serving the basic purpose of shielding our bodies from the world. But they also carry projections of ourselves. I feel different when I wear a t-shirt and shorts than when I wear a sundress or a pretty top. When I’m feeling artsy, or classic, or edgy, I dress the part, and it makes a difference in how I feel about myself.
Clothes are also important in another way. They are one of the number-one ways that we as a society consume goods. The way we consume those goods, and the way those goods are produced, is incredibly important on an environmental and ethical level. (To read more about this, check out my first blog post about ethical fashion.)
At the same time, there are so many more important things. I care so much more about the contents of my mind or my heart than that of my closet, and I’m willing to bet that you are, too. So while I want my clothing to show who I am, I also don’t want it to take up too much of my time. Ideally, I’d like a closet that reflected my lifestyle, my personality, and my values, and was selected in a way that made my life simpler.
Over the course of the last six months or so, I’ve been in the process of making that happen. I’ve been identifying my style and my needs, evaluating my standards, and slowly adding and removing clothing from my collection so that it better reflects who I am. I’ve also been cutting down on the amount of clothing I own so that my process of getting dressed is faster and easier. Though there are likely many names for this, I’m calling it an “intentional closet.”
So what is an intentional closet? Here’s how I define it:
A small collection of clothing that reflects your lifestyle, personality, and values while simplifying your life.
What does that mean? Clothes that fit your body, make you feel good, suit your lifestyle, and support practices you believe in. And few enough of them that they all go together, and don’t take up too much room in your closet or your life.
I am in no way an expert in style, ethical fashion, or capsule wardrobes, but I have found tons of joy and freedom in owning less and in making sure that the things I do own reflect who I am. For that reason, I am putting together a blog series on creating an intentional wardrobe, in case you, too, want a closet that reflects your spirit and makes your life a little simpler. I’ll be kicking the series off with a post on defining your style, then one on identifying your standards, and one on taking stock of your closet. To read the next post, on defining your style, click here!