A few weeks ago I came across a post by Bristol Ivy – a knitwear designer famous for her lovely well-written knitting patterns – on slow fashion.
She wrote about taking a second look at things in her closet, repurposing what she could and “fixing” up the rest. I’m paraphrasing here. You can see her post on Instagram.
Since then I’ve thought a lot about Slow Fashion. I began last year cutting down on all the things in my home that were no longer needed. My entire basement was full of tools, bits and pieces, odd stuff you cannot imagine – that my husband had collected over 50 years. We’d moved so much that he’d cut down on some of it – but you would not have believed the size of what remained.
The attic was in a similar mess. There was one whole wooden crate of vacuum tubes. Seriously. There were things packed away from our move in 2000 to Prince Edward Island that had not been unpacked in 14 years. There was a collection of clothes – some of which dated back to the 50s. It was horrible.
I went through my home like a dose of salts and I marked out everything I could live without. I foresaw a time in my future when I would need to move yet again. Since we’d moved 15 times in 36 years of marriage – I couldn’t see dragging the stuff with me again. No way.
I auctioned off all the stuff I did not want. I made a few mistakes there – as I always do when I get a big push on to rid myself of “stuff” but basically I can still live without it. It’s not anything I couldn’t replace if I wanted to.
Slow fashion fits into my life in that regard. It keeps nothing unnecessary and I do not buy mass-produced clothing from retailers for “a thrill”. I consider what I buy and I try to buy quality. I know the difference between something that is “wash and rip” and something that will be in my closet forever.
I used to work in offices that required business clothing. I had suits. I had a lot of suits. I shopped all the time. I hated those jobs, but I loved buying the clothes.
I now spend all my days in blue jeans, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt over that if it’s cold. How many pairs of blue jeans do I need? Two. One to wash, one to wear. My father was awesome about that kind of thing. Of course, I was a teenager when he was telling me I only needed two dresses instead of a dozen. I didn’t listen but he was right.
I found out I don’t even need 60 pieces of cookware! I merely need what I use. So that is the test for me – if I don’t use it – out it goes. The Salvation Army and Good Will love me. I give them what I don’t use.
To get my closet up to snuff has taken longer. I have sweaters, t-shirts, pants, jeans, fancy things I won’t wear – in that closet. And the test is the same. If I don’t wear it – out it goes.
But what if I want to buy something? Usually I don’t. I have plenty of clothing and I would rather spend my money on something else. That something else is usually yarn, dyes, fabric …….. food, utilities and house payments ……. stuff like that.
I make the clothes I need or want to wear. I don’t make jeans but I can make knit shirts. I knit my sweaters and they are much more expensive than buying them. Yarn is horribly expensive if you buy natural fibers and I buy natural fibers. I don’t wear acrylic anything. It would be like wrapping myself in paint.
Slow Fashion reminds me of my grandmothers, sitting around in our living room when they both lived with us. They were piecing a quilt. The fabrics they used weren’t purchased from a quilting store or in fact a fabric store. They were snips of this and that from old clothes. Those old clothes were things that had holes in them in places, things that weren’t worn any longer because the owner had died, pieces from clothes they’d made ………. it was the original Slow Fashion statement.
I’m going to the closet today. My goal is to get my clothes (and shoes) down to what I wear. I will be merciless. I will stuff the offenders into big plastic bags and haul them off – I might even get to vacuum the closet since the floor will be visible ………