How I Learned to Create a Closet with a Conscience

Shop till you drop. For me that's about 30 minutes because I just don't like to.

On the other hand, I have a sister who loves to shop...for hours.

I've watched her scope out a section, establish a plan of action and in short order, have a salesclerk waiting on her, fetching a different size, maybe a different color or perhaps something similar yet different.

She buys what fits both her body and her style, her closet is organized. She knows what she has and can find things when she wants them.

I love everything in her closet and if I lived near her I'd borrow anything that fit, just like I did when we were teenagers...only now I'd ask first.

Me on the other hand...not so much.

I hate trying stuff on, my back will start to hurt, I don't like asking for help and I have the attention span of a chicken.

I'm not organized. I have no idea what I have and can never find anything to wear, so I keep buying the same thing...black jeans and tee shirts. Lots and lots of tee shirts. Since I rarely try things on, because honestly the lighting in the dressing rooms shatters my illusion of what my backside really looks like, I don't look at the content or care labels. This leads to lots of clothes with special needs...dry cleaning, hand washing, lay flat to dry blah blah blah. Who knew reading labels before buying would be so helpful. Well, I'm sure most of you pay attention to these things but let's face it...I got an F in Home Economics.

And then two things happened that changed my approach to the two things I'm not good at: shopping and organizing.

I read the book "The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo and watched the documentary "The True Cost" by Andrew Morgan. In a very effective way both of these things go well together,  at least for me they did.

 

First the book...

Ms. Kondo is just so lovely. Not once did she make me feel bad for being organizationally challenged. Some people are naturally tidy and some...me...are not. And that's okay according to a therapist person I know.

I took the book to heart and got serious about my stuff!

As Ms Kondo says, what ever doesn't bring you joy or purpose has to go.

I've tried to organize my closet before. I'd pull everything out, get overwhelmed, go find some candy, take a nap, and three days later put most of it back. But this book had a brilliant approach. Organize by item only. Meaning, get all your tee shirts. Only tee shirts. Then move on to blouses then pants....you get the drift. It's not overwhelming and you will finally know exactly what you have.

Clothes I've never worn, like that weird floral print blouse I bought because I'm dysfunctionally attracted to floral prints, were given away. A few clothes were put on rotation to see if I could find a way to wear them and I felt so much better!

I suddenly found I didn't need anything because I had everything. I just couldn't see it till I gutted my entire closet, drawers and all.

 

Second....the movie

When a client suggested I watch The True Cost I didn't hesitate. I love documentaries and even though I'm not a fan of shopping, I do enjoy the world of fashion. As a hairdresser, I'm surrounded by it, so I thought, cool, I'll learn a few things about the fashion industry. And learn I did.

In a review by Frank Scheck of the Hollywood reporter he suggests "The only way to watch this movie without feeling hopelessly guilt ridden is to be naked" and I think he's right. As I watched The True Cost with my guy we both did an inventory of some of the clothes we had on:

*Patagonia...one of the very few companies with manufacturing and supply chain transparency so.....good company.

*Banana Republic....lack of transparency, refuses to give interviews regarding supply chain and manufacturing ....not so good.

*Lucky Jeans.....member of the CA Transparency in Supply Chains Act and has brought half of their manufacturing back to America so.....good company.

And the other bits and bobs we had on? Socks, underwear etc....I have no idea.

As a reluctant consumer I am primarily motivated by wearability, comfort and cost.

I had an awareness of the conditions under which most of our clothes are made but after this movie I'm at a whole new level.

I understand that for many people there is no choice but to buy the least expensive clothes offered at Walmart or Target. I've had various stages of thrifty throughout my life so I pass no judgement where limited funds are concerned.

But...

And there's a big But...

When you walk through the local mall and see a jumper style baby doll dress in the window of H&M retailing for $9.99 you have to ask yourself, "How is that possible? You couldn't buy the fabric to make that for $9.99.". Seriously!

Well, it costs so little because the people who make these clothes are paid as little as a dollar a day! And the crazy thing is you can buy a $400 blouse made in the same factory and the worker still makes the same amount.

And it's a significant part of the "Fast Fashion Industry". It's like the fast food industry but with clothes. Okay, I'm sure you didn't need that comparison but I just like pointing it out.

There are no more seasons, it's just one continuous stream of micro fashion trends, and most of it is really crappy. Poorly designed, poorly made, and sadly made by the poorest people on earth. Migrant workers that often travel through brokers from countries like Burma, Indonesia, and Nepal will unknowingly be forced into debt bondage, a form of modern day slavery. Yes, I said slavery.

The fashion industry creates multiple problems, from unethical labor practices to overwhelming amounts of pollution, second only to the oil industry.

So what can we do?

I don't want to get all preachy about the subject. This is the buying model we are all working with, but if you do a little investigating and you have the means to support industries that are trying to make a difference, please do.

When I have the option to buy clothes that are ethically made, I do. It's not always convenient, possible, or cost effective, but I think every little bit helps.

I am a work in progress. As is my closet, which is once again a disaster but hey.....there's way less stuff to deal with.

 

Here are a few links to companies I like:

Sudara: a fantastic company that makes Punjammies. Great mission statement and worthy of support.

http://www.sudara.org/

 

The Good Trade: lists 35 fair trade and ethical clothing brands

http://www.thegoodtrade.com/

 

Patagonia

Learn all about their approach to environmental and social responsibility at http://www.patagonia.com/us/environmentalism.

 

Written by Nadine Stanton:
dancer,
singer, hairdresser,
and 1st time blogger

 

Read it Yourself

You can buy the hardcover of "The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo for only $10.19 on Amazon. Digital and Audio formats are also available.

 

Watch it Yourself

You can rent “The True Cost” for only $3.99 on Amazon or buy it for $9.99