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Cultivating a Deliberate Wardrobe : Waiting for Perfection

I hardly ever go clothes-shopping.  Sure, I love to browse.  There are several boutique stores in Burlington that are absolutely darling and a joy to search through the racks for hidden gems.  Despite the adorable nature of these stores, however, I rarely ever leave with my reusable bag at the crook of my elbow and a little less cash in my wallet.

There are special places I enjoy shopping more than others.  There is a store named Common Deer a couple blocks away from Sunrise Spot that filters products through a common mission that resembles what I work to embody in my own life.  Their (partial) statement: We may not be the sum of our stuff, but there’s definitely a difference between something made to keep and something made to throw away. We like things that are made to last and made to matter. And if we all gave a damn about the where, who, and why something was made – we’d all be a bit better off.  They only buy and supply American-made products (and they even have a couple of things made in good ol’ VT) including kitchenware, bags and duffles, hand-made cards, and apparel.  Sawyer and I absolutely love browsing through what they have in-store, but we rarely ever leave with anything that may be less-than-perfect for our vision.

Today, Sawyer and I went (clothes) shopping.  This is not a common occurrence.  Neither of us enjoy shopping for ourselves all that much and we often get frustrated that we can’t find the perfect piece for our wardrobe.  We often go about clothes shopping as Harry Potter read his first year uniform necessities:


First-year students will require:

1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)

2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear

3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)

4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)

I believe that – much like a garden – a wardrobe must be carefully cultivated, pruned, and looked after in order to thrive.  As in my own garden, I also like to have a color scheme rather than throwing a rainbows’ array of colors higgledy-piggledy about the plot.  As I’ve discussed briefly in previous posts, both Sawyer and I enjoy a neutral, natural color scheme for our wardrobes.  So when we went out to shop today, we went out with a mission: we both needed new jeans in a neutral color (we both love black jeans, and – much like Harry Potter’s uniform – we usually resort to black denim when it comes to jeans we would go out in public wearing).

I used to be one of those gals who found a pair of jeans that fit well but not perfectly and bought a couple of pairs then and there and called it quits.  After I decided to dedicate myself to a simpler and more purposeful lifestyle, however, this is no longer the case.  The mass-produced, mass-imported clothing of the past is no more.  Now I wait until I stumble upon the perfect pair of jeans before I buy anything – I can always fall back on those old reliable Imogene + Willie well-loved pair of jeans at the bottom of my dresser drawer.  As with everything else I bring into my home, when it comes to my clothing, I advocate for waiting for the perfect solution, or waiting for the one.

Sawyer had much more luck than I did today.  We visited a couple of his favorite outdoor gear shops and small boutiques catering to men and he found several new shirts, a new pair of jeans (black), and a wonderful new hat from Common Deer.  Most of his purchases were from companies who made their products in America but sourced their materials from other countries, such as his new TinLid hat based in Traverse City, Michigan (check them out, they’ve got a great mission and plant 15 trees for every purchase made!).  He was an excellent shopping companion today, which is, of course, a stereotype defier.  He even had helpful opinions about what I was trying on as well.IMG_6392.jpg

While I passed up the black dress from my favorite back-to-basics company Joah Brown, I did end up with a wonderful new pair of jeans (black).  The jeans, proudly made in the USA, fit much better than the mass-produced deep denim color I had tried on in a previous store.  In fact, Sawyer made me feel like one-hundred bucks today when I came out of the dressing room with them on; you might even say it was a jaw-dropping moment.  While I have never asked nor needed his approval over my clothing, knowing that Sawyer thought I looked that good was definitely a home run for the jeans.  They came home with me today and are happily awaiting their first day out.

Cultivating a deliberate wardrobe – one that showcases your values, make you feel beautiful, and are sewn to last – is a very important part of a simple lifestyle.  In a world where fast fashion (check out NPR’s take on this trend here) puts out new clothing items on an almost weekly basis, shopping for clothing can be incredibly overwhelming.  However, knowing the facts about the fashion industry – especially this new fast fashion trend – can save you money in the long-run.

If, one day, I found myself buying clothing because it looked good on the hanger, it’s in-style for the season, and I’ve seen it worn by my favorite celebrity, I would say I was sacrificing my values for affordability and sameness.  I like to look at clothing as a unique display of my own personality; what I wear tends to be pieces that I have hand-picked from boutiques and consignment shops that I believe represent a part of who I am to the outside world.  Fast fashion produces 11 to 15 clothing debut seasons in a year, rather than the traditional (and sensible) four seasons per year (summer, fall, winter, spring).  NPR calls this new industry “fast, disposable, and cheap”.  It certainly isn’t simple, and for a person who celebrates a slower and more simple lifestyle, it doesn’t seem like something I’d want to participate in.

Instead, I choose timeless styles.  Things that don’t go “out of style”.  Blue jeans, tee shirts, a pretty black dress, et cetera.  Not only are the articles I pick out timeless, they are also comfortable, they make me feel lovely, and they appreciate the values that I hold dear.

No.  Not all of the clothing in my closet was made and manufactured in America (if we’re getting nitty-gritty about it, I’d say about 70-75% of my wardrobe is American-made).  I do understand the difficulties of both finding labels with that proud “Made in the U.S.A.” inscription, but also the financial difficulties of buying something that usually isn’t mass-produced.  The jeans I bought today were well over $100.  However, they were the perfect pair, they are the pair I had been waiting to come across.  As I’ve stated time and time again here at cornsilk doll, it is that waiting for the perfect version of something is better than buying a placeholder.  Not only are you waylaying waste, but you are are spending your hard-earned cash on something you truly find worthy of the time you spent earning that money.

Sawyer and I greatly enjoyed our outing today.  Beautiful weather, good company, and great purchases have and will continue to be enjoyed.  If you are attempting to simplify your lifestyle along with me, and you are including your wardrobe in that simplification process, remember to include your clothing within your set of values.  Carpe diem!

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: Cultivating a Deliberate Wardrobe : Interview Ready! | cornsilk doll

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