Taking time to curate a wardrobe that matters (& why you might be avoiding it) [Style Series #1.2]
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
In this series of articles we are thoughtfully exploring ideas to help curate your own signature style.
There are five parts in this series, and I've written mini, under 3 minute read articles within each one for you to explore bit by bit. This article belongs to reconnecting.
Enjoy this series~
[Style Series #1.2]
"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
But if we have but food and clothing, we will be content with that."
- 1 Timothy 6:7-8
In the year 1991, the Pakistani designer Rizwan Baig found himself reflecting on a decidedly busy month: a month that had been spent carefully designing the embroidery and tailoring of an outfit that was set to turn heads like none before it. He would not know then, that it would be featured in magazines and talked about for years to come, nor that it would be dubbed as an outfit that fused very different cultures - that of Pakistan and the United Kingdom - together.
The embroidery for the all white ensemble was said to take three weeks, and was threaded in five shades of white. The tailoring took just under a week to finalise. The result was an outfit that looked like a Shalwar Kameez but had Western elements that captured two seemingly polar-opposite worlds together as one.
It is undeniable that this outfit was applauded widely and delighted those in Pakistan and the UK. It also paved the way for the outstandingly positive reception that the woman who would wear it, Diana, Princess of Wales, received in her state visit to Pakistan that year.
Princess Diana took great care to ensure all of her outfits were respectful and honoured the people and places that she was visiting. She also, somehow, managed to fuse in her own sense of style along the way, not just in the outfit described in the story above from 1991.
Her attention to both cultural and personal preference for detail reveals how significant clothing can be, and why it should be considered carefully.
Before going further, it is important to acknowledge two points:
1. It is a deep privilege to have the freedom to choose the clothes that one wears.
2. Adding to this, it is a greater privilege to have the money to spend on clothes of our choice.
These points are important to embrace. Spending valuable time on the topic of style, beauty and fashion can seem frivolous - especially in a world where far bigger problems exist.
But clothes do matter.
For the longest time, I have avoided writing about style, clothes, jewellery, beauty because a voice in my mind insisted it was superficial, useless, and not as important as other matters in the world. It took a long time to explore why I felt so averse to talking about clothing more.
In the previous article in this series, we discussed how clothing saves you time, money, energy and boosts your confidence and peace of mind.
These are all wonderful benefits, but you might still be avoiding, or feel unsure about spending so much time, energy or even money on clothes.
There is certainly something respectful about dressing well. Why else would Diana, Princess of Wales, or other royal family members go to such lengths to pay respects to the countries they visit by dressing in clothes that echo the culture?
Let's explore this more.
For the purpose of helping anyone else who might have even some of the same feelings of guilt or stress about clothing, here's an activity to identify what's going on.
Consider these questions, and take note of whether you are answering yes or no to them as you go:
Do you feel uneasy/dismissive about spending so much time thinking about your clothes?
Do you feel guilty when you've spent too much time looking at clothes or browsing just clothing online or in store?
Do you feel even a tiny sense of shame about wanting to dress better than the way you do now?
Do you feel stress or anxiety about having too many clothes, or dissatisfaction with how they fit or don't fit you?
Do you ever feel stressed about your clothes?
Do you feel uneasy about wanting to spend/spending money on clothes, shoes or beauty?
If, like I used to, you also found you also answered yes more than once to some of those questions, it may be that you also feel conflicted about clothing, fashion and style.
To help address some of these beliefs or blocks, here are some ideas that have helped me reshape how I approach clothing. These approaches illuminate why it's important to allow yourself to spend time and energy and space to study your sense of style and curate a wardrobe that really speaks to your heart.
Many people take great care over their food, and for good reason: food goes inside you and nourishes you. Second to food, clothing is the one thing that comes as close to your body - moreover, second to your skin and your natural features, visually, it also represents you.
Caring about the origin story of the clothes you wear, and being concerned about who made them and how they were sourced is a respectful and compassionate way to live and dress.
In most spiritual traditions, clothing is a fundamental part of spirituality. There are specific ways of dressing that pay homage to one's beliefs and send clear visual messages, just like flags represent a country. To take care of your clothing and sense of style is a profound way to consolidate who you are and what you represent. Clothes can send messages to the world around you - and to yourself, too.
Given all these important reasons, it's important not to avoid thinking about clothing and how it reflects our values and beliefs.
Giving yourself permission to let clothing matter to you is foundational for helping you in this journey to building your signature style.
It is important because it will allow you to be able to spend adequate time, money and research on finding items that truly make you feel good, without guilt or shame.
In cost, style, and function, your clothes should truly make you feel like you.