What I Learned About Ethical Fashion When I Quit Thinking About It
A couple of weeks ago I unplugged from life and took off for the woods of Woodstock. I was completely burnt out creatively, my anxiety was through the roof, and I was ready to call it quits on this blog and everything social media related. I felt guilty for needing a break, for not powering through it, but the truth is I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t do that. I have a super not-fun cocktail of an ever present anxiety disorder with splashes of depression and an OCD chaser. Considering how scary the world of mental health can be, my particular brand of health issues isn’t too bad but it does mean I have to be diligent in taking care of myself.
Ignoring my emotional and mental needs is not an option for me (and frankly I don’t think it should be for anyone).
And so fighting down the guilt my husband and I ran away from everything for a week. We stayed in a treehouse (!!!) with no wifi signal, no cell service, no nothin’ folks. It was just the two of us and a whole lotta nature. I’ve spent the last few years thinking/talking/writing about fashion on an almost daily basis and the realization that I didn’t have to do that for an entire WEEK made me almost giddy with excitement. It was freeing and almost transgressive, I was playing hooky from life. I spent the week reading my book, staring out the window to the pond below, and generally being a lazy bum. It was glorious! The shadow of ethical fashion never even darkened my mind’s doorstep.
Except apparently it did.
I believe that everything in life is connected. Every experience I have informs something else. Every moment teaches me about myself and the world around me. Life is one giant lesson about everything all at once. I believe this with every fiber of my being and so it shouldn’t have surprised me (but it did) when I came back to life back to my responsibilities and realized that while I was busy not thinking about my relationship to ethical fashion I was learning a ton about my relationship to ethical fashion.
I need less than I think I do
I have no idea how to pack light. Like, at all. For a 5 day 4 night trip to the woods where I was going to be doing a whole lot of nothing I packed 4 shirts, 4 dresses, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, 4 pairs of shoes and 2 bathing suits. In reality I only ended up wearing less than half of what I brought. Instead of constantly changing outfits I found myself re-wearing a couple of pieces that really spoke to me. Turns out, I need a lot less than I think I do and this translates to my everyday wardrobe. How many pieces do we actually need? How often do we want to wear something new versus a piece we’ve loved throughout the years? If we ignore all the fashion marketing out there that urges us to consume consume consume I think we’ll all find that we don't need more we need better.
I'm Happiest Being A Weirdo
I was nervous going up to the woods for a week and being away from people. While I’m definitely an introvert I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by lots and lots of people and assumed that I needed that energy to balance me out. You know what? I really didn’t. Apparently I really love being alone because I can be my totally weird and quirky self. I loved dancing like an idiot on the porch and singing to the birds. It’s so fun! Best of all I never once wondered what someone else thought of me. This care-free attitude is one I want to continue to bring into my fashion sense. I want to march to the beat of my own drum, I want to dress in ways that make me smile and are just plain fun. You know those kooky old ladies that wear sequins and leopard and are having a grand ol time? I want to be them, but you know, right now. It’s time to stop caring what other people think of my fashion choices, to stop wondering if something is trendy, or if other people think things clash. Let your freak flag fly my compassionate fashionistas!
It's Okay To Let Your Tastes Change
Perhaps the most important lesson the woods taught me was about the ever changing nature of life. In the mornings the wild turkeys would tromp across our “front yard”, by the afternoon they were gone and replaced by deer and chipmunks. The evenings were dominated by the croaking of frogs and an occasional loud splash of some unseen fish. Day in and day out I saw this procession of life happen, something would rise only to be taken over by something else and that in turn would fade away. Ever changing and always dynamic. We’re like that too, and yet I tend to think of myself as a fixed entity. I’m me. Period. I like beets. I hate lima beans. I wear black. I don’t wear brown. Thems the rules FOREVER. Once when I was in middle school sometime told me I shouldn’t wear brown because I’m brown and so I just looked like one big brown poop. It’s totally stupid and something only a middle school mean girl would say, but you know what? Since then I’ve held it in my head that I don’t look good in brown. Mind you this reasoning was totally subconscious but it still influenced every style choice I ever made. Until this vacation when I realized, horror amongst horrors, I actually really like wearing brown. It’s soft and warm and makes me feel like I’m a 70’s boho babe. It was a shock to realize this, and an even bigger shock to learn that my tastes change. I like brown today, but I might not like it tomorrow and that’s ok. Life is not static and neither are we so let go of any preconceived notions about your style. You just might surprise yourself. I sure did.