Want to enhance your style without buying new clothes? My weekly wardrobe challenges help you maximize the style quotient of your current collection without spending a dime.
I would like to start by extending a belated “Happy Thanksgiving” to my American readers.
In contrast to the holiday we’re currently celebrating – “Black Friday”, a commercial creation focused on consuming new things – Thanksgiving is dedicated to being grateful for what we already have.
Today’s challenge invites you to extend the principle of gratitude to your current wardrobe.
In comparison to life’s most scared gifts, clothing may seem trite, but I would compel you to consider how fortunate we are to live in a period of history were we have the freedom to drape our bodies as we wish.
Throughout history (and in many parts of the world today), there were few choices for dress. Historically, options were limited by resources, gender and one’s socioeconomic “lot” in life.
Consider, for example, “sumptuary laws”, which existed in almost all European and Asian countries, as well as Colonial America. These enforced strict regulation on who could wear (and more specifically, who could NOT wear) luxurious fabrics and embellishments, such as silk, lace, ruffles and embroidery. While sumptuary laws were implemented for various reasons, from enforcing “decency” to controlling markets, they had the effect of reinforcing social rank while ensuring the underclass lacked meaningful opportunity to climb the social latter.
It was essentially a matter of “dress for success” in reverse, with the privileged classes keeping sophisticated style to themselves as a form of psychological and social oppression.
Today, in the Western World, there are few legal restrictions around clothing. The “lower classes” can dress like Royalty; simultaneously, there are so many stylish and affordable fashions today that the Duchess of Cambridge shops on High Street.
When it comes to clothing, we are living in the age of abundance (otherwise known as “fast fashion“). Though we pay a heavy price for it environmentally (and ethically), the freedom for Western women to reflect their image of choice today is unmatched in history.
They say familiarity breeds contempt. Perhaps accessibility has made us unappreciative (which is why we throw out more than 70 lbs of textiles each year), but there’s never been a better time for a woman of modest means to truly own her image.
Your wardrobe challenge this week is to peruse your wardrobe and consider what you’re grateful for.
Even if you’re not inspired by the freedom of our era, take a moment to consider your garments as individual contributors to your life. What garments have helped you express yourself as an individual? Which ones most inspire you to take on the day? Think about which pieces have brought you confidence and those that have brought you the greatest comfort.
How does this challenge help your personal style?
Identifying the pieces we’re most grateful for helps clarify the root of our personal style and our relationship with clothes. Understanding what works for us is the quickest path to finding more of the good stuff and passing up the not-so-good.
Will that new garments on sale this Black Friday (and coming Cyber Monday) live up to the precedent set by your all-time favourites? If not, maybe you should keep looking.
See previous wardrobe challenge
Stay tuned tomorrow for my latest video on how to maximize the outfit combinations in your capsule wardrobe!