Stewardship of Life

What not to Wear? “Just Living” Edition

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on January 13, 2010

Today marked the move to room two of the Just Living New Year’s Clutter Cleanse—my bedroom. I began by emptying the contents of my closet onto the bed in the guest room in an attempt to decide just how many items of clothing one pastor needs, or my own version of “What not to Wear” (with apologies to Stacy London and Clinton Kelly). One by one each item was analyzed to determine its fate. The initial criteria were fairly straightforward:

1)      Do I wear it often?

2)      Does it fit and feel good?

3)      Do I like the way it looks on me?

4)      Is it quality in material and construction?

5)      Does it match and combine with other items in my wardrobe?

6)      Do I really NEED it?

If the item passed the initial test, I looked at it with a more critical eye, asking:

1)      Where was it made? Who was the manufacturer? What do I know about the label?

2)      What is the fabric? (If it’s not wash-n-wear, there has to be a really good reason for it to stay!)

3)      Can I call this item a “just” purchase (i.e. did someone work at substandard wages to produce cheap goods for me to possess or was it fairly traded)?

Should the item fail to pass muster on the last three questions, then I face a dilemma and another set of questions:

1)      Is the item important enough to me to keep and somehow justify its possible origins?

2)      Was the item a gift?

3)      Does passing it on to someone else make it any more just?

So far only 47 items have made it back into the closet (six of which are clergy shirts). Several items are languishing in a pile of indecision, fate yet to be determined. Among the questionable garments are two vintage Laura Ashley linen shirts, a pair of Old Navy khakis, a pile of t-shirts, and a few sweaters. I did manage to relegate the wool kilt from my trip to Scotland to the ever-growing “out” pile after my teenager reminded me that I’m not likely to be cast in Brigadoon anytime soon. I’m having a little more trouble parting with the Talbots leather faux croc pattern loafers that I found brand new for $7 at the resale store. Daughter dear declares them horrid and makes retching sounds every time I try to justify their inclusion. Surely they must be touching some deep primal part of my preppy past for me to still be so undecided about their fate. Or could it be the fact that they seemed to be such a phenomenal bargain?

Jesus told his follows not to worry about what to wear (Matt. 6:28-30), yet clothes are important in our contemporary western culture. That fact I will not dispute. I won’t go so far as to say that clothes make the man [sic], but clothes do make a statement. We are often judged, fairly or unfairly, by how we look. You’ll get a different response to a pair of Jimmy Choo heels than you will to a pair of Birkenstock sandals or to ancient scuffed and duct-taped topsiders.

Is that all there is? Do I become a slave to fashion or relegate myself to nominee for the frump of the year award? Do I stay true to my “Compacty” values and buy used or repurposed items whenever possible? Do I place limits on what labels I’ll wear? What’s a body to do in order to practice just living and dress for success (whatever that means)? Considering that yesterday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day, what impact does that reality have on my closet and clothing choices?

Stay tuned for more observations and a final tally on the closet crusade. Will those Talbots loafers make it, or will they end up back at the resale store? As always, I’d appreciate your input!

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