Sunday, October 2, 2016

Project 333 - the After

Last week I cleaned out my closet and took inventory. And I mean massive purge not just, "Oh I haven't worn this in a while." I followed the blog post "How to Finally Clean Out Your Closet for Good" as part of #project333. She really talks about the emotions of the project, and I was surprised to find that I felt nervous about it. Most of these clothes I have had for a long time. It wasn't because I *love* them but because I felt that I needed them. Or I might need them. And at one time, I did need them. But I committed myself to this project and laid it all out...literally...
Over 200 items collected over the course of 20 years. It's hard to believe that's even possible given that I barely go shopping. How did I get so much "stuff"?! Here's what I noticed, maybe you can relate. There were really four distinct "wardrobes" in my closet.
  1. Business Professional - What I wore when I worked in a law firm
  2. Mommy Wear - What I wore while pregnant and nursing (and beyond even though I shouldn't have)
  3. Business Casual - What I wore when I was teaching professionally
  4. Free/Clearance Items - What I wore when I was sick of Mommy Wear but too cheap to buy new clothes
Also, a random smattering of stuff I bought and really liked wearing but it probably wore out a decade ago. And about two dozen items purchased recently that I really like and kept. Seriously, that's about 24 out of 200+ items. Not good odds.

After 2 Rounds of "Clean Out" and one "Bonus Round" to create a Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe and a Spring/Summer Wardrobe, I had 120+ items to donate/swap, 45 items in the capsule wardrobes, and 71 items total in my closet.

Total Items: 218
Total Items: 71
Less than 1% purchased in the last two years.
27 fall/winter items
Most of the items were 7+ years old.
18 spring/summer items
22 tank tops, 20 t-shirts
Extras – 16 specialty items
23 dresses
120+ items for donation/clothing swap
30+ items that need replacement due to wear
~30 items to alter or repurpose
16 pairs of shoes
10 pairs of shoes

I felt so good to let go of all the reasons I kept these items and focus on the present. However, at this point I really do not have enough items left to make a complete capsule wardrobe. Most of my "staple items" for Spring/Summer were either ill-fitting or worn out. And this is Texas, I still need a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe for another month (and on occasion the whole year). The Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe, is nearly complete though since I actually did a good job shopping for it last year. (Thanks to my husband actually who told me to skip the sales racks and just buy what I needed.)

In the end this is my working list. Public note to self - you must replace these items. They're horrible, look at the reasons why again.

Clothing Replacement List
  • Winter coat (21 years old and looks like a Pizza Hut delivery jacket)
  • Capri pants (Holes, paint, ill-fitting hand-me-downs)
  • Black belt (It broke and you never replaced it)
  • White camisole (It hasn't really been white for a long while)
  • Sports bras - 3 (They were pre-baby and your chest is not)
  • Pencil skirt (Darts should not bubble up.)
  • Exercise pants - 3 (Lost their elasticity and they should ALL have pockets)
  • Summer skirt (Cheap stretch cotton pills horribly)
  • Sun dress - 2 (No stretch recovery, gaping arm holes, too long)
  • Robe (Bleach stained and ill-fitting)
  • Black fitted pants (Fit issues, all of them: too long, too short, low cut, stretch poly, short crotch)
  • Black cardigan (Pilling)
  • White cardigan (Is that so polyester it's shiny?!)
  • Keen everyday shoes (Holes)
  • Tennis shoes (Lack of tread)
  • Casual dress shoes (Blisters)
  • Tank tops - 3 (Arm holes too big, bleach stains, maternity does not fit you)
  • Casual lightweight pants - 3 (Holes, bleach stains, maternity does not fit you)

Slow Fashion October & the Capsule Project

A Simple Question

"Mom, who made this?"

- "Ummm...I don't know honey, someone in a factory."

"But who made it?"

- "I don't know who. [Checks the tag.] Someone in Indonesia."

"Where is that? I don't know where that is."

- [Thinking of a frame of reference for her.] "It's south of China."

"Oh, so like the Indian Ocean?"

- "Yes."

Gulp. I am so glad she has had enough items made for her in her life that she asks specifically about the person who made her clothing, but boy am I glad I didn't have to elaborate on the person in the factory who likely made this (admittedly cute) Circo brand robe from Target. In response, I did a quick search to see if I could find out anything on Circo brand factories or the industry in Indonesia as it relates to Target. Nope. I did find information on the industry in Bangladesh - largely because of the factory fires that made headline news and prompted some small measures of improvement for worker safety. (MPR News, Target) Most other information and media coverage has long since been buried as "old news" with little change made after the initial public outcry. It is noteworthy to me though that Target at least did something as opposed to most major retailers that chalk it up to the "human cost of business" and wait for the public outrage to pass. Sourcing clothing from ethical sources remains a difficult, time-consuming, and often expensive process.

The Capsule Wardrobe

I'm going to be honest - when I stumbled across the idea of a #capsulewardrobe the ethical implication of "fast fashion" and the retail clothing market were not on my mind. I don't fit the standard consumption categories of most American consumers so surely my wardrobe meets minimalist standards, right? I mean, my 7-year-old daughter just commented this morning that she doesn't even recall having been to a mall. But then I counted my closet - I have so much excess in my closet! But let's take another glimpse at this post on the Capsule Wardrobe - it's pretty selfish. It's not about anyone other than me. Look at what this change can do for me or for you. Isn't it fantastic for us? And that's great, self-care is important and I rarely do much of it, but when I looked closer - there's so much more to this idea and it can have a bigger impact. I can't change the regulations that govern international trade nor force foreign governments to protect people over profit - but I can make better choices about what to support with my decisions.

Fast Fashion

Last night, after my daughter asked me about her robe and who makes our clothes, I stumbled across "fast fashion" - the ever-increasing turn over of design and clothing in retail stores and the environmental impacts of such excessive consumption. Aside from the human cost, there is also an environmental impact that I honestly had never contemplated. What do you mean the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing a year?! (HuffPost) But I don't throw away clothes, I donate them. I should feel good about that right? Kind of. "Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth." (Slate)

Most of the clothing donations in America are not resold locally and end up being collected for overseas sales or turned into rags. A fact that was confirmed by my own recent visit to our local charity organization. At the time it seemed like they were making great use of our donations by selling excess to a facility in Dallas that will ship them overseas or turn them into rags. But wait...what happens if they don't sell overseas? And what happens to the used rags? Oh...back to the landfill again. It's a vicious cycle. A cycle perpetuated by excess and consumerism.

Slow Fashion

"Don't just be a consumer." (Mission Church) I stole this line from my pastor this morning. No, he wasn't preaching about fashion or the clothing industry, but given my recent research the line resonated with me. Who do I want to be? Am I a #maker or a #consumer? What am I going to do as one, lone individual who wants to opt out of fast fashion? That's not much of a boycott. Thankfully, it's not just me.

This month there is a second annual movement going - #slowfashionoctober and over on Instagram I am going to join up with @slowfashionoctober that's headed by Karen over at the Fringe Association. She has already developed a Master Plan for the second annual event and given us a guideline for discussion and inspiration this month. And some more good information on the Why behind slow fashion.