The Mindful Materialist
The Stress of Getting Dressed
If, like me, you follow a bunch of people on Instagram and YouTube who somehow make their outfits look effortless on a daily basis, you might relate to the bewilderment I feel when I look at my own wardrobe (or suitcase of late — we'll get to that later).
Getting dressed is something we do everyday (shout out to the nudists who don't have this problem), and some days it can feel way harder than others. I've been finding lately that I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to dress a certain way or convey a certain aesthetic purely because of the existence of this blog. Somehow I've wound up in a whirlpool of vanity where I feel embarrassed telling people I write a blog on fashion (albeit the sustainable and ethical practices behind said fashion) when wearing track pants or an old t-shirt, or an outfit that doesn't measure up to the version of myself I think I should be.
After I did my massive declutter a couple of years ago, I thought getting dressed would become easier. I figured having fewer clothes would give me fewer options, and therefore make the decision of what to wear each day a simpler process. This worked for a while, but I still felt a strange self-imposed pressure to look a certain way because I was a university music/literature/philosophy student — whatever that means — and I felt the need to dress accordingly to fit in.
Then COVID happened. I found myself either wearing loungewear on a daily basis (which I'm sure many can relate to) or my work uniform. While this made everything easy, it impacted my mental health and didn't do much to inspire or motivate me to be the best version of myself. I became lazy and stopped wearing the clothes that gave me joy. I opted for comfort which was necessary some days, but it meant I was out of practice when it came to putting outfits together. By the time lockdowns ended and I had social things on my calendar again, I felt lost. For a simple dinner with family or friends I could change my outfit up to five or six times before leaving the house — often making me late, and therefore doubly stressed. I'd stand in front of my clothes unsure where to start. I'd second guess every choice and stare at my clothes as though they were people I knew as a child but didn't really have anything to do with anymore. I'd become a sort of stranger from my own wardrobe.
My body has changed in the last few years too, with illness resulting in weight loss and weight gain changing the way my clothes fit my body. I've also gone from being someone in her early twenties to someone in her mid-twenties (which doesn't seem like a lot, but feels drastic sometimes). This has really impacted my self-confidence and changed the way I see myself and my clothes. The clothes I used to wear don't feel like me anymore. My body doesn't look the way it used to. The outfits I put together now can feel a bit boring compared to what I used to wear.
But it's ok. I'm growing up and my body will continue to change. And that's ok too.
I used to be really into new year's resolutions, but I haven't done any for this year — January felt rather overwhelming as it was — with moving to London and getting COVID. But now that it's February and I have some time to reflect, maybe this year I should try to worry less about the image I think I 'should' be presenting, and focus more on how I want to feel in my clothes. I think it's time for me to return to my values and the reason I started this blog in the first place — to focus on sustainability and ethical fashion. But one of the biggest parts of sustainability is (as the word suggests) the ability to sustain. And I can't sustain the stress of trying to look like the people I see on my feed every day. I can't sustain the pressure I put on myself to look like a 'fashion blogger' because there is no single look for that anyway, and I don't even know if I'd consider myself one if I'm honest.
Something I've been finding really helpful recently is the Instagram account by Danae Mercer. She is such an inspiring woman for me and she reminds me that the way things are presented on social media is not always the truth. She points out the editing, curating and trickery that goes into making things look 'effortless' online. She promotes self-acceptance and body positivity, and reminds me that real bodies are just as beautiful, if not more, than fake ones. If you haven't come across her before, I would definitely recommend taking a look at her account.
I've also found it helpful seeing how Signe of Use Less creates so many outfits using her capsule wardrobe system. She has so many simple tips and tricks which I find really helpful on those days when I feel unsure of myself and my style. She provides a lot of style inspiration and reminds me that jeans and t-shirts can be the foundation of so many great outfits. If you're someone who feels lost in your style, I can't recommend her enough.
While these accounts have been positive influences for me, I also think it's helpful to take a bit of a detox from social media sometimes — this is something I want to try in 2022. Now that I'm living in London with a very minimal wardrobe (one suitcase, as mentioned earlier), I'm feeling a little bit freed from the pressure I had been putting on myself. I don't have any fear of bumping into people I know, or worry about dressing the way I think I should for an outing to Fitzroy or Brunswick. I have no preconceptions about who I'm meant to be or how I'm meant to look here, and it's pretty liberating. I get to just rug up in a big puffer jacket and beanie and go about my day. I wish I'd been able to feel this way in Melbourne.
This has been quite the ramble, and not thoroughly planned out, so thank you if you're still here reading along! I hope my winding thoughts have resonated with you, or at least provided some food for thought.
I think the world could really benefit from more kindness right now, but let's start by being kind to ourselves when we get dressed each day.
Catch you in the next ramble,