Clean Closet | Confession: I’m Not Quite Living Up to My Own Ideals

So, here’s the thing. I’ve written quite a bit about simple living and cultivating an ethically-made wardrobe. I believe in these things, and I think they are incredibly important. But at this point in my life, I’m not living that out as fully as I would like.

Ethical fashion and passion for minimalism has spread like wildfire. That’s truly amazing, and I hope it isn’t just a trend. But ironically, slow fashion is moving really fast these days. I can’t keep up with all of the wonderful, conscious brands, and at this point, I certainly can’t afford them. My lifestyle and financial situation changed considerably when we moved. I’m working a job I love, but my salary took a serious hit, so I’ve had to shift my wardrobe goals and strategies.

There are many things I enjoy about living out here in the middle of nowhere, rural Washington, but the isolation from shopping options, ethical or otherwise is a challenge. Without exaggeration, I can count on one hand what my options are for where to purchase clothing. Even a drive to the “big city” yields few ethical options. I’m terrible at shopping online (and again, I can’t afford the brands I admire anyway), so over the past year, my options have basically been reduced to thrifting or Old Navy. I’ve had considerable luck thrifting, but it can be frustrating when I need to find every piece that way. And I don’t want to shop at Old Navy; their clothes are poorly made out of synthetic materials, their sizing is inconsistent, and not to mention, they aren’t a great option for a conscious consumer. But my budget and lack of options… Excuses.

For a while, feeling a little paralyzed and unsure how to go about adding new pieces, I just wasn’t making any clothing purchases. Late winter through all of spring, I don’t actually know if I bought anything except for a vintage Wrangler denim jacket. When I finally pulled my warm weather options out of storage, I was disappointed. I had serious gaps in my wardrobe for my current lifestyle. I caved. I went to Old Navy and bought some layering tanks, a couple pairs of leggings, and sleeping shorts. I justified that I would only purchase things that would get a ton of wear – no impulse/therapy shopping. And I’ve stuck to that. But even so I’ve felt guilty. I felt I wasn’t following the example I had been projecting.

So, with my lack of options, lack of funds, shopping indiscretions, and inability to keep up with or model any of the several lovely ethical brands that either didn’t exist or weren’t in the pubic consciousness when I started writing my lists and guides, what did I have to offer as I blogger? I didn’t know. So I didn’t write.

But, now, with a little more clarity, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone with this struggle. Maybe I am. Maybe someone will read this and dismiss me as a hypocrite. But I kind of feel like there are other people out there who want to do more, do better, afford better, and live a fully principled life, but are struggling.

Here’s the thing I’ve had to keep reminding myself: this isn’t the end. This whole thing is a process. I don’t think I’ll every get to the point where I can look around and say that I’m doing everything exactly the way I want to. There will always be more that I could do.

I’ve had to keep repeating to myself over the past few months (in regards to other areas of my life, but it certainly applies here), to remember that whatever I’m going through, it’s a phase. It’s for now, not forever. Sometimes I’ll have it together and I’ll be better living up to my ideals, and other times I’ll be falling short with good intentions.
It’s tempting, especially as a perfectionist, to want to go all or nothing. To feel that if I can’t live up to my goals fully, why even try? But every ounce I can do to lessen the harm of consumerism is a positive step, even if it isn’t the full solution.
The important thing is to give myself grace… and keep trying.

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