Another year is over, and a new one is about to begin. When New Year’s Eve approaches, many people go back to reflect on what has happened during the year. The moments of joy, the flashes of light. The things you’ll never do again but then they’d always seemed right.
Something about starting a new year and moving forward to another January inspires us to do some cleaning in different aspects of our lives. People go to their closets and do a massive cleanout to feel better about it as the year comes to an end. Others go to their garage to donate, get rid of, or organize the dozens and dozens of boxes that have been there for at least a few New Year’s Eves. But a very important area to focus on when we are doing cleanout is the thoughts that we have been carrying around throughout the year. There are certain misleading ideas that we get from somewhere. As if it was an unwelcomed guest, the ideas stick around us for a while, sometimes without even noticing how or when they got here in the first place.
These ideas can be hurtful. They can impact the way we perceive ourselves and the way we relate with each other. They can go as far as diminishing our self-perception and making us go through unnecessary insecurities and pain. So today, we are going to stop and think of some hurtful thoughts that many of us have been carrying around for a very long time. It is time to let go of them so that we can live a healthier version of our authentic selves.
1.- Clothes don’t have a problem with your body
When clothes don’t fit us, we tend to blame ourselves for not fitting in these clothes. But how likely is it that designers and companies are just designing for a specific body type? Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your body. Maybe you are forcing yourself to wear clothes from a store or designer who doesn’t design for your body type.
In an attempt to fit into these clothes, as Cinderella’s stepsisters forced themselves to fit into the magical glass slipper, we put our self-worth at risk, thinking that we would only look good in a certain size, on a certain dress, with clothes of a specific label. This is not the case. Although the fashion industry still has a lot of room to grow, many designers and brands are creating clothing for a wide variety of sizes, body shapes, and special needs.
Don’t put your self-worth in the hands of a fashion brand that has no inclusive values in its catalog. More and better clothes will come into your life. They will make you feel so good about yourself and your body, that you will simply laugh at the idea that you were obsessed with this specific brand, size, or designer who believes in a standard and restrictive idea of beauty.
You cannot force people to love you. You cannot force clothes to fit you.
2.- Clothes only matter when you are seeing someone.
It’s that day of the week when you are working remotely. Maybe someone tested positive, maybe you are traveling, or maybe that’s the way your workplace is operating at the moment. You don’t have any Zoom meetings, but still, you have some deliverables to work on as you are working from home. You wake up ten minutes before clocking in so you can wash your face, make some coffee and sit in front of the computer. It may seem as if the clothes you wear this day don’t matter. Right? Wrong!
According to research by Professor Karen J. Pine, there’s a direct relationship between our clothes, our sense of productivity, and our self-esteem. Relaxing and comfortable clothes deliver the message to our brain that nothing needs to be accomplished and that it’s time to relax. So when we wear pajamas and we are trying to work, whether that is a remote job or trying to get home duties done, our brain gets confused because we are sending two very different ideas. One about productivity and deliverables to accomplish, and another one about rest and relaxation.
Dress to Impress Yourself, not just to impress other people.
So clothes are not about looking pretty for other people, looking attractive in front of someone, or looking professional in front of interns or coworkers in the office. Peter Parker changed his suit when he was ready to be Spiderman and save people in New York City. He put his suit on, and his whole mentality changed. That is the power that clothes have in our daily life. Dress to Impress, but not only to impress the people around you. Impress yourself with what you are capable of doing and what you are willing to accomplish today.
3.- You never have enough clothes
We start to believe that we don’t have enough clothes because everybody and everything around us is giving us this message on a regular basis.
Every holiday has become an opportunity to sell more clothes and make you think that there is something that you are missing and you must buy it. When you buy it, the story repeats over and over. The newsletters, the Black Friday ads, the catalogs, and even the influencers wearing brand-new clothes on every single Instagram post, are all delivering a message of scarcity. One where we start to believe that we don’t have enough and that there is a certain something that we must buy to be special, cool, pretty, or relevant.
One of the best ways to let go of this misleading idea is to unfollow and unsubscribe from those newsletters and social media accounts that keep repeating this idea on a regular basis. It makes sense that our brain absorbs a message that is so repetitive in our society. Although we cannot control what mass media says or stops saying, we can carefully select our sources of information and filter those that are not bringing anything positive to our life.
On the other hand, many people believe that they don’t have enough clothes because they have been buying the wrong clothes this whole time.
Fashion Designer Donna Karan introduced a collection of seven pieces back in the 80s, where multiple outfits could be made based on these seven easy pieces, which were ideal for travel and for a minimal lifestyle. If your clothes don’t make sense between them, it’s because you are missing pieces of clothing that are interchangeable, that can be styled with multiple garments and create multiple combinations. When you can achieve this with the clothes that you own, you will stop feeling like you don’t have enough clothes.
A white shirt, for example, is a garment that can create dozens and dozens of different looks for different occasions. Style a shirt with a blazer, or a pair a jeans, a tie, or a necklace, an oversized belt, or leather pants. Whenever it feels like you don’t know what else to do with a certain piece of clothing, you can do a quick search on Pinterest with something along the lines of “white shirt outfit,” “pencil skirt outfit,” “outfit with red sneakers”. The internet is full of people sharing their ideas, hoping there’s someone in the world that will see them. Some ideas will be great, and some of them will suck, but know that there is information out there to keep your ideas going. So next time you open your closet to believe that you don’t have anything to wear, think more thoroughly and focus on one specific piece you want to wear, and then build the outfit around it.
4.- Sustainable fashion is a specific brand or a specific store.
Sustainable fashion is still a very broad concept because we are still missing measurable and tangible ways to have an accurate idea of how sustainable clothes really are. As a general rule, many consumers understand that fast fashion companies create poor-quality clothing that will only last a couple of months and highly contribute to textile waste. However, this doesn’t make non-fast fashion companies automatically sustainable. The clothes that you buy matter, but it also matters the number of clothes you buy and how long you keep them before you get rid of them.
You can buy decent quality pants, but if you buy a pair of pants with a seasonal print that you will only wear a couple of times and then get rid of them after, you are still contributing to textile waste. Sustainable fashion is a mindset. Sustainable fashion is understanding that every piece of clothing we buy will have an impact on the environment because a piece of clothing is a series of decisions from production, to sewing, to shipping, to packing, and this whole process has a direct effect on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I am grateful to realize that my desires do not entitle me to add to another’s suffering.” -Zoe Weil. Co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education.
Although it is amazing to support fashion companies that truly care and make an effort to produce clothes with sustainability in mind, our mindset becomes very powerful when we want to transition into a sustainable lifestyle. This idea links directly with the idea of understanding that we have enough clothes and that we should only buy the clothes that we need, the clothes that we will be able to wear multiple times before getting rid of them. Buying a lot of clothes and taking them to a donation center at the end of the year is not a sustainable practice. Donation centers and thrift stores are so full of clothes purchased due to overconsumption that many good quality garments end up in landfills weekly.
And the list of misleading thoughts to get rid of can continue endlessly because we live in an over informed world that throws thousands and thousands of ideas at us every single day. Many of them don’t make it to our brains, but many others stay due to their repetitiveness.
So as the year comes to an end, it’s not a bad idea to take some time and track our thoughts. Think about your insecurities. Think about how you feel when you wake up and dress to get ready for the day. What aspects of yourself make you insecure? Why? Who told you this? How long have you believed this is true? Does saying this thought out loud make you feel better? What specific actions can you take to improve your self-perception and feel better about yourself?
Thoughts may not occupy a physical space on your garage or on that drawer that is full of random objects that don’t make sense between them. Still, they occupy a lot of our time. They influence our behavior, which influences our decisions, which shape how we live and how we feel about ourselves and life. So if thoughts are so powerful and relevant, let’s make some space in our brain to absorb rational thoughts that are not necessarily all optimistic but realistic. Our closet can only carry so many clothes. Our brain can only absorb so many ideas. Let’s make space for those that are significant to who we are, just in time to receive the year that is about to begin.