Yes, I have 31 scarves, and I live in Texas. I also have over 60 t-shirts. I stopped counting things after that, since I wanted to throw up.
What could possibly drive me to count these items? Well, I recently read this book by Jen Hatmaker. If only she knew me, I know we’d be best friends..
I started following Jen on Twitter back during the Olympics, and cried laughing at just about every comment she made about the Games. The girl is funny! So naturally, in addition to other blogger’s recommendations, I went out and bought her book.
This was in the middle of summer, so I didn’t think much of it, and never expected to join in on the 7 journey, I just wanted to read it. Simple. Consumerism at its best.
Here’s my brief synopsis of the book:: Jen and her family realize they have way too much stuff. They realize they are on this continual quest for more, and in the midst of the excess she realizes the blind spots of her faith have been revealed. In an earnest plea for repentance, Jen comes up with some areas in her life to fast. She picks 7 areas, takes 7 months of her life (1 per month), and documents the journey in this book.
As a reader, I was intrigued. However, one of the areas she chooses is clothes. She wears just 7 items of clothes for a whole month. Obviously, I could never do that. Totally unrealistic.
Then out of nowhere, before we had even discussed the book, my dear friend Ashley texted me telling me she was going to do it, and she thought I should probably join her. The conversation went something like this:
Ashley: Someone recommended I should go on a fast from fashion, so she said I should read and follow this book called 7. I thought maybe you might want to do it with me..
Me: Oh cool! I’ve already bought the book actually! Love Jen Hatmaker. Except, I don’t think I could actually do it.. Some of it’s pretty extreme.
Ashley: Yeah, the clothes part makes me want to cry.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t really take this conversation seriously. Keep in mind Ashley and I bonded instantly over shopping and the lack of cool stores and fashions in east Texas when she moved her with her husband a year and a half ago. Ironic? A few weeks later, Ashley called again and said she was starting September 1. She didn’t force me into it, but I knew the Lord was gently urging both of us to begin the journey. Month one? Clothes.
Before you, dear reader, get too much of a big head about how easy you think this might be, I’d like you to stop and consider which 7 items you would choose from your wardrobe to wear for a month. Undergarments don’t count, and we both counted two pairs of shoes as one item (so does Jen in the book). Also, because of the nature of our jobs, I counted two pine cove t-shirts as one item, since I’m required to wear them while working weekends.
So, nine items all together:
Can we all take a second to marvel at how small that pile is? I typically pack more things than this for an overnight getaway! Also, Toms should probably use me as an endorser for their incredible ballet flats. I’m still not sick of them, and got loads of compliments on them!
… Slightly beside the point.
So I just wore those clothes for four weeks. Several things stuck out:
1. No one noticed. Sure, my roommates knew what I was up to, and I admittedly work in an office with all guys, but still. Maybe no one else is as obsessed with my appearance like I act like they are.
2. It was completely possible. I missed accessorizing, and I missed being creative in fashion choices, but I didn’t die. I never even got sad about it. Before the month began Ashley and I both laughed about our expected breakdowns. They never came. Instead, I realized I have an extreme amount of excess. I “need” another pair of jeans? I “need” that scarf? Trust me, I’m notorious for calling any clothing purchase an investment. I’d like to call myself out on that one.
3. Clothes and accessories are luxuries that I want for my own credit. I want certain clothes to make myself feel valuable, beautiful, and important. This is a lie. My value, beauty, femininity, purpose and worth come from my Creator alone.
4. Idols have always come in weird forms. In the Old Testament, people made idols out of wood, gold, and iron. Today I make idols out of fabric and thread. The items themselves are neutral. I am the one who makes idols.
Clothes and material things are not evil. I don’t plan on wearing burlap sacks for the rest of my life. Or ever actually. But my perspective has shifted. My definition of wants vs. needs has shifted. A massive closet clean-out is in the works.
What now? Ashley plans on setting a reasonable “cap” on the number of shirts/dresses/pants/etc. in her closet, then when she buys something new, one of the few remaining will have to go. I haven’t decided exactly what my method will be, but there will be change. My actions will follow my heart, and I have the feeling this journey is only beginning.
More 7 journey posts to come. In the meantime, check out the book for yourself. Or maybe do your own closet-count. Just for fun?