I have been writing this blog post in my head for weeks now. Month two of 12 Garment Year stretched me in ways I did not know possible.
I wish (I really, really do) I could tell you that month two went swimmingly. That the ethically-made top I purchased (which arrived the first days of April) fit like a glove and added warmth and versatility to my closet. That is a nice story. That’s the story I wish was true. However, said top (while generally lovely) did not fit right and the color was wrong and I sent it back. And then for weeks, I wondered and brainstormed. I made a colossal spreadsheet outlining my wardrobe haves, needs and wants.
After tremendous hemming and hawing (I only get 12 items, so each thing hella matters), I settled on a pair of white ethically-made jeans to brighten up my relatively dark wardrobe and add contrast year-round (but especially the warmer months). And once again, my dear readers, I wish I could tell you the nice story. That these fit like a dream and that I’ve become such a civilized young women that I can’t fathom staining such a vulnerable color. But alas, these also did not work out! (Ultimately decided that I am not, in fact, civilized enough to risk such a blank canvas.)
Meanwhile, the pressure of the rules of the project were getting to me. I stared into my wardrobe, assessing haves and proposing needs. I combed through tons of blogs, gleaning cool ethical brands and saving them to my own uber list. I worked hard to marry my wishlist of clothing needs to the available options on these sites. I followed tons of ethical fashion bloggers on Instagram and made note when something they sported fit my aesthetic. I projected what would work next month based on this month’s purchase.
In the end, I was spending more time shopping than I was before … and deeeeefinitely more time than I wanted to be. I told my husband I was just doing “research” and, I mean, I was! But I was also a crazed mathematician trying to solve a complicated problem: what to buy this month … and the month after? how do I know what I need? And … can I do this?
And then two things happened: my husband surprised me by purchasing the loveliest ethical trousers and my wardrobe purpose came into focus.
First, the trousers: I’d been eyeing cinched, elastic waist trousers with a slightly tailored drape for a while now, wondering if I could ever pull off that look. So while I had these on my 12 Garment Year | Contenders board, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have actually bought these for myself. I worried that they’d be dowdy on me, but in fact they feel quite regal. The fit is wonderful and the feel is incredibly comfortable. Will be posting pics of these on insta soon!
But when these trousers arrived, I was grappling with whether or not to throw in the towel for 12 Garment Year. Why, you might ask? Because, staring into the wardrobe I have cultivated over the last couple of years, I realized how plain and limited my options had become. Over the past two years, I eliminated patterns and a spectrum of colors from my wardrobe completely. This was a necessary part of the process, but I’m finally ready to start adding more personality and drama and a broader range of versatility back in the mix.
Second, my wardrobe purpose. I started this project with a certain purpose in mind: spend little time buying clothes, and make ethical purchases.
Like many (most?) women, I have had various purposes with my wardrobe over time: to be comfy, to be cute, to be sexy, to adhere to a work dress code, to adhere to others’ expectations, for self-expression, to cover mah damn body when I errands. Now, I live in Seattle where we only have one nice season and it is summer. Just since this time last year, my lifestyle has changed (live in a *much* more walkable neighborhood now!) and I’m finding myself needing to reconcile various wants/needs — and this project, while I adore its mission, has been stressing me out. Because, while I want to feel good and natural and myself in my clothes, I ultimately want my clothes to allow me to do the things I love to do: run around at the park with my dogs, provide easy options for work every morning, allow for casual adventures on weekends — and always, always keep me the right temperature.
And that’s why I caved.
This project has opened my mind to start considering ethical options before fast-fashion, but the limitations have made it difficult to gather the things I need to quickly, comfortably do the things I want to do.
I also gave myself this loophole: I can replace garments that I sell secondhand. I’ve been hanging onto some items that don’t fit well for one reason or another, and I think this is a fair way to replace them.
And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did give myself a talking-to. In fact, I put myself on the witness stand: “Mrs. LaBrie, did you knowingly and willingly betray 12 Garment Year?”
But here’s the thing, okay? I want to do better. But just because it felt necessary to purchase more than one garment this month doesn’t mean I have to throw in the towel on 12 Garment Year! This isn’t just a project, it’s a paradigm shift. It’s seeing my closet as something that works for me, building and evolving over time. It’s investing in quality and versatility. And it’s taking the time to discover and choose ethical options.
So, with this in mind, I will be humbly forging ahead on this journey. I might buy more than one (ethical) garment per month for 12 months, and I think that’s just part of the process. Wish me luck!