There are a lot of things I have found helpful since making the switch to a more responsible shopping lifestyle. I learned a lot from bloggers, slow fashion and sustainable living advocates as well as small businesses. I learned about myself. About my shopping habits, my impulsivity and that my MOM was right to be frugal. To consider the weight of my purchasing decisions before making the purchase. However, the two most important things in my slow fashion journey have been grace and discipline.
Discipline– training yourself whether it is to run a 5k or write a book or wake up early is difficult. I don’t think there’s anyone surprised by that statement. Similar to that making a switch to slow fashion requires training. It requires training yourself to be less impulsive, more content BUT the biggest challenge I believe is retraining your brain on the value/worth of the clothes you buy. I think for most of us this requires a shift from the mindset of cheap is a steal and therefore a good deal towards one of looking at clothing as an investment. Just like you have bad days when training for a marathon you will have that in the ethical journey as well. You will be impulsive or get exhausted or question your commitment. I am not telling you this to discourage you from the journey but rather to let you know you are not alone in the struggle. Managing our expectations can help us prepare for alternative outcomes. For example, creating a strategy for the times you will feel like buying something to improve your mood. This has happened to me and USUALLY how I deal with it is by buying a book instead of a shirt or dress from a store. I still get a high from buying something new BUT without breaking my commitment to shop ethically.
Give yourself Grace– I am talking about this in the sense of allowing yourself to make mistakes. Learn and grow from it BUT do not let it immobilize you. I have made A lot of mistakes in my life. Therefore, it was not surprising that I made some during my transition towards slow fashion as well. One of the mistakes I made was to buy a shirt that was the wrong size just because it was on sale and I wanted something new after my shopping fast. It was at the beginning of my transition when I still craved the high that comes from buying something new. Although I still DO sometimes. 😉 There have also been times when I bought fast fashion items due to reasons like affordability and lack of time. I then would spend a lot of time feeling guilty until I recognized that this guilt was no good. It did not help me grow it just made it so I would dwell on a mistake. In my opinion, it is much more beneficial to spend time figuring out the why behind the mistake and creating some sort of strategy to avoid it in the future. I think this is my business student side speaking BUT I believe it can be very applicable to life as well. I have also found that when I give myself some grace I am more likely to do that for others. My words tend to be less preachy and holier than thou ya know? I am reminded that it is a privilege to be able to make such a decision.
I recently read Ellie’s post titled The Complex Privilege of Shopping Ethically and Kellie’s post The Luxury of Less, and both of these articles drove the last point home for me. This transition does not make me more noble or holy. I think it is great to lead a life that does not harm the other. However, I don’t think it is something I need to make a part of my identity. At the end of the day, it is JUST clothes. Giving myself grace also means that I won’t allow one mistake to define me. Discipline means I won’t quit due to one bad shopping decision. I think lifestyles can take a long time to change and I am okay with that.
So dear reader I encourage you to give yourself grace and be prepared to learn a lot on discipline. It does not matter where you are on the journey. Whether you are a beginner or a pro. The important thing is to keep growing and stay curious. To be humble enough to recognize that there is a lot for you to learn. Wise enough to know that discipline is hard but worth it.