1. Reflect my highest self
2. Reflect who I’m becoming
3. Remind me of my essence
4. I am using style to understand and learn about the allocation of my resources (energetic and financial) for more joy.
5. Wearing, obtaining, discarding, and styling clothing is a daily mantra in support of abundance, not deprivation.
Good Enough: This is a powerful sensitivity and ethic that should be should be honored and applied with a sense of abundance instead of deprivation. It is, at its heart, a desire to be conscientious and sustainable, both personally and toward the community and the earth. Translated to one’s closet, that means living intentionally. It means taking responsibility for items no longer useful or desired with proper reallocation of the resource. It means sustainable consumption with awareness of both the planet and the human conditions that have made these items so readily available to us.
The true question becomes, what does enough refer to? The idea of practicality, utilitarianism, and necessity came up a lot. People often use the idea of “practical” as an end, or a good, in itself. However, without ideas and imagination to guide practice, we are left to the subsistence imperatives of the body. These imperatives are unhinged without the mind and spirit.
What are some steps to apply this profound sensitivity to “the good” and “limits” in a spirit of abundance?
Setting boundaries in clothing becomes more than a monetary budget. Self-created limits can include the values you want to live through your relationship with the material world. It can include things such as how many shirts do I want to own? How often do I do laundry? Dry cleaning? Ironing? Tailoring?
Honor the stories and slow down. Awareness is a lightness of being, not a burden to carry. Allow discomfort in the realization that “good enough” is not actually a good, it’s the resignation to someone else’s truth.
Consider your bra, for example. It’s intimate, fundamental. The question of whether yours is good enough touches gender expectations, societal conventions, comfort with revealing parts of your body, the relationship between those things and your physical comfort and wellbeing. It was the easiest thing to discount.
Similarly, your robe is something you’ve worn every day for twenty years. Imagine anything else practiced that long: A mantra, a prayer, an exercise, an image you look at, or a show you watch. What would be the effect? The robe could be an accident of a more unintentional time, but can also hold a lot of deeply held values or assumptions that should be honored and called upon as you evolve—not everything must be outgrown. Picture yourself twenty years from now, holding a robe and describing how much you love it, what do you want that robe to be? Is it something you wear out of the house? In front of a partner? Is it a deeply personal practice?
Blazer or Cardigan
These tops represent a first step in imagining pieces that are enough to satisfy your authentic voice, while maintaining your conscientiousness and ethics around the idea of waste. These range from $75 - $225 and are mostly natural fiber—cotton, silk, and wool. All of them are pre-owned. They all capture a sense of playfulness and vibrancy through use of color, texture, pattern, and shape. Some of them are plaid and/or evoke the rainbow. Many of them are warm, blanket-like, and provide an extra layer of warmth without being an afterthought or something that is thrown on after the outfit is already put together. Instead, these pieces will keep you warm and you can build outfits around them. The patterns are great for mixing, making them more versatile than they may seem at first glance. While they characterize so many of the strengths of your existing wardrobe, they also evoke a diversity of moods, allowing them to serve as different lenses (like costumes) should you choose to use them in that way. For example, the Missoni Twinset could be styled in a very preppy and conservative way with a simple pair of trousers, or it could be used with a printed skirt and snakeskin booties for a dramatic and bohemian vibe. Some of the cardigans are elevated versions of the more sportswear-inspired pieces you own in their use of natural fibers and slightly more structured tailoring. Some pieces evoke an Indian Goddess sensibility enabling you to bring that into your everyday.
These dresses range from $50 to $345. They try to capture ideas similar to those in the sweater pictures. I looked for wrap styles that you seemed drawn to in your current wardrobe. They are flattering, comfortable, and versatile. Many of these options can be dressed up or down depending on shoes, jacket or sweater layer, and accessories.
4 New Paths
1. Abstract Ideas
2. Comfort and the Unconscious
4. Supported Actions
You have courageously tapped into so many deep areas of healing and self-awareness. I have laid out four paths for further work and inquiry based on our sessions so far and guided by your initial intentions. I will introduce them here to give you a clearer picture of the terrain ahead. This is a beginning and much of it still at the level of the head. The practices you will have at the end of the sessions will help move this information to the level of the body and into your material relationships.
The job of the styling is to connect the concepts represented in your intentions to concrete styling choices. These concepts are: highest self, who I’m becoming, essence, joy, and abundance. One of the first ways to do this is by better understanding what we truly mean when we talk about these abstract ideas. Your first journaling exercise began to generate clarity by using the ideas that most often attend people’s first thoughts about the content of style.
Your description of your style relationship to Identity:
Your style relationship to Persona:
Professional – reflects investment of energy and money
Comfortable, simple, cozy, warm
Your style relationship to Expression:
Color, quality, cozy, creative, intuitive, spiritual, singer, comfort, cozy, crystals, movement, bodily alignment
I want to rethink and possibly rearrange these concepts a bit. Identity is the closest term to the concept of essence (from your intentions). Persona is a role you play for others and to meet societal expectations, to please others and fit in. Expression is a byproduct of the essential self. No matter what is “willed” as an expression, it will always be tempered by essence coming through. Another way of looking at expression is as a symptom. What is the underlying action, value, or being that is coming to light? An apple will never express orange juice, for example. It is hard to target or fine tune expression without dealing with actions, values, and essence. I would go so far as to say, trying to express something without trying to be something, or do something, (being and doing are integrally linked and co-created), is not truthful, in the deepest sense of the word.
Here is an exercise to consider. In this list of terms, which ones describe something essential or represents essence?
Truth, Beauty, Money, Strength, Sex, Creativity, Success, Talent, Teacher, Sleek, Love, Spirit, Integrity, Badass, Loyalty, Kindness, Taste, Joyful, Intuition, Products, Femininity, Masculinity, Complexity, Simplicity, Flux, Stillness, Connection, Lumberjack, Individuation, Connection, Career, Warmth, Relationships, God, Mind, Structure, Cozy, Body, Wife, Partner, Sister, Daughter, Boldness, Culture, Friend, Gender, Intuition, Leader, Vulnerability, Performer
How do these four modes relate to essential and future characteristics (who you are becoming) that you would like to nurture and more fully embody? Are they a good fit? How would you add or subtract to this list to make it a better fit?
4 Current Style Modes
1. Bohemian Artist, Hippie
3. Hipster, Lumberjack
4. Cozy, comfortable
Here are examples of how one might begin translating these modes into the values they represent. Let’s look at two of the four designations: “hipster” and “comfortable.” I will address hipster briefly here, and I will talk about comfort in it’s own category because I think it is a crucial one for moving forward and deserves it’s own attention.
The hipster identity is widely discussed and provokes strong feelings on both sides, pros and cons, but what is generally agreed upon is that it’s a group identity (which in itself is a value to note) expressed through consumer culture. Regardless of where you come down on the interpretation of hipster ethics, it is a social designation. Choosing this as a style mode means that there is something about the hipster narrative, the ethics of this designation, that attract you. The question becomes, what is that narrative and those ethics and do they truly support your highest self. Belonging to a particular class, society, and culture are primary reasons for dress, however, in our increasingly ad hoc and self-directed lives, (with chosen families, chosen spiritual practices, and chosen geographies), our attention to detail is requisite for an intentional life. Especially with the bold and noble intentions you set forth. Ultimately, to use clothes as material mantra, you must understand both the highly specific narrative they hold for you, within or without the cultural designations, as well as the way they speak to your body about need, desire, scarcity, joy, sadness, abundance, etc. It always comes back to the interplay of mind and body.
“What is meaningful about the hipster moment, 1999 and after," says Greif from his office in New York, "is that it seems to be an effort to live a life that retains the coolness in believing that you belong to a counter-culture, where the substance of the rebellion has become pro-commerce."Instead of "doing art" the cool kids were now, in Greif's words "doing products".”
2. Comfort and the Unconscious
The comfort category is a sensitive one and it exists for everyone. This is because it is essentially the unconscious. It is also what must become conscious to change unwanted patterns of behavior. The most salient commentary on the idea of comfort that I’ve come across is in the book you brought to my attention and I picked up specifically for our work together. Overcoming Underearning. You cited your relationship with money as the major transition in your life. I wanted to make sure that we could give appropriate and sensitive attention to that area as it emerged in your wardrobe.
I have pulled a handful of quotes from the book for your consideration. The thesis of the book is that underearning is a quality of thinking, an attitude, not a dollar amount. I would argue that the same quality of thinking that contributes to abundance or scarcity produces sartorial symptoms as well. The author makes particular note of all of the “incidental” effects of people who go through her workshops, such as weight loss. She supports her thesis by going on to say that they are not actually incidental, it is the mindset of “unworthiness” that is responsible for a spectrum of symptoms, so resolving the mindset, resolves multiple symptoms. The awesome thing about clothing: you can change it today! It is the material mantra that speaks back to the body and mind to aid it’s transformation into worthiness.
The following quotations are challenging. You can think of clothing in this way, just because clothing is comfortable does not require a certain disrepair, vintage, price point, fabric, or aesthetic. When I think about comfort in clothes, I’m not suggesting that the opposite, being uncomfortable, means being cold or wearing high heels. There is a middle ground where comfortable clothing is intentional and what it looks like can vary wildly. In other words, if self-worth isn’t a number, it certainly isn’t any specific outfit. It’s simply the one that speaks our truth.
“underearners crave comfort. . .It’s astonishing how fiercely we cling to our so-called comfort zones. . . These places are anything but comfortable. They’re just familiar and predicatable.”
“Often, beneath the underearner’s inability to get ahead is a gaping emotional wound stemming from childhood trauma or more recent abuse. Underearning, like overspending, can be an unconscious attempt to numb the hurt. Financial tension becomes a perfect diversion from personal pain. . . Quitting an addiction requires massive discomfort.”
“Our problems can’t be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” –Einstein (Level of thinking and level of manifesting are integrally linked. In this way, changes in our patterns of material engagement aids changes in thinking; this becomes a cycle.)
“I realized the problem was me, the way I was presenting myself to the world. I wasn’t taking myself seriously . . . I didn’t project a very good image, more like I don’t deserve it.”
Money is a symptom, a by-product, and an expression of self worth, it isn’t self-worth. When people say, “I need to get paid what I’m worth” what that really means is, “I am worthy”. Not that their worth is measured in money. “Every six-figure woman I interviewed swore money was not her primary motivation.” In other words, the expression (money) is not primary, the doing/being and abundance (or worthiness) mindset are primary.
“Overcoming underearning is an act of individuation . . . individuation insists that your not only break free from other’s expectations to become your own person, but that you value who you are enough to put your own needs at the top of your list.” (This is why dressing your persona can be problematic with speaking your truth.)
“The number one requirement for financial success (or success in anything for that matter) is simply this: You’ve got to be willing to be uncomfortable. Or as Eastern wisdom advocates. ‘Embrace what does not come naturally. Only then will you stop limiting yourself.’“
“The ability tolerate discomfort is absolutely essential to go to the next level in any area of your life. . . It need not mean something’s wrong. It just means that something is different.”
This connects to personal values, such as the idea of “good enough” and to the practice of personal allocation. Sustainability in fashion is complex and global. It’s hard for an individual to be wholly effective. I’ve linked some articles if you’re interested in looking into it further. I include this as an area for a couple of reasons. First, I truly believe your “good enough” ethic is one that finds it’s best fit in the ethics of sustainability, of connection with the earth and it’s people. Second, a lot of the stores and fabrics represented by your current wardrobe are part of so-called “fast fashion.” Whatever choices you make, this is part of the information. Finally, the idea that sustainable items are out of reach is symptomatic of allocation and scarcity.
Some metrics considered in fashion sustainability, slow fashion:
1 - The source of the fiber (natural or man-made/synthetic).
2 - The resources required to create the fiber (water, pesticides, land, energy, carbon dioxide, fossil fuels, etc.) and whether they are renewable.
3 - The process of turning the fiber into yarn (does it use harmful chemicals? how are they disposed of? does it use large amounts of energy?)
4 - The longevity of the fabric (does it last)?
5 - The end-life of the fabric (is it biodegradable)?
6. The labor conditions and human capital implicated in the production of fabrics and garments.
Here is a quick fabric reference guide. It is by no means uncomplicated or complete:
Sustainable: Pre-owned or Recycled, Tencel aka Lyocell, Pinatex, linen, wool, cotton, silk, organic hemp, recycled cotton
Least Sustainable: Viscose, acrylic, polyester, nylon
LInks for more information on Sustainability and Fast Fashion
4. Supported Actions
This is where we connect the idea of who we are to the actions we take in the world, in other words, we connect our being to doing. This is the important link connecting abstraction to manifestation, mind to matter. It is through our prioritized activity that we are able to choose the appropriate materials for support. For example, if we want to ride a motorcycle, a helmet would serve us well. If we want to engage in ecstatic dance and public speaking, we need clothing that supports that vision and engagement. (Visualize yourself in those activities, the sounds, the feelings, the setting, the people, and the clothing.) In order to better do this, we need to learn about your priority activities. This is because the essential self is not an idea, but an embodiment. In order to support ideas like our “highest self” and our intentions for an ideal “future self”, and our “essence”, we must understand the actions, the work, that the body must undertake as it manifests the spirit.
The priority activities of the embodied spirit:
2. Teaching and speaking to groups
Here’s a collection of pants for our styling conversation. We can talk about how each one of these addresses some aspect of the concerns we’ve illuminated so far. They are sustainable. They capture elements or combine elements of bohemian, hipster, sleek, and although they may not look exactly like the comfortable clothes that you’re used to, they use soft, warm fabrics with loose silhouettes and stretchy fabrics.
Likewise, here’s a selection of tops representing sustainable fabrics and brands. They support dance and movement. They range from colorful and bohemian, to badass and sleek.