As I began to think about this post, I got stuck on what to title it.
I wanted to say something like, “How to be a good steward of your closet” –but then I hesitated. Does anyone use the word “steward” anymore? It sounds like a custodian, which sounds like a janitor, which then again, maybe we’re on to something.
Fashion & Stewardship: A Beginner’s Guide
Being a steward (or a custodian, or a janitor) in the broad sense is about taking care of something that doesn’t belong to us. As Christians, we believe that God is our Creator and the (primary, preeminent) owner of ourselves and that -for this temporary time we call life- we are being entrusted with our bodies and resources and time. Our aim is to live our lives coram Deo, or to God’s glory and our joy…and we can do this even through our wardrobe.
So, I know even mentioning money might seem out of the blue and sound so economically insensitive (lol) but if you are like, hold up, what? Then go ahead and listen to this podcast episode on “How We Approach Money” by the gals at Daily Grace and see how it all connects…and then come back for the rest of the post.
As I was saying, being a good steward generally means that we are compelled to think deeply about the process of taking care and we seek to do it with integrity and excellence. Therefore, being a good steward of our closets must mean that we think about how we make fashion choices (and yes, learning about things like where our clothing comes from, chain of production, environmental impact, etc.), but it also influences how we actually take care for the physical garments, and how we represent ourselves as ambassadors of Christ.
Delicate wash, please!
In a very practical way, we can begin by taking care of what we have. This could look like a lot of different things but would include regularly cleaning, pressing, and hanging up (or folding, putting away, etc.) our clothing to preserve its lifespan. It might mean sewing a button back on, buffing out a scuff, or altering a piece so it fits better (and you get more wear out of the purchase). One of my all-time favorite wardrobe purchases has been this inexpensive travel steamer:
It’s handy for quickly steaming out a dress or blouse, and especially for those pieces that you want to wear more but hesitate because the fabric requires a bit more care.
Thrifting: The Original Ethical Choice
There is a lot of information out there about ethical shopping, so I won’t dive into that for now. I will offer this: if you (like me) are unable to physically get out and thrift but are open to second-hand clothing and shoes, then run *don’t walk* over to Poshmark. I don’t get any kind of kickback for saying this but y’all, it is such a great option for buying second-hand.
The idea is this–we all have those pieces that we never wear, so why not put them back into circulation? I tend to search for quality brands like Able, Everlane, Nisolo, Madewell, Sezane, etc. on the site and have found some great deals. Like these adorable sneakers!
And these fab leather mules!
Finally, I think the best and most straightforward way to be a better fashion-lover (code here for “stewarding your closet well”) is to set a budget for your monthly purchases. I know that feels like a bummer answer, and I regularly cringe at the way it brings needed discipline to my life, but setting a specific dollar amount for your monthly spending is wisdom for two reasons.
First, it allows you to be totally aware of how much you are spending and where it is going; we will never change our (wasteful, impulsive?) bad habits without first having that self-awareness. And second, it helps you to put your money where you actually need (and want) it to go. Can never quite save up for that lovely 24k gold chain? Probably because your money is flowing like water at your local Target (again, I empathize-cringe with you). Sticking to a fashion budget will get you there quicker than you realize!
Taking care of what we already own might not sound very spiritual, but it is. Thoughtfully buying secondhand, instead of filling up another online cart doesn’t feel like it is doing much for our hearts, but it is. Setting up boundaries and personal accountability for our money might actually cause a little pain at first…but trust me, it is the good kind of pain. It means we are growing, maturing, and moving onward to become the people that God has called us to be! People who live actual lives of peace and contentedness in a world of chaos and insatiable desire for more.
Isn’t it good to know that there is another way?