Love your clothes

Stories inspire to recycle and reuse

By Janie Romer
Posted 5/2/20

Normally an April article on fashion would be an enthusiastic look at the new colors and trends arriving in the stores for the new season. Instead, it's refreshing to be taking an entirely different approach to the seasonal wardrobe.

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Love your clothes

Stories inspire to recycle and reuse


Normally an April article on fashion would be an enthusiastic look at the new colors and trends arriving in the stores for the new season. Instead, it's refreshing to be taking an entirely different approach to the seasonal wardrobe.

Lockdown has brought many of us to the realization of how little we really need, how much we actually consume and how much we waste. "Normal" times left little time to allow for the appreciation of so much in our lives we are blessed with. In the blur of our fast-paced lifestyles, so much passed us by.

Now we have the time to examine what we've amassed and to really be grateful for all of it. Here are some love stories to inspire you.

Admiring the Gaucho jacket my lovely friend Meredith, in her 30s, was wearing recently, made her light up with delight as she told me the love story behind this beloved and beautiful garment she'd been given. In the pocket she discovered a love note: "Made my winter deeply better. I love you," it read. Who wrote the note to whom remains a mystery, but this garment had been lovingly passed on quite a few times. With love.

She went on to tell me that after her beloved grandmother's recent passing, the things she made a beeline for were the Woolrich coats her grandmother had always worn: one for every day and one kept for best. Snuggling into her grandma's coat gives her the feeling of her continuing presence and protection, the sense of still being wrapped in those safe arms. These precious garments will forever be cherished and well cared for, just as their previous owner, from a more frugal generation, taught her, as well as how to appreciate the inherent value of everyday possessions and the expectation of their long-term use.

Manuel, a stylish Hispanic Taoseño in his 60s, was sporting a beautiful 40-year-old pair of iconic, lace-up Red Wing boots. He told me that they are his most comfortable footwear, as he hitched his shotgun over his shoulder to head up into the forest for an afternoon's hunting.

His response to my inquiry into his wardrobe was simple: "I have enough clothes in my closet to last me out, and I'll never need to go shopping again, thank God!" Upon examination, it's true: he has a stash of the best of decades of classic 'Made in America' T-shirts, jeans, work shirts and exquisite quality Western shirts, suits and boots. His signature well-worn black wide-brim Western hat, fetchingly trimmed with a narrow red and white braid, crowns every outfit.

Last time I wrote about sorting through the closet and dividing everything into three piles.

For the keepers that don't require washing or dry cleaning, I recommend first hanging clothes, placing footwear and accessories outside to air in the sun for a few hours, before returning them to the closet and chests of drawers, all beautifully arranged and folded for easy view and access. Last season's thermals and outerwear, cleaned and aired, can be put aside and stored in boxes.

Same goes for the items we are passing on, whether to get some cash back for "good as new fashion" items at a consignment boutique such as Reneux and Re-Threads, once they reopen. Or for recycling in the thrift stores fundraising for our local charities such as the CAV, ReTails, and UpTown and Lili's. Meanwhile it's good to make sure that everything is clean and in good order beforehand.

What's no longer fit for wear can be cut up for rags, just as our mothers and their mothers did. Of course, many will keep the worn but well-loved fabrics for craftwork - quilts, rag rugs and other projects, if they are so inclined. I'm hoping the skills I learned as a child, at hand-sewing seams, superseded by a sewing machine once I was old enough to reach the pedal, will be good enough to revive a beautiful ripped pillowcase, one of a pair, I've stashed away until I get my machine repaired.

When all the organizing is done, how about celebrating by donning your favorite outfit and having a good look in the mirror, though not with the pouty mouth sucked -in-tummy look, but with a huge smile, hands up in the air with a massive "Hallelujah."

Maybe put on your favorite song, add those fabulous boots or heels and dance like a dervish while no one's looking. Dancing barefoot, dressed only in your birthday suit is wonderful, too.

It's empowering to be able dress as we like rather than as others expect us to for a change - by wearing garments which reveal our unashamedly authentic selves. The French and Italians have always known that the better you feel about yourself the more attractive you are.

In the coming years, we will be trying to rebuild our broken world. But perhaps the slower lifestyle in these months at home can help put the pieces back together. And perhaps a more contemplative, deliberate way of living can become permanent.

"He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature," wrote Socrates.


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