Sunday, October 18, 2009

Less is More: Clothes & Shoes

Before I get down to business, let me just say...there's nothing like committing yourself to a blog series to make you not want to blog. Likewise, there's nothing like writing a series on not buying things to make you want to BUY THINGS! Geez Louise! And I'm not just talkin' like I want to buy a new shirt. No, no...the Pottery Barn catalog came in and and I was like..."Um...I NEED this DINING TABLE!" A dining table people! Plus chairs. So, as you can see...I am not just being humble when I say I AM NOT THERE YET!

Alright, now that that's off my chest...I'll get to it. :)

For the past few years, as I have toyed with the idea of spending wisely and buying less, I have straddled the fence between two camps. One camp being: I will spend more on quantity rather than quality. The other camp being: I will spend more on quality, not quantity. I have to say, I have more often been in camp #1. It was easier for me to "justify" buying a new dress or a new pair of shoes if it cost less. And actually, it makes sense doesn't it?...I want to save money, I want to live humbly and simply...I'll just stick to Target. But as I have been wrestling with these things these last weeks and months, I'm finding myself climbing over the fence into camp #2. I am finding that, for me, camp #1 has some consumer traps...

1. I am much more tempted and susceptible to impulse purchases. You run into to Target for diapers and out you come with a new bag and a pair of heels, plus more than likely, you've forgotten the diapers all together.

2. I buy something less expensive with a plan to buy the "real" item later. I would do this ALL the time! For example, say I got a new outfit and already spent my budget. But then I would remember that I didn't have a suitable pair of shoes to wear with my new outfit (problem #1, but we'll talk about that later). So, anxious to wear my new outfit, but anxious not to upset the hubs, I would grab a trendy, but crappy pair of shoes at Target until I could get a good pair of shoes somewhere else. So...I would literally be checking out with my crappy pair of shoes wondering when I would be able to replace them with what I really wanted! Crazy!

3. I am more likely to just buy something for the sake of buying something. When I have the quantity over quality mindset, I feel like I never really have what I want and so I feel more entitled to buy on impulse, thus leaving me with too many clothes in my closet with the tags still on them!

4. I am less likely to wear pieces year after year. Honestly, are you really going to wear that cropped suit vest thing from Forever 21 next year? No. No, you're not.

For these reason, I am trying to be more of a camp #2 shopper. Even though I was trying to spend wisely and be frugal and whatnot, I think I was probably spending just as much in the long run. As I am trying to settle into camp #2, here's how I am trying to renew my mind:

1. Going for quality over quantity forces me to wait. I talked about that with the Home post. Waiting for what I really need and what I really want, instead of being a slave to whatever marketers put in front of my face. Waiting, I think is evidence of freedom. Waiting ensures that I will be thoughtful about my purchases.

2. Quality (which usually means it costs a little more) over quantity means that I must have stricter guidelines before I make a purchase. Will this work well into my wardrobe? Can I wear this with more than one outfit? Does buying this item mean that I have to buy something else? (Important question for me!) Do I feel comfortable or do I enjoy wearing this? Does it fit properly or at least do I love it enough to get it altered (I'm short, you know :)? Is this something I see myself wearing year after year? Because I am going to be spending more money, I feel that I have a right to expect more from my purchase. If I can't say yes to most, if not all of these questions, then I DON'T need it!

The quality over quantity has been a helpful defense for me against mindless consumerism, but the Lord is pushing me to fight back with even more. The something in/something out rule applies to my wardrobe as well. Thankfully, this hasn't been too difficult because, as I mentioned above, I have a collection of unfortunate pieces to choose from. :) Again, I think this method helps with the accumulation of stuff and gives your mind some boundaries when you go shopping. Also, I know for me, that buying almost ALWAYS breeds more wanting. Have you noticed that? You get a new shirt, you "need" jewelry to go with it. You get the jewelry, now your bag doesn't look just right. As a consumer, I HAVE to go shopping with this truth in mind. Can I buy this thing without wanting something else? It's one thing to justify one little impulse purchase, and whole other thing to justify the things you bought to go with your impulse purchase. And finally, I think it is essential to get into the discipline of wearing what I have. As my favorite design guru says, "Make it work!" :) Whenever, I have an event, my first impulse is to go get a new outfit. I have 2 weddings coming up, and with all that I am learning that LESS is MORE...dadgum if I didn't say to myself, "Maybe I should go get a new dress." No...I don't need a new dress. I have a dress. Although, it does need a little altering. I got it when I was nursing, and it's just downright insulting how much room is in there now. Sigh...

So that's kind of the nuts and bolts of things. It's a start for me anyways. And truthfully, that's the easy part. The hard part is that there's flesh and heart and soul and pride and jealousy and selfishness and a whole big world that tells me that I deserve things and that I what I look like on the OUTSIDE reflects who I am on the INSIDE. But that's not what my Savior says. His Word says quite the opposite.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Do not let your adorning be external- the braiding of the hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

These words are so life giving! This is the MORE!
More than saving money, or being green, I desire to be a Godly woman. And being a Godly woman means that I cannot think as the world thinks. I cannot buy as the world buys. I cannot look as the world looks. The world, and even popular Christian culture will tell me that I can, but my spirit grows weary at serving such opposing masters. It will never do. And even is not a choice for me to try.

I cannot emphasize enough, that I am just at the beginning. I have much more to learn. I have a lot more dying-to-self to do. But I have enjoyed thinking these things through with you. Even just writing those Scriptures...proclaiming their TRUTH...seems to urge me onward. So, thank you for reading. I have been blessed by your encouragement. I'll wrap this whole thing up with a quote from WWII that a friend sent me:

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
(Thanks Bri!)


Casey Cease said...

Amen. I love you. Thank you for sharing how God is moving in our midst and capturing it with humility and honesty.

Your love,

Julie Forman said...

So I just realized that I don't have your email address. :-O This is bad. Anyway, I have been reading this blog "Nat Nests" and I think of you everytime because this girl is just hilarious. I want to be her friend and when I read it I can see you saying you would want to be her friend too. Don't know why, that's just what I get. LOL! So, here is her blog if you want to check it out:

Abba's Girl said...

Wonderful post Stephanie...I love it when we listen to God and obey Him...we grow in Christ and we are blessed because we grow in Him. It hurts when we do not listen and or obey...He must do some pruning or sifting. We flourish because of it, but it is usually painful at the time.

xoxo Annette

mandi said...

i am totally in camp #2. an example- i have the same pair of birkenstocks that i've been wearing for 10 years. really- john bought them for me our first year of marriage for christmas. back when he was only making $12,000 a year!

thanks for sharing your heart on this...

Sadie Dodson said...

Hi Stephanie. I have been seriously behind on any blog reading and I am up while the rest of my house is quiet (soo rare!). I was wondering what you guys had been up to. I love your recent posts. I really appreciate your heart and honesty with these issues that so many of us deal with daily!

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