It happens more frequently than I’d like to admit—I stand in front of my closet thinking, “I have nothing to wear.” I know I am not alone because every one of my girlfriends has uttered the same outcry, “I have nothing to wear.” So a few months back I counted the number of dresses hanging in my closet.
Yep. 117 dresses, and nothing to wear.
I’m still not entirely sure why I counted the garments, because what followed was a sense of shame, guilt, and disgust. How could I tolerate such excess in my life? No one needs 53 black dresses, not even if half of them were on sale and they all looked amazing in a different way. But even worse than owning 117 dresses is owning them and frequently declaring that you have nothing to wear.
There’s a quote attributed to Bill Blass that claims, “If a woman has a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear, she doesn’t know herself very well.” Sometimes I feel like that is true, and other times I feel that I know myself too well, which is why none of my clothes provide fulfillment. I know that I want so much more out of life than just looking good, but I also know that the right outfit can make my whole day better. So how do I merge these ideas? How do I love what I’m wearing, but also do something impactful?
The first step is to acknowledge that owning clothes, buying clothes, and in general, wearing clothes is necessary. On top of that, fashion isn’t bad. On the contrary, fashion is a life source for many people. Everyone wears clothes, and someone needs to provide them. Millions of people are employed by the fashion industry every year, over 4 million according to most sources work as designers, manufacturers, buyers, fit technicians, consultants, retailers, and more. So my owning 117 dresses may be somewhat excessive, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. I love clothes. I love getting dressed up. And I don't need to wear the finest designers or the trendiest lines, but I do like the confidence that the right clothes can provide. For me, the key to finding the perfect outfit came when I shifted my consciousness from "I have nothing to wear" to "wow-so many options."
Slowly, I learned to see how my love of clothes could make an impact. I truly believe that purchasing power is true power. The sale of By Grace's dresses this year have provided for the employment of four women in Ghana, for the purchase of three sewing machines (each machine is the equivalent of six months' wages for a Ghanaian woman), and helped send five children to summer camp. Those dresses that are now hanging in closets across America made a difference.
Both working on and wearing By Grace, while also shifting my purchasing patterns to other socially conscious brands such as Raven and Lily, Sseko and 4 All Humanity (all amazing companies that you should check out) has allowed me to buy clothes that fill my closet and my heart. When I stare into the depths of my walk-in, I now see a skirt made by Lamisi and a dress made by Lydia. There are stories hanging in my closet, and that inspires greatness in my day.
This is just the beginning of a lifelong perspective change, but I no longer feel as guilty staring at my multitude of attire options. Yes, I’ve added a few more dresses over the last several months, but these were handmade by women I have met, women who see the hope of continuous employment, women who want to share their talents and creations with others who have style and a passion for fashion. And that makes getting dressed infinitely easier, because I assure you I now always have something to wear.
Until next time,