The 7 Experiment: Clothing

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I talked a bit in my last post about this 7 experiment. If you haven’t heard about it, go check out Jen Hatmaker’s book 7. Great stuff. We have now completed 2 months based on this book. The first month was on Food. It was rough, but very eye opening. Next up was clothing. Seven articles of clothing for four weeks. Sounds kind of crazy, but I’m always up for a challenge. Being a stay-at-home-mom, this really was quite simple. The only person who sees me everyday is a two year old and she couldn’t care less what I am wearing as long as I keep her fed and clean, oh, and dance with her. My husband had it easy since he regularly just wears a T-shirt and jeans. Me, on the other hand, I like color and pattern and variety. So instead of trying to pick out the perfect set, I went ahead and let my sweet husband do it. He actually does quite well in picking outfits for me regularly. (Like when I’m standing in front of a closet full of clothes and say I can’t find anything to wear.) Out they came: 1-my best fitting pair of blue jeans. 2-a loose, gray T-shirt that says LOVE. 3-a navy blue polka dot tank top. 4-a cream cardigan (that I actually bought the day before we started this month… You know, the one where I’m supposed to realized how much clothing I already have? Yeah, that one.) 5-a loose, plum cardigan, which actually got switched out in the second week for a teal 3/4 sleeve shirt because I hadn’t worn it yet and couldn’t handle switching between two shirts every other day. 6-a simple black cotton tank dress. Which I’m pretty sure I only wore twice. 7-shoes which we counted as one, but I chose two pairs: navy polka dot flats and brown flip flops, but I mostly only wore the flats. I supposed I could have just taken a picture, but use your imagination.

Now this month was much easier than month one by many standpoints. It made getting ready a breeze and laundry was minimal so that was a major plus. But a few weeks in I started asking the same question I asked during the first month, “Why are we doing this again?”. This time it was for totally different reasons though. With the food, I just really wanted to give up on it (and that was after about three days). But this month, the experiment had hardly crossed my mind. I talked to loads of people about the crazy food thing, people who probably never even saw me eat a bite of food. But clothing? It came up only a few times, and mostly with people who already knew I was doing it. And you would think with something so tangible, like the fact that I wore the same pair of jeans for almost four weeks straight, that someone might have noticed. Then I realized something: Nobody cares! I mean, people care in general, but what I wear? Nope. No one cared that I wore the same shirt every other day and the one cardigan that I had because it decided to get cold in Southern California in March. That was pretty much it. No huge, profound thoughts. Just the realization that any time and effort and money that goes into my wardrobe has little to no appreciation. Maybe I just have amazing friends who are so not materialistic that they don’t notice things like that. Or maybe they did notice and thought something might be wrong with me. Either way, it was not anything grand enough to be addressed.

I am not a shopper by nature. I like to save money and am a self proclaimed cheapskate. Rarely ever do I buy something for myself, so when it comes to clothing, I shop maybe a handful of times a year plus a few more if there is a special occasion. And at that, its clearance or a discount department store type place. Gotta love a good deal. Also, it has to be husband approved so a lot of the time half the stuff goes back to the store. Let’s just say we have differing tastes and I figure he’s the one who has to look at me so normally, he wins. Now here comes my dilemma. The week after we finished our month of 7 articles of clothing, it was Easter. Easter is always a great excuse for a new dress. But I just got through telling myself that no one really cares, so why in the world would I go spend money on a new dress when I have a closet full of perfectly good ones? I thought about it… a lot. I really just wanted to go pick out a cheap dress and not make a big deal and just move on, but I couldn’t. We bought two Easter dresses for our daughter during this time, TWO! And returned them both because we decided they weren’t right for her. I think I was actually more concerned with what she was going to wear than myself. The decision was finally made: no one was buying new easter clothes this year. Or maybe I just ran out of time, that’s quite possible as well. Instead, I decided I was going to get creative. A yellow button up thrift store shirt and some lace trim became my baby girl’s homemade dress. I rummaged through my closet and found a white dress I had bought for our anniversary last year, added a few accessories and voila, Easter apparel 2014. Would it have been nice to have a new dress this year? Sure. Would it have been necessary? Not at all. Did anyone notice I wore a dress that *gasp* I had already worn once before? I doubt it. And I had so much fun creating a dress for my daughter. Now she will have that as a memory and hopefully be able to keep it for years to come. What a gift.

All this to say, I think the experiment is working. I am learning to be content with less. Not that we were necessarily extravagant in our clothing before, but I know that we can live on much less than we currently have. What a relief to not have to worry about my clothing as much. That’s not to say that I haven’t flipped through the closet over and over to “find” something to wear since the end of the month. But the pressure is much less, like my priorities may be shifting.

I think about verses like Matthew 6:28-30

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”

And Matthew 25:38, 40

“When did we see you … needing clothes and clothe you? ”  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

This led to a purging of the closets and gave me loads of ammunition for the next month: Possessions. Its gonna be a good one, stay tuned.

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