copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2016 – Marceline Donaldson
With your beauty regimen taken care of – unless someone else has another version – it is time to tackle your clothes.
Advice is coming from all over, at this time of year, on what to do in your closet – New Year’s resolutions to make – and more, all around your clothes closet.
We have very strong advice – ignore all of it.
The worst advice being given out is for you to go into your closet and ‘clean it out’ of all those things you don’t wear. Some say throw out clothes you haven’t worn for a year. Others have guidelines for throwing away your clothes which are just as ridiculous.
We are a throw away society, but somehow our clothes have not come into the discussion. Our advice is – whatever clothes you buy look at them as having to last a lifetime and then some, because you want to keep your clothes in such condition that you can pass them along to your children and grandchildren.
Clothes are not to be thrown away anymore than all those other things that we use and toss should be throw aways.
I have clothes from my childhood and in my closets are clothes that belonged to my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother and I wear them all. It is a glorious time getting dressed because I put on the armor of the ages – my history on my back. It is amazing how that helps when you get into something that is not quite pleasant or into controversy of some kind or into a very pleasant time which adds to the memories and becomes entwined in the threads which make up your outfit.
That used to be easy to do because the materials used for clothes were long lasting. The silks wore like iron. The cottons lent themselves to many transformations as the generations passed. All you have to do is to be aware and take care of your clothes. That means not throwing them on the floor, but being disciplined enough to take care of them when you take them off. Put them in a dryer on ‘air only’ to make sure you don’t take little animals into your closets and use things like organic essential oil of lavender to keep the moths away from your woolens and other kinds of materials on which they like to feast.
Clothes don’t go out of style. With a little skill with the needle, thread and scissors you can transform and re-create your clothes into something the material never dreamed it would become. Hems go up and hems come down – your widen and then you shrink and then you widen again. You don’t have to wear everything within the same year for it to be relevant and/or something you need to toss.
Those who recommend you ‘clean your closet’ are really cleaning out your pocketbook. Making sure you are ready to be marketed to with this seasons’ styles – just make sure when you do buy clothes you buy timeless items and not the trendy kind. The trend is not your friend. It is what keeps many women broke trying to keep up and look like this year’s models – spending tons of money to look like those 13 and 14 year olds.
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a model. I wound up on a few billboards and in a couple places, but what I could do was limited. Why? Because to really model the top clothes you had to be at least 35 years old or older. Why? Because it was deemed you had not lived long enough and didn’t look mature enough to be able to elegantly carry off the clothes being designed. Today, if you are 18 years old you are practically over-the-hill as a model. Those 13 and 14 year olds are who we look to as our style icons. Now there is a sick society. How have we let this happen? Why would I want to wear clothes that look great on my grandchildren? And it is people my age that have the money to spend. My grandchildren have what they are given by their parents and grandparents or what they work to earn at less than minimum wage – so what is gained by using this age group to market the latest fashion trends?
If you keep your clothes in good shape and wear them every few years, they will keep you looking good for as long as you want to look good. I am amazed at how up-to-date and forward looking are some of the clothes made for me as a very young person.
Today, I am searching the estate sales for coats, furs, shawls, scarves, matching hats, etc. No one wants them and they are being tossed out of closets at break-neck speed. I bought a beautiful green sheared beaver long coat for $50. It is so in style that the comments I get are – ‘where did you get that coat’ – ‘I want one of those’ – ‘that looks fantastic’. And I will have it for many years to come. Where did I get that coat? From someone cleaning out their closet who didn’t want that old thing because she didn’t wear it more than once every two or three years and all the advice put into her was that those items are items you toss.
I have a gorgeous pair of gold and black satin dress shoes which belonged to my grandmother. She looked fantastic when she wore them because her legs were her best feature and those shoes showed off her legs beautifully. I didn’t inherit those legs – that part of the gene pool went to someone else, but every time I wear those shoes I remember the times I saw her in them and she becomes closer to me. I inherited many of her values and for that I am grateful. Wearing those shoes or just playing with them in my closets renews many of the things she taught me growing up. Not the least was – ‘waste not, want not” – a saying this society finds foreign. A concept we need to re-discover and to use it in every part of our lives.
My grandmother was a modiste. She designed and made clothes and in her teen years apprenticed to a Parisian designer by the name of Mrs. Wolf. I wish I knew more about Mrs. Wolf or Wolfe, but I don’t. Maybe someone will recognize the name and give me some history of this woman who set my grandmother’s life on the path it took until she died. I also wish I paid more attention to and learned some of her sewing and design techniques. What I learned was through osmosis, mainly, but my head does turn at a well made outfit. I do tend to look at the seams and the way something is made before I take it into my wardrobe and I can wield a needle with a little proficiency. Can’t say the same about my daughters, but I can brag about my granddaughters proficiency at design and sewing. So that talent will carry on – not as their main vocation, but it will run, skip and hop alongside whatever else they do. Hopefully, they will also ignore the marketing and advertising which encourages them to throw away and clean out their closets on a yearly basis so they will have room to add more.
One article advised that you clean out your closet with a well disciplined friend who will not let you ‘get away with’ keeping those things you don’t currently wear. How awful to so mislead the public into an activity which hurts all of us. I just turned a wedding gown into a beautiful ‘dress-up’ outfit. The gown was lace – and the kind you can’t get today. Not the synthetic lace, but the real thing. It was white so I dumped it into a large pot of tea and now it is a beautiful color. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, the color came out blotched and uneven. That only added to the elegance of the newly evolved dress. I saved the scraps remaining. Who knows what they will become, maybe even years from now. The lace will certainly last.
My suggested New Years’ Resolution for you is to avoid those who are telling you to ‘clean out your closet’ and think about the environment, the sacrifices made by those who created the outfit, made the materials, and in some cases the animals whose lives were taken for what you are wearing. Protect your clothes, take care of them and gradually you will come to see a new outfit from an older one, a refresher turn in the dryer, and learn to clean your own clothes so the materials which destroy us and what we wear will not take hold in your household or in your family.
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