Ah, THIS again!
I'm not sure why this is with me so often lately.
and I don't think it's really only about dress - it's simply that dress is one of our more "public" choices - and one we engage in daily.
I have been thinking about simplicity of lifestyle (as opposed to the more spiritual-as-not-practical) for a while in many terms
-Biking rather than driving
-trains rather than planes
-Housing, my current dilemma - should I share my 9oo square foot, 2 bedroom apartment with another human in addition to myself, two dogs, and three cats? It's not at all an excessive amount of space for an average american, but it feels excessive to me sometimes (and heating bills are going up!)
But clothing, too, is an issue for me.
But what, exactly?
Things about Plain dress that call to me:
- fair trade (was it made by forced or exploited labor? most mainstream "fashions" were, and not just Old Navy, Land's End and LL Bean too)
-environment (growing cotton is traditionally amazingly pesticide-heavy, synthetics are just gross and golly-knows what goes into making them! Not to mention shipping and fancy, loud, over-lit retail outlets)
- having too much (this is where I still fall down, baadly. I swear, I have no fashion sense, but I still have 20 pairs of shoes (more?) not to mention way too many of all sorts of clothes - including things I haven't worn in a year)
- the "slave to fashion" thing. Though I have to say that I'm not sure one escapes this by dressing Plain. I have even seen numerous comments about the attention it gets you (as if this is somehow our ministry - people will ask us about God if we dress funny - excuse me for being flippant)
Things that shove me away:
- any hint of "cultural conservatism" - the parts of it that come from the notion that women should be covered to be acceptable in God's eyes. The parts that say "This gender should wear this stuff" (that it is partially about codifying gender). The overlap with communities that believe marriage is one man/one woman, and what's more, the man is boss.
-the idolization of difference (ie: "I am holier because I set myself apart from you" It's my understanding that this is much of why quakers gave up "official" plain dress. That the idea was not to be distinctive, but simply to be plain (which, as many have pointed out, is more along the lines of jeans and t-shirts these days.)
Almost everything I own is used these days (I mean, I bought it used) but not everything. This takes care of the environmental and labor concerns. I try to buy new things that have been ethically produced, but sometimes the things I can't find used I also can't find "fair trade" (barrettes for my hair which is growing out, a really good (for Minnesota) winter coat, which I still won't need for a few years I think- actually, I think I can get one from Wintergreen)
This is an interesting point for me, because it would be less of an option if I did not live in a country where lots of people buy more than they need and give it away when they're bored with it (so I am participating in a less sustainable system - in my ideal world everyone would own 4 outfits and wear them until they were not wearable - and there would be no used clothes for me! - but in a more sustainable way, yike!)
And yet, I might be a "slave to fashion" - I've never been very "girly" and have sort of a casual hippie dyke "style" . I have heard many women talk of "indulging their "girly side"" and having a facial, or "dressing up" (in heels and an evening dress, or whatever) - very much NOT my thing. And yet, if my own quirky, relatively simple style was "taken away" from me, how hard would that be for me? Not as easy as I'd usually like to think, I fear.
I also really like color, and I do experience it as a celebration of an aspect of God, and not something that detracts (like owning too much, or thinking too much about how others see me) I like lots of colors, and I like them bright. I assume God likes color too. So there
Yet another day, no answers, lots of questions.