What a Healthy Relationship with Your Clothes Looks Like

Selflessly Style | Ethical Blogger

Your style should be treated as delicious icing on the cake, not the ingredient that makes you who you are. 

Ellie Hughes

Have you thought about the relationship you have with your clothes? 

It affects you more than you may realize. Whether you consider yourself someone who is "into fashion" or not, you have a relationship with your clothes. You put them on every single day (at least I hope you do!), and they speak on your behalf to those around you before you even open your mouth. 

I had never thought much about my relationship with clothes until I got into this whole ethical fashion "thing." Looking back on most of my adult life, I realize that the relationship I had to clothes was actually quite toxic. 

I treated clothes like a boyfriend that I was totally dependent on, constantly seeking validation from, and never feeling like I was good enough for. I was obsessed with what I wore, and yet never actually could figure out my style. I was addicted to trying on new outfits because I never felt good enough in what I was wearing. I would get a massive crush on a garment that I saw for sale somewhere, but when I actually bought it and wore it myself, it would feel... disappointing. Like a fancy new car you drive off the lot only to realize it's value has depreciated by thousands of dollars just because you've driven it. 

I was dependent on clothes for my external identity but they could never provide it. And I despised them for it. Always buying, always throwing out, never content with my closet. 

Fast forward a few years full of lots of growth and, hopefully, a little wisdom gained...

Because I am not dependent on my clothes to give me a sense of worth or speak to my identity, I am able to appreciate them more. Think about it this way: Once you start being confident in your own skin and stop requiring your significant other to provide constant validation, you're actually able to enjoy them more as a person. It's not that you love them any more or any less, but you've shifted your expectations of what they are supposed to "do" for you. You're able to appreciate them for who they are.

I finally shifted my expectations of what clothes should do for me, and now I am able to really enjoy them without demanding or expecting that they make me feel beautiful. Sure, a great outfit makes me feel amazing, but the base of my confidence is not dependent on it.

Because of this, I am able to calmly resist the urge to buy new things on a bad day. I am able to invest my money in fewer, better (ethically made) items without feeling like I'm missing out on anything. 

As crazy as this sounds for a "fashion blogger" to say, I actually somewhat enjoy wearing an outfit that's not my favorite because it helps me realize that it has zero actual power over what I accomplish that day ...unless I let it. It shows me just how far I've come.  

So. Do you have a healthy relationship with your clothes?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. When I buy new clothes, am I purchasing them because I feel like I need them to be good enough? 

  2. Do I get easily disenchanted with garments after wearing them just a few times?

  3. If I have on an outfit that I don't like, does it stop me from being my best self that day or change the way I interact with others?

If you answered "yes" to any of those, can I encourage you to put a little thought and intention into reclaiming the control in your relationship with your clothes?

The next question in your mind is likely "Ok, so how do I get from where I am now to a healthy place?" 

there's not one easy solution for this, but here are a few things to consider as you pursue a positive shift in your thinking about clothes:

  1. Go on a "purchasing fast" and don't allow yourself to purchase anything new for a while. This will stretch you to both appreciate the items you already own and prohibit you from relying on new garments for your little "confidence boosts."
  2. Explore why you bought the garment that you quickly realized you don't like after bringing it home. Did you buy it because you wanted to look different? If so, why? Get down to the root of your purchasing motivations. 
  3. Next time you feel like you don't love the outfit you're wearing, challenge yourself to intentionally "show up" (both literally and figuratively) for everything that day in the same way you would if you felt like a million bucks. 

It takes practice. 

As you've probably figured out, our relationship with our clothes is entirely dependent on our relationship with ourselves. 

Don't try to use fashion as a band-aid for deep wounds that need actual care and attention. Trust me, it doesn't work. Sure, it makes you feel a little better for a moment, but you need to address the bigger issue. 

Do I want you to find your personal style? Yes, of course! 

Do I want you to love everything in your closet? Yes, obvi! 

Do I want you to feel like a freaking queen every time you get dressed in the morning? Duh!

But let's keep first things first. 

Your style should be treated as delicious icing on the cake, not the ingredient that makes you who you are. 

Your style should be an expression of who you are, but never the actual source of your identity. 

Your style should be something that you control and shape, not something that controls you.