Saturday, 20 September 2008

Do clothes make the man (or woman)?

As a woman in the 21st century, I admit that I have a love
of clothes. Not an over-indulgent, buy a new wardrobe every season obsession, but I like to spoil myself once in a while with a cute sweater or a nice skirt. I get caught up in the new fashions, and in making some sort of attempt to make my shoes match the outfit. Every year I go through our closets and donate a bag of stuff to Goodwill. I have enough clothes that I can put my winter stuff away for the summer months, and vice versa in the winter. I only buy things on sale or clearance, and can rarely bring myself to spend more than $25 on an item. And I keep my favourites a long time - I'm still wearing a lot of stuff I bought in high school.

But even all my frugality aside, do I realize just how much I have? I am learning what it really means to "need" a pair
of jeans or a shirt. To be honest, I could probably go the rest of my life and never need to buy another item of clothing.

Above is a picture of Ghandi. He is wearing clothing made from cotton grown in his homeland of India, and spun by himself into the outfit. And this clothing is doing exactly what he needs it to do, nothing more and nothing less. It is protecting his skin from the elements, and actually looks quite comfortable. Clothes actually were a part of who he became, as he advocated for both giving away unnecessary worldly possessions, and supporting his homeland's economy with what he did purchase. He knew that he could speak volumes in the small details of his life.

The further I get from my teenage years, the less important clothing seems to me. I'm beginning to understand the importance of the idea that "the Lord looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart". I have been blessed with more than "just enough" to get along in this life, and there is much, much, much more I can do with even the little amount I spend each year on treating myself to new clothes.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm giving all my clothes away to wear a sash of Canadian-spun white cotton. But I'm definitely seeing the "must-have-fall-line" of clothes in a new light. And while clothes might not make the person, it is impossible not to see that they do say a lot about who you are. It is a dangerous sliding slope from wanting to take care in personal grooming (a good thing) to being caught up in outward appearances.

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