I've been giving a lot of thought to clothes. Part of this is because Peter and I, in the process of simplifying our lives, have decided to do away with a lot of our clothing that lies in excess (ie.... we wear it once a year, if that.)
Likewise, as an organizational measure I've taken to preparing the kids outfits for the next day in stackable boxes, switching them out with clean PJ's at morning dress time. I'm going to do this for us too--- hang ONE entire outfit per hanger (you know the ones with the clippies for pants and such) and leave it at that... we don't need 900 outfit combos, just 8 or so perfectly usable outfits that we can interchange once in a while if we get bored.
For me this is especially important because of my Carmelite calling-- while we don't wear the habit of a carmelite nun or brother (although we may be buried in one if we so choose! yay!) we do wear a habit of our own-- obviously, we wear the Brown Scapular. That being said, we attempt to simplify our lives and focus more on God and less on the world, and fashion is a big part of that because it identifies us so well-- so it makes perfect sense to me to be doing this stuff during my aspirancy-- sorting out what is and isn't a good idea to keep and have etc.
In doing so, I have to keep in mind my husband's wishes (I'm a wife first and a Carmelite second, right?) which are (and I quote) that I remain "hot" and don't "look like a nun." (Huge bummer for those of you who know me, because i'm very drawn to islamic style dress---long dresses and long sleeves, covered from head to toe, haha)
My first thoughts when it comes to what my own "habit" would look like is about footwear, funnily enough. And that's because I've entered into a DISCALCED (or barefoot) community... that is, the Carmelites who follow Teresa of Avila's spirituality didn't wear shoes, or wore rope sandals only, as a form of penance and to embody their simple spirituality--- pray much. detach.
Now, if I really was going to be a discalced carmelite, then shouldn't I be discalced as well?? Of course, I haven't yet met a Carmelite in my community who does this, so I might be being a little bit extreme in my thought process, but it was a relevant part of Teresa's spiritual disciplines, so I (obviously) want to make it a part of mine. Thus, I have researched the most long lasting, hard wearing, good for your feet, environmentally responsible shoes on the market far and wide, and discovered that my dad was totally right--- it's all about birkenstocks. I've had a pair of birks in my closet for as long as I can remember. And I think I've worn them all of twice. Birks are cute in a peace-and-love kind of way, but they certainly aren't CUTE in a semi-trashy kind of way, which anyone who knows me knows I like.... none of my shoes have heels less than four inches. True story. I thought long and hard about this sandal thing and decided that one super sacrifice I could make for the Lord would be to wear birks...because I'd be solidary with my discalced sisters all over the world, because I'd be seriously hampering my own pride and vanity and that can be nothing but good, and because quite honestly, I wouldn't have to think or worry so much about what I was going to wear. (more on that later) and I could spend all that time changing into twelve outfits before I leave the house in prayer. Which is the whole point, right?
That being said, I live in North Carolina, and short of wearing my handknit socks with my birks, (and yes, I'm sure I'll probably do that too--- I work hard to make those babies!) my toesies will freeze and I'm a wimp. I didn't have to think too hard to determine what would be a good winter shoe for someone interested in simplicity-- a shoe that goes with everything and that is good for you and your environment and your life--- before I thought of the Ugg Boot. Now uggs I've been wearing since time began, it seems like, and I'm in love with them for exactly those reasons-- simplicity, ease of use, good for the soul (and sole! haha.)
So it seemed that my shoe habit would go from simple to simple: uggs in the winter, birks in the summer. Done. (I'm sure I'll keep at least one pair of leather boots, however, to wear when I try to dress up on Sundays... more on that in a minute)
The rest of the wardrobe basically followed the shoes. I have a friend who has a MAJOR problem with people who wear jeans to church. She thinks it lacks reverence in a major way. Which , hey, I can totally see her point. On the other hand , I think about those people whose "nice" outfits consist of jeans and a nice shirt, and I think, hey, that's what fashion is like now. It also causes me to be somewhat frustrated when I myself wear jeans to church. I wonder how many people I'm bothering. Even though I've carefully selected them as the best outfit to wear out of the choices I had that morning, one that is respectful and says that I care about being there, it still can cause a HUGE stumbling block for another.
The more I thought on this the more I observed dress around me at church, and I realized something even more interesting.... I dont like pants. I get really irritated when some woman in a power pants suit with short hair is a lector or something (they are always the ones who non gendered language, going as far as to change the text in the lectionary).
I think they make pants these days that can be extra flirty and cute and "Girly" but that there is nothing cuter and more girly than wearing a nice skirt. Some women wear pants very deliberately... there are a couple of women like this in my congregation who do so to make a statement. One is a celibate lesbian, and the other is a total feminist. These women wear pants because they want you to know they have the RIGHT to do so. There are a few women I know who would "never wear a skirt," because it would be too wierd and girly for them. I think that says something about what a skirt is: it represents traditional femininity. Now, I like a good pair of jeans as much as the next person, but in light of all that thinking I've decided that I am definitely prepared to sacrifice my enjoyment of jeans for glorifying God by enjoying a skirt instead-- so I'm planning on sticking with skirts and no longer wearing pants. Just because, by doing so, I can make as much of a statement as miss lesbian and miss feminist are doing at my church. I can say "I choose femininity and grace because that's what God created me for." And you know what? There is NOTHING cuter than a good jean skirt (although MAN are they hard to come by these days!)
So, part two of my habit contemplation is that with my shoes will go a skirt.
Part three, of course, was that the top would just have to be modest and that really isn't too much of a big deal-- a shirt in the summer and a sweater in the winter. Done.
Colors? Why mostly browns, creams and blacks of course, like my Carmelite sisters. ;)
And one more thing--- what about Sundays? Although I'm trying to simplify, does that prevent me from observing the sabbath by dressing up on Sundays? After all, I'm still living in the world, right? It would be rather strange if everyone was wearing a cocktail dress and wrap with stilettos to the Epiphany party and I was wearing uggs and a khaki skirt, correct?
Shouldn't I be giving God my all time best and not causing people to think I'm totally strange? I'm still pondering this question, but I think the answer is that I should have some sort of "dressy" outfit for Sundays and special occasions, kind of like Class Bs in the army. I think it's important because of the fact that I live in the world, I'm married, we go out often enough and we obviously go to Church on Sundays, and my husband doesn't want me to be too "different" (My habit of headcovering already boggles his mind in this department...hehe.)
Back in the day, nuns wore what they wear today because the habit was the simplest clothing that existed in their time. In other words, the habit looked like what simple people would wear--- they didn't stand out but rather blended in and looked ordinary, plain. Nowadays, religious dress looks "Extreme." I think it's important to keep that in mind when I ask myself these questions, because what we wear and how we look speaks to the world and says something-- it makes a statement. The statement I would like to make is that I believe in God and I want to be holy. What do you guys think?