My act of hope in a funky summer: Resisting the urge to purge

I’m into clothes but not fashion, if that makes sense. While I applaud the industry’s acceptance of sustainable fabrics like biodegradable mycelium, fashion is still the world’s second most-polluting business, according to the UN, and produces 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Yet another reason why I love to dress myself in secondhand duds.

I love cute, casual outfits that ever so slightly communicate that I did think about what I put on this morning. Like making my bed, it makes me feel good every time I pay attention to what I want to wear to feel my best.

So while I love clothes, I don’t collect clothes. Not even close. Every year around this time, I eye my closet with what can only be described as suspicion. With the impending change of the seasons and my ruthless “even if it’s cute, even if it fits, if I don’t wear it, it goes” policy, as the days slightly shorten I always start to look at what I wore and what I didn’t over summer.

Needless to say, this year the tradition won’t work. It would be, as my kids say, “No fair.”

Because, of course, Covid. I mean, I didn’t even wear my slightly nicer tops.

Like many of you, we’ve mostly been at home…since March. I don’t have a clue what kind of pandemic family we thought we’d be, but it turns out we are the kind that stays within 90 minutes of our house all summer. I already knew I was an ambivert and a homebody (though I deeply mourned undoing the flights and reservations for a five-week overseas trip), but since we already live in Boulder near inexhaustible bike trails, ridiculously stunning hikes, campgrounds, creek spots and outdoor exercise classes—we didn’t feel the need to “get the hell out of here,” so to speak.

So we stayed, and I wore my same thrifted midi dress, or quick-dry shorts and a tank top. The dress was thrifted but with the tags still on when I bought it, and I’ve worn it so much I’ve already had to mend it once; I tried to reach something waaaay in the back seat and busted a strap. (In a “it does pay to hold onto stuff” twist, I used a box of embroidery thread I’ve had since I was 10 to find the perfect shade to re-tack it.)

I remember the exactly one time I wore a nice dress this summer, in our communal green space for a casual going-away party. Since I missed dear friends’ out-of-town wedding due to Covid, I wore to the going-away what I’d planned to wear at their wedding—only with lacy Toms instead of wedge heels.

So I’m not getting rid of much from summer, and it’s not my norm, but it is my act of hope that I’ll wear more of my wardrobe next summer. I hope that next summer, I’ll blow out my hair and go to dinner, indoors, with gal pals. That there may be a wedding or two. That I’ll have date nights with my husband and wear wedges not because Boulder is fancy, but because we’ll be celebrating: each other, a return to relative normalcy, that we made it.

Here’s to holding onto what we have until we make it.

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