Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lessons Learned

Here I am, the day after Black Friday, thinking back to two years ago when I had begun my year-long break up with shopping.  That means it was only one year ago that I reunited with shopping.  I remember it vividly.  It was on that day one year ago that I wrote this email to Caitlin, the one who inspired me to take on the challenge.  So what has it been like, allowing myself to freely venture into stores and spend money on clothes, shoes and accessories again?  As I've shared here before, there were many lessons I learned during my year of no shopping.  Here are just a few of them that come to my mind today.

Lesson #1: Less is more.
One of the reasons why I felt so discontent with my closet was because I had so many ill-fitting, poor quality pieces in my closet.  I didn't want to get rid of them, but at the same time, I never wanted to wear them.  I purged my closet and kept the pieces that fit well and were made well.  I still clean out my closet at times to make sure I'm not holding on to things I don't wear.  A good rule I try to follow is to donate one piece for every new piece.

Lesson #2:  Choose quality over quantity.
During my year of no shopping, I actually did some shopping with gift cards/gift money from special occasions, but because I was limited, I became picky.  No more impulse buying.  Pre-break-up I would just grab a bunch of stuff and not try them on.  The result was a closet full of clothing I never wore.  In order to find pieces that fit me well, I started to shop in the women's petites section instead of the junior's department.  If I'm looking for a well-made timeless piece, I look for quality brands, even if it means spending a little more.

Lesson #3:  Lifestyle defines personal style.  
Pinterest is great for finding style inspiration, however, one day in the middle of winter, I recreated an outfit I had pinned, but soon realized that I was freezing cold. Also, my outfit was made of pieces that were not conducive to my duties as a momma of two little ones.  Another time I recreated a work outfit I had seen, but when I got to my classroom, my shoes hurt my feet and I felt hindered and unproductive the whole day.  It was then that I started deliberately thinking about my personal style.   One word came to my mind: comfy.  At the same time, I didn't want to sacrifice style for comfort.  I became @howcomfy on Instagram and I started the hashtag #comfymommastyle and #comfyteacherstyle to document the outfits that worked for me.  I've met several sweet moms and teachers who really encourage me in my style endeavors.    

Lesson #4: Look for remixable pieces.
This is the fun part.  Instead of buying outfits that could only be worn one way or for one occasion, I purchased pieces that I could mix and match.  Style bloggers like Audrey from Putting Me Together and Caitlin from Greater Than Rubies, have taught me a lot in this area.  I started buying pieces that I could wear for different occasions.  I've also participated in Caitlin's remix challenges where you choose twenty pieces to remix exclusively for thirty days.  I've learned how to shop my closet, and it has helped me to be a better steward of what I own and to be content with what God has given me. 

Lesson #5: Trust God.  
I am amazed at how much God has blessed me through this entire "style journey."  Never in my life have I felt so content and provided for.  There have been times throughout these past two years when someone would just give me clothes or I'd get a gift card from a student.  Another cool thing that has happened during my style journey has been the clearance sales at the Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor stores here.  Because they are consignment stores, I have been able to purchase name brand pieces (some still with tags) for only $1!  I'm not necessarily saying "trust God and He'll give you clothes" although He does say in Matthew chapter 6: "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?'...For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  What I'm saying is when you trust God with every aspect of your life, He is always faithful.

Sometimes I get really self-conscious about my participation on social networks with regards to "style."  I worry about people judging the things I post and write, thus allowing the enemy to rob me of any kind of joy or peace.  At the same time, I've learned so many things that have strengthened my relationship with God and has helped me minister to others. 

As this holiday season marks another year of my style revelation, I've been reflecting on some of my experiences, and I know that God can use our experiences to point us to Him.  I'm trusting Him to use me in whatever way He wants to use me.  Starting today, I want to share more of my experiences through this blog.  I hope you'll stick around and join me once in awhile.    

P.S.  Linking up with The Modern Austen for Sunday Best!