Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby Steps Towards Plain

Plain dressing has, for years, fascinated me. I think Quakers who are plain, the Amish, the Mennonites, Monastics, are all so beautiful in their way. What attracts me to their way of dress is the simplicity and the plain-ness. Now, without being a part of a community that has such a uniform, dressing in such a manner would almost be presumptuous, like going around dressing like a Pirate all the time would be presumptuous. It would be dressing in a costume.

My long time readers will remember that I did a project two years ago, in the autumn, where wore the same two identical brown dresses for a month. It was an exploration of simplicity. It was a fast of sorts. It was a way for me to confront my own accquisitivenes and my own vanity. It is time for me to do another such project.

This time, I am calling the project "Baby Steps Towards Plain". The parameters and the goal of my project will be a little bit different, and I have not thought completely of all that it will entail just yet. But I will, and when I do I will let you, my dear readers, know.

This has been brewing for some time now. You see, last winter, I learned about, and decided to invest a significant amount of money (which I had earned by sewing) into a program called "Dressing Your Truth". When I bought the program, I was just wanting to find some sort of system whereby I would finally be at peace with my wardrobe and with the question of "what to wear". I went through the lessons, and at the end, I thought "For THIS I spent ALL THAT MONEY??????" Yes, it was ridiculously expensive. I thought I would get more, and I felt ripped off. But then I decided that the advice was good and I would make the best of it and get my money's worth, by dingy. This meant that I started investing in costume jewelry and (five dollars here, three or seven dollars there...) and looking at my thrift store clothing purchases in a new light, with an eye to cut and color and style. I bought a faux snake skin jacket. Yes, it fit the DYT "rules" and it "looked good" on me, but egads! I did not look like myself. Gone was the ragamuffin, and arrived was this sophisticated, worldly-wise looking woman. I felt like I had lost something. And then, as the weeks and months went by of me trying to "dress my truth" the TRUTH finally hit me: In order for ME to DRESS MY TRUTH...I would have to start wearing a head-covering again (1 Cor. 11...I can never fully get away from that passage in the Holy Scriptures). This was ME dressing my truth. Not exactly what the author of that program had in HER mind. She'd probably say something about blocking my chakras or somesuch. Garbage, folks. I purchased GARBAGE with my hard-earned money. God have mercy!

But it DID get me a nifty cardboard color chart and it DID get me out of wearing so many flowy clothes that I really DID feel somewhat ill-fitted (read: redonkulous) in. So I DID learn a few valuable nuggets from the DYT course, and the Holy Spirit DID use it to remind me of what once was...and of a "podvig" that's been laid on me by God for whatever reason. I think Roman Catholics might use the term "sacramental" to describe how I feel about wearing a head covering for prayer and in obedience to Scripture and to honor the Theotokos (Mother of God).

So, here I am. Two years ago I did that "Brown Dress Project" of mine and I think I am ready to revisit it in revised form. I'm going to think about "the rules" and get back with you on what I"m doing.

I will say this: Today, I bagged up all my costume jewelry: the bracelets, the necklaces, the earraings...all of it. I'm wearing my usual "wedding rings" even though none of the rings on my hand are from my actual wedding, since I lost the stone to my engagement ring and my hands are too puffy for my wedding band...sigh. I am wearing a cross around my neck on a string. The cross and one simple band to show I'm married will stay. The rest...who knows. But the rest of the jewelry is packed away. It is my first baby step towards "plain".

P.S. I do not do this to make the statement that wearing jewelry is sinful. That's not my theology. But for me, it is distracting. Same with the rest of what I am about to unearth. I hope you, my dear readers, do not take this as judgment on my part, of anyone, because it's not meant to be.

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