What I learned from wearing 10 items of clothing for 40 days

It’s true. With the exception of outerwear and shoes and accessories, I wore just 10 items of clothing for the duration of Lent. Three pairs of pants and three dresses and four tops. And let me tell you: it was illuminating, and humbling, and liberating.

I first stumbled upon the idea in this lovely blog, and it didn’t take much time or reflection for me to realize: Yes. This is it. This will be good. And good it most definitely was. My goal was to love Jesus more and to love things less. To put less emphasis on the things of this world and to focus my attention more on things that eternally endure. Not to think less of myself, but to think of myself less. And, I happily discovered, there’s nothing like wearing the same things over and over to bring about those fruits. Here are just a few little discoveries I made along the way.

I have a lot of clothes.

I never did believe what my mother said, but it’s true: I do have a lot of clothes. Many more than I need, in fact. There are some purchases I’ve planned way in advance, and others were a whim. Some items I long scoured the shelves for, some jumped out at me, some I nearly instantly regretted. After my extended fashion fast, it was a breeze to cull from my closet two bags full of clothes and six pairs of shoes to give away. It feels good to have freed up some hangers and floor space. And not only that, but I now look forward to shopping less often and more thoughtfully. To investing in classic items of high quality, ones that I’ll love and will last, that won’t get thrown into another giveaway bag next Lent. To starting my days with less frustration at an overstuffed closet. To living more simply.

Stuff doesn’t matter.

Because I committed to wearing just 10 items for Lent, I naturally wasn’t shopping for clothes. So the few times that I happened to walk through a store, or as I was bombarded by endless ads on the sides of my screen, I noticed that I had a growing distaste for stuff. While I once delighted in spontaneous trips to amble through the aisles at various clothing stores, or in seemingly innocuous minutes (hours?) spent browsing endless pages online, I now have a longing to spend my time in other ways. Sure, I still have an inordinate attachment to social media. There are plenty of other bad habits I’d like to break. But I consider this small victory one to rejoice in, as I’ve spent my time reading and praying and exercising, and my money on an upcoming trip. There is so much more to life than material goods.

I am not what I wear.

I casually mentioned my fast to a group of friends after Easter, and I was delighted by their response. “Oh, I just thought you were a minimalist!” one said. “I didn’t even notice,” another confessed. One of my biggest hangups as I approached this Lenten fast was this: But what will people think of me? As it turns out, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. And as I placed less investment in my image, I was freer to concern myself more with loving those around me. Limiting my wardrobe didn’t make me less lovable. It didn’t diminish my worth. In fact, it drew me out of myself, and gave me more joy. I could be free from the faulty notion that somehow, what I wear will draw people to me. I am not a consumerist mannequin designed to attract, but a loving and beloved daughter, sister, friend.

And all it took was 10 items and one penitential season to remind me of that.


How about you? Would you ever do a fashion fast? Have you made any discoveries lately about living simply, or loving Jesus more than things, or your innate worth?





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