Monday, March 12, 2007

Lenten Clothing Fast

When she was a teenager, my sister Alicia Hernon came up with the idea of the "clothing fast." During Lent, she limited her wardrobe to a handful of multipurpose garments, about ten, for the duration of the forty days. It was she who gave me the idea of applying Catholicism to the wardrobe in ways beyond modesty. I've experimented with different ways of dressing ever since: when I was single, I conceived of the idea of the Seven Dress Wardrobe, which I've long since abandoned as impractical at this stage in my life (But it worked great when I was single!).

These days I keep "liturgical dressing" to the barest outlines, but one easy parameter to meet is Lent. My Lenten clothing fast is as simple as this: I put off changing from my winter wardrobe to my spring wardrobe until Easter.

Now that the weather has taken a decided turn for the warm here in Virginia, this is when the "clothing fast" becomes hard: it's hard to wear black shoes and carry a dark purse (or wear black anything!) when spring is bursting out all around in pastel and sunny yellows. You're so anxious to shake off the brown winter sweaters and pull out the short sleeves and the sandals! Even beige and khaki seem airy when compared with the forest greens, ruby reds, dark blues, and yes, blacks that I wear all winter.

But what relief and fun it is to pull out the white shoes, white skirts and pale pinks on Easter Sunday! Easter comes to me now in floral scarves and wicker purses, in everyday clothes as well as the once-a-year Easter bonnets. My girls look forward to getting into the seasonal storage almost as much as I do. It's a lot easier for us to celebrate forty days of Easter when we welcome back the spring and summer wardrobe.

And even though I do wear black even in the summer (New Yorker, can't help it) I try to save it for after Pentecost Sunday. :)


Christine said...

What a wonderful idea! Of course, we've already broken out the Spring wardrobe, but I might do such a thing next year. I'd never thought of such a thing.

Thanks for a wonderful blog, by the way. I'm glad someone pointed it out (I forget who did it now).

God bless!

LeeAnn said...

I have been trying something similar, although it is an all-year-round practice, rather than specific to Lent. I resolved to wear the same outfit everyday until it was dirty or unwearable for some other reason (such as being inappropriate for going to Mass or too light for cold weather, etc.). Yes, I do change undergarments and socks daily, never fear! But for me, this eliminates a lot of "what do I wear?" dithering in the morning when I should be attending to the children's needs.

It also shows me which clothes I really don't need (the ones that don't make it to the hamper--i.e. haven't been worn--by the time I've run out of clean underwear and have to do laundry again).

Also, it helps me grow a little in humility. Some days I do think, oh, so and so saw me in this outfit yesterday, what will she think if I'm wearing the same thing again today? And then I realize, one, your clothes aren't that important. Two, so what? Three, no one probably notices or keeps track of what I'm wearing on a day to day basis besides me anyway.

Typically, an outfit will last me two or three days. Sometimes less, depending on the baby and the various fluids, mucouses and solids that accompany him. And when I say "outfit" I usually mean jeans, t-shirt and long-sleeve button down cotton shirt or cardigan. Nothing fancy.

I love wearing skirts everyday, but I have very few of them and I'm a little burnt out on wearing the same denim skirt everyday right now. It's the only one warm enough to wear in cold weather, and the only one full enough for an active day. I also need to acquire some nice boots to make winter skirt-wearing more practical. (So I can wear tights or leggings underneath. Skirts look very strange with socks and shoes, in my opinion.)

Anyway, I like your no pastels & white til Easter rule too. My daughters put their black dress shoes away at Easter until Labor Day (if by miracle they still fit six months later) and pull out the white ones--although this year, it is pale blue strappy Hanna clogs.

Regina, your old article on Liturgical Dressing made such an impact on me, I still try and wear at least the liturgical color on Sundays! Sometimes just a scarf in that color, especially if it is red or purple. I remember trying to do it everyday, but those green days really got to me! :)

Dave Richards said...

This is really nice to read...thanks for sharing this with us...and well since Easter is coming up in a while i'd also like you to drop by my blog on Easter Wishes and Greetings sometime and check out all the fun and joy it's filled up with...i'm sure you'll enjoy your visit!!!

Raindear said...

What a sweet idea!

Last year I covered all my mirrors with sheets, but I like your suggestion even better because both the penance AND the reward are in keeping with the season.

Dad29 said...

Let us assist you.

Pretend you're in Milwaukee. Here, tomorrow, we expect sleet/snow showers.

See!! It's not so warm!

Bridget said...

Hey there, old friend! That's a great idea for Lent. But I have to say, after the worst of Winter is over in Virginia, which usually is February, March 1st is a celebration for me! It's my 2 year-old's birthday, it signals the end of the worst month of the year (February), my birthday is in March, St. Patrick's Day is in March and the first day of Spring is in March. So, my tradition is this: No matter how cold or snowy or whatever it may be on March 1st, I put away my long Winter coat, switch to sandals (no matter what! No exceptions!) and wear a lighter jacket.

Lent brings daily sacrifices for me, so I really feel that March is such an important month to "wake up" and start being more Springy! Hibernation is over!

Anyway, just really wanted to say hi, how are ya!?! And, what's wrong with wearing black during warmer months?


The New Yorker!

regina doman said...

Hi Bridget!
Nothing at all -- of course! ;)

WondrousPilgrim said...

regina: thanks for these ideas--i love them! This year I have tried to wear black every day. As a working woman (gosh--I hate that phrase) I have to look professional, so having a small wardrobe, or wearing the same clothes over and over doesn't work. But almost all of Lent I have worn all black, and other days I have worn at least a black top or skirt. It is not noticed by my colleagues, but it is an easy way to keep in mind the season, without "standing in the streets doing penance".

Its hard too--right? When the sun is shining, and the daffodills are coming up...

Red Cardigan said...

I think the idea of a clothing fast is a good one, and I may try to incorporate something like this into my Lent next year, as I'm inordinately fond of clothes.

But there's no way here in Texas I could avoid pulling out the lightweight clothing until Easter! It frequently hits the upper 80s long before Lent is over, so unless we bought a lot of short-sleeved dark colored t-shirts I don't think we'd make it.

Still, you've given me food for thought. Maybe next year I could 'fast' from open-toed shoes until Easter? Now that would be a sacrifice in these parts!

esha said...

your son is so cute.