CONVOS ABOUT CLOTHES: WITH CHLOE ELGAR

 

WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO CLOTHING?

For most of my life, clothing has been a source of love. The thing is, when I say love I don’t mean artistic and unconditional love, I mean temporary love. As a child I was never really into clothing and outfits. I was pretty much a tomboy- getting dirty and being one of the boys with my older brother. It wasn’t until I hit my teens (and had eating disorders and became super focused on appearance) that fashion and clothing really became a part of my life. 

It’s interesting looking back because people have always said that I have a very classic and “put-together” sense of style- and it was most of the time not rehearsed or forced. My mum is really stylish. She just knows how to put an outfit together and how to mix patterns with other patterns and clash colours in an acceptable and inspiring way. So I suppose I grew up with that; fashion osmosis. 

All through high school and University I was really into clothes. Of course, this was always dependent on the state of my body. If the clothes and sizes that I wanted to fit, fit- then all was good and life was good. If the opposite were true, then things weren’t so good. I was having a conversation with a Financial Intuitive for my podcast (Conscious Conversations) this week- and she mentioned that there is a study demonstrating that addictions and diseases like eating disorders can sometimes transfer to shopping addictions. In my case, this is absolutely true. 

Fast-forward to present day, my relationship to clothing has evolved deeply over the past 10 years. I am much more conscious of the power of instant gratification. I still love clothes. I still love a fresh, new outfit. However, I have also learnt tools and techniques to let a short-term desire to pass me by, and turn to sustainable choices instead. 

I would say that the consistent aspect of my relationship to clothing is that it has always made me feel better. It makes me feel more me. I love how an outfit can really accentuate an emotion. I am a total mix of feminine and masculine and a lot of the time- my masculine side comes out (in my day-to-day life). This is probably a result of the power and protection that I feel in my masculine energy. 

Clothing was my way of dealing with emotions and changing how I felt in difficult and challenging moments. I would go shopping, get new clothes and immediately feel better about myself.

DO YOU LOVE EVERYTHING IN YOUR CLOSET? 

Simple answer: no.

Full answer: I really look forward to having all of my things in one place so I can do a full closet overhaul. It’s been a few years of observing people from afar talking about living with a few pieces and circulating their closet- and feeling inspired and drawn to it, yet not ready. I think I’m ready. I was actually thinking about this today. When it comes to clothing one of the biggest things for me is comfort. How does it fit? I used to be very obsessed and focused on only wearing things that were tight and showed off my form (back in the days when I was athletic and pretty underweight). So I suppose my biggest fear when it comes to a 24-piece closet or even less is like- what about when you have those days when you don’t feel good in anything? And all you want is that new outfit that fits amazing, feels fresh and looks great.  Honestly, in writing this I’ve already found my answer- it’s all about options. The more options you have and become accustomed to, the more difficult this all becomes. 

I am moving towards a more minimal closet. Prior to this adjustment- there was no way I loved everything in my closet because sometimes I would go through binge shopping episodes and buy items on a whim- only to get home and realize that they didn’t fit well or I just simply didn’t like them. My thought is that whenever you make a decision outside of yourself- you may end up with something that is not in alignment with who you are and doesn’t fit your expression. Luckily, this doesn’t happen much (or ever) anymore.

DOES IT MATTER TO YOU WHERE YOUR CLOTHES CAME FROM? WHY/WHY NOT?

It didn’t used to. When I first became plant-based and a Holistic Nutritionist, that paradigm did not transcend to clothing. I was still an unconscious fashion consumer, buying things that I was drawn to irrespective of where they were made, how they were made and the materials they were made from. I mean, I am writing this wearing a black leather mackage jacket from Aritzia. I still have a ways to go. However, I am very much warming up to the idea and concept of conscious consumerism when it comes to clothing. I want to learn more about materials and how they are affecting our world and the environment. 

The thing is, I grew up in Malaysia- so it’s not like I am blind to the factory workers and the mass-production factories of Asia. I grew up knowing about them. But for some reason, because the information was never presented to me in a negative way and the conversation wasn’t ever discussed- I never contemplated it.

I would say that it has only been in the past 2 years that I have actually become aware of clothing and materials and started to slowly make more of an effort and more energy into the investigation. I am a brand ambassador for sustainable clothing companies (Karma Athletics, Nicole Bridger) and love what they are supporting. I look forward to working with more companies of the like and to gradually shift my clothing and closet and fashion completely. I like to remember, much like what I tell my clients with regards to nutrition and food—Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to change patterns and belief systems and rewire our homes and how we live. The second that you fall into judgment about it, it’s pointless. 

So I am working towards what makes me feel good and creating true alignment in my life- especially with regards to consumerism. This is something that I see myself becoming more and more passionate about as my being/true self continues to move in alignment. Education and awareness is so important though. We can all walk around in this world in complete unintentional ignorance- simply because we don’t know what’s actually going on. I think that if everyone truly knew what went down and how people/animals/the environment was treated in order for us to buy nice things- it would happen a lot less often (and eventually, not at all).

One step at a time. One day a time. 

WHAT ITEM/ITEMS IN YOUR CLOSET MAKE YOU FEEL BEST, WHY? 

It really does depend on how I’m feeling. 

I love wearing jeans. I love how they fit, feel and look. I’d say my “uniform” is usually a short (long tops don’t suit me as well because of my shorter build), colourful (pattern or solid colour) top, jeans, a leather jacket and a lovely pair of flat shoes (hello Everlane). Oh- and scarfs. I am all about scarfs. I’m also big into dresses. Like I said, it really depends on what energy I am living in, in that moment- masculine or feminine. I love colour. 

The funny thing is- I have this strange belief that when I wear dresses too much, I get fat. Because I don’t have something wrapping around my hips and legs and holding me in- and keeping things tight on my tummy- I naturally eat more and gain weight. It’s crazy. 

I remember I went to a inverse yoga therapy practitioner and he told me that I needed to stop wearing high-waisted tight jeans and that I needed to wear more dresses and be more feminine. He said it was bad for my lower back and interrupting the flow of energy. He may have been right. I think that the constant in my fashion nowadays is comfort.

I was telling Chloe- when I first met my husband (post-eating disorder recovery) he would describe my fashion-sense as comfortable. I was offended. In my head, comfortable meant fat and lazy. It’s similar to how I would interpret “healthy” or “glowing” too as fat. Now, I realize that comfort is amazing. Comfort is self-love, confidence and alignment. 

WHAT ARE YOUR SHOPPING HABITS LIKE? 

As I’ve mentioned, they have changed a lot over the past few years- especially in the past year. I would say that they used to be very sporadic and unplanned. I would go shopping if I had an event coming up or if I wanted to feel better about myself.

Now, I shop much, much less.

I think I am still learning what my new shopping habit is like. I am learning how to repurpose pieces. I am not much of an online shopper- because that supports the sporadic and reckless spending side of me. I read a study about spending habits and how swiping credit cards and online shopping actually have a much less impactful effect on the amygdala and neuron firing in the brain. So, we don’t feel as much from these types of payments as we do with paying with cash and in person. It makes total sense.

I think it’s very similar to the food industry (and a lot of the relative consumer industries in the world). Things are changing. It’s clear that global consciousness is shifting. More people are becoming interested in how they feel, who they are and how that is expressed in the world. Conscious choices are taking place as more information is becoming readily and easily available for the everyday person. There is still SO much that we don’t know, and SO much that we need to do to make change, but as I’ve mentioned, one day at a time. 

I think that it’s easy to focus on what isn’t happening and what is wrong. Everything is a reflection of everything, and we can do the same things in our personal lives (focus on what we don’t have or don’t feel good about). The more challenging and much more effective thing to do is to focus on what is good and creating positive waves. So, yes there are still a lot of companies (majority) that are exploiting, harming and causing pain in the world. However, there are also some incredible companies who are taking action and doing what they can to change that. Conscious business. It takes time to shift all of the harm that has been created in the world. No matter what industry you look at or use as an example, corruption is there. I also think that more education and awareness efforts need to take place, and it starts from the educational systems. It starts with the kids. 

As with the food industry, making changes in a company comes with a cost. Obviously, it’s much less expensive and way better for a companies’ bottom line to produce in the developing countries. And up until recently, that has been the standard. Turning a blind eye, becoming desensitized to what is really going on, and making a certain small group of the world very, very rich. The entire business model must change. And I think that it is.

It all starts with each individual’s choices. Every choice matters. Every action makes a difference. So, I’m grateful to be a part of that change.