When I’ve thought about the essence of Twenty Pieces, what we really want from it, I’ve realized there are two primary motivating desires behind this project that can appear to contradict each other, and can be summed up in two words I used to confuse.
Julie and I were drawn to this project by both our aesthetics, our love of beauty and style, and our desire for asceticism, the willingness to deny ourselves daily pleasures or luxuries in order to grow in our love of God and other people. I’ve noticed that some of our readers are drawn towards one side or the other, but it is my hope that we can all embrace both in our journey towards better closets. And a better closet, like anything in our life, means one that makes us better people. Yes, I think one’s closet has some power to do that.
And really, the reason why I’m so excited about this project is how multifaceted it is. This blog is essentially a kind of fashion blog. We’ll be talking about shopping and style, we’ll be posting a lot of pictures of lovely clothes, talking about fashion inspirations, rounding up our favorite products, and featuring our favorite stores, brands, and bloggers. All that can seem like it has very little to do with, or is in fact the opposite, of ascetic principles, but it doesn’t have to be.
Ours is a gentle–really a sort of wimpy–asceticism. Where the monks of old had their hair shirts, we’ll just be sticking to a white cotton blouse. Where the Desert Father’s fasted for days, we’ll be trying not to buy so many pairs of jeans next year. And while this can seem silly, it really will be a challenge, a fast, for me at least.
It is easy for me to hide behind my clothes. When I’m uncomfortable with my life, my body, my looks, my bank account, or my future, my tendency is towards dressing up or going shopping (many times both). I confess to you that I have often buried pain or sadness under a brand new dress, rather than taking it to God or my community (and, in this, I know I’m not alone). I have indulged and comforted myself when I should have been still. And so I am ready to remove the crutch and trip and fall on my own reality, if I have to.
Yet I also know that beauty can be healing in its rightful place. There is no need to dive into ugliness in order to know God or love people, and I want to embrace good beauty, a beauty that does not distract but uplifts. So I chose not to be ugly or plain, but to be real and honest and more myself. For me, this means having a wardrobe that I love and is good for me, but not one that is an ever expanding source of distraction. It is my hope that our somewhat arbitrary limitations will help us grow in love of beauty, in reality with God, and in loving responsibility towards our fellow man. Is that a lot to hope for from a fashion blog? Maybe.
But I’m going to do it anyway.