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The Zen of Fashion

cycler1729 | Posted in General Discussion on

I saw this on a site called Fashion Cents and I thought that it really related to what we do.

The Zen of Fashion
Zen scholars proclaim the Middle Way, or moderation, in everything. This means not too much, and not too little.

Applied to fashion, it takes on new meaning. Not too much: who needs the same shirt in 10 different colors? Not too little: don’t suffer in the cold because you don’t have a warm coat.

Finding the perfect balance of simplicity and style can be a delicate issue. You want to balance the yin of being tasteful with the yang of being trendy. This is where the Middle Way can help you. Enlightened monks wear nearly identical robes, of which they have few. They wash them and wear them until they are worn thin. Their robes may have been handed down from other monks. They mend them by hand when they tear or do not fit.

At the same time, they always dress with care. None will be seen dressing sloppily or wearing the wrong type of clothing for the occasion. They have elegance and dignity. Everything always fits correctly. They even wear jewelry when appropriate.

And so, all of us can learn something from these brilliant Buddhists. Though we might not choose to wear their robes, we can choose their simple understated beauty of dress and appearance.

What advice would they give a fashion victim? Here are 10 precepts of Zen fashion:

1. Do not buy or have more clothing than you need. Getting rid of what you do not need is a good place to start. Resolve to toss or repurpose something whenever you buy something else new. A closet full of unworn, unappreciated clothing is like carrying your house in your purse.

2. Do not have too little clothing. Having too little is also unacceptable. You will be unhappy if you do not have clothing you can enjoy and appreciate. You need a few things of beauty to make you smile.

3. Have awareness of what you wear. Do not fall victim to trends – wear what suits your body and your temperament. A simple person does not need flashy clothing.

4. Have awareness of when you wear. Knowing what clothes to wear when is as important as what you actually wear. Wear clothes according to the weather, and when formal occasions are called for, have some clothing that is more than just your ordinary wear. It shows your consideration for the event or host.

5. Treat your clothing with respect. Wear your clothing carefully, wash it gently, and repair it yourself and learn how. It will last and become loved.

6. Do little harm. Be aware of where your clothing came from, and ensure that as few living beings as possible were harmed in its making. Look for clothes in natural materials and by companies who do not exploit workers.

7. Practice moderation in adornment. Don’t wear too much jewelry or makeup. Instead, keep your makeup minimal, and wear one or a few pieces of beautiful jewelry for special occasions. A little jewelry can give style to otherwise ordinary outfits.

8. Be frugal. Spending a lot of money is another way of causing harm and going against the belief in simplicity. Instead, create full outfits of secondhand clothes. With a little planning, they can be as beautiful.

9. Have a ritual. Whether it is placing what you will wear on your bed, or wearing your clothes in a certain order, dressing slowly and carefully, paying attention to getting dressed, puts you in the moment and helps you appreciate the clothing you have.

10. Carry yourself with elegance, but not vanity. Don’t stand there admiring yourself in the mirror. Wear what you will and check yourself front and back in a mirror to be sure you are dressed appropriately, then stand tall, be calm, and walk away. Confidence is vital to dignity.



  1. Ckbklady | | #1


    That's great and weird all at the same time. Thanks for posting it. What is the site? I'd love to read more.

    :) Mary

    1. cycler1729 | | #2

      It's http://www.geocities.com/remedypage/fashioncents/

      Glad you liked it.


  2. jatman | | #3

    I really liked that, too.  Thank you for sharing it.


  3. JanF | | #4

    Some good points ...and some I don't really agree with unfortunately... but it takes all sorts to make the world go around.
    I, however, still want to be an individual not a number( a quote from The Prisoner - a 60's cult TV programme over here)so I will probably only aspire to a few of the tenets...and be naughty with the rest!

    1. rodezzy | | #5

      Here, Here!

  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #6

    Moderation is all things is not a bad goal, but a little bit of indulgence is good for the soul. Do no harm is always a good way to live, as farmers, animal and land stewardship is always the first concern, after all, we live where we work. Cathy

    1. cycler1729 | | #7

      I agree - after all excess is what has gotten this country in it's current situation. 

      I think that never indulging yourself is as bad as overindulging but only if you're not going into debt for it.

      I think that the one thing that I took from this article is that balance is important - the idea that too few clothes is as bad as too many.  I don't need a lot of clothes but there are some things that I want and it's ok for me to sew them even if they aren't necessites as long as I'm able to afford it.


  5. purpleque | | #8

    This is a great story to read.  As with most things, take what applies to you and leave the rest.  Thanks for sharing.

  6. stitchagain | | #9

    Thanks for the post-


    It sounds like another post I read here recently: Slow Fashion  originally from Fashion Incubator.  Designers designing with classic long term looks and wear.

    Slow seems to be a trend.

    Slow Food

    Slow Aging



    1. sewslow67 | | #10

      I never thought about it before, but I guess (with my screen name) that makes me a real Zen Sewer ...(sewist ...sewing person ...stitcher gal ...needle pusher ...thread chaser ...thimble hitter ...pin puncher ...;-). 

      1. cycler1729 | | #11

        I've always been a speed sewer - I never loved the process so I sewed just to get it done because I wanted to get to the result but I realize now that taking my time is much better.  

        Of course, I'm much older now!

      2. stitchagain | | #12

        I am not an expert on the slow movement, but I think it's not always about speed (or slowness) but intention.

        So with sewing- would that be sewing a well crafted useful garment?

        This is something I would like to know more about. 

        1. damascusannie | | #14

          I agree that "slow sewing" is more about taking the time to really plan a project rather than the sort of thing I used to do when the kids were little: buy a bolt of fabric and whip out six identical dresses in a couple of days. It was a necessity then, but I'm glad that I have the luxury of time to plan these days.

          1. stitchagain | | #15

            Slow Sewing   versus    Slow Fashion

            Lately- that's just what I've wanted to do:  Alter a dress to fit impeccably that will make me look great & then make it out of a few different quality fabrics.

            But which dress?  Finding something I really like on myself has been difficult always, but I think the answer must be thru simplicity.


          2. damascusannie | | #16

            You know, when you look at the really flattering fashions of the past, what always strikes me is that they are very simple in line and decoration. The more "froo-froo" stuff that's added, the less adaptable they are and the quicker they look obsolete. Coco Chanel's little black dress and her basic skirt and short jacket are probably the most classic example of this. KISS really applies when it comes to clothing.

          3. stitchagain | | #19

            I saw Casablanca the other night!!

            Fitted jacket with simple peplums, A-line skirt a little on the long side.


            Did they look great!!



          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #20

            Is that not the classiest look ever? Elegant, smart and pretty all at the same time, and can be done in almost any fabric. Cathy

          5. Teaf5 | | #21

            I agree; a peplum jacket and A-line skirt are still my favorite go-to shapes for dressier occasions. Designers of RTW have finally figured this out, and I've seen several recently.

          6. sewslow67 | | #17

            Hi Annie:  I sew slow because:

            I try to match pattern and fabric perfectly so as to flatter my aging figure

            I'm trying to stretch my color choices and be less conservative (which seems to be taking me more time than it "should")

            I spend time to attain impeccable fit

            I love details, albeit not the "fru-fru" stuff

            I want all seams finished, with no raw edges anywhere

            I also think that, as we age (no matter our weight or shape), we ladies need to be more careful of style choices (don't want to look old, nor do I want to dress like a young chick) ...and quality must prevail.  A cute young thing can get by with a quickly made dress that lacks top rate sewing skills, but later in life, that doesn't work out very well.  Just my opinion, though.

          7. damascusannie | | #18

            I think you are right--as we get older, we need to be more careful about fit. A slim young woman can get away wearing a dress or suit that doesn't fit quite perfectly. More mature figures need the help they can get from a correctly fitted outfit.

  7. Teaf5 | | #13

    In a way, these sound like the tenets of Coco Chanel, re-written in the language of post-Y2K.

    "Slow Food" and "Slow Sewing" just weren't possibilities around our house until our children went off to college!

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