Disclaimer: This post was originally posted on Fashion North.
I am a Buddhist and care about what I wear.
Lay people like myself are not required to wear anything specific. Some Buddhists voluntarily wear yellow or white to represent the ‘Middle Way’ which is something we believe in. Yellow is also the colour of Buddha’s robes.
Other Buddhists wear modern clothing but focus on the colours of the Buddhist flag; yellow, white, orange, blue or red. The different colours represent the important concepts of Buddhism.
Simplistic clothing must be worn within a Buddhist temple and should be observed when practicing meditation so many lay people wear collared shirts, polo tops and loose-fitting pants.
I have not been in a Buddhist temple and do not follow these voluntary practices strictly.
I care about fashion as a Buddhist, although some lay people see fashion as an art. Fashion for me is about expression and self-confidence. It helps me show compassion for myself as I care about what I look like to the outside world. Fashion is a passion of mine and keeps me active in my Buddhist practice.
Buddhism focuses on relieving suffering and some lay Buddhist’s may say that fashion causes suffering from the people who make the clothes to the products that are used. I take those into consideration when buying my clothes but I still have equal thoughts on how I want to show my personality through my clothes.
I wear monochrome clothes most of the time. They have little or no patterns on them to keeping my clothing simplistic but, unfortunately, I bow down to the pressure from society to “look good” and on a budget. Some Buddhists make their clothing in some Western countries, but I don’t have the skill or time to devote myself to that.
Instead I buy some of my clothing from charity shops to give money for good cause. It also detracts me from buying frivolous clothing. I buy what I need but I buy things that are on trend in the current season. It keeps me and my values happy. It also demonstrates that I can put Buddhism into the culture that I have been brought up in.
I also buy from cheaper clothing stores on the high-street. I’m a high-street girl to the core and wouldn’t dream of buying anything from boutiques. Whilst I am partial to a trip to Topshop or Debenhams, it is a rare occurrence.
I would also like to point out that fashion is impermanent or anicca. Styles change from season to season so suffering is not necessarily prolonged for me. I can adapt to trends and can switch up my style when I want to. I like the flexibility of being Buddhist and how there isn’t a narrow path that we must follow. There are expectations but no rules.
The same can be applied to my accessories. I do wear gold, silver or black simplistic jewellery that isn’t heavily adorned with stones or shiny diamonds. I take more care with my jewellery as many people will have suffered through laborious tasks to provide the pieces.
Aesthetics have become far too important within society for me and many others to ignore. Some have the willpower to ignore it but unfortunately I don’t. I am mindful of the clothing I do wear but I am free to wear what I want to as a Buddhist. Fashion is an art rather than an adornment parade – for me at least.