The attitude towards what we wear has changed so much in the past 100 years, that mending our clothes would seem both impractical and a waste of time, especially since, in the world of fast fashion, clothes need to look new and different, a concept which has reduced their quality or need to be constantly worn. Tibetan clothes ran on a different ideal; made from carefully treated lamb skinks or fine woolen cloth, they were made to last not only a lifetime, but several generations. A good wool shelma chuba, the main Tibetan dress for men and women, was a lifetime investment, and was pieced together from narrow lengths of fine hand spun and woven lambswool cloth. It was tight and indestructible.
Its long life, made obvious by artful patches, brought out its eminence, and the quality that its makers, if they were still alive, were so proud of. Patches and artful mends are also a sign of practicality, respect for thriftiness, and ode against waste. One wears what one needs until it no longer can be worn. It is not the look that matters, or the need to show off by wearing something new or expensive. A beautiful, carefully patched old gown draws respect for its lasting quality, a form of aging that not only bears shine and beauty but a glimpse of the wearer’s contentment with what he or she has, as opposed to seeking more.