Back in January, I gave up clothes shopping for a year. You can read about my journey here and here. This post is part of my effort to reinvent my wardrobe and look good, without being a rabid consumer of cheap crap.
On July 1 I hit my six month anniversary of not buying any clothes. In honor of hitting the six month mark (and our 7 year anniversary at the end of the month) Dave gave me a lovely button-up shirt and skirt from Banana Republic. It was all fancier than I would have ever bought myself. I mean, I dream of shopping at Banana Republic, but I never do, because more than $10 for a top? I’m not made of money, Banana Republic! Yet, Dave, the man who’d rather walk around in socks with no heels than pay the $10 for a brand new pack of tube socks, bought fancy clothes for me. He said he just wanted me to “feel as smart as I am.”
And that pink button-up top, wrapped in tissue, that wasn’t on clearance.
I was also gifted a $20 gift card to buy something at Target for the conference. Then, this week, I had a lovely lady named Liz come help me look at what I had for clothes and put together some outfits. She taught me many things and I planned on putting together some outfits based on her suggestions, taking pictures, blogging them, and then declaring victory over consumerism. Six months without clothes shopping and I still look good! I wanted to say.
Yet, as I reviewed the photos of each outfit my triumph diminished. I tried to pull more outfits together, and I started sweating and my hair looked harried, and each picture looked increasingly desperate. I filled another bag of clothes and took them to Goodwill before picking Ellis up from the sitters.
Now, you can see the bottom of my drawers even with all of my clothes in them. All my hanging up items fit into my closet. The only items I have in storage are a few winter sweaters. My supplies and my resolve are depleted.
I just want to look good.
It seems so silly to feel this desperate over clothes. But Liz, who helps women dress and shop for a living, tells me that most people feel this way. Most women, when she comes to help them, end up crying into their Marc Jacobs handbags because there is something about the process of clothing ourselves–covering flaws, emphasizing assets, choosing colors that bring out our eyes or those auburn highlights we secretly hoped made our hair look red in the sunlight–that makes us feel that we have control. And when that power fails, it reduces us to all the vulnerabilities we try to hide with flattering cuts and colors, belts and hemlines.
I’ve always thought I was above that. Turns out, I think I’ve just thought that I would look good if I tried. But I don’t try. Until now. And it wasn’t quite the silk from sow’s ear scenario I imagined. I’m still me.
A well-put together outfit transforms us into the version of ourselves we want to be. Bold and daring. Soft and feminine. A carefully orchestrated waistline hides the flub. A neckline gives us eye-turning grace. Every movie heroine, after she turns a corner, gets a new wardrobe. We signal life change, momentous occasions, with the costume of celebration.
But in the end, it seems, it’s all pumpkins and mice. The flub is still there and no carefully tailored pant can give me the illusion that my pancake butt is somehow as full and as confident and as fabulous as I want to feel.
As transformative as wardrobe can be, it can be equally as devastating when all of the magic of polycotton blends fails to give us what we need. This is the time when I would go out and buy something, anything. And I did. With the gift card, I bought a sweater carefully chosen from Liz’s suggestions. But I’m returning it tomorrow, because it doesn’t look quite right. My first piece of chosen clothing in six months and it doesn’t look like magic, or confidence, or cool unassuming style. It just looks like a sweater.
Maybe it’s just clothes-induced ennui, but tonight Ellis and I ate a whole frozen pizza, while we watched Law & Order with no pants on. Dave was out, so it was just us girls, snuggling, self medicating (ibuprofen for her, wine for me), and taking a break from all the things we think we should be so we can just be what we are in the moment; tired, a smidge whiny, with chubby thighs that need some fresh air.