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July 2, 2011 / Danielle

Checking In

So here we are; a mere fourteen-and-a-half days out from my halfway point. Wow, y’all. That’s kind of crazy.

A year ago today, I was buying new clothes at least – at minimum – every three weeks. By this I mean there was probably a time when I went three weeks without buying something. More often, I shopped every-to-every-week. Not always something expensive (in fact, rarely expensive), not always something huge; but all those little tights and socks and headbands and earrings added up, as did the $6 blouses, the $19.95 skirts and the occasional can’t-live-without-it or well-why-not-it’s-only $40 dress.

It didn’t always add up to a terrible number, true. But by God – did it ever add up.

I spent so, so so very much of my money on shopping. I also invested so much time in it; it was my hobby! It was fun! It kept me active, trolling from store to store, and it kept my heart racing; what deals would I find here? What goodies could I score for my limited funds?

More, and more, too, I’m finding that my sense of fantasy is fueled by shopping. (We’ve discussed that before.) Once I realized that so often, I was shopping for the life I daydreamed of having rather than the one I was actually living? It’s been like a slow dawn. More and more, I’m seeing that what’s in my closet has to reflect who I am now, not how I would like to think of myself or my life.

Every item of clothing I bought that didn’t suit my lifestyle? Is money I took out of my own pocket. Some pieces, sure, give me so much pleasure (the cupcake skirt, the vintage lace dress) that I don’t care that they’re impractical – it’s such a joy to put them on that it’s worth the money I spent. But everything else? Every jacket I bought that I’ve worn three times, every pair of brightly-colored tights that I felt was such a deal, all the many, many little knit tops I picked up for cheap – if they’re not something I’m wearing, and on a regular basis, they’re a waste of funds.

My Great Purge has been kicked up into high gear, now that I’m a literal month away from moving cross-country. I blazed through a stack of pieces that I loved once; the black sequinned dress, the pink buttoned skirt? I got them for deals, they were difficult to style,  I loved them but not enough to keep them. In my closet as is, there are things that I like better and will always reach for first. And so? They’re out.

It should be an easy process. But my god, y’all, I just have so many things. Even the purging so far hasn’t changed the overwhelming feeling of my closet. I have dresses I love and enjoy for miles and miles; I could wear a new one every day for a month and never repeat. (Honestly? I’m pretty sure I could make it close to two. If not three.) And then, of course, there are blouses, and tops, and skirts – oh, skirts – and really? I just continue to be amazed by what I have. And what I have not yet worn – not yet – six months into not shopping, and there are still pieces I’ve yet to show you.

I’m moving, very slowly but steadily, closer to having a wardrobe full of first-run pieces. A closet that’s nothing but hits out of the ballpark. And I’m shocked at how quickly I’ve gotten used to just not shopping; I don’t feel much of the pangs or the urges often anymore, though when I do, I almost always can recognize it for the manifestation of stress that it is. (Or . . .sometimes . . . things are just really cute.) When in dire panic (a relatively popular mode for me at the moment, being thirty days out of moving across the country), I want everything. I want security. I remember the promise of the future that buying new things used to feel like, and I want that little high of the achievable goal. (Settling in a strange city is gonna be a challenging couple of not-shopping weeks, let me tell you that.)

But the things I need, wardrobe wise – a pair of neutral shorts, a cherry-red cardigan, a cargo jacket and black yoga pants – are completely different from the things I crave (that dress at Target, that anthro top). I’m sure I’ll find I need to work at striking a balance between shopping for pleasure and shopping for need, once I’m done with my year off. But right now? I somehow can’t imagine buying things without feeling guilty. There is so much in my closet. And so much of it I adore! Shouldn’t I just be chomping at the bit for more days during which to wear it? How could I think of dishonoring it so by adding yet another competitor?

When all of my dresses are my favorite dresses (working on it, Great Purge), won’t it be just the most wonderful argument with myself to get dressed in the morning?

I know halfway is only halfway, though. There’s a whole other side of the mountain to walk down. (And I’m not even at the peak yet.) (14.5 days and counting.)

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