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July 6, 2011 / Danielle

True Confessions

At T-minus 9-days-til-half-way,  I thought I’d play a little game of truth-or-dare and admit a couple of things that are still popping up;

1. I still freaking adore playing dress-up in my closet.

As the seasons have changed, especially, I’ve found it’s still one of the mini-joys in my life to play mix-and-match with what I have. (It hasn’t hurt that I finally shed some of my post-winter chub, too, and that now a lot  fits that used to be rather uncomfortable.) Truthfully, guys, I can spend an hour just moving things around, making outfits, working on new combinations. It’s fun especially to go back to most of what I wore in in the winter and pair it with a little skirt, or a sleeveless blouse. Simply, truthfully, I love my clothes.

2. I have so many clothes.

Having the luxury to go back over my wardrobe and know, to an exact count, what I have been wearing and how often? Strikes a little fear into my heart. When I didn’t have the literal specifics in front of me, it was easy to play the “oh, yeah, I wore that a month ago, I’m sure” game with myself. Now I’m confronted by the minute details. “Yes, I’ve worn that skirt five times in the past six months” or “Huh, I guess I’ve only worn this dress twice”. When I think about all the money and energy (and time/effort spent acquiring that money, and all the other useful things I could have done with it) that I’ve sunk into getting things I’ve only worn twice? It’s hard. I don’t want to say it wasn’t worth it; because I do love my things, and they do make me happy, and odds are I’d spend the money again, given the choice. But it’s definitely, definitely, definitely causing a slow but steady shift in the way that I value new clothing.

It isn’t that I don’t think the $25 spent on that skirt wasn’t well-spent; it’s a nice piece, it’s a good shape, etc etc etc blah blah blah. But what I am trying to retrain myself to consider is this. If I am faced with the option of purchasing a new skirt, for another $25? Could I instead just make an effort to mix in my current skirt option a little more? If I could get 5 more wears of what I already own, instead of dropping the money to swap in this new piece, then . . . isn’t it worth it to me to keep the funds and go back to getting the best value out of what I already have?

Now, this little insidious thought is totally wise, and absolutely awakens my clothes-monsters. “But I want it!” shrieks my inner five-year-old. Which brings us to:

3. I still wanna buy new clothes a lot.

Yup. Despite the changes in perspective, and the new appreciation I’ve developed for the vast and booming wealth that is my wardrobe, I still just want new things sometimes. It’s better on some days than it is others. Like everything in this process, it’s related to stress, and it’s also just cyclical; a period of easy abstinence followed by a period of intense craving. Both of them pass. (And now, I’ve found a third trimester of simply ‘forgetting shopping exists’, which I’m thinking is mostly related to being extremely busy . . . but I like it very much.)

Right now, the new clothes-beast has to do with wanting to treat myself to something. ‘You’ve had a rough busy time” or “Wow, you’re doing so well on your to-do list”. “I just want to congratulate myself, okay??” says myself to myself. And because I haven’t shopped now in almost six months, and because historically, the checkbook would veto a mani-pedi or a nice meal (I’ve never had a problem spending money I don’t have those things)? I default back to a “but it’s only $40 and it’s preeeeetty” mode.

Which is part of the reason that:

4. I’m no longer worried (much) about completing the year.

I feel like I should go outside, turn around three times, and spit having said this (or as my old boss would have said, “Cancel cancel cancel!” – in lieu of ‘knock wood’), but I’m pretty sure I can make it through the year. Part of my confidence is due to knowing the bounty of my wardrobe better. Now that I’m more familiar with it, and its possibilities, I’m able to see more easily that there are probably decades of outfits within it. I just have to be a little creative, willing to keep myself in shape (Pilates, I have got to keep you up), and take good care of what I have. And yes, I already have a list of what I’d like to buy when the year is out; but having gotten through as far as I have without any of it, I’m hopeful I can run another six months on my current supply.

I’ve managed to quiet the little voice in my brain that says “ooh, buy this!” when I’m looking for a piece to complete an outfit. I now feel comfortable and confident mentally digging through my closet, pairing stuff together until I hit on something I’m happy with. The immediate sense of “well I guess I have to go buy that to wear this outfit” has been happily quashed, for the time being.  I can work with what I’ve got.

That said . . .

5. I am pretty nervous about re-opening my wallet.

Partly because I anticipate being on a strict budget (my first year of student loans are going to have to help me kick some remaining tax and credit-card debt), I’m not sure, almost halfway through, about my ability to hold onto this carefully-won calm. I am worried about how well I’ll do once the floodgates are allowed to swing open again. As we’ve discussed, I’m much better at abstinence than at moderation. Two things could happen:  I’m hoping to grow stronger in my resolve and more confident and happy in what I’ve got; or I may make a list of what I need, get it, and then hop back on the wagon and keep myself banned from new things. When forced to shop my closet? I have yet to be completely failed for a solution. I’ve borrowed, I’ve finagled, I’ve had to page deeply through everything and spend ages trying on stuff til something worked out – but I’ve always found something wearable in the end, regardless of occasion.

I’m trying not to feel like a failure when I realize that I might always need some sort of shopping ban to help control myself. (And yes, I realize I have six months to go before I need really worry over this.) But I think it’s important to know that whatever I need to do to help myself reach my goals? Is whatever I need to do. I’m not good at the regular and constant consideration of “should I say yes or no”; but I can handle, with some grumbling and difficulty, a blanket ban. (It’s the having to think it over and weigh the options all the time that seems to get to me.)

In any case – there’s a whole ‘other-half-of-project downward slope’ to hit before I have to consider any of this.

And it’ll be a six months full of change, and a different lifestyle, and I may break down in my new-town loneliness and rush to Lululemon and buy six pairs of black yoga pants. (Though I only need one.)(And I mean, let’s hope not. But also, let’s not count our chickens . . . .)



Leave a Comment
  1. Kara / Jul 6 2011 4:09 pm

    I’ve been having similar spending issues. I’ve curbed my shopping (or at least purchase of new items) by following the 5 Piece French Wardrobe, which basically says that French women only buy 5 new items each fashion season (Spring and Fall). By limiting yourself to a certain number, in this case 5, you are forced to carefully consider each purchase and only buy the things your really need or want. Some similar restriction might be helpful to you when you go back on the shopping wagon.

    • Danielle / Jul 14 2011 4:56 pm

      Hi Kara,
      You’re totally right, thanks for the ideas!

  2. Jessica / Jul 29 2011 12:43 am

    Hi! I’ve really enjoyed following your blog! Thanks for being so honest with us. This post made me think of a book I recently read, Chastened, where the author confronts this sort of issue. It’s a little different than your ban, she gives up sex for a year, but it’s fascinating how much she learns about herself and then negotiates her decisions when that year is over. You might like it, I really did. Maybe when you are settled in! 🙂 I know the topic’s a little different but it’s a similar theme.

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