Let’s talk about shopping, y’all.
First of all – hey! Hello! No, I’m not dead! Nor am I out emptying my bank account on fabulous ensembles (never fear).
I have, however, been wonderfully, deliciously knee-deep in Shakespeare, West Coast winter (finally, an excuse to wear all those lightweight coats), and the awkward, gradual adjustment that means you’re growing and changing as an artist. (Nobody said it would be easy to shed most of your bad habits . . . )
At this point, today, I am literally two months away from being able to shop again.
I’m also returning to my retail gig for Christmas (hurray, monies to supplement student loans!), so I’m about to hit again with the constant stimuli of clothing options.
Guys? I’m getting a little nervous.
I do, actually, genuinely, need some things. A good pair of charcoal yoga pants, for one – that’s a reasonable request, I think. (Also, I’m fantasizing about anthropologie’s $200 sequin pencil skirt. That, perhaps, less so.)
But I really, really don’t know how I’m going to do when I’m unleashed back into the world.
Here’s what I do know:
My style right now is temporary. I’m dressing for graduate school, which means comfortable, and cute; but I’m also dressing for San Diego, which tends to be more laid back and casual – beachy, really – than Chicago ever was. This is delightful and grand; I’ve been getting plenty of mileage out of my more casual skirts, and all of my t-shirts. But it also means that anything I might buy to supplement my closet right now is unlikely to be useful to me beyond the next two years.
I think maybe that’s how I have to start thinking of clothing. I know I’ll never be able to buy as compulsively and mindlessly as I used to; in part because I’ll never again have the finances, but also because I know now that it means that I’m unhappy – a big, red, waving flag in my face going “something’s not right here! feed my soul!” I’m not so worried that I’ll immediately return to my old lifestyle . . . . but I am kinda scared of the creeping indulgence of “well just this one thing” or “two” “or three or maybe this is just an exciting little haul and . . .” suddenly my closet is overflowing, my bank account’s bankrupt, and my need for the new and exciting reborn.
I’ve spent such a long time saying no to myself that I’m not sure I’ll be able to say yes on occasion without forgetting the first part.
“Rules” in this arena have never done me well. (If I wanna buy this $30 prom dress, I don’t care if I’ve promised myself only one piece a month, or only practical things, or any of that. . . . I’m gonna find a way to pick it up.) What I am hoping I can do is learn to only shop when I’m in a rational enough emotional place to have the following conversation with myself:
“Hey, lady, so. This thing you’ve got on – let’s talk about it.”
“A. How’s it fitting you? Will it still fit after it’s washed? Are you chubbier or skinnier than usual today – do you feel good in it? Do you feel it suits the way you want the world to see you?”
“B. What’s the quality like? Is it going to last? Can you machine wash it?” (I have too much dry cleaning in the closet already – no more. No. More.)
“C – and most important – What do you have that’s like it? What would this be replacing? Where are you going to wear it, and how often, and keep in mind that this is in your actual life, not your daydream world, not your catalogue-style brunching-and-painting-water-colors-for-a-living fantasy where you need more than six perfectly lovely playdresses.. . . ”
and “D. Can you afford it? What have you spent money on recently? Can you really justify the purchase of this when you look at your financial health at the moment vs the balance of what you already have in your closet?”
. . . . Sigh. (My inner self-indulgent is groaning already just looking this list over.)
This project has been amazing and beneficial, and exciting. Part of that discovery has even been the way that I’ve no longer needed the blog to prop myself; how new clothes have sort of vanished off the landscape of my brain. Style is still kind of important to me; I like to look nice, for sure. (Don’t we all?)
But two months from now, after my year of abstinence, I’ve got to teach myself moderation. One pair of yoga pants at a time.
Sixty-odd days from now, there I’ll be.