Some people have unhealthy relationships with food, or exercise, or even relationships… I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with clothes. Let me pause here for a disclaimer to set the tone for the remainder of this post…
A little note about my personality, good, bad, or otherwise, something few people know (as far as I know) but something I’m not afraid to share… I tend to push myself to ideological extremes. Examples: Atheism, Marine Corps, Christianity, Crossfit, the Paleo diet… in that order. I won’t go into details here, maybe another time ; ) Anyway, I get so wrapped up in these ideologies and lifestyle shifts, and in the throes I believe there is no other option or middle ground. Luckily, my journey toward self-awareness, and I believe this tendency toward infatuation, has landed me at a very mature 31 years old, with a much more rational, open-minded, and accepting approach to new ideas that enrapture me in such wild excitement.
Back to clothes. For, well, ever, I’ve viewed clothing as materialistic, superficial, a frivolous indulgence. I treated clothing as a drug addiction, retail therapy, for me, consisted of a cheap and unnecessary purchase whenever I felt bored, unpretty, or like I wanted a change. Often times these one-off purchases would linger in my closet or dresser, tags on, unworn, and unmatchable to most of my wardrobe. They hung there, as a reminder that my impulsive act didn’t make me feel any better.
Whoa, that’s dark. Stay with me friends, its gets brighter…
A couple months ago this realization began to unfold and incited my commitment to abandon clothing purchases for 30 days, an extreme reaction meant to punish my bad behavior of serial cheap purchases.
Side bar confession: I made a purchase during those 30 days, I knew I was pregnant when I made the commitment and foolishly thought my body couldn’t possibly change in 30 days, I was SO wrong. I bought a pair of maternity leggings, one pair, one time in the 30 days, because my distended belly was screaming for space.
So after the 30 day personal challenge I felt great and I stopped turning to the Modcloth website every time I stood in line at Starbucks, so in my estimation the challenge cured me! What happened next may seem nuts but it’s actually the opposite! About a month ago I accepted a new job back in the business casual world which would require a wardrobe update, because even in the first few months there is no freakin way I could possibly squeeze these widening hips and bloated lower tummy into my cute little pencil skirts. Also, I was feeling like a dumpy looking pregnant lady. I had hoped to spend very few dollars on accommodating my pregnant body and hence looked and felt awkward. So because I hate the physical act of shopping or browsing in a store, I did a little research to figure out where I could get all or most the clothes I would need for my new wardrobe. I also decided I would not buy something unless it was both wildly comfortable and made me feel confident in my appearance. I pulled inspiration from my dear friend Simply Hadley and her posts on capsule wardrobes and I created a rough list of the things I thought I needed:
- Work dresses
- Dress pants
- Maternity shirts
- Bathing suit
I found everything I needed in three stores and spent, well, what I would consider to be a lot of money for clothes. I spent the next several hours applying a discerning eye to my current closet and dresser contents and packed away all the things I knew I couldn’t or wouldn’t wear in the next 10 months or so.
This was a few weeks ago, my seemingly erratic behavior and theories stayed with me and led me to the following revelation. My unhealthy appreciation and relationship with clothes left me feeling guilty after every purchase, the problem was I did not respect clothing as not only a necessity but as something that has the power to effect our self-esteem (dumpy pregnant lady vs. glowing mom-to-be). The status quo (frequent purchases) wasn’t working for me so I leaped from one extreme (purge, no purchases) to the next (binge, shopping spree). Now on the other side, in full-scale reflection this brief yet crucial period of experimentation has forged a healthy relationship between my threads and me. I no longer crave frequent purchases to appease a moment of restlessness, instead I accept that periodically I will need to suck it up and drop some dough. I will try to match these events to the rotating seasons, and in Florida we only have two, so I’m shooting for twice a year.
I realize a discussion on clothing may be incredibly uninteresting to some, but substitute clothing with almost anything you feel you may have a mildly unhealthy attachment to and consider how you might turn it around! Good luck and please share your stories with me…