26 May 2014

why I don't need a walk-in closet

"For me, shopping is one of the most physically and emotionally exhausting things in the world. This is because I am somewhat inflexible and fairly exact. I'll decide, for example, that I want a tie of a certain pattern and color-- neither of which has ever been heard of in the worldwide history of neckwear-- and then spend the rest of my life looking for it. I will look at a million ties, and never will I find the one I want. I will then add to my burgeoning store of regrets and disappointments yet another, like a lost and unrequited love, that I carry with me."
-Mark Helprin, Memoir from Antproof Case

When I was younger, I would try really hard not to wear the same anything two Sundays in a row.  I'd rack my brains to remember what I had worn the previous week, and then kill myself trying to put together a new outfit, even when-- half the time-- I liked last week's skirt or sweater, and deep down I wanted to wear it again. Horror! What if someone noticed?

I finally admitted how dumb this was. First of all, nobody noticed. Second, I didn't know why I thought I had have so much variety in my clothing, anyway. For some reason, I felt ashamed if I was giving the impression that I had fewer than five dresses, ten pairs of shoes, and so on. I'm still not sure what standard I was trying to live up to: who ever told me that I needed to put that pressure on myself? Myself, I suppose.

The sad thing about this pressure was that I ended up with a bunch of clothes I hated. After I had I marched up to my room and ruthlessly divided my clothes into "I love it" and "meh" piles, I was shocked to see how big that second pile was.

I couldn't figure out why I even owned that stuff. It made me look dumpy, I didn't like the color, it was ten years out of date. It only hung in the closet to give me the satisfaction of excess, the feeling that I had tons of stuff to choose from. And yet . . . if I put on a shirt and spent the rest of the day pulling on it or wishing that it had a different pattern, what kind of satisfaction was I really getting?

Now before I go shopping, I remind myself of one thing: If you don't love it right away, put it back on the rack. If I have to convince myself that I like it, I am not going to waste a cent on it. I take forever to find the right stuff, and sometimes I do feel like Helprin's protagonist-- doesn't anyone sell a green shirtdress around here?-- but I sure do like what I have.

I also spend a good amount of money if I need to. I could find a skirt that technically "fits" on any old sale rack, but paying three times as much for the perfect one is worthwhile. That perfect one washes well, looks good with everything, and makes me feel prettier. If I can get all of that in one classic piece, I'll happily spend all of that month's clothing money on it. Which means that I have a very, very small assortment of skirts.

And thus I have no need of a walk-in closet these days. Given everything I invest into clothes shopping I can only afford enough to fill one IKEA wardrobe, with a bit of room to spare.

Once our galleon comes in maybe I'll splurge on a third pair of jeans.

I wonder how many of our possessions we actually like and want.

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