When I visited Maria in Oslo three weeks ago I found these two items of clothing at Zara. I was on the hunt for a perfect, semi-casual blazer, and although my mental image was of a more traditional boyfriend-cut blazer, I fell head over heels for this black tweed-ish studded number. It is the perfect length and sits very nicely around my shoulders. I also think the t-shirt was a good purchase, as it is casual and both de-constructed (the hems are frayed) and embellished at the same time. Considering the rest of my wardrobe, they’ll fit right in.
I have come to realize something though: over the last few years I’ve kept a list in my planner where I keep a running tab on what I feel is lacking from my wardrobe. This has included items like the perfect little black dress, a dressy blazer, black ballet flats, the perfect statement necklace – all items that have given me a sense of things falling into place when I have bought them, items that have tied the rest of my wardrobe together. I haven’t actively looked for all of them, and I have strayed from my list more than once, but one by one I have found the items and checked them off my list.
Now there is nothing left to check off.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t own the 2.55 or the camel coat or the Burberry trench, but I have the things that I myself consider to be my must-haves within my budget. When I wake up in the morning I pretty much always know what I want to wear, and if I don’t know there’s always something nice and simple that I can find without having to spend too much time thinking about it. It is a no-brainer. The problem?
I still want to shop.
If you read a lot of blogs – not necessarily fashion blogs, but style blogs and blogs about The Perfect Wardrobe™ in particular – you get the feeling that achieving The Perfect Wardrobe™ will solve all your problems. You no longer have to spend money on clothes (except to re-stock), and you can save you money for better, more worthy pursuits. Well, it has made me come to the slightly shameful realization that I still want more stuff. Just stuff. The other day I found myself on eBay hunting for a transparent bag (of all things, why?!), I still crave a good handful of Mulberry handbags, and I keep finding lust-worthy coats while making mental plans to hunt them down as soon as they hit the stores. Never mind that I have enough winter jackets to fit any and every snowy occasion. I still want more.
I don’t even have the space for more clothes. I should save my money for better things. There is a distinct limit of the amount of clothing items that a person can actually wear in any given week. And it is not about trends either – I’ve got no need for florals or pastels, I don’t really wear heels so my feet will never know a pair of Litas, and I do not feel any particular need for any pops of neon. Really, I’m good. So what’s going on? Why can’t I just settle down, enjoy the fact that I’ve reached this self-imposed wardrobe nirvana, and leave my visa alone?
Well, marketing ploys and a messed up consumer culture aside, it is kind of our above average interest in clothes that got us into this mess in the first place, isn’t it? I only know one other person IRL that is as obsessed with her wardrobe as I am, and she’s a fashion consultant. Really, you have to be a special kind of nerd to read blog post upon blog post and book upon book on how to reach closet climax. If we’re being honest I have probably studied more for this than I did for my bachelor’s degree (Ok, not quite, but almost), and when you look at it like that then it really isn’t that difficult to see why I’m having trouble finding the “off” switch. The kind of people who keep lists and blogs and Excel spreadsheets – I’ve seen it – to achieve their ultimate wardrobes are not going to take up gardening or quilting once their goal has been achieved. And that really bugs me.
I wanted serene, wardrobe-induced bliss, dammit.
Shopping is not a hobby, not a way to pass time, and certainly not therapy. I don’t walk around dreaming of buying new sofas or curtains or kitchen appliances – the ones I have work just fine – so why shouldn’t the same thought process work for clothes? Why this constant need for “new” when my closet is overflowing, even after donating bag-loads of clothes to charity over the years? And more importantly: Can I be re-programmed? Because let’s be honest here, there are much better things I can do with my money. Like leaving them alone.
This is not a shopping ban. Bans are easy. They are challenges with a time limit, and challenges get me excited. They are fun, and I can resume shopping again when they are over. What I want is a change of mindset.
(Fun fact – while writing this very sentence I was distracted by a photo of a Barbour jacket, went on to hunt down the name of it, and using the store locator I found out if it was sold somewhere in Bergen, you know, just out of curiosity)
I’m not saying I want to wear the same things when I’m 36 as I do now – that would be ridiculous, boring and entirely impossible – but being able to sit back and go “yeah, that’s enough for a while”, that would be good. To buy things out of need, and to make the treats few and special.
I think it can be done, don’t you?