When I was in high school I spent all of my money on clothes. All of it. I used to nag my Mom to take me to the city so I could drop all my hard earned dollar bills on the latest and greatest things American Eagle had to offer me. My Mom would always remind me that I didn’t need more clothes, my rather large closet was, after all, already chalk full. She wasn’t wrong. But that wasn’t really the point. I had nothing but disposable income and I loved having fun things to wear. I loved feeling like I had a bit of style.
Shopping trips were great. It would take me a while to buy the first thing, but then all bets were off. I remember being proud to have a ton of shopping bags inhibiting my ability to move swiftly through the halls of Calgary’s malls. It wasn’t that I loved shopping for the sake of it though. I wasn’t inclined to buy just to buy. As far as I was concerned, I obviously needed another pair of the same pants from Jacob in a different colour, they just fit so great.
As I started going through university and paying bills I naturally dialed back fun (frivolous?) spendings. Money was spent on bills, textbooks, and of course beer. This left little room in the budget for clothes.
Clothes became functional, mostly I needed clothes so I wasn’t naked when I sat in the library on Saturday afternoons studying the finer points of Foucault. *nerd alert*
The longer I was in school, the cheaper I became. I preferred to spend my money on plane tickets, food, and of course, beer. New clothes became something I bought only when I absolutely needed to. I’ve worn shoes until the soul cracked open and you could stick your whole hand through, then I wore them a little longer. I bought new jeans only when a hole in the inseam was too noticeable to be appropriate.
This was a good period of my life, though. It made me realize I don’t need much to be happy. It also taught me how to say no to a lot of things I wanted but couldn’t afford. Sure I’d splurge from time to time, but I got great at negotiating the ‘do I really need it?’ conversation.
My previous job required I wear a uniform 80% of the time and the other 20% I could get by wearing whatever I liked. My closet consisted of jeans, black jeans, and a smattering of tops. Nothing fancy. I almost exclusively shopped at outlets. If you’re an outlet shopper you can probably relate to the fact that a lot of them, the cheaper outlets especially, do not provide you a lot of quality. You’re going for quantity, and when you do that, your clothes will tend to get holes, wear out, and become misshapen sooner rather than later.
I’ve recently resolved to buy better quality clothes and only things that I like instead of things that are on sale. Up until now my method of shopping has been ‘it’s on sale, I should buy it.’ This means my style has, to a degree, been whatever is on the sale rack, resulting in me often hating what I buy within a month of purchasing it.
My recent resolution has, however, had me in a bit of an existential clothing crisis. After years of outright avoiding malls, clothing item at full price, and buying anything I didn’t absolutely need I neither want to spend money nor do I know what I want to spend it on. I feel like a polar bear lumbering through a rain forest.
I’m out of my element.
What do I like? What do I hate? What looks good on me? And do I really need to own more than one pair of pants? Honestly, the thought of trying to figure out any of that exhausts me. The last time I was in the mall I exhaustedly exclaimed (inside my head, because I was alone) “ugh! why can’t someone else dress me, I hate the mall.” It used to be a place I went to to create an identity and today it’s torture. I can’t wait to get back to having a closet that rocks.
I relish the opportunity to look a like a bum and fortunately for me, while my office does have a dress code, it’s pretty lenient. I can get by dressing like a dirtbag, 20-something university student. I just feel like I can broaden my horizons a little.
What we wear and how we compose ourselves can say so much about who we are. I’m currently feeling a little bit lost about just what I’m trying to say, and how to say it. Which might have more to do about me growing up and changing, but I don’t even want to think about that as I’m strongly committed to being a carefree ragamuffin for as long as possible.