Days pass. Seasons change. The wardrobe must be updated.
This has been my quiet and private mantra for years. The coming of fall (or spring) calls for a freshening up of the wardrobe, or at least of a few new items. Absolutely nothing wrong with this, except that the few become the many. I start with a commitment: only one bottom, one top, and one pair of shoes. Ha. It never turns out that way. The problem with shopping at a place like Target, Kohl’s, or TJMaxx is the quantity of great bargains that are in close proximity to the one item I have come to purchase. If the sweater is a great buy, then so is the blouse, the leggings, the jeans, and the (surprise!) bag. It would be silly, the self whispers seductively, to pass up these items that are such good quality and priced so reasonably. And…I LIKE them. Really. A lot. So I leave with my allotment of new wardrobe items plus enough for three years to come. It happens this way every year, so I’m stocked on clothing for the next decade. However, I have an arguably good reason for my excessive wardrobe updating (self whispers again).
I’m hard to fit.
Seriously. When I find a pair of pants that flatter both my hips and my short stature, or a top that doesn’t make me look frumpy, or a pair of shoes that lift me to exactly the right height (5 feet 4 inches), I grab them because I’m afraid I may not find something so very cute that fits so exactly right. The problem is, I find lots of pants and tops that fit just fine, and many shoes that fit my height requirements. So I buy them, which probably blows my carefully crafted justification right out of the water.
Several things have converged over the past few months which have forced me to come to terms with my shopping habits:
1) A house that we own in another town is still on the market, and the reserve fund that we pay the mortgage from is dwindling.
2) I made some new friends and they live out of their car and in homeless shelters.
3) I hear stories from another new friend of mothers in Ghana who have had to relinquish their children to an orphanage because they cannot feed them.
4) I read Radical, a book that evoked alternate desires in me to either throw it across the room or give a copy to everyone I have ever met. Still deciding.
Perhaps, I thought several weeks ago, I should shop from my own closet this season. In other words, what I get is what I already have. I’m coming to terms with the reality that I have enough. Scratch that. It’s quite possible that I have more than enough.
Last night was a test. I did some birthday shopping for my daughter and walked into Kohl’s. It doesn’t matter which door you enter, you are immediately hit with incredibly appealing clothing from the junior department. This is an intentional ambush. I am years beyond wearing anything from the junior department, but some of these items still cause me to stop suddenly upon entering the store. Sometimes, I try them on. And sometimes, against my better judgement, I buy them even if I don’t need them.
But there was this dress thing. So cute. It could have been worn with leggings and boots, or tights and shoes with a certain heel height (which of course I own). The print was a blend of funky and ethnic, but also understated. This was a piece of clothing that could have been worn any number of places (versatile), it was on sale (justifiable), exactly the right length (rare), and it was right in front of me (nail in the coffin). I stopped. The whispers began: 40 percent off. Stylish but not flashy. We found a renter for the house that is sucking our reserve fund. I can grab it quickly and continue the birthday shopping. It’s a little something for me.
I walked over to the rack and pulled the plastic hanger toward me. I checked the back of the dress thing to make sure there weren’t any surprises. I held it up to my body to confirm that it was, indeed, an absolutely perfect length. I was about to walk over to the mirror to get a better look, but I stopped. With the hanger still in front of my face so that the shoulders of the dress were lined up with my own shoulders (thus confirming that perfect length), I remembered.
I did this last year. And the year before. And the year before that.
There will always be another perfect dress thing. And I will always be able to come up with justifications for buying it. It’s not just dress things; it’s shoes, bags, home decor, kitchen gadgets, Apple products. I will have to make this decision every day, every week, every month. We live in a culture where the whispers for just a few more things are actually shouts that resound in a thousand different ways. I’m constantly being told what I need. And I will be forced to continually decide whether or not I will listen.
I lowered the hanger and slid it back on the metal rod. I left the store without the perfect dress thing that was the exact right length, just my style, and 40 percent off. I drove home to my comfortable, well-furnished house that is complete with a stocked kitchen, clean running water, central heat and air, and a closet stuffed with clothes.
I have enough.
I have more than enough.