Wednesday, 20 October 2010

11/52: The GAAD allowances

I realised very soon after having gone on The Great American Apparel Diet that my existing, over-the-top wardrobe consisted of a lot of clothes that I didn't get much use out of. I noticed that I had a lot of clothes, but that I didn't have sensible clothes. My wardrobe reminds me of that of my mother's, who for as long as I can remember, has always enjoyed having nice clothes, but when it came to her everyday existence, she often found she had nothing to wear. Having worked in clothing retail, I have plenty of experience having helped other women buy clothes they needed, but I never got around to do it for myself. I have desperately needed practical shoes in the past, but bought, time after time, only high-heels that I wore maybe twice a year.

A few weeks ago I was starting to notice that I was struggling to get dressed in the mornings. As the weather got colder, I realised that my tights and long-sleeved t-shirts from last year were falling apart, and that I didn't have any sensible warm trousers apart from two pairs of jeans and a pair of too-big-for-me corduroys. My two long, gray wool cardigans were constantly in rotation. I have pretty clothes, lots of pretty clothes, but everything was feeling horribly unpractical. I figured it was time to give myself a break and go off the GAAD a little.

I bought this long cardigan and the mustard colour (and a purple) turtleneck, as well as two pairs of tights at Target last week, and guess what: I haven't felt one bit guilty. I bought basics! I bought for actual need! My wild guess is that if I wasn't on the GAAD, I would have spent the money on something frivolous and fun, because that is what I have always done. In the past I'd push back buying a pair of smart, tailored black trousers and spend the money on going-out clothes. I'd feel uncomfortable spending money on a pair of well-cut jeans. I'd be in desperate need of a go-with-everything sweaters, and I couldn't get myself to go into a store (or flea market) to look for that thing I needed. And then I'd buy yet another pair of high-heels, or an unpractical blouse (dry clean only), that I'd not wear because I didn't want to deal with taking it to the dry cleaner.

I don't quite know why I have had so much trouble buying practical clothes in the past. Maybe I was trying to persuade myself that my ordinary self wasn't interesting enough, that I needed to have complicated clothes in order to be something else. Maybe buying things that were unnecessary was more exciting. I wonder if, on any level, buying these unpractical clothes ever really made sense to me. I knew I was buying things I didn't wear, but still kept doing it. I have noticed that come autumn, I naturally gravitate toward wearing long cardigans, warm tights, cotton and wool, pieces that are easy to layer, and flat boots, or rubber soled heels. I have always felt drawn to these types of clothes, but persuaded myself that something flashier would work just as well. It turns out that the flashier stuff stays in my closet because it feels too complicated, too fussy.

I don't feel bad that I went off the GAAD to get things that I know I'll wear, things that I actually needed. I also bought a wool/mohair skirt and a pair of wool trousers (Christian Dior for $3!) at a rummage sale. I felt so good buying something useful that I was immediately reminded of the feeling behind why I went on the GAAD in the first place. It turns out that even practical purchases can have the same feel-good effect on me. It would be so easy, oh so easy, to just keep buying now.

Leather jacket: Diesel
Cardigan: Target
Turtleneck: Target
Shorts: Selected Femme
Tights: Target
Boots: small shoestore in Italy
Kitty earrings: present from Modesty is Pretty


Teenysparkles said...

I absolutely love this outfit those colours are wonderful on you. You answered my un-asked question...which was "what if you need something? Do you buy it? Do you feel guilty?" Purchasing is quite intoxicating...I'm usually very sensible but often get out of control in Summer!!! I don't know why this is....but i've noticed my clothing expenditure has gone up with the promise of warmer weather.

Tamar said...

thank you! I thought I was the only one with this problem- a closet full of frilly dresses that are much more fun to buy (or thrift) but nothing to wear when I get up in the morning

Sal said...

I think there's shopping, and then there's supplies. Socks, undies, layering pieces ... when they wear out, you replace them. Shopping ban or no!

GlamaRuth said...

And yet, this is one of my favorites of your outfits - not just becasue you are mixing taupes and greys with mustard yellow - one of my favorite combos - or lots of textured layers - one of my favorite looks - but because your description makes you seem completely at ease with your outfit and happy with yourself!

gina said...

You look great!

I used to have the opposite problem. I would buy tons of basics because "you'll always need basics to wear" and I'd hesitate to spend money on more unique looking items. So I ended spending a lot of money anyway only to end up with a bunch of basic trousers, and tons of turtlenecks and buttondown shirts in a variety of colors, and nothing more interesting. I felt like I was wearing the same outfits everyday, but in different color combinations. It took me a while (and discovering thrift stores) to start being willing to buy more unusual items that (surprise! surprise!) I actually wear. Maybe more even than some of my basics.

Anonymous said...

Wow, cute outfit!

And I've realized the same thing about myself: plenty of novelty tank tops, dresses galore, billions of ballet flats, but no sweaters, few blouses, and no stable shoes. Oops. I'm trying to correct this as well. . . !

RoseAG said...

Some things are more fun to buy than others and some have different priorities.

I recently read one blogger who was lusting after John Fleuvog shoes, but was also complaining she didn't have decent shoes to go running in.

For me, running shoes while not all that exciting, are something that I buy because I run all the time and they are essential. I'd go without funky Fleuvog before I'd subject my dogs to the peril of ill-fitting running shoes.

Obviously she didn't feel that way...

Anonymous said...

This sounds so weird to me because I have mostly practical things and hardly any special items. Finns usually aren't frivolous.