When I was a young person in my twenties, going to college and living at my parents, I went to classes, shopped and socialized. I loved fashion. I was pretty much a fashionista, needing a different couturier, designer dress or outfit for every date or occasion. If we were going to the lake, I needed a new swimsuit, cover-up and shorts outfit. This was in the time, when women really dressed. We wore dresses and heels to most all functions and kept our bodies fit in order to be able to wear the structured clothing . The way I fit in and looked in whichever designer dress I wore was the most important aspect of my life – my silhouette must be sleek. What I wore mattered to the max and I had to have just the ‘right’ outfit – look the best – make an entrance – with all eyes looking for what ‘I’ would be wearing. It was part of who I was – it was my image and I had to keep it up – no matter how time consuming, costly or tedious it was to do so.
I was dating a college man two years older than myself. He was in Air Force ROTC , was getting ready to graduate and enter flight school. So, not only were there his dances and luncheons to attend at the General’s house, etc, but my social functions – arts, ballet, etc.
I was a fortunate young lady with permission and authority to charge whatever I wanted to my parent’s accounts. I was a young society daughter of a wealthy man. I had a long walk-in closet full of clothes, shoes and bags. It was the beginning of spring and I spent hours at all the upscale shops selecting, trying on and purchasing clothes. When at home, I would have my head buried in Vogue, Town and Country, and other fashion mags to see what to wear where and who was wearing what.
One afternoon, I was in a shop on the hunt for the perfect dress for a luncheon and found one. I asked the store manager to please charge it. She returned to tell me that my mother had closed my privilege to charge and that I needed to speak with her and they would be happy to hold the dress, until they heard further from me. You see, I was a well-known and valued patron.
Mortified, but calmly and with authority I stated, ” It must be a mistake. I will talk to mom and get back with you.”
When I returned home – “Mother, I found a dress I liked and they said that you stopped my ability to charge. Why?! What is going on? I need that dress! I have nothing to wear!”
Her reply, “You have a closet full of clothes. I think you can get through the summer without buying another thing. At the end of the summer, we will talk about it.”
In horror, What?! You must be kidding! I have absolutely nothing to wear! Nothing! Do you want me to look awful? Do you want me to wear some old rag?” As I think, ‘That’s really it. She wants me to look terrible and have nothing to wear.’ You see, my mother and I never got along. I state, “I will ask Daddy, he will let me get it.”
Her reply, “Your father and I made this decision together. You have a closet full of beautiful clothes .”
Truth is I had everything any girl my age could ever want or dream of but I didn’t think or realize that then – I just wanted more. I had clothes from all the designers of the day – Calvin Klein, Mollie Parnis,, Adele Simpson, Alpert Nipon, Chanel, Dior – a closet full of beautiful clothing in fabulous fabrications and styles. But that didn’t matter because I must have this particular dress because it was the perfect dress and by owning it then I would feel and be ‘perfect’. This dress would complete me.
Instead, I found myself struck mortified in a young woman’s fashion dilemma of alternatively wanting, inability to purchase and shame to be without. I went to my room petrified of a summer ahead with NO new clothes. I wondered could I live that long with nothing new to wear. I sat on my bed and pondered as I looked towards the entrance of my closet. Then I arose and entered it. I started going through the racks of clothing. I was amazed. I had clothes and clothes that I didn’t even realize I had and they were great. Cuter than the dress that I wanted and thought I needed. I plotted my revenge, ‘I’ll show my cruel and hateful mother. I will create outfits out of what I have and will look better than ever. I will show her!’ And so I did.
I began to love being shoppingly creative in my own closet. I had a great summer and felt like I wore the perfect outfit to every occasion. Actually, I felt like there was a weight off my shoulders – a monkey off my back – the weight of feeling the need and drive to shop and to continually have something new and different – left me that summer.
That summer was a big lesson that taught me much. You need much less than you think you do. And if you keep buying new, you will miss out on what you already have. I had incredible clothing in my closet, but I just kept pushing them to the back to fit in the new. I lost some of my desire to shop after summer – well, of course, not entirely and not at all times, ( I can still get into that shopping mode at times) but…I learned to use what I have, to stop thinking I always need more or new in order to feel satisfied – that a new something or other changes little to nothing – once the newness wears off, it’s back to square one looking for something else new for the momentary rush, thrill and excitement. Sometimes, what you already have is better than what you think you need to attain.
Side bar – Sure young people get into fashion neediness, thinking if they don’t wear a certain item that they won’t be cool and accepted. Advertisers and those who drive fashion know this. That is why fashion and styles change, from long skirts to short, high heels to flat. Your eye gets used to seeing a new look and then to desire it. It’s marketing at its finest con. I wish more people were focused on ‘real fashion’ today. When the ‘Flower Children’ made their entrance with their sloppy jeans and tee shirts, it seems the world continued to lose some of its fashion elegance and now we are falling into bizarre. Many people seem to have lost pride in their appearance and don’t know what appropriateness is regarding clothing. Perhaps, with the Trumps in the White House, elegance and taste will make a return.
Awarenesses gleaned from that summer of no shopping:
Fashion is fun. Shopping is fun! But not fulfilling for long.
The dress doesn’t make you – you make the dress. A garment doesn’t make you perfect… you make you – ‘YOU’ Who you are inside makes you – ‘YOU’ – Not some garment or item.
What is that great old saying? You think the grass is greener but it isn’t and this applies to so many things in life.
How about become aware and focus on the art of shopping in your own closet in every area of your life…
A gift of awareness…