I’ve Given Up Buying Clothes…

…and Dressing Like Somebody Else

Today, for #reverb10, Alice Bradley over at Finslippy asks:

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I can count on one hand the number of new clothing items I’ve acquired this year:

  • A Ween t-shirt, at their show in Central Park
  • A MoogFest 2010 hoody
  • Two bathing suits, before we went to Central America
  • A t-shirt with two cheetahs screen printed on it, purchased at the Brooklyn Flea
  • A Visqueen t-shirt, also with a cheetah (wearing an eye patch)

I think I’ve mentioned that nothing makes me feel like barfing so much as going into a store. Yet for years, I would do this frequently in order to buy clothes, first so that I could feel hip or whatever, and then later, so that I could look professional for work.

In New York, even if you work at a nonprofit, there are high expectations for dress.

For five years, Gap, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic were what I wore. And I hated it. I pretended not to, mostly because I didn’t have a choice. And sometimes, I even convinced myself. I did look professional, sometimes even “good.”

I would look in the mirror and think, “I would take that person seriously.” Which, if I’m being super honest, is the main thing I want.

The problem was, that person wasn’t me. I may want to be taken seriously, but if I’m being even more honest, I know that I will never be a serious person. That just isn’t who I am.

It's easier to have a drum lesson when you wear what you want

So a great thing about leaving my job has been no longer buying work clothes. But I haven’t compensated by buying “me” clothes either. I don’t wear pastel sheathes, wool suits and pencil skirts anymore, but when I was getting rid of that shit, I decided I would make due with what was left.

I’ve pretty much given up buying clothes altogether, for a lot of reasons.

  • I don’t enjoy it.
  • I can no longer afford to do it.
  • Most clothes are made in sweatshops, which I’m not a big fan of.
  • I love having white space in my closet.
  • It’s such a relief to have cut from my life the pressure and anxiety of dressing a certain way.
  • Stores (aside from a flea market or merch table) stress me out.

This has been a significant (and it turns out easy) way to help compensate for not having a steady paycheck, but most importantly, I just feel a lot more like myself on a day to day basis. And I freed up some brain space.

And hopefully some Salvation Army shoppers have been able to make good use of some Ann Taylor sheaths.

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3 Responses to I’ve Given Up Buying Clothes…

  1. just jenn says:

    “I love having white space in my closet.” I can’t actually imagine white space in my closets (and there are several in my house), but for the one that the dog has co-opted as his bedroom because he wants/needs a night light.

    Anyhow, I like the idea of dressing as you, everyday. There may have been a time I wanted to be a park ranger, in part because there was a (green!) uniform and no need to compete with others’ wardrobes.

  2. Stereo says:

    I need to take a page from your book. This is so amazing.

  3. Patti Murphy says:

    White space in your closet?! I think I just blew a ganglion on that one!

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