I’ve ranted here before about finding time for myself, taking care of me, and not feeling like I have permission from anyone – least of all myself – to do so.
My closet may be forcing me to.
See, as we’ve been working on potty training, I’ve been doing laundry a lot more often. A lot. And it’s okay: the laundry room is located on the same floor as the bedrooms, so it’s kind of becoming a part of the daily routine and it doesn’t feel like I’ve been banished to the bowels of the house to take care of this essential task. Unless you count the fact that the litterbox also lives in the laundry room. Depending on the cats, and what they’ve recently ingested, it starts to smell kind of bowel-y. But I digress…
I began to realize that I’ve been washing the same clothes for myself every few days. I also realized that I’m not washing any of the clothing I see my husband wear when he walks out the door to go to work in the morning. He’s still wearing those clothes when he comes home at night, so I know they’re not disappearing at the office. They’re just not making regular appearances in the hamper. But that’s a battle I’ve fought before and will fight again.
My clothing supply has dwindled, for a number of reasons:
- I am a parent now. And experience has taught me that, while I may put together one outfit in the morning to wear for the remainder of the day, it may not be what I wind up actually walking out the door wearing due to any number of accidents involving food, biohazards, or carefully placed drawing instruments. There have been a few wardrobe fatalities along the way, and while they received a proper burial in the garbage can or rag bag, they were never replaced.
- I hate trying on clothes. We all have our body image and self esteem issues, so no need to go any further on this one. I think you know what I’m talking about. But if I may offer a suggestion to retailers large and small: installing complimentary mini-bars in your fitting rooms, especially during swimsuit season, would win you legions of loyal shoppers. Just saying.
- It’s not the priority it should be. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve got various financial goals we’re trying to meet, so something that I should think of as essential – like clothing – just isn’t. It’s easy to say “I just can’t invest in this right now, and I want to be able to invest in this part of life, not just safety-pin my way through a burgeoning wardrobe crisis.”
- It’s way more fun, and due to his rate of growth, way more important, to spend my shopping energies on clothing our son.
- In addition to it not being a financial priority, there’s also a new level of label snobbery: “machine washable” are the words I drool over these days. I am done with dry cleaning. Because, hard as it is for me to even buy the darn clothing items, the act of sorting items I may not wash at home from those I may, then delivering them to the facility that’s open only certain hours, and then reclaiming them and paying a ransom to have them released back to my custody is not reasonable in my schedule. Finding something that I get excited about, and that I feel flatters me, that I can throw in the wash is akin to searching for the Fountain of Youth.
- My workplace dress code is somewhat “liberated.” Not that I’m showing up to the office wearing tank tops and bedazzled jeans, it’s just more laid-back, with a wonderful lack of pressure to conform to a visual standard. Be neat, be presentable. That’s what’s asked of me. So my work and home wardrobe lines are a bit more blurred.
- I keep thinking I’m going to wake up one morning with all the unwanted fat deposits in my body magically melted away, so shouldn’t I wait to buy the clothes until that happens?
It’s time to go shopping. But not a blitz, I’m not strong enough for that. Not a shopping experience a’la Pretty Woman, my bank account is definitely not strong enough for that. But I need to start taking baby steps. Find my way around my insecurities and make sure I have some proper layers to pile on before the cold weather sets in.
This is definitely a behavioral change. When I think back, almost all clothing ventures have been lumped into events. Time to go back to school? Better buy now for the entire year. Got that first real job? Off to the department store! I need to help myself realize that – rather than tackling many pieces and looks at once, which is what I’ve felt like you had to do – it’s okay to take this process one step, one outfit at a time.
Where will this begin? In the closet.
Before setting a toenail inside any store, I need to be brutally honest with myself about how many articles of clothing I have, and how many I actually wear. Shoes too. And then look for the gaps in what I need, as well as set some rules about a budget that I and the rest of the household is comfortable with for correcting this. I know I need:
- Clothing I’d be comfortable wearing to a client meeting
- Clothing I’d wear on a date, or just on days when I want to feel pretty
- Clothing that fits and doesn’t make me feel self-conscious.
- Clothing that fits my machine-washable, multiple-outfit-changing, not-glamorous-but-still-worth-feeling-like-I’m-worth-it life.
Fasten your seatbelts. This could get a little rough.