Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Great Clothing Debate

Every month (or sometimes week, it would seem) when my Boden catalog arrives in the mail, I find myself lusting after nearly every item being offered up by the British clothing brand.  Their clothing is rich, interesting, colorful and unique.  Despite it's uniqueness, it is still incredibly timeless.  Well, that's assuming I don't change.  I certainly don't wear the same style of clothes that I did at 18 or even 25.  My style, like most things, is a constantly evolving aspect of my personality.  I like my clothing to say something (good) about me and reflect my place in life.
You want it too, don't you?
So how can I justify paying $150 for a cardigan, no matter how awesome it is?  To do so would be to assume that:
a) I will love it forever
b) it will last forever
c) I always fit into it
d) I feel good enough about the way I look in it to wear it enough to be worth it (boy was that a mouth full)

That's a lot of assumptions.  I know that plenty of people would pay that in a second, and do.  How else would the fashion industry go round?  And for some, that's nothing for a cardigan they will wear for just one season.  So why do I agonize over such things?  It's not that I couldn't pay that much for a cardigan, it's that I feel that I shouldn't.  To do so feels, well, wrong.  Perhaps that stems from my body issues, modest upbringing, or my personal constitution. What I do know is that that cardigan would be forever tainted by the all too familiar pang of regret that comes when doing something that is even slightly contrary to who I am.  It's a cardigan, for goodness sake!  Snap out of it!  But alas, I can't.  I could try to rationalize that it's simply a matter of perspective...and I have the wrong one.

My dress.  I didn't look like this.  My boobs are much bigger.  So are my other parts.
My wedding dress was courtesy of J. Crew and cost less than $500, which is nothing in the world of wedding dresses.  It was a long, flowing linen dress with a champagne-colored sash, perfect for our outdoor beach-themed wedding. And I didn't feel worthy of it.  It had spaghetti straps, one of which broke while burning up the dance floor with my new husband.  It almost didn't zip the day of due, in part, to water retention and nervous eating.  Whenever I look at the pictures I see a young woman who was self-conscious and uncomfortable in her own skin.  The dress was awesome, but I wasn't awesome in it.  I was wearing the largest size J. Crew made...and I didn't look J. Crew at all in it.  I wasn't easy breezy and full of self-love.  I was an imposter, and a poor one to boot.

This is easy breezy.
 The fact that I wouldn't pay $150 for the coveted cardigan because it could feed 20 children in Africa for a year, while true, is irrelevant. I hope I get to the point where that is my true reason for saying no to a $50 t shirt! You see, to wear those clothes would be to tell the world that I love my body and am proud to invest a small fortune on my wardrobe. It screams, "I deserve it!"  But I can't send that message, because I don't believe it for even a second.  To wear those clothes would be to ignore the fact that deep down, I don't think I should be wearing those clothes if I can't wear them in a size 8 or even 10 (hey, I'm not totally inflexible...).  I actually couldn't tell you why I chose those sizes.  I've seen some beautiful size twelves. And fourteens.  And sixteens. But I don't consider myself one of them.

More easy breeziness.  In case you still weren't sure what that looked like.
Honestly, I'm not full of self-hate. I promise!  There is A LOT I like about myself...arguably more than I dislike. I think I've just come to a point where I'm really, truly honest with myself (and now you) about my motives.  Looking good in gorgeous, expensive clothes should be a reward for forcing myself to take the steps necessary to look that way.  And that would require that I stop making excuses, stop eating because I'm _______ (sad, mad, glad, bad...fill in the blank), and I work my body into a state I can be proud of.  And doing it the wrong way (hello, extreme diet...but more on that soon) simply won't do.  I don't want to wear that AMAZING bubble-print shift dress if I can't feel good doing it.  It would be a rip-off not to enjoy it!  In a weird, twisted way, it's a form of self love to spare myself that disappointment.  In the meantime, it will be glued to my inspiration board, a constant reminder of what hard work inside and out can provide me with.

This is not the end of my great clothing debate.  It's just where I am now.  I hope that someday (soon) the wheels of evolution begin to turn again, but this time it turns me into a Boden-wearing, paid-too-much-for-those-shoes type of gal.  In the meantime, I've got to fix what's broken and hope that the rest follows suit.  Calvin Klein, I hope.


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