I am a woman and I like clothes. The connection between those two facts should not be an assumption though it is a typical one in our culture. I don't consider myself particularly girly, but neither am I a tomboy and my clothes are definitely feminine. In my lifetime I have had friends who seemed to live for the next shopping trip and friends who consider clothing to be that stuff you need to cover your body because it's cold and we are a relatively modest culture. Some might disagree with me there. I suppose I am somewhere in the middle but it has always been a guilty pleasure to get new clothes. Even when much of my clothing is not exactly new but is new to me. A recent and significant life change has had me thinking quite a bit about my relationship to clothes.
I suppose it is more than one change really, I got divorced and now live on my own in an apartment instead of a big house and I have had to stop working due to a chronic illness. This means I spend a great deal of time at home and alone. On many days I am simply bed bound or sofa bound and too tired to even shower. In this condition why do I really need much beyond pyjamas and sweat pants? And yet I have continued to buy clothes, and in fact, with the freedom to spend my money however I like, to make mistakes with nobody clucking at me about the cost of them and to wear whatever I please because the only person I have to please is myself, I have done perhaps more buying and discarding of clothes in the past few years than at any point in my life. I should add that I also lost 30 pounds, which gave me at least some excuse to buy some new clothes at one point. But there has also been a journey involved here, one in which I was finding out who I am now. Not only a woman who is slightly smaller in body, but a woman who no longer needs to dress for work. What, should I wear? I asked myself. What do I need and what do I want and how do I justify it?
most of my clothing comes from thrift shops or discount stores. The drawback to this is that it can make it easier to buy the wrong stuff. And I have bought a lot of wrong stuff. I have spent three years figuring out what fits me, what looks good on me, what suits my personal taste and perhaps the most confusing one of all, how can I justify anything other than jeans and tee shirts when I dont' have to go anywhere?
None of my peers dress in anything much beyond the tee shirt and jeans formula. Some of them wear nice jeans, modern in style and dark in colour, and pair these with a nice blouse and some comfortable shoes. I am the only one in my peer group who wears a skirt just to go grocery shopping or even just to hang out at home in. I have more clothes than I truly need and in large part of this is due to having many skirts and dresses. I have more shoes than I really need too, and boots ( Oh I love boots ) though probably not as many as the typical fashionista.
I can afford these things, though that doesn't mean my money couldn't be better spent. I have struggled with the guilt of having such a wardrobe and then I realised something. The whole point is that I do it for myself. No, there is no work situation to dictate what I wear and nobody I need to impress. But putting on something nice, something pretty and flattering on one of the days when I am feeling good and can get up and shower and perhaps even go out, is actually a significant part of my self care.
Yes, self care is something I am still learning how to do better. It helps me to feel like I have a purpose, like there is a day ahead of me worth getting out and participating in. It helps to make a distinction between the sick days and the feeling better days and thus it boosts my morale. This is important. This is part of taking care of myself. This is something that works for me and because it works I don't have to justify it to anyone. I understand now why I do it and I am satisfied with my own reason. I am the only person I need to satisfy.