New Year, New Resolution: 2013 edition

I’m going a bit off-topic for today’s post—in 2013, I’m going to develop my fashion style.

When I told Husband and BFF this as we drove back from our New Year’s Eve party, they laughed. Husband, because he thinks resolutions are silly anyway, and BFF, because she knows how much I LOVE to go shopping. Ha.

Both of them have known me for almost ten years, and in that time, my style has evolved from Undergrad Punk-ish to Grad Student Hobo. If they went into a mall and were asked to pick out something they thought I would wear, they would come out with low-cut jeans (bootcut, boyfriend, or skinny, depending on the season), a t-shirt (Size: Youth L), and Converse shoes. My mom would probably be more generous and pick out a breezy cotton hippie shirt like the ones she’s been trying to get me to wear for 20 years (not happening, Mom!) They wouldn’t need to buy accessories because they know I only wear my wedding bands and matching sapphire stud earrings, and I always make my purses or use my aunt’s vintage bags.

Not original, but for the past ten years, it’s been my comfortable go-to wardrobe for almost every event (save times when I need my interview suit, bought when I was 20, that has over-sized shoulder pads and a too-high waste that always pinches when I sit down).

Why change it now? For one, I’m increasingly attending professional events for which I need more professional clothes. The challenge is that my limited income means I have limited discretionary spending, and I’ve always thought of clothing as a “want,” not a “need.” Given the choice, I’d rather spend my money on books or craft supplies than clothes. Thus, when I have a meeting with the Dean, I can either wear the same dress I wore to the last meeting with her, or the too-small button-up shirt I found on clearance. Two: most of my “nice” clothes are worn out. Kaput. They have more holes than a moth-eaten sweater. Why do I persist in wearing clothes YEARS after their expiration date?

This has got to stop.

An illustrative anecdote—On Monday, I decided to take a day off from writing and go shopping at Dillard’s clearance sale. When BFF and I finally found a parking spot, we battled the crowds to pick over the remaining items to try to find a bargain or two. I picked up one misshaped, funky dress, held it up to see if it would fit, and said, “Well, this isn’t completely awful.” BFF started laughing before I even realized what I had said. I had been looking at the price tag, not the garment itself, and if I had been alone, I likely would have taken it with me to the dressing room, maybe even to the cash register.

Moments such as these have made up my shopping habits for the past 5 years. I end up with a closet full of “not completely awful” clothes, hate all of them (of course—not completely awful is still pretty bad!), take them to Goodwill after trying to make them work for 6 months, and start over again. It’s not a healthy way to shop, and it’s got to change.

Don’t worry; this isn’t going to become a fashion blog by any means. But over the next year, I plan to write more about the challenges of remaking my shopping habits (and by extension, wardrobe). How does one make ethical purchasing choices on a limited budget? What does it mean to be more aware of your self-image in a culture with problematic signifiers of female identity? I’m not sure of the answers, but I can’t wait to dive in.