Winter is hard on everyone- the long dark hours, the chill, and the rush to get out of the chill. Seasonal depression affects 3 million people a year, myself included. And in a world filled with Carrie Bradshaws, and Rachel Zoes, and the whole Kardashian brood, suddenly shopping your way out of depression looks pretty good. When I totaled my January shopping expenses for this article, I was astounded to find that I had spent nearly $1,300 in just that month.
And so it is thus I found myself on a cold February afternoon: standing in my dining room, just home from work, a Nordstrom bag in one hand, an astronomical electric bill in the other. That afternoon, after a particularly bad meeting with one of my employees, I'd made a quick and wonderfully soothing trip to Nordstrom and walked out $250 lighter, but with a pair of sick chrysanthemum embroidered denims, and two very au courrant blouses. I dropped the bag.
You see, gentle reader, I had been using fashion as my armor against the world. The nicer I looked, the less obvious it would seem that I was horribly, terribly depressed. I wrapped myself in Eileen Fisher knits, donned Ted Baker dresses for my days at work I knew would be particularly rough, got through stressful family events with a new Kate Spade watch, and went on date night- which is supposed to be a genuine expression of love- that I made into a moment I could be seen dressed up and put together in a Halston Heritage dress and obviously I had it all together, right? Right?!
The conclusion is clear: I was wrong. Don't believe for a moment that people couldn't see through my thin, brittle veneer of genteel politeness to the twenty nine year old going through a life crisis. All of my chic cashmere sweaters, all the pairs of buttery smooth leather boots, and carefully curated statement jewelry could not do anything but provide a thin coat of paint to a crumbling facade.
But, I said to myself, you have to at least try. Everything would be much worse if you didn't even try. But the fact remained that I had spent the equivalent of a studio apartment's rent in Brooklyn on clothing in a single month. This was a problem I didn't even know how to look to overcome. I was putting my finances in jeopardy, and it needed to be curbed.
First things first- I returned everything I had not worn to the stores, and put around $500 back into my pocket. After that, I started brainstorming. How would I keep up with the trends so that I was on top of my career in fashion, without doing this emotional shopping? I've decided on three different methods for combating my problem:
- One month waiting period. If there is something I feel like I have to have, I'll take a picture and look at it on my phone every day for a month and if I really still want it, I'll get it then. I'm thinking I'll probably end up buying two or three pieces at the end of the month.
- Rental clothing! I purchased (I know, seems contrary to what I'm trying to do) an unlimited subscription to Rent The Runway at an introductory price of $109. I pick out three items at a time, they send them, I wear them, I send them back and repeat. Since I'd been spending an average of $100 on a dress, I thought this would satisfy my cravings for something new all the time.
- If I really need something, I am going to take an accountability partner shopping with me. If I need to replace a pair of shoes because they've worn out (like I do currently), I'm taking a buddy with me to the store so that I'm not tempted to give in to my compulsions and spend myself stupid.
And, to add to this, I'm going to promise myself to make it to yoga at least twice a week, and be taking better care of my body and mind by meditating, drinking more water, drinking less alcohol, and less coffee. I also want to reach out to some of my more zen friends and find out exactly how they are so chill about everything. I'm also going to participate in a 10 items for 10 days challenge, read a couple books (Like The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees, and French Chic by Susanne Sommers).
Bill Cunningham said this, "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life". I'm hoping that I'll be able to prove Mr. Cunningham wrong, and let my own brains and brawn be what gets me through everyday life.