It’s Saturday, it’s snowing, plans are canceled — so I’m holed up in our upstairs guest room, going through my shoes and clothes.
I have been a clothes and shoes horse for my entire life. I love all things fashion, and had some jobs that required dressing to the nines during my first decade here in DC. I collected clothes and shoes like they were going out of style (and some of them were). I was the person known for having 90 pairs of shoes — so many that they wouldn’t fit in my old apartment, which meant storing them in my office.
I left my last traditional job and embarked on a creative career 17 months ago. It was...weird. The part I missed most? Dressing up to go to work. I missed primping, looking my best, making a cup of coffee to go and listening to podcasts en route to the office. I no longer do any of those things: I spend relatively little time primping, I rarely look my best, my husband makes me coffee now and I listen to podcasts while cleaning the house. It’s a far cry from my days of taking the Acela to NYC and spending a week in an office that shares an address with Bergdorf Goodman.
The past year I’ve asked myself the hard questions and become the opposite of superficial. I no longer collect clothes and shoes as a status symbol; I buy next to nothing, and care about status none at all. It’s been a wonderful experience.
But fashion — being drawn toward beauty and design, wanting to feel good about my appearance — is still a part of who I am as a woman, and as a creative. This year I want to feel good about that part of my identity without obsessing over shopping. I want to invest in pieces that matter (i.e. my back, hip and pelvis injuries make 5” heels unhealthy and unappealing; I no longer have a need to wear fancy sheath dresses). I want to have fewer things, and I want all of them to bring me joy. The Holiday Council requires us to identify one Theme, three Goals and five Ways of Being. One of my Ways of Being = free to indulge on occasion. Not to overspend, not to collect and not just clothes. But the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.
So, since I haven’t yet fully gone through my clothes, shoes and purses (which still need to be downsized but are slightly different for me — not an obsession), I did that this morning. I focused on the hard work, with Marie Kondo as my guide. I discarded things that didn’t spark joy. I examined the anxiety I feel about getting rid of specific items. I decided what I want to keep, instead of what I need to get rid of. Etc, etc, etc.
The result? I let go of 17 pairs of shoes, 14 dresses, 1 cape, 4 sweaters (2 are cashmere), 4 blouses, 2 blazers, 1 pair of jeans and 3 pairs of pants. A lot — and I mean a LOT — of it was expensive. I mention all of this because I finally figured out why I’ve been so hesitant to get rid of this, besides feeling like I’m losing some kind of invisible status: I’ve wasted so, so much money on all of this. And I LOVE none of it. I have no idea whether I ever did, or if it was just family tradition (my parents are the worst when it comes to this spending pattern) or momentary infatuation. But Imagine if I’d spent that money taking my dream trip to Italy, which I didn’t do until my husband paid for us to go last year. Imagine if I’d given even a fraction of it to charity. Imagine if I’d spent it letting myself leave my soul sucking job and start a creative career years sooner.
I’ll find some nice women to take the barely worn designer stuff or the things that still have tags on them. The rest will go to Goodwill. I will enter 2018 a new me: no longer wedded to my expensive work clothes, finally ready to be myself.
Here's hoping you end the year having let go of the things that weigh you down, too.