Junk Food Clothing

One of une femme’s projects while home recuperating from hip surgery has been to “cull the herd” in my closet. Going through the rows of hangers, I’ve come to the conclusion that I often shop the way I used to eat. Just as I used to diet/starve myself and then binge, a lot of my clothing purchases have also been in response to a feeling of prior deprivation, and my closet gets bloated with items that have little sartorial value.

Until recent years, economic constraints limited my style to what I could find to fit me (or a close approximation thereof) either at thrift stores or on deep discount. I’d page through magazines and catalogs and daydream about being able to afford the stylish vêtements displayed on the glossy pages. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve been able to walk into a department store and buy something off the rack, even before it goes on sale. But like someone coming off a diet and heading for the Cool Ranch Doritos instead of some handmade olives and salami, I’ve balked at paying the prices for any single garment that would provide the quality and style my malnourished wardrobe longs for. I’ll pass up a very nice pair of wool crepe pants for $250 that will satisfy my craving for elegance, and buy three pairs of the polyester version at Chico’s for $89 each. C’est fou, non? (For some reason, I’m able to overcome this hesitancy when it comes to handbags and other accessories.)

Materfamilias also touched on this earlier in the week when she posted about her influences and thought processes that have recently been holding her back from purchasing. This part especially really mirrored my own experience:

Part of the over-purchasing or purchasing errors can be blamed on the insecurities associated with the aging process. Trying to find something that works for a slightly-different body and that will look neither dowdy nor foolish, change room after change room, perky young salesgirl after perky young salesgirl, can often make a dress (or top or skirt) seem just perfect when the home mirror reveals it to be somewhat short of that. As well, the vagaries of fashion often mean that several seasons will pass with scarcely any offerings that suit so that when a season with shapes and colours I love comes along, I tend to grab and hoard in case of future droughts.

The age factor does play a part here too in contributing to that feeling of deprivation. Even going up a price point or four, what’s readily available often resides on either end of the Great Menopause Divide, with not a much available stylewise between Marc Jacobs and St. John. And forget about Petites. Even when something workable from Theory or Vince comes along, it’s inches too long, and often unalterable without impacting the line of the garment. (Yes, I know: Dressmaker.)

That “stocking up in case of famine” thinking is part of my M.O. as well. The fear is that I’ve never, ever find another jacket/t-shirt/sweater/pair of pants that fits me, so I’d better buy extras. Just like I knew that when Monday morning hit and the diet resumed, I’d never, ever have ice cream again, so best to finish off the whole half gallon on Sunday night.

Well, I’ve learned that’s no way to eat, and though I’ve realized that’s no way to shop, I need to start walking the walk. And get back to purging that closet.
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  1. Miss J is the exact same way with shopping and food. Working on it, and getting better. Sounds like Miss Deja is, too. Admittign the problem is half the battle,
    n’est ce pas?

  2. so funny — I’ve been away from the screen for a few hours, came back and see that my visitor count has jumped, check my bloglines and see that Pseu has a new posting and has linked to me — you wield considerable influence, my dear!
    And what an apt analogy you make between fasting and bingeing — this is perfect and really helps me think through my own discomfort.

  3. But hey, the culled clothing if donated, is tax deductible, no? Well, not for what you paid, but still, think of cleaning out the closet as saving money for that new bag or scarf, (and making more space in the closet). Oh wait, you file jointly. Nevermind. 😉

  4. What is it with women and food because I have the same emotional state that sometimes drives me to over shop and to over eat. Why is having some measure self control in these two areas so difficult?

    Meanwhile on my blog, Beverly Hills Branchee, I’m posting about my fantasy vintage shopping spree….as if I need a new evening gown….not!

  5. For me, it’s the bargain hunt that is the problem. I went through Macy’s last night like Katrina and caught myself just before the check out with the thought of “Wait a minute – are these what I really need in the wardrobe?” I now have an appointment with myself and the closet this weekend to weed out the junk, look closely at what is left, and make some decisions as to what I need to get or make in order to get the most wearings out of what works in the closet now. My one fear is that it will all end up having to go with black. (sigh)

  6. Great post Pseu! I can completely relate to the fashion as food analogy. I’m in a moment of wardrobe build-up – that thrilling, scary time whose flipside is undoubtedly the cull. In truth, I’m culling the old stuff as I bring in the new stuff. (Is this analogous to daily exercise?) On the topic of buying bulk for thrift, maybe the key for you is excellent, high-end discount shopping. This is how I satisfy my need for beautiful designer / diffusion pieces (which fit beautifully because they are so well made) at a pricepoint that doesn’t leave me hyperventilating!