Shopaholic Confessional #3: Binge

via Pixar

My name is Poindexter McQueen. I am a raging shopaholic and I have not shopped for five days. Last week was a bad week. I fell off the wagon is spectacular fashion (pardon the pun) and I am wholly repentant. The funny thing is, $300.00 later, I feel far better than I should. Ease off the judgement face. It’s not quite what you think.

It was a binge; a long one. Online shopping is at its most alluring when you’re done. From the safety of my bedroom with only the computer screen for illumination, there was no one to witness me buy. No one to silently judge me for trying to fix bad feelings with magnetized plastic.  Between work troubles and budding health issues, it was bound to spill over. The coincidental death and destruction of not one but two pairs of both exquisite and exquisitely cheap sunglasses was the straw that broke the camels back. Out came the credit card.

It’s never one thing. It’s always many. Above is most of what I bought and absolutely none of it was on sale. Places like Pinterest, H&M and Forever 21 make it so easy to self-medicate. Just visiting the website makes me feel compelled to buy. As though the minimalist setup on the H&M site will somehow rub off if I buy something from them or the numb weightless feeling from Forever 21 will stay if I buy something. Obviously, none of this is true, but that’s doesn’t help my will power. Polyvore chirping that “Items you’ve saved are on sale” is another unhealthy distraction. How am I supposed to be a fake minimalist if everything is blaring “BUY FROM US” all the time?

Here’s how I know capsule wardrobing and the idea of wardrobe minimalism got to me: I returned more than half of what I bought. There was no rationalizing or bargaining. None of that, “oh I’ll just tailor it,” nonsense. If I needed it, I kept it. There was never a “Maybe I’ll like it better later” or “It’s good for right now.” None of it. Back into the package they went never to be seen by me again. Last year, that never would have happened. All of the items fit my “perfect minimalist wardrobe” ideal, but still, back they went. Except for the sunglasses. I have two pairs of shitty sunglasses that I can’t fix. These gems are staying. The cami fits perfectly and is so delightfully loose that it’s already been worn twice. The Reformation tee hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s made of linen so as long as the fit is right, it stays too. My current black tee is beat to hell and has warped in such a way that can only be expected from high street cotton jersey.

I fell off the wagon, but got back on. What was required was obtained and frivolous things were returned. A free at-home-spa-day helped to soften the blow and now my nails have adorable little dots on them and my toenails look stylishly frostbitten. Minimalism as a concept is still a tricky idea I haven’t quite figured it out yet but I cannot say it hasn’t helped. There are lessons to be learned from it. It may be a trendy lifestyle, but it is not without merit. But, I’m non-committal. So, I’ll just take what I like and leave the bulk to more disciplined people than myself. Thus far though, I’ll say the experiment was worth the attempt and my finances (and closet) continue to thank me. Pardon me while I go and delete the Polyvore app…

The Trouble with T-shirts

via CBS and Paramount

The cold hard truth is, t-shirts are like tribbles. They fucking multiply. In the grandiose minimalist wardrobe experiment, that rather vivid realization was forced upon me quickly. After all, purging and cleaning out one’s drawers and closet are part of the deal. When drawers cannot be opened without six shirts flying out at you, re-evaluation is probably in the near future. Culling. It is the painful tedious process by which the owner of the offending closet, drawers and/or wardrobe (depending on how intense the affliction) is forced to acknowledge each benign or offensive sartorial decision. They are also forced to realize that despite the fact that those university t-shirts bring the warmest of keg stand memories or all nighters doing nothing resembling studying, those same t-shirts are breeding. The risk of them overrunning the entire room single handedly is far too great to ignore.

As a recovering college student, I am one such person. My drawers were bursting with t-shirts and hoodies of various ages, qualities and dimensions. Methods of acquisition varied from first, theft from various family members and ex-boyfriends, inheritances souvenirs, organizations and “because it was funny.” Utility is the name of the game and, 5th grade t-shirts would never again be used. The stages of grief inevitably followed:

  1. DENIAL & ISOLATION: The “But I can still wear these” and the futile exercise of trying to rotate 100+ t-shirts and hoodies successfully. The “I’ll just keep them in my drawers and not look at them” stage came and went, quickly.
  2. ANGER: “Damn this attachment to mere silk screened, dyed cotton!!! Damn this endless consumerism and capitalist model with its bedfellow consumerism.” A fist was shaken at the sky.
  3. BARGAINING: “I just won’t buy anymore t-shirts again. Yeah, that’s it. And if I get rid of my work clothes, I’ll have plenty of room for these tees. Clearly this is a worthy cause!”
  4. DEPRESSION: The drawer of t-shirts not only remains ajar,, but its contents have begun to spill out onto the floor into a pile. A pile that sits, sullen in the corner haunting my room like the ghost of laundry past. They’ll never leave. I’ll never be rid of the spectral, cotton poltergeist. All is lost.
  5. ACCEPTANCE: It was not to be. We must part. All must be donated. My memories! My childhood. They’ll be scattered to the wind and I shall be alone.

Then, like the Dark Knight swooping in to save the day or autocorrect on a good day when you’re a little too drunk for words, the internet provided an answer: I’ll make a motherfucking t-shirt quilt.

Just one thing.

I can’t actually sew…

Minimalism and the Paradox of Choice

The “Paradox of Choice” is fairly straightforward.  Too many choices can increase anxiety and then after the choice has been made, there is a sinking feeling that a better choice could have been made.  That just explained the state of my closet.  For a human with a naturally anxious predisposition, the discovery that my wardrobe was adding to the problem was a revelation.  It also presented a problem and how best to solve said problem?  Enter minimalism…

Although there is no one solitary definition for the minimalist phenomenon in personal style, it’s general concept is becoming more prolific than I had thought.  At first it sounded like a niche market.  A blip in the normalcy of consumerism and even though it is easy to fall back into the trap under the guise of needing to find your “classics” or your flesh out your post-purge wardrobe, it’s foundations are fairly sound.  As far as I can tell, the general definition for the minimalist wardrobe is this: a closet rooted in functionality.  Everything is your closet is worn on regular rotation (some people use the 80/20 rule in that you use 80% of your shit all the time) and nothing collects dust.  Realistically, this requires cutting back.  A removal of clutter to focus on what’s more important. As a side effect, you begin to implement this into other areas of life as well.

Now my roommate would never have to use something like this to get her wardrobe in order as she essentially already operates with a closet which is much more (editor’s note: she’s a weirdo who hates shopping) conservative in the sheer number of garments.  It’s almost monk-like in comparison to mine.  Mine looked like Forever 21 and H&M had blown up inside with various casualties spilling out onto the floor and infesting my drawers.  In short, it was a lot.  Way too many choices.  Stressors on hangers.

It also revealed yet another fact of life: I spend way too much on clothes. Apparently, everyone else knew this but me.  But when $150.00 worth of assorted fast fashion garments that you never plan to wear again lie at your feet immediately after you happen to glance at your current student loan balance and notice it hasn’t lessened by much, the message gets through.  That $150.00 dollars could have gone towards the interest on those loans instead of a tight dress that was “needed” for a party and will never be touched again, let alone worn.  That being said, the little experiment has been going on off and on for a year now and I think it might have worked.  There was no adherence to any one strategy, be it the 10 piece French closet or capsule wardrobes for each season.  My closet functions now and when i do “go shopping” or stop by online shops, it’s much harder to say, “Oh, well I need that,” and actually buy it.

The Paradox of choice is real.  The “minimalist closet” requires the removal of so many choices.  There we always options and there was no deprivation, just less.  I streamlined my wardrobe choices and it’s paid off.  There’s a bit less stress involved when it comes to clothes and thusly, less anxiety.   Sure, I wear the same things over and over again, but realistically I did that already.  Now there’s more room to show for it.  Not to mention, my savings account is looking a bit more voluptuous as of late.  Hey sexy!