Friday, October 4, 2013

Popping Tags

Shoes I bought at Goodwill for $5

As an adult, I was never a big shopper.   I would look for excuses to bow out on invitations to shopping marathons with friends.  I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about.  Why would anyone like spending the entire day trying on clothes in very unflattering lighting?  Where's the fun in that?

Trying on clothes always depressed me. I never seemed to look good in any of the current trends.  And when I did give in and shop, I had difficulty picking flattering styles.  I just didn't have that eye for fashion so many other people seemed to naturally have, and I was never adventurous enough to try new things, so all my clothes tended to look the same.

Also, as a college, and later grad, student, I never had an overabundance of money to spend on clothes.  It didn't help once I had graduated, since I became a teacher.  I had to be frugal and save my pennies, so shopping at the fancy malls of Chicago's suburbs was never on my list of fun weekend pastimes.

Once I had children, it got even worse.  I wasn't working anymore, so what was the point in buying new clothes?  Spending money on my appearance typically left me feeling guilty, especially once I was no longer bringing in a paycheck.

It was more than just the money, though.  For my entire adulthood, I have struggled with my weight; there was always at least 30 extra pounds on my frame at any given time, and often it was even more.  I promised myself,  "As soon as I lose weight, I'll buy some new clothes."  But, the time never came.  Sure, I lost a few pounds here and there, but never enough to warrant (in my mind) some new duds.  I didn't feel like I deserved to spend money on my looks, until I lost some of this extra poundage.

As a result, I spent the better part of my 30s feeling dumpy, ugly, unfashionable, and fat.  I dreaded being invited out, because I literally had nothing decent to wear.  And definitely nothing I felt good in.

Last October, I started a new job, and I had very few clothes suitable for the office.  I made do for a few months with some hand-me-downs from my sister and a couple holdovers from my days as a teacher, but eventually, I had to break down and buy some new clothes.  I had a gift card from Kohl's so I bought a couple blouses and a pair of slacks.  Even with the gift card and discount, my credit card took a hit.  I loved the pieces I had purchased and decided that those would have to do, since I couldn't very well spend all my salary on clothes.

The thing is, wearing those couple outfits made me feel good.  I liked how I looked in them.  I actually got compliments on my clothes, for the first time in a very long while.  I got a taste of what it was like to look nice and I wanted more.  Still, I worried about the money.

Then, on a visit home,  my sister took me to her local Goodwill store.  Beth, who is much more daring and fashionable than I, heaped clothes in my shopping cart, ordering me to try them on.  When I balked at a more adventurous outfit (like the blue poncho or the flower-printed capris) she urged me to give it a chance.  "Try something new, Patty!" she would say.  "You'll look great.  Trust me!"

Surprisingly, I had the time of my life!   All of a sudden, I had a legitimate excuse to drop some change on my wardrobe; I had a job and I couldn't very well show up in my flannel pants everyday, like I did as a stay-at-home mom.  On top of that, the clothes at Goodwill were a fraction of the original price, which made it all the more fun.  And having my own personal stylist in the form of my sister only made it better.

Outfit I bought from a couple different thrift stores for a total of less than $10

When I worried about spending all that money on clothes, Beth reminded me that I needed the clothes for work.  She told me that it was important to feel good about how I looked.  And she assured me that I looked great.

It turns out, she was right.  I did look great, and I felt incredible.

I spent over $100 that day and came home with a new wardrobe: new shoes, Anne Taylor capris, blouses from the Gap, jeans, a new dress, and many, many more items.  Every single thing I bought looked great on me. I couldn't believe it.  I had never had that many items of clothing that I loved.

That shopping trip completely changed my attitude about clothes and shopping. Now, I love shopping at my local thrift stores and finding cute clothes for work.  I thrill when I find an adorable pair of shoes for $5 or a whimsical top from Old Navy for $3. But, most of all, I love that I look more put together; I feel more confident and pretty. At these prices, I can afford to buy some cute pieces without compromising the kids'college funds. It's a bonus that I am doing the environment a favor by recycling other people's castoffs.

I still feel guilty about spending money on myself, even at these amazingly discounted prices, but I'm working on that.  I tell myself that I am worth it.  I deserve to feel good about how I look, no matter what I weigh.

I love this top.  Bought at Goodwill for $3.50


For more posts on Everything Old is New Again, visit the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.

Second Blooming


gretchen said...

Good for you, woman! You do look great! Back before Jude was born, a friend and I used to troll thrift stores ALL the time. I was kind of into finding funky, vintagey things at the time, and we had the BEST time. And once you get into it, you always remember your best finds - a vintage leather coat for about $10, a pair of perfectly weathered cowboy boots for next to nothing. I need to call my friend and take a drive!

Thanks for linking!

Janice Adcock said...

Just this summer during all the crazy Mom in hospital, move mom, sell my own house, etc. my sister took me to the resale shop she frequents. She will purchase items for specific events like a cruise, clean and then resell back to the store. And I found the cutest jacket! Good for you! Feel good about you now cause that is all you are sure to have. You looked great in the pictures.

Ginny Marie said...

You look great! And I can relate entirely. I hate to spend money on clothes, but it's nice to wear something that looks good! I think I need to take a visit to the thrift shop!

lexi magnusson said...

I'm going to leave you a word of warning as I've been through this.
You'll go to Goodwill once or twice, and it's no big thing. But then you won't be able to stop going to goodwill. You'll tell yourself you can quit at any time. You make rules for yourself (No more frivolous crap to send to people as pranks. No knickknacks. Only can buy what is half off that day, etc.) and then you'll find yourself after a four hour long Goodwill bender and realize that you've gone to far. You can't get yourself out of that pit by yourself. You need help. But they don't have AA for Goodwill. There's nothing you can do.

You're going to end up being a hoarder, like your friend Lexi.

lexi magnusson said...

Also, you look freaking amazing. You always talk about how heavy you are, so imagine my complete surprise when I met you to find out you SO TOTALLY AREN'T.

My Whacamole Life said...

I don't know, Lexi. Patty strikes me as someone with self-control (unlike us). And yes, she looks fantastic!

Angelina Costenaro said...

Like you, I have trouble picking out clothes that look good on me. Sometimes I wish someone would just nominate me for that show "What Not to Wear," so I could get Clinton and Kelly to do the clothes shopping for me. :)

Kelly said...

I love that colorful shirt on you! I've recently, gradually, discovered patterned tops and I'm liking them. I'm having a hard time right now with shopping because I am not where I want to be with my weight at all, yet I have to look like a professional every day. I know that buying nice clothes, in the right size even if it's not a size I like) will help me look polished and pulled together.

I have to bear my testimony of Kohl's to you, though. ;) Jason's uncle convinced me to open a Kohl's credit card account, which means every several weeks we get a VIP offer for 15%, 20% or 30% off. You pull off the little tab and find out your surprise discount. Probably twice a year I'll get a 30% off coupon, which I gleefully announce to Jason, and we plan a shopping trip (because I have converted him to Kohl's too). Seriously 30% off their insanely low prices is ridiculous.

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