On Shopping And Pretty Things

I was reading my Twitter feed this evening, getting excited to see all the buzz about RuPaul’s Drag Race [#TeamSharon #PittsburghRepresent], when I noticed Giuliana Rancic retweeting the following status:

Luv it!!! @LivingInYellow: Everybody and their mom needs to stop tweeting G so that she actually notices my blog post, http://www.livinginyellow.com/2012/04/dear-giuliana-and-baby-to-be.html

Now, I’m a sucker for good blogs. If those blogs involve Actual Good Writing, mentions of art, cats, couture, and a dash of crazy. NailsBails, Alle Malice, Le Clown, Prawn&Quartered, Miss Cristy, Stacie Chadwick, Ivonne, Kitties & Couture…definitely some of the ones in my frequent reads. Those people remind me of the good days back on LiveJournal, when it was less about your nine million views and more about how to run a troll out of your community.

Speaking of running people out of communities, I once got myself banned from the WoW community on Livejournal – the only community I’ve ever been banned from. That sucked, because it used to be a really good source of information. I played well with others, so the ban was a total surprise that only was realized when I went to post and got the “banned” error message. Great. My realization dawned too late: there were a few posts I made over the years (they have an informal 3-strike rule, if I recall correctly) that others in the community answered, and in receiving satisfactory answers, it seemed best to disable comments. Why have others post misleading information after we’ve already solved the question, right? Yeah, no – mods don’t like when you disable comments. There was no warning shot, just a ‘ban’ message. Awesome. No return warm welcome when I asked to be a part of the community again either, so that sucked. Aaaanyway… /tangent.

Back to shopping. Yay for new blogs, right? So I read Living In Yellow’s post about going sixty days without shopping, in which she says: “In all seriousness, I am excited about the next sixty days. I am excited to not focus on myself and material goods. There are so many better uses for my money, this I know. My first step? Sponsoring a little nugget over in the Philippines.

That post did something to my brain, and at first my emotions were a bit all over the place. Anger at the shallowness of someone only loving material things, jealousy at not being able to buy things for myself, sadness at feeling ANY sort of anger and also sadness for her at not realizing how lucky she is, happiness because she’s using the excess funds to sponsor a munchkin. There’s some further sadness at the fact I’m not getting a raise anytime soon, but also some elation in there at the thought of having my current bills paid down enough to actually start *saving* money.

That saving thing is quite some time away though. In all honesty, we’re looking at somewhere close to two years before I can afford to start having a real wardrobe. Maybe longer.

I’m 31.

I make less than……. um, less than I should. Less than I’d like to, and less than I deserve, but my viewpoint continues to be optimistic because my paycheck is consistent, unlike many many MANY people’s. There are people out there, some of whom are my close friends, who haven’t had a job in years. Their unemployment has run out. It’s not right to say that those who can afford to shop shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bum me out that my clothes are old and mostly ill-fitting.

I live vicariously through fabulous people like RuPaul and Stacy London. The outfits, the makeup, the shoes, the carefree demeanor of it all – why not me? How does one obtain all that without going even further into debt? I’m under twenty grand in the hole, but that’s still *in* and not *out*. How can you get enough strength to sashay down the runway when you are already exhausted from just barely treading water? Yes, celebrities and people in any spotlight get hooked up with sponsorships, but here in Sandy Eggo, you see everybody and anybody with Brand Name Bags and Shoes. Z90 – a local station – is doing this whole “Snag Your Bag, Choose Your Shoes” giveaway, where if you’re very lucky and very good then you might get blessed with some sort of designer something to flaunt at the mall.

My friends have seasonal handbags, seasonal shoes. I have clothes that keep me from being naked in public. That’s all. I have tops and bottoms that can be worn at an office, some only when it’s hot and some only when it’s cold, and lots of free or adopted t-shirts. Some of the t-shirts are fun and artsy, but most are the kind that a tourist will bring back from their trip to Hawaii or Bermuda. We’re talking free large white or blue or red t-shirt. I have shirts from high school that still fit. I have a shirt from sixth grade that still fits. I borrow a lot of my husband’s t-shirts, own two hoodies, have adopted some random coat he found in a locker room, have a nice-ish fake fur coat for when it’s REALLY cold, and I wear hockey jerseys in public during times other than when I’m going to a hockey game. My other items of clothing consist of ‘active wear’ from clearance sections, a few nice pieces, lingerie or fetish-style stuff suitable for go go dancing/clubbing, one fitted/pushup/’nice’ bra, two “everyday” bras, and one (fairly expensive) sports bra. I might own a bracelet or two, have a handful of rings, some cheap necklaces, and that’s about it in the accessory department if you don’t count my awesome watch that needs a new battery. I have some body spray from Victoria’s Secret but no actual perfume. My makeup is cheap, old, and lacking. I have less than ten pairs of wearable shoes. I don’t mean work shoes or dressy shoes or running shoes, I mean: LESS THAN TEN PAIRS OF WEARABLE SHOES. There were shoes in my closet for years that used to get Sharpied to cover up where the color/paint was peeling off. My current shoes for doing yard/housework in are a pair of classic black Reeboks that were purchased for about $40 around the time my *last* boyfriend and I started dating. In 1997.

I only recall when these were purchased because they've got paint stains on them from when I helped him paint his office.

They were my workout shoes as well until 2009ish, when I finally decided to start caring about what was happening to my feet during exercise, and snagged some cross-train/walking shoes from Sketchers.

They look similar to this, but darker and with no pink anywhere.

Why? Why do I have this stuff? Yes, a large part of 2009 – 2011 was spent at a gym or taking dance classes, so when you’re working out at least fifteen hours a week you don’t have the time/energy/motivation to do much more than put on your bike shorts and that t-shirt that the gym sent you as a thank you gift. (Seriously, 24 Hour’s corporate office sent me a nice thank you care package for A) referring people to them and B) being such a big fan online. I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone else and it was awesome.) I wore my hair up in a weird messy ponytail for at least eighteen months, the kind of ponytail you only pull through the band halfway to make a sort-of bun.

Here’s my dilemma: I enjoy glamour and couture and fashion, but I also enjoy being comfortable. I do my current job better in jeans and a t-shirt, but enjoy feeling put together in a professional adult manner. I don’t have a tailor, and can’t afford to drop money on the attire I want, because the thought of spending $50 on jeans gets overridden by the fact that fifty bucks will buy me lunch for a week or gas for three. [Shoutout to Hyundai for being FANTASTIC on gas, btw.] I’d rather spend $40 on a meal but get bummed out because I don’t have anything fashionable to wear to said meal.

This is where my life is at right now. Three paychecks ago I said that my next paycheck was going to take me to Old Navy, where I was going to buy four pairs of pants and five shirts for work, and then just wear that in weekly rotation like a uniform. Two pairs of black pants and two pairs of some other pants, and five shirts in the same style but different color. You know what happened? Doctor’s appointments, more medication, and an $1100 estimation on car repair. I wanted to spend seventy bucks at Old Navy to “refresh my wardrobe” so I don’t have to keep wearing this same pair of “dress pants” (hint: they’re actually yoga pants) with a hole in them, but that didn’t happen. You’ll have to excuse me if I am not the happiest of campers.

I work at a marina where sometimes my customers are drunk. And homeless. They’re not looking for high class, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to wear sky-high heels (because I do, really and truly). You know what else happens, is that I stop caring about things like makeup or fixing my hair. You’re all lucky if my hair gets *brushed*, which bugs me as well but that’s just how it is right now. That’s how it has been for as long as I can remember, and that’s also why I make a big deal about my haircuts or if I buy new ANYTHING.

Let’s get a visual on some of this, shall we?

Photo from January 2008. I can't remember how old this leopard print shirt is, but it's close to 7 years old, and is currently still in my weekly work shirt rotation. The black shirt over it is attached.

Champagne and a ceramic chicken, at the Glorietta Bay Inn. Don’t judge.

Photo from feb 2010, white DKNY skirt purchased at Ross for $15 sometime in 2006.

Early last year that skirt caught on a nail and ripped to a point where it couldn’t be repaired, which was a HUGE bummer. I loved it.

Photo from sometime in 2010. The suit jacket has a matching skirt, both still fit me, both were purchased near the end of my high school years. This is the only actual suit I own, and I wore it to my 2007 interview for my current job.

Photo from August 2007. The little black ballet flats were $5 from Ross & were purchased sometime between 2005 & 2006. I wear them at least three days per week right now to work. They are the only ballet flats I own, and also the only closed-toe black flats I own as well.

Photo from 2007. Shoes from Walmart, $15. Jeans from Charlotte Russe, $20. Hoodie from Hot Topic that was birthday present in 2001. Yes, I still own the hoodie but don't wear it, just want to make something out of the material because it was sentimental.

Aforementioned hoodie. It says "Bad Kitty" on the sleeves. This photo is from 2002-2003ish. No, it didn't have attached mittens.

Photo from August 2010. Yes, it's a Ouija Board shirt.

Do you remember when Delia’s first came out in the mid-90’s? They had items in 5-7-9, which was the forever 21 of Beaver Valley Mall. I ordered that shirt FROM A DELIA’S CATALOG IN 1998 because it had stars on it. I loved stars on things, mostly because I loved Everclear and they talked about pale green stars in one of their songs. It didn’t dawn on me until a few years ago that it was a ouija board and hello, touch my chesticles. Anyway. Yeah, that shirt right now is in my drawer and gets worn around the house or to work out in.

Halloween 2009. Bought that pink shirt from goodwill for $3. Shoes purchased in 1998, less than $30.

Whenever I dressed up as a schoolgirl for anything, those were the shoes I defaulted to.

Aformentioned pink shirt. Wore it in October 2011 to meet Anthony Bourdain, one of my literary heroes.

I hope he appreciated my cleavage.

Pink shirt from Victoria's Secret. Black overshirt and black skirt from somewhere I can't remember.

This photo was in April 2009, at the Bellagio for my friend’s wedding. All my clothes are at least six years old. That is one of my ‘nice’ outfits, and I probably will wear it to a wedding this weekend. All the items are in good condition, except for the shoes (the stitching is starting to come out).

Again with the square shoes. They are heavy and have a silver metal O-ring on them. This is me in the Bellagio, May 2004.

Those shoes are now currently in a bag that needs to be dropped off at one of those donation boxes when I remember to put it in my car, I think the last time I wore them was spring of last year.

Again with the shoes. This photo is from 2006. The jeans were purchased prior to that, came from Charlotte Russe, and cost less than $30. I still own them. They are one of three pairs that I currently own.

Vegas, 2002. I still own that shirt, it still fits and is in good condition.

Last year I finally got rid of the pinstriped bondage pants, after six years of not being able to wear them.

I am proud of my husband's hockey teams. This particular team gave out t-shirts, and this shirt was probably from their 2007 championship. This photo is from about three years ago. I still wear this shirt on a regular basis (at least twice a month).

Thanksgiving 2010. Free 24 Hour Fitness t-shirt and capri sweats from Old Navy that were less than $20.

This is typically what I wear to sit around the house, run errands, or go to hang out at people’s houses in. Cat: $150, purchased in September 2001, value: priceless. I love my cat more than I love most people.

The two crowning lowlights of my wardrobe are as follows…

Photo from September 2010 - I still have a white skirt to go with that suit jacket, but the skirt doesn't fit anymore. It's not a bad suit jacket, it's in decent condition and gets worn over dresses or other shirts.

The aforementioned white skirt/jacket combo was part of this suit. This photo is me, headed to my now-husband's FIRST wedding, which my then-boyfriend was a groomsman in. That was in 1996, if my mental recollection of time periods was correct.

This is me in middle school. That black t-shirt is from our eighth grade field trip to Washington, DC.

My friend Jen (who I’ve got my arm around) passed away in 2001. That t-shirt is in my dryer right now, and in regular rotation in my wardrobe. It’s still in fairly good condition, no holes, somewhat faded, and still fits just fine.

So there you have it. My fabulous life that I don’t ever talk about.

It actually hurts me to write about this stuff, because it brings attention to my clothes and also the feeling of not being quite grown up. Does not owning a Dior bag (or perfume) qualify me for not being an adult? No, it just means that you get to see me as-is, every day. Does it make me a bad person to not have any real sort of wardrobe? Not particularly. You also get to see me bummed out at the boring people on What Not To Wear. If you’ve ever seen an uninspiring guest on there, a guest who is just rolling their eyes the entire time, you’ll know my frustration. As this guest blogger put it: “I mean seriously. How could a human woman, no matter how hideous her fashion sense, NOT be honored to have two of America’s style icons spend not one, not two, but four almost-full-days molding and shaping them into a happier. hipper, less 80s streetwalker looking person? How? How could you not be excited and open to such an awesome experience?! I just don’t get it.

Please, someone, put me on that show so I can get a free wardrobe/makeover. PLEASE. It’s been over a decade of awful clothing for me, and it’s time for a change. A well deserved one. At the very least I’ll be a little more excited about life and getting out of debt, because another two-to-three years of these same horrible clothes/shoes/accessories is making me very unhappy.

Short version: good for Living In Yellow and other people at being able to buy stuff, boo for them not realizing how lucky they are, boo for me not ever being able to (EVER). Now being unsure what point exactly I’d like to make with this post, let’s just end it here. Sorry for the Debbie Downer mode – I don’t want to fight with anybody, I just felt like getting that stuff off my chest.


2 thoughts on “On Shopping And Pretty Things

  1. shama says:

    Buck up, buttercup. I’m right there with you, just a couple years further down the road. I’m 36 and have zero debt and have managed to start squirrelling money away. Of course the trade-off is driving a 12 year old gold Echo with two missing hubcaps, living in an apartment that I love, but at 450 sq ft is far smaller and less glamorous than a lot of my peers’, wearing clothes ’til they tap out, and no college degree (another couple of stark contrasts with my Chanel-toting,deeply debt-ridden, MBA’d peers)
    You know what? I wouldn’t trade it. The freedom of getting out from under debt is far more gratifying than sky-high shoes.
    The idea that I just *might* be able to retire is amazing. All of my parents have or will have to work until they are physically unable. That thoughttears me apart. I only wish I had been able to reach this stage earlier, so I could help them.
    Keep rockin’ the (yoga) dress pants and enjoy the invisible comfort of digging out. ❤

  2. clownonfire says:

    How freakin’ awesome to be mentioned by you! Thank you…
    And who give’s a rat’s ass about the WoW community, right? WoW is so 2006. Now Star Wars The Old republic………
    Le Grateful Clown

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