This past spring, I experienced some pretty horrendous customer service courtesy of Bloomingdales. I found the experience a little too Orwellian for my taste (pardon the melodrama), and so I decided to cut ties with the retailer altogether. After spending a considerable amount of time mulling over how sinister the customer service situation really was (credit services trying to contact me by calling my cousin? How did they get his number?), I turned my rage to another question: why do so many retailers and designers sacrifice quality for higher profit margins?
Frankly, I felt pretty insulted by the prospect of having acrylic and nylon jackets pushed on me for upwards of $100. Frustrated with the over-priced, low-quality clothing peddled to the masses via Instagrammed marketing campaigns, glossy ads, and fancy brand names, I vowed to go without buying any new clothing for as long as I could stand it. As it turns out, this wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
First, I needed to change the way I felt and thought about fashion. The night I closed my Bloomingdales account, I thought of all of the times I had spent too much money on clothing. I thought of the time I had spent over $500 on two pairs of flats that, to this day, give me painful blisters, all because I thought my old shoes made me look frumpy. I thought of the time I had purchased some crappy Ella Moss t-shirt for over $80 because I thought it would hide the weight gain of which I was so ashamed. In other words, I was trying to look and feel less like shit, instead of trying to look and feel more like my awesome self. It hit me that night that I don’t need to pay to feel better about myself or to be more creative; I just need to be willing to trust myself every time I open the closet door.
Next, I needed to establish some ground rules. Surely, it would be impossible to go without buying anything for six months, let alone a year. However, if I were to give myself a little leeway, it would need to be in the name of creativity, skill-building, or necessity. I could only buy something if…
1. I need it. I bought two glorious one-piece bathing suits over the summer because I didn’t have any, and because it’s always good to have two options.
2. I can create something with it. DIY projects are great for flexing a little creative muscle, increasing patience and self-discipline, and appreciating craftsmanship.
For a long time, I believed that I could fill any emotional void with a little shopping. I’d buy whatever I liked and could afford at that moment of disappointment or sadness, only for those feelings of inadequacy or dejection to return once my purchases were no longer new. I let a spike in dopamine run my finances, all for naught. I’ve since unsubscribed from the whole shopping-as-an-Olympic-sport philosophy because it felt empty to me, and spending money on stuff I don’t need always leaves me feeling pretty anxious. My new outlook has led me to want to take this blog in a new direction — one where I can challenge myself to cook up new ways to work with my wardrobe, and where creativity and adventure create value for all of us. Let’s see what discipline + creativity can do!