Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mmmm with a side of oh my, that's good

I think the mindset from which I've been attacking the idea of clothing is beginning to show itself in other money-spending areas, as well.  By far, my biggest weakness where spending is concerned is food.  Not eating out or drinking necessarily, but grocery shopping.  The best things are so expensive - cheese, fancy meats (prosciutto and salami, for example) good cereals, frozen veggies and fruits - and I simply can't force myself to buy certain staple items off brand.  I see good food like I see good shoes or handbags - if it's not expensive, it's not good and therefore not worth it.  There may be some serious flaws in this statement, but I can't figure it out.  To illustrate, here is a pretty good sampling of a quick shopping trip for me:
OJ, Horizon chocolate milk, mushrooms, neufchatel, whole grain english muffins, peppers, and soyjoy
I have plans for all these things in the next two days.  I bought them because I know I will use them and that they are mostly on my side, as far as nutrition goes.

Here's another food example which I do feel supports my new outlook on clothes shopping.  Today I had errands to run at lunch so I didn't have time to go home to make something.  I thought "I'll go through the ridiculously fast Jimmy John's drive through, get a sandwich, chips and a coke, and have time to get back to work and eat it."  Well, I took a wrong turn and there was no way I'd get to JJ without backtracking, so I pulled into The Merc, our local (used to be cooperative) health food store.  The lunch buffet there is always amazing, so I bypassed the cold pre-made sandwiches (all organic and local, of course) and headed for the hot stuff.  Oh my god.  Today they had goat cheese polenta, beef lasagna, penne pasta with artichoke hearts, and the best green beans ever.  I loaded up a box with a little bit of everything, grabbed a cookie and an apple, and $10.48 later I was munching on green beans in my car like they were french fries.

I thought about feeling guilty for a minute about how much I had just spent on lunch, but then I thought about the alternative I had considered and turned down.  One sandwich (with white bread, limp lettuce, pathetic tomatoes and tons of mayo) and chips (sodium, anyone?) and a coke (no comment, I love it) probably would have cost me barely under $10, but with those few extra dollars I not only supported a local business, I also supported local farmers, ate so many healthy things, and didn't have a ton of trash in the form of wrappers at the end.  Who has two thumbs and won at lunch today? This girl.

Moral: buy thoughtfully, buy morally, buy smart.

Paying attention?

My boss has been wearing the same things for decades.  Seriously, decades.  Only once or twice have I really questioned an article of clothing (you've had that for how long? When exactly was that fashionable?)  but for the most part I realize that at the end of the day, when I leave the office I could no more tell you what she wore that day than tell you how many times I blinked. 

I was really influenced by this article by Eric Wilson that I read a few months ago in the New York Times. The gist of the story is a challenge by this website to choose 6 items from your wardrobe and limit yourself to them for an entire month. 30 days. 4 weeks.  Accessories are fair game, though, and you can wear as many different pairs of shoes as you want.  Most of the women choose black: a skirt, pair of pants, blouse, jeans, and then maybe a tshirt and a versatile sweater or something.  As crazy as it might sound, a lot of women are okay with their chosen lot in fashion life and surprise surprise, hardly anyone notices that they're wearing the same thing over and over.  I think I've achieved this without even trying at work.  I rotate mainly between 3 pairs of nice pants, depending on the season, and two or three skirts.  My shoes are either brown or black, and if I gave myself 15 seconds I bet I could only come up with 4 shirts that I wear to work on a regular basis. 

Therefore, not only should dressing be easier than many of us make it, dressing up should certainly be easier than I tend to make it.  One thing that strikes me when I think about the Six Items or Less (shouldn't it be Fewer? I digress) is the allowance for shoes and accessories.  For goodness sake, my boyfriend is 6'4" (or close), I should wear better shoes.  I'm allowed to be as tall as I want around him.  Also, accessories.  I could do better with those.  Talk about multiple ways to wear one shirt - all you need is different jewelry every day and nobody is going to notice that you haven't changed your shirt all week, especially if you still smell good. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rising Costs

It is my hope that through this experiment I'll be better able to assess what my needs are in terms of clothing, and be more appreciative of the fact that I have bountiful amounts of it in the first place.  This story about rising costs of clothing (from AP via really should make everyone think about what clothes really are - fabric created by thread that comes from a plant that is harvested by individuals on the other side of the world. 

"Cotton prices have jumped to a 150-year-high, rising to $1.90 per pound on Friday, more than double what it was a year ago and just ahead of the $1.89 record hit during the Civil War, according to the International Cotton Advisory Committee." - AP

One hundred and fifty years!  Civil War!  Bad weather in 2010 are the culprits this time around rather than civil war, but still, it's bad. 

Or good.

I've heard more than one person exclaim with excitement over the three tank tops they scored at Old Navy for less than a buck apiece, or the dress they found on sale at the Gap for $7.  Since when should a shirt cost less than a hamburger?  For that matter, when should a hamburger cost less than a bottle of water?  Answer: never.  Or when the shirt is thrifted.  Cheap clothes are like cheap food - you don't really want to think about where it comes from, and whatever good feeling it gave you at the moment of purchase wears off within a few hours (and leaves you with a bad tummy ache).