I have some strange quirks. Every so often, I become aware of a new one. Not that the quirk itself is new, merely the realisation that it’s strange. I think everyone has these. Odd little things we do that seem perfectly normal until you mention them to someone and they blanch and say “You do what? Well, that’s weird.” And then you think about it and are forced to agree with them.
The first cab off my quirk rank for 2010 has to do with getting dressed.
It’s sale time so chances are; you’ve added a few things to your wardrobe. Me too. After buying a new item of clothing, most people split into two camps: those who excitedly wear their new purchase as soon as possible and those who don’t.
It’s lonely in the latter camp.
You see, when I buy something new, I take it home and then I don’t wear it. I hang it in my wardrobe with great ceremony or fold it carefully and put it in a drawer. I look at it fondly and feel a sense of happy anticipation when I think about putting it on. But I don’t wear it. Not the next day. Not that weekend. Not the following week and sometimes never.
So what’s with the delayed gratification? What am I? A squirrel? I don’t do delayed gratification in any other area of my life. My friends can confirm that my spoon is in the dessert before the waiter has even put it down on the table. But with my clothes, I am forever on hold.
Once upon a wardrobe, this delay was probably due to the hide-and-lie approach I applied to all new purchases. Determined to conceal my shopping, I’d smuggle carry bags into the house, carefully dispose of the evidence and then wait for a discrete time to wear my contraband and insist, “No, this is not new”. But I don’t bother with all that anymore. My husband never minded me shopping anyway so I gave it up when I eventually realised it was no longer sport.
These days there’s no logical reason to leave my clothes hanging idle. And I don’t just do this with new clothes. I also do it with clothes I really like.
My thought process goes something like this:
“Oh, this outfit looks nice. Wait, I should save it for another day. Better take it off.” And then I put on something that looks worse and I leave the house.
What I am saving my ‘nice’ clothes for is never clear, especially to me. I’m also baffled by what affect wearing something today might have on that future mythical occasion when I will ‘need’ it more. Can’t I do both? Apparently not.
There’s not even a pay-off to this delayed gratification because ultimately tomorrow never comes. Having tried things on, taken them off and flicked past them in my wardrobe dozens of times, they start looking tired. And fashion moves on. So does the weather. Or my body shape changes. And then suddenly, they’ve lost their magic and they’re totally inappropriate and I’m wondering if I should sell them on eBay.
It’s like saving the most delicious part of your meal for too long and then discovering it’s gone mouldy while you were waiting for the perfect moment to eat it.
There’s an established theory about clothes that says you can work out the value of something by dividing its price by the number of times you wear it. So a $100 jacket worn 20 times in a year, costs $5 per wear. Similarly, those $200 skinny jeans you wore twice before accepting they make your legs look like sausages? $100 per wear. Ouch.
My point is that the best way to get your money back from your clothes (yes, women think like this) is to start wearing them immediately, maybe even out of the shop.
The most beautifully groomed and immaculately dressed woman I know is TV journalist Georgie Gardener. Every time I see her, whether on the set of the Today Show or at a BBQ, the zoo or an Angelina Ballerina concert, I am in awe of her ability to hit the perfect note. She’s never too formal, she always looks comfortable and stylish and her clothes never wear her. Clearly, Georgie doesn’t save. She wears. Next to her, I always wish I’d tried a little bit harder. Not out of competitiveness but out of respect. I derive huge pleasure from noticing what other women wear. I appreciate every bit of effort. In fact, I delight in it. And since women are much more likely to notice your outfit than men, you’re doing your sisters no visual favours if you leave the good stuff hanging.
I’ve also resolved to be more influenced by my daughter’s approach. She wears her fairy dress every day regardless of the occasion. Soon it will disintegrate but the idea of ‘saving’ it for special parties is anathema to her. Why on earth wouldn’t you wear the item in your wardrobe that gives you the most pleasure? Why indeed. Fairy dress, here I come.