Shopping is one of those things where it’s hard to have a middle-ground opinion on it. Generally people seem to love trawling through the rails picking up purchases, others hate it with a passion and buy around five t-shirts a year. As much as I am wracked with guilt after a shopping binge, I really like it. I fall into a sort of zen mode when I’m wandering through shops. Pick it up, consider. Look at the length, the sleeves, the pattern. I shop alone, like a worker ant; methodical in my own little world. Here are my thoughts on clothing.
1) I have a lot of opinions on garments. Vintage stores which stock second hand goods at maximum prices enrage me, usually because I know a lot of Americans who thrift our shoes and dresses for $5 a piece. I would rather not shop at Primark if I could afford not to. I prefer clothes that look and feel like they have been through the tumbledrier a good dozen times. Zippers are annoying and patterned leggings are worn only by the brave, and never to substitute proper trousers. Suede is gross, leather is worse. Generally this means my clothes are pretty bland and basic, which suits me fine.
2) As a kid my parents didn’t really value clothes. When I refused to wear dresses from the age of nine, I got budget black tracksuit bottoms and sports shirts. My parents used to take me to shops that sold Donnay polo shirts for a pound. I felt very unfeminine, and never really wore skirts until I hit twenty-two. I’ve struggled with the overpowering urge to buy clothes for years, which is in part responsible for hitting the end of my savings account last year. It’s hard to keep up with the fashion, and because we have posters, adverts and such thrust in our faces each day telling us we need a boxy-fit patterned jumper in our lives, it’s really hard to quit the habit. I have to be careful now and clothes are a luxury, but it’s a impulse as hard to break as smoking.
3) Clothes do not make the man, but everything around us tells us that clothes definitely do make the woman. Try being at a party where everyone around you is fashionably “relevant”, decked out in American Apparel and Topshop. On occasion I’ve felt so inadequate that I’ve wanted to leave. It’s really sad but inevitable. We’re in a society that priorises decking yourself out like a christmas ornament to look attractive at all times.
4) I don’t so much agree with “fashionable” as a concept, if you take “fashionable” to mean looking great rather than simply “in season”. I know women who could wear bin liners and still look attractive. I really admire people who rock their looks fiercely. Don’t make the mistake that it’s just about their clothes; the people who look the best are the people who have achieved levels of confidence far beyond my comprehension. I look at my drawers of clothes and feel depressed because I don’t have the confidence to wear them, or believe I look good in them. I sincerely believe that if I had that self-belief I wouldn’t need to buy any more clothes. I wouldn’t need to play dress-up to seek approval, from others or from myself. I dream of a day where clothes are things that cover your naughty bits and make you feel good, not something that challenges your self-worth if your culottes are out of date. I want advertising which tells me what I should be wearing to go away so I can focus on maintaining a positive attitude to my body.
Wear the clothes, don’t let them wear you. Or something. My thoughts are jumbled. Basically I just wanted to say that today I bought knickers with watermelons on them.