One would agree that at some point in our lives, we are collectors of “stuff”. Some collect baseball cards, others dabble in car parts, I’ve known some to roam the antique shops or spend fortunes on souvineers from their travels around the world. My collection isn’t at all that sophisticated. In fact, some psychologists would probably call it a habit or an addiction. Retail is my expertise. My shoes, my dresses, the matching cardigans, the monstrosity of jeans hanging in my overstuffed closet in which I only have 2 favorite pairs, and of course earings studs and hoops in just about every color. These are my little trophies. I’m sure many girls, and some men, may be able to relate to my love of retail therapy.
It all makes me feel so fuzzy inside. The way a person dresses says a lot about them. How many times have we been caught in the market with that bird’s nest hair, and leggings you’ve worn 4 days in a row while running into your ex? Impressions are everything. After being on lockdown, wearing pajamas and losing sight of what fit, I’m thankful to be back to work and looking professional once more. Colleagues ask why am I so dressed, but I say, “Why not?” My days of getting dressed up to go out are pretty numbered, so I look forward to getting gussied up for work. It gives me a sense of normalcy and pupose to take care of myself.
Cue scene: On the therapist’s couch. We had very little money growing up. My father was a toolmaker who earned income by the hour, working overtime when available on most Saturdays. Mom was a part time office secretary in doctors’ offices. Therefore, budgets were tight. I recall when my mom took me shopping for school clothes, she bought me maybe three pairs of pants and a few tops or sweatshirts that would last until the end of the year. By June, I was wearing highwaters and the sleeves to my sweatshirts were frayed and tattered. I think I was gifted an outfit on my birthday and Christmas. Meanwhile, the other kids in school were wearing couture and they had a new outfit for everyday of the week. I on the otherhand, wore the same black stretch pants as we called them in the 80’s and and a vividly etched in my mind purple Champion sweatshirt. What a way to build confidence during those pubescent years.
Today, I am fortunate to be in a position where I am able to clothe my children with a variety of good quality clothing, and the brands they love, although they decide to wear the same things everyday by choice. Believe me, their dresser draws and closets are brimming just as much as mine. I always buy for my kids before I think about myself. Often I go to the mall in search of something for me, but I end up coming home with bags for my girls instead.
I know my husband hates it. If he could give me an allowance and track my spending he would. But what he doesn’t understand or what other more conservative spenders may not realize….it’s just money. I find everything at a bargain, and I’m certainly no fool to pay full price. I also have control over my spending…… sometimes. When I score that pair of Bandolino wedges for $8 or that dress at The Loft for $15, you bet I’ll announce it everytime someone gives me a compliment. I’m proud to say that I normally score brand name pieces for a fraction of the retail price. It’s my sport, and these are my trophies.
Again, on the therapy couch. My father was financially conservative most of his life. An immigrant who came here with nothing but the shirt on his back, from one of the poorest towns in Italy hit hard after the War. He was conditioned to make that American dollar stretch. As things got better and my family reached that American Dream, he actively studied the Stock Market daily, that’s when it was in the newspaper and not on an app on a phone. He was so wise with money, that he was able to grow a comfortable retirement fund. A fund he never had the opportunity to turn into reality, he never got to retire, due to his passing at 59 years young. I’m not saying go out and blow all your money like Sharon Stone’s character Ginger in Casino. But it’s okay to live a little and invest in the things that bring you joy. Because who knows what tomorrow will bring. Buy the shoes, there’s no point being the richest bitch in the cemetary.