The Connecting With Our Clothes series explores the meaningful relationships we have with our clothing – the memories, the stories, the interesting ways of getting it that mean so much more than scooping it off the sale rack ever could. (Check out the beginning and a story of my own here)
I’m very excited to have Debbie Roes from Recovering Shopaholic share the story behind one of her most well-loved pieces today! Debbie is a personal development writer from San Diego, California, USA. Her blog, “Recovering Shopaholic,” chronicles her journey to shop more consciously, trade her full closet for a full life, and help others do the same.
I was excited when Emma asked me to be a part of her “Connecting with our Clothes” series. As a longtime “shopaholic,” I placed much more of my focus on acquiring new clothes instead of connecting with and appreciating the clothes I already had.
Sadly, I contributed more than my fair share to the problems of overconsumption and environmental waste over the years. I was constantly buying new clothes and passing along rarely (or even never!) worn pieces to thrift and consignment stores.
Fortunately, I’m in the process of turning things around and now consider myself to be a recovering shopaholic (hence the title of my blog).
Now that I’ve taken a few steps back from my compulsive shopping habits, I’ve come to realize that there are garments in my closet that I’ve loved and appreciated for years.
Although many other pieces have come and gone in the interim, a core section of my wardrobe has stood the test of time. As I pondered which piece of clothing to select for this article, I was pleased to find that I had more “wardrobe workhorses” than I thought. Sure, I’ve made a lot of purchasing mistakes over the years, but I’ve also experienced some shopping success stories that I’m learning from and carrying with me as I work to shop smarter – and less often.
The item that I selected for this story is a black jersey midi skirt with a slightly flared silhouette and contrast thread piping details. I purchased this skirt in April 2008 at a local consignment store for $17 and have since worn it literally hundreds of times! I’m not sure what brand this skirt is, as I had the waist taken in several years ago and the tag was removed by my seamstress.
At the time when I purchased the skirt, I had recently discovered the treasure hunt experience that is resale shopping. I enjoyed searching for “diamonds in the rough” in the wide array of thrift and consignment shops that adorn my Southern California neighborhood. I found my black skirt while visiting a street fair where friends of mine were vendors. While browsing the fair, I discovered a small resale store called “Double Take,” so I popped in to see what I could find. Little did I know that I would find what would become one of my favorite skirts for years to come!
I’ve worn my black skirt many times in each subsequent summer since it entered my closet. Not only have I worn it around my home town of San Diego, it also accompanied me on two trips to Hawaii, several trips to visit family in the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe region, and multiple excursions to Catalina Island (where my husband and I were married and return to at least twice each year). The skirt always seems to find its way into my suitcase on my warm weather travels.
The fact that a simple consignment buy skirt has stood the test of time in my wardrobe is quite remarkable. When I started my blog in January 2013, I had no less than nine black skirts in my closet! At the time of this writing, I have two black skirts, one of which was purchased in August of last year. So every other black skirt that pre-dated my blog has been passed on, but my jersey midi skirt has remained.
Why do I love this skirt so much? I like that it’s both comfortable and flattering and that it feels feminine without being too “girly.” It’s a good match for my casual lifestyle and classic and minimalist sense of style while also having a flare of the artistic with the piping details. Simply put, this skirt feels like “me” and I feel good in it. It’s always a go-to piece for when I want to look polished and laid back at the same time.
I have a lot of memories attached to my black midi skirt. I’ve worn it during some of my more memorable trips, including my 10-year anniversary vacation to Maui with my husband and our 12-year anniversary trip to Catalina Island last year. It was worn during several enjoyable family visits and on a variety of fun day-long adventures with my husband to local hot spots. And I’ve probably worn this skirt out to lunch and dinner more times than I can count.
When I selected my 33-piece capsule wardrobe for Project 333 back in April 2013, it was a no-brainer for me to include my black jersey skirt in the mix. I knew it would be highly versatile and would play nicely with many of the tops, jackets, and cardigans that I also selected for my Project 333 wardrobe. When I completed the challenge at the end of June, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the black skirt was among my most worn garments.
Almost six years after purchasing my skirt for the very low price of $17, I’m sure its cost-per-wear is down in the pennies. I continue to love the skirt and know I will wear it for years to come. Although I was pleased to learn that midi skirts are trending for this spring and summer, I am not a slave to trends and will be happy to wear my black midi skirt next summer even if the trend has faded. If a piece of clothing makes me feel slim, attractive, and happy, I will wear it, trends be damned!
From this versatile and long-lasting piece of clothing I learned that I need to trust myself more when I shop. I need to pay more attention to how I feel in a garment and consider my lifestyle and personal style aesthetic more deeply before plunking down my credit card to buy new things. I need to listen to my inner style muse instead of the fashion experts and salespeople who might try to steer me away from the clothes that make my heart sing. If I do this, I know I’ll be able to connect more fully with what I own and cultivate the smaller wardrobe I desire, filled only with clothes I love and wear.
I love that amongst all of Debbie’s clothes, it’s a simple second hand skirt that gets so much wear and has so many great memories connected to it. Often when we go shopping we think this new piece will change our wardrobes and our lives. Once we have this emerald green shell top, life will be complete. If only we had those burgundy brogues, getting dressed will be a breeze. This is the jacket that will make us confident and carefree. Yet once that shopping bag is in our hands, once that piece of clothing is hanging up at home, suddenly it doesn’t seem so revolutionary after all. This skirt really shows how it’s the tried-and-true pieces that have the most impact on our wardrobes, and it’s so important to appreciate them!
Debbie also truly illustrates that changing your the way you shop is a process rather than a destination. This encourages us to take whatever steps are possible for us at the time, which is ultimately the best way to create long-lasting change.
Do have an unconventional relationship with a piece of clothing? Did you get it in an unusual way, does it tell a story, have you learned something through it? If it goes beyond the the buy-new-throw-away relationship we are so often encouraged to have, please get in touch!
Email me at emma_vitz at live dot com, and let’s share the meaningful relationships we have with our clothing.
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