I put some effort into my appearance yesterday. I actually put on a dress (which is like a twice-a-year thing for me). I wore a bracelet (also a biannual phenomenon) and shaved my legs (I won’t comment on the frequency of that occurrence). It was a dress I actually loved, too—I felt good in it. And the bracelet was pretty. I used a new razor on my legs, too, which is one of the best feelings ever. I styled my hair using actual hair products. I put on some makeup. I wore new shoes. I spritzed on my favorite perfume.
What was the occasion?
There wasn’t one. I was just leaving my house.
My sister-in-law took me to run some errands. We went to the grocery store and a gas station. We stopped by another store to make a return. We did eat sushi—that was special, but I was still the only person in the restaurant wearing a dress.
I have a closet full of clothes that I don’t love, that don’t quite fit right. I have piles of shirts that are too short or too baggy or too tight. I have jeans that gap in the back or make my legs look like cased sausages. I have shoes that hurt and sweaters that have armpits full of pills and moth holes. Time and time again, I buy things that I do not completely love.
I have clothes that I do love, like that dress. And jeans that fit just right. And sweaters that feel like a hug. And shirts that feel like custom couture. And even though I never wear them, I love these things—or, rather, I love the idea of them. They honestly feel like costumes, and I often feel like a child playing dress-up when I dare to wear them. That wardrobe belongs to someone I have not yet become, or someone I only occasionally pretend to be. So I keep buying stuff that I don’t love, stuff that doesn’t even fit properly, because I cannot wear a lie.
I think I’ve been waiting for myself to become someone worthy of those beautiful things I never wear—some kind of self-confident professional who looks capable and ready for anything, and because I do not feel self-confident or professional or capable, I wear things that reflect that belief. It feels like sacrilege to wear my loveliest things, like perpetrating a lie.
It recently occurred to me that I cannot wait for myself to magically turn into this confident professional I always thought I’d effortlessly become after college—especially given my current circumstances. (It’s hard to be professional when you’re unemployed.) It’s a complete waste to buy and wear things that I don’t love and to let the things that I do love wilt in the back of my closet.
So this year, as I spring clean, I am getting rid of all that I do not love—and not just my ill-fitting clothes. It is time to abandon those ideas that I am unworthy of beauty because I have not accomplished or become what I thought I would. It is time for me to embrace the wardrobe of that woman I want to be—to actually wear my lovely things and only buy things that I love, things that bolster my confidence and my self-worth, things that make me feel capable and vibrant.
Because life is a special enough occasion to dress up.