It’s my birthday in a few weeks. Ok, like seven weeks. It’s extremely exciting for me, and possibly not that exciting for anyone else on the planet. It’s not a birthday I plan on acknowledging (hi, 37) but it DOES mean I get presents from my family. And I decided that I wanted those presents to be clothes. Much, much clothes.
So it made perfect sense to me that these items should be purchased now, while all the sales are on and I can maximise my birthday money. I started off carefully, considering at length which items I needed to plug holes in my wardrobe. And then my brain snapped and I wanted ALL THE CLOTHES.
I bought this leather biker jacket:
And this blazer:
And these boots:
And these tops:
And these treggings (I know, right? I stopped learning at jeggings).
And these accessories:
(Sorry, not sure you really needed to see the bustier, but I think its really cute!)
in about 90 seconds flat. And then I collapsed in a happy heap.
And then remorse kicked in. I know these are totally “legal” spends…but somehow I felt a bit dirty and cheaty afterwards. It seems spending is still a door that needs to remain firmly shut for me at the moment. If I open it even a crack, the hounds of hell get loose and there is no stopping me. Hopefully it’s getting better? But if that was a little test, I have to say things don’t look good. 😦
In other news, I am training my brain. I’m terrified of dementia and did a few things lately such as pouring a freshly boiled kettle of water straight down the sink instead of into my cup, and getting off the train three stops early and catching myself wandering around before I snapped to it and headed into the office. To be fair, I was really sick that day and very tired. But I convinced myself I had early-onset Alzheimer’s and downloaded this app (free version, don’t worry!) called Lumosity Brain Training. It takes a snapshot of your brain through a series of short games designed to test things like mental flexibility, speed, spacial awareness and memory. And then each day it custom-develops a training program of three (five on the full version) games for you to train your brain in each of those elements.
So the good news is I am quick as a whip and more mentally flexible than 90% of people my age. My memory is fair to middling.
The bad news is I am completely shit at math, and have literally NO spacial awareness (not really a newsflash to anyone who knows me).
There’s one game where you have to help a little penguin through a maze to a fish. It’s fine at first, because the four controls move him up, down, left and right through the maze, ahead of zombie penguin who is racing him there. But then…THE MAZE FLIPS. Your controls stay where they were though, so now when you press right, he can head left, or down or anywhere really!
I find it EXTREMELY stressful because I have to literally press all the buttons until he starts going where I want. Something in my brain short-circuits and I cannot understand what this penguin will do or which control does what. Just when I get the hang of it, THE MAZE SPINS AGAIN.
At one point this poor penguin marched up and down the same little stretch of maze for a full minute while zombie penguin strode purposefully to the fish. And then my penguin CRIED when the zombie got the fish!! Like, they actually programmed this cute little guy to make a heart-breaking peep and shed two little penguin tears while covering his eyes. It’s more than I can handle, and makes me doubly stressed in round two.
Except stress doesn’t seem to help me. There is simply nothing in my brain that can understand what the controls do when the maze flips. Logically I can say: the maze flipped 90 degrees left, so now to get him marching up the screen, we need to press the right arrow. But that doesn’t actually work when I am playing the game. I turn into a chimp, randomly banging all the controls. *sigh*.
And yes, I am one of those people who has to spin a map so it’s in the same direction as I am traveling.
So I’m not perfect. I’m still clearly not to be trusted unsupervised on the internet, and I basically could not find my way out of a paper bag.
But I’m smart in other ways! And I’m funny. And I’m kind. And I’m going to look great in that jacket. 🙂
If pressed, I would modestly describe my personal sense of style as “a little bit money, a little bit rock’n’roll.” If pressed, the average person on the street would variously describe my style as “inconsistent”, “nondescript” and “borderline homeless” depending on the day. To be fair, that might be mostly because of the hair, which – due to laziness – is usually in a style that Germans practically refer to as a “ficknest” (literally, the nest your hair makes after you’ve been f- …, uh, I mean, in bed for a while).
While in my mind I wander around looking Nina Proudman-esque (a quirky Australian TV character from the show Offspring with a whimsical, alt-boho look that’s somehow also sharp and pulled-together), in reality I’m pretty much wearing the same black skirt all the time. Like, alllll the time.
Or black jeans. Which my boyfriend once described as my uniform. No, actually he said, “I don’t think I’ve seen this outfit before.” To which I replied, “Really? I wear it all the- ohhhhh, I get it.”
What I do have is an extreme abundance of mismatched jewellery which I think reflects not only the styles I have dabbled with, my indecision, my inability to find/decide on/commit to a “look” but also the various emotions I experience when inside a shopping mall.
I hardly wear any of this stuff, and there’s lots of it. I tried to estimate how much money I would have spend over time on things I thought I would “try out”…I’ve lost count, but it’s a big number.
I have definitely gone through phases in my dressing career. I was allll about purple in my early teens – long before Marie in Breaking Bad, I might add. Then I went through whatever ridiculous and ill-considered trend was in at the time: surfer chic, disco girl, ranch owner, hip-hop star, middle-aged virgin, polo-playing aristocrat, heroin addict. I just played along and while I always added something of myself to the style, it was definitely dictated by whatever was in magazines or on my friends. Except heroin addict, that look I owned.
For the longest time, I refused to wear shoes. This continued into my university days, where I was threatened with being thrown out of a lecture if I didn’t show up next time with a pair on. I also refused to brush my hair, which my poor mother remembers as “my entire early adulthood.”
I guess I didn’t really either care too much, or know enough about dressing and style. There are some people whose whole appearance is a natural form of expression completely their own, an artform. I have friends who can put on a poncho, moccasins and a ballgown and it’s still somehow all part of their personal style and they totally rock it (Selena, I am looking at you!). I’m not smart this way. Dressing is not something I “get”, it’s not a language I speak. For me, it’s mostly a way not to get arrested for indecency.
But I have started to take notice, mostly inspired by my Ma, of what I feel comfortable in and what I receive compliments in. I have found that these are usually one and the same. I’m slowly evolving a kind of actual style. My own style. It’s pretty relaxed – mostly jeans or skirts and plain t-shirts layered over with blazers or biker jackets. The occasional wrap dress and jewel-toned sweater. And boots. Pretty much always boots.
It’s not rocket science or a massive breakthrough, but it helps me get dressed in the morning. It really does. And it’s something I’m now trying to develop while unable to purchase anything new. It’s forcing me to get a bit more creative and bit more adventurous with what I mix and match. I’m trying not to be afraid to shed and cull things that don’t fit with me, even though I can’t currently replace them. But I think once I’ve properly nailed it, it will save me lots of money and heartache in future.
I cannot be the only person who has purchased a bias-cut, gold-sequined balloon skirt in the store, only to get home and realise they are actually a 36-year-old woman with Spanish hips. I get too distracted by what the mannequin is wearing and how the store makes me feel. This is even true of online shopping. I had a look back through my purchases and I have about a 50% success rate of keeping things vs sending them back. Allowing for errors in sizing, a lot of what went back were things that just clearly didn’t suit me or my body shape. But the model wearing them was definitely pretty.
I think going in with a clear idea of what I have in my closet already, what shapes suit my figure, and what makes me feel comfortable, will increase my success ratio in future and will definitely limit the amount of money I waste on sombreros and onsies.
And I’ve got a whole year to figure it all out!
Do you have a definable style, or are you just throwing shit on in the morning to comply with decency laws? Is style and dressing something you “get” or is it a struggle for you too? I’m interested to hear what everyone else goes through here!