Occasional Epiphanies

Fashion Saved My Night

Fashion May 18, 2012 9 Comments

We all dressed up for the party!

I used to be a compulsive shopper. I was raised in the time of credit cards and didn’t really understand that we had to pay them back. I thought shopping was just about my love for clothes and all things having to do with fashion. It took me years and plenty of credit card debt to realize that I was buying things to feel better about myself. To fill a whole inside that just got bigger the more I tried to stuff inside it.

I remember that feeling of walking through the mall with my arms full of bags. I felt successful, happy, loved.

Until I got home and looked at the receipts.

Then the buyer’s remorse started to kick in and I felt guilty about all the money I had spent. Which just made the whole inside even bigger.

As I started working on myself, I stopped shopping. At first, I just quit cold turkey. I had a closet full of clothes and more shoes than I could count. So, I didn’t actually need to go to the mall.

Eventually I became proud of my resistance to shopping. As if I was somehow better than people who shopped because I didn’t need anything to feel good about myself.

Yup, I had gone too far the other way. It seems like that happens a lot as we navigate through life. Kind of like California and the public education system. From one extreme to the other. At least I wasn’t hurting any children along the way.

But eventually I got to the point where I wanted to be able to go to the mall and not buy everything in sight. I wanted to know that how I felt about myself had nothing to do with how much money I had, how many pairs of shoes I owned, or if I was wearing the latest trend.

I wanted to love me for me, and still take me shopping. I never lost my love of fashion.

I started going back in small steps. Putting money for particular pieces into my budget and sticking to it. I planned ahead for what I was going to buy and didn’t get things I didn’t really want or need. I even went to the mall and window shopped. Just to get ideas for dressing and have a good time. Sometimes I didn’t feel like buying more than a latte.

It felt good.

Then I realized that the part I loved most about shopping was something I didn’t need to spend money on. Putting an outfit together for a certain event got me excited. Even an event I wasn’t really looking forward to became fun when I got to dress up for it. I could go to the mall and get ideas, or I could stand in my closet and look at what I already had with new eyes. I could put different pieces together and make a whole new look.

This past month I had my dad’s 60th birthday party and the auction my step-mom organized. I had to go to both events alone. I knew my brother would be the only one my age at our dad’s party. And at the auction? Just me and a bunch of parents of high school students. Good times ahead.

But both events were important to people I love, so I was determined to have a good time. I didn’t want to be a burden. I wanted to enjoy myself, genuinely.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I planned what to wear.

As I spent time putting together my outfit, from dress to shoes to jewelry, I got more excited to go. I decided to have a good time and put in the effort. And the fun followed on its own.

It’s true what they say: When you look good, you feel good. And when you decide to put in the effort for something that is important to someone else, you really can end up having just as much fun yourself.

Fashion may not save lives, but it can sure save my night.

How do you feel when you decide to dress up for something? Do you feel better when you put in the effort to dress up? Can we decide to be happy?

 

9 Responses to “Fashion Saved My Night”

  1. Reply Karla Robinson says:

    For sure feeling good and looking good makes a difference in your attitude towards something, I love dressing up when I have an opportunity. And i love putting on makeup and when I step out the house I can feel the good energy flowing, I walk a little taller with my head up and even a smile, fashion may not save lives but it sure makes it more pleasant. Plus it makes you feel pretty and we all wanna feel pretty.

    • Reply Emma Burcart says:

      You are so right! We all do want to feel pretty. And it’s the feeling part that’s important, isn’t it? One of my favorite mamas always says: Put on some lipstick and you’ll feel better. :)

  2. Reply Marcy Kennedy says:

    I’ve had a difficult time lately because of the extra weight I’m carrying. (I know it shouldn’t matter, and I’m working on that, but it’s a constant work-in-progress.) When I was at my healthy weight, though, I loved deciding what to wear. I didn’t have a big variety in my closet, but I had some key pieces that I could mix or match to make it appropriate for any event. And I felt pretty and confident when I took the time to dress carefully.

    I’m not fashion savvy, so I always take my husband shopping with me, and get help from the sales people, but I love having nice things to wear. I wish I had a natural aptitude for it. The only thing I’m really good at choosing is shoes :)

    • Reply Emma Burcart says:

      Hey, I say go with your strength! You can build many great outfits by starting with the shoes. I totally understand the weight thing. I have been up and down and it took a lot to appreciate myself at any weight. Two of the most important things I learned were: size doesn’t matter, get what looks good on you; and try dresses. The wrap dress looks good on all body types and can fit as you go down in weight. There are also a lot of other dress styles that are much more flattering than pants.

  3. Reply Pat O'Dea Rosen says:

    It sounds as though your positive, thinking-of-others attitude saved your night, Emma, but if you want to credit fashion, I won’t stop you.

    This post reminds me I don’t spend enough time putting together and changing up outfits. It’s never too late to learn, right?

    • Reply Emma Burcart says:

      Never! I think it is really fun to try and use what we have in our closets in new ways. And if that isn’t something you’re good at, invite a friend who is to help. I love playing stylist for my step-mom! And even my dad will ask me for advice when he goes shopping. Have fun with what you’ve got! :)

  4. Reply Natalie Hartford says:

    Are you sure we aren’t related? LOL!
    I still struggle with finding the balance. I tend to waiver between going to mall and going insane…and avoiding the mall to quit cold turkey.
    I am getting a bit better. Earlier this week I went to the mall because I need a couple cute shirts for summer. I knew my fav store had 25% off everything so I was maximizing a sale opportunity. I walked out of the store with only 2 shirts….huge for me and it felt GREAT!
    How you explained your new shopping attitude with planning, window shopping and saving for those key pieces…THAT is where I want to be with shopping…that sounds heavenly and responsible and happy to me. Luv it Emma…
    Congrats…I’ll let you know when I get there with ya!

    • Reply Emma Burcart says:

      Natalie, it sounds like you are well on your way! You planned what to buy and where to go, and you only bought the things on your list. That is amazing! But, I also am excited for the day when you say you feel confident in your shopping decisions. It really is a great feeling. And, I’m pretty sure we’re cousins. Maybe twice removed or something! :)

  5. Reply Breaking in spring with fling and flare – Natalie Hartford says:

    [...] wait. By letting go and having patience we open ourselves up to enjoying the ride. And her post on how fashion saved her night was stellar. I loved it because what it really said to me is that when we create the right balance [...]

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