Friday, June 28, 2013

Confessions of a Self-Repressed Clothes-Shopping Maniac

(I considered titling this blog, “Confessions of a Closet Shopaholic.” Then I could just imagine Zachary looking at me with his that’s-not-a-word face and say, “So you’re addicted to shopahol?” It’s an adorable face, but I decided to avoid it anyway.)

I was never a tomboy, but from a pretty early age, I viewed myself as the rugged carefree country kid. With an acre of woods in my backyard, it was true that I understood nature better than most kids who grew up in the city: I could make a cozy wigwam, avoid poison ivy, walk quietly over the leaf litter, and deal calmly with bugs (except granddaddy longlegs, which freaked me out). I usually wore boys’ clothes because they were practical, and that’s what got handed down to me from my brothers. My hair was often a rat’s nest because I hated brushing it. I never asked to play with Mom’s makeup or wear her fancy shoes, and I rolled my eyes at books that seemed too “girly,” and therefore boring. In the stories I told myself, the main characters were usually boys because I thought they were generally more interesting.

How I wish I dressed. (I was seriously tempted
to buy this tunic at Charming Charlie's.)
All in all, I despised “girly-girls.” There they were with their perfectly-groomed hair and cute designer clothes, letting out shrill screams when they were startled and breaking into conniptions when they encountered a bug. I reasoned that I was better than that, with my outdoorsy skills and insect tolerance and carelessness about my appearance. As I grew older and the “girly-girls” transformed into teens at the mall spending hundreds of their parents’ dollars on clothes, I grew even more smug.

How I actually dress. (Let's all take
a moment to thank God my husband
isn't a shallow person.)
And yet, somehow along the way, I still ended up with a streak of girliness that can compete with the best chick-flick-watching-fingernail-painting mall rat among them.

How did this happen? I’m still not sure. In many ways I’m still the same: I recoil from the idea of piercing my ears, dyeing my hair, or painting my nails. I like jewelry but don’t find it practical to wear 99% of the time. I rarely put on makeup and when I do I usually forget and rub it off within ten minutes. I leave my armpits and legs unshaven for weeks at a time. 

But it still surprises me every time I get a sudden and strange urge to shop. I see a dress I like and fall in love with it. I have sudden urges to go out to Goodwill. I even like shopping with my best friend and watching her buy clothes, as long as somebody is buying pretty stuff. Despite all my bluster about not being a girly-girl, and despite the relentless practicality that keeps me from wearing many a cute shirt, I want to look pretty.

Sorry for judging you, girly-girls.

Of course, this manifests itself in a unique way in me. My latest discovery is that I have a swooning reaction to backpacking clothes. Yes, backpacking clothes. Yesterday I was glancing through the clothes on ExOfficio’s site— and drooling. And murmuring, “Oh my gosh, a shirt that’s 100% nylon, SPF 30, with off-the-shoulder seams, tagless, available in that adorable shade of blue, with roll-up sleeves and insect repellent woven into the fabric?!” Things got even better (worse?) when I scrolled through their beautiful, unbelievably functional dresses, my eyes glazing over in wonder. It took a brisk four-mile walk in the soggy heat to clear my head.

My husband should just be glad that I hate spending money. Otherwise, he’d find himself trapped for life with a clothes-shopping maniac.

(Now that I’ve written this blog, I feel like it needs a follow-up. Stay tuned for a companion blog tomorrow.)


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