Friday, April 21, 2006

In Which I Wallow in Self Pity

The latest agonizing three-day meeting is scheduled to begin next Tuesday. These quarterly meetings are a *BIG DEAL* at my place of employment, and are attended by many vendors, agency reps and important clients from all over the country. Because my job requires me to spend all three days of this meeting seated at a table at the front of a giant hotel meeting room alongside the highest level executives at my corporation (which, by the way, is the only time I am ever seated within three floors of the highest level executives at my corporation), I like to try to dress a little more professionally than normal on those days.

This presents a little bit of a problem.

My office is pro-casual, and at home I’m all about jeans and T-shirts, so there’s never been a lot of professional wear in my closet. Then, three years ago I lost 35 pounds, and around that same time my financial situation went deep, deep into the toilet.

While I managed to gradually restock my everyday wardrobe with size-smaller clothes through a few fortuitous trips to the thrift store and my stint at Old Navy (subtract my employee discount from the clearance price and, yeah, I think I can squeeze $1.79 out of the grocery budget and splurge on this pair of khakis—the children can put water instead of milk on their Cheerios for a couple of days…), to this day, my closet still contains a number of dressier shirts and jackets that I refer to as “my fat clothes.” They don’t fit. They’re unflattering. But they stayed in the closet because it was either them or nothing at all.

My high-school social studies teacher taught me that economics is about using limited resources to satisfy unlimited wants. Although I could debate whether being required by the city to pay them to remove the Dutch elm-diseased tree in my back yard qualifies as a “want,” I have come to understand the concept of prioritizing when funds are limited. So even now that my finances have improved somewhat, the “fat clothes” remain in the closet because the Demigoddesses both needed glasses, Demi the Elder needed braces, the car needed two new distributor caps in two years and, oh yeah, I still don’t know how much the work on my leaky house is going to end up costing me.

But yesterday I decided that enough is enough. After three years, my old clothes have finally reached an acceptable level of depreciation, and I cannot face another agonizing three-day meeting wearing ill-fitting, outdated clothing. So I went to the mall.

Scouring through the clearance racks in four different stores, I came up with two shirts, a beaded cardigan and two jackets, all of which had been marked down at least twice. In all, my new wardrobe cost the extravagant sum of $80.

The guilt set in immediately.

All evening long I silently berated myself for spending such an outrageous amount of money on frivolities in the same month when I paid taxes, had a new master cylinder put on the car, and still have to buy knobs and hinges for all the kitchen cabinets. Just a few days ago, I warned the Demis not to ask me for a single cent—not even lunch money—until the end of the month. And then I went and lost my mind and wantonly flung money all over the mall. What was I thinking?

So I tried all the new clothes on again and gave them one more good look in the mirror. One of the jackets really didn’t fit quite right. And I wasn’t completely in love with the color of one shirt. And the beads on the cardigan? They would probably fall off before too long anyway.

So. Back to the mall with me. I’m keeping one shirt and one jacket and returning the rest. I feel so very reasonable and mature, and I know it’s the right thing to do, but God DAMN it sucks to be a grownup sometimes.


Angelica said...

I totally empathize.

SOMETIMES you can find fantastic winter clearance items that would work just as well for spring and summer clothing!

Good luck with the bigwigs!!

Sarah said...

That's exactly how I shop. Answer this - if you were shopping for the Demis, would you have returned anything? Because when I'm shopping for the KIDS? No guilt. None whatsoever. For me? Ah, what the hell - I can wear those shoes for the seventh straight year, and who cares if my jeans are older than both of my daughters?

Meghan said...

It's all about rationalization. clothes you like = self esteem = savings in therapy and general happiness = money well spent. YAY!

TJ Maxx had some good stuff last week too. It's all about findind bargains. You have to have things to wear to work for crying out loud. Stupid car. Stupid tree. Stupid house.