Now this is a post that may not resonate with a lot of people – but has been on my mind a lot due to my personal background.
Growing up very poor and wearing not second-hand but THIRD hand clothes (second-hand clothes hand-me downs:) – I went through an interesting relationship with materialistic things especially when it came to clothing.
The first phase: I dressed like a bum in old, often torn, stained clothing – thinking of myself as cool – and playing in a rock band – it probably in some way fit the image of the starving musician. Great, mission accomplished.
The second phase was when I did not play in a rock band anymore but still had holes everywhere and would shop only at flea markets and second-hand shops. I justified this naturally by claiming that I refused to participate in consumerism, having a small foot print on the planet and by being frugal with my money (Like WHO THE HELL WOULD EVER pay 50 bucks for a pair of jeans – CRAZY Right?:)
The third phase – was realizing that I was making already some money – and that a very large part of how people perceived me related to how I dressed, how I kept my hair, if I showered or not, smelled or not etc. Wow – really? People are that shallow??:) Manly man need to smell sweaty and natural and manly…. right??? No?? Please say I am right darn it!!:)
The fourth phase was noticing how people would perceive me negatively – down to a point of asking me to use deodorant at the gym because it smelled around me. Then other people would ask me why I wore crappy clothes all the time if I was able to afford some new clothes. That was enough I said to myself… I will now take a bath once a week instead of once a month… LOL!! I also decided to start buying new clothes.. being very frugal and feeling that I need to get the MOST VALUE for my hard-earned money (and completely forgetting my commitment to not being a regular consumer and keeping a small foot print – I jumped into my car and off to WALMART i went.. decades of spending inhibitions and wearing crap – yielded to large amounts of ON SALE clothing.. wow polo shirts for 10 bucks.. let’s get 20 in all colors – I WILL finally LOOK COOL! I started going to outlet malls and spending BIG! Buying 30 dress shirts – as long as they were no more than 20-25 bucks a piece on sale – but even better to buy 40 of them at $15 per shirt. Screw quality – I had QUANTITY! No one had anything on me – I had the MOST! Shopping compulsively now for anything that I thought looked cool – but at the cheapest price possible, produced by at best minimum wages, at worst by child labor… but I was wearing brand new clothes – HUGE step for me in my evolution from poverty as a child.
The fifth phase took the longest and was a multi-year phase – where I used logic, math, and self-reflection to realize all the BS that I had in my head due to my childhood. I realized how out of the 20 polo shirts that I bought – I really liked only 2 colors and wore those all the time, yet did not even really like neither the fabric not the quality, and suddenly realized that had I bought just 2 expensive polo shirts where someone really poured a lot of effort into crafting them (hard to find of course these days but possible ) – I would feel extremely good about wearing them – and would have spent still LESS money and felt a lot better every time I put the shirt on, AND would not have an overstuffed closet and would have not supported large retailers like Walmart. Also realizing that neither extreme is good (neither being to attached to new clothing, nor buying used clothing), realizing that when someone spends hours or days hand crafting something – that its worth supporting if you like how it looks, feels etc. That there is more to clothing then just quantity of it (which believe it or not only in hindsight seems obvious to me:). I realized that finally and so with a heavy heart I started donating all my clothing to good will.. as unbelievable as it sounds – this was one of the hardest things I had ever done…. I was SO EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED to colored pieces of cloth, and the money that I had “wasted” if I donated them.. Who was the shallow one now ?? LOL wow was I really that shallow???:) I eventually started feeling deep appreciation for my ability to pass on some new clothes to some people who needed them more than I did, that would actually wear them and to not attach myself to materialistic belongings.
These days I do not restrict what I buy, the only criteria is that I have to feel really good about it, and that I have a maximum amount of items that I want to own and beyond that I will gift things to friends, donate to good will, donate through free cycle – and make someones day when they find a $150 shirt on a hanger at a second-hand store for 10 bucks:)