yesterday i found myself in a familiar spot. after making my way through a local thrift store as quickly as possibly with a bored toddler, i picked out a turtleneck, a cream colored sack dress with 3/4 length sleeves, and a pair of gray jeans and paid for them. when i got home, i tried on the jeans only to be met with my usual jean problem: once they hit my thighs they were stuck. despite the label stating that they were what i’d consider a size or two too big, they failed to make it over my thighs, and forget about my hips.
while jeans that do not fit is a recurring theme in my life, that’s not what made me think. every winter i seem to go into a sort of cold weather coma and every spring i wake up to find myself heavier than when winter started. i don’t think that it’s uncommon to gain weight in the winter, but what i find exhausting is the inner conflict over this. because it’s not as if i treat the winter months as a free for all and go on a wild pizza and donut bender. i fully beat myself up over each pound gained and then labor torturously over losing each pound. apart from this cycle (which is a whole other ball o’ wax), what comes along with it is what to wear during this time.
this has been a particularly rough winter for me. i have been thrown into what equates to a full time job in managing my son’s various autism therapies. every day feels like a roller coaster, some days i’m happy and amazed, some days i am angry, many days i find myself in tears. i am way, way out of my comfort zone. i’m tired. and add that to my usual vitamin d deficiency/SAD winter blues and it’s not a pretty picture. so with that, a few pounds have come. and all of the beautiful pieces of clothing that i’ve acquired don’t see the light of day much. i find myself looking for clothes that make me disappear. lately i am looking for something that i can disappear in.
i find it interesting how much our clothing choices are tied up in our emotional state. we use clothes to express our confidence or lack of confidence, our sadness or joy, our playfulness and our seriousness, our sexuality and our childishness. yesterday when i found myself having brought home a pair of boring gray, ill-fitting jeans that i would typically never buy, and was left to donate them right back to another thrift store, i had to shake my head. here i go again.
each winter i find myself getting into a particular kind of shopping habit. it’s like a junk food binge: fast fashion and thrifted fast fashion. my drawers fill up with bulky sweaters, sack dresses, stretchy, poorly made clothes that inevitably go into the “what was i thinking?” pile once spring arrives. last spring was the first time that i ever really took a look at my closet, took inventory and organized it but i have to admit that despite those efforts, here i am again. the impulse buy crappy jeans are now in the corner of my closet with the other things that most definitely do not “spark joy.”
when i step back and look at this i have to admit that it is tied up in a pretty deep coping mechanism, one that involves food and drink and money and a lot of really major stuff. i can look back on tough times in my life, long winters or depressed periods, periods where i was struggling or in a bad place, those are not the times where i was wearing my favorite clothes. the clothes that make my heart effing sing. the pretty, well made, smart outfits that say something about who i am. those were the times where i found myself impulsively trying to disappear.
i can’t say that i have the solution or that this will ever change for me. but this, this is the thing that i think of when people say that fashion is fake or frivolous or that clothes don’t matter. the next time that i see a woman hiding under sweats or flaunting her body in something skimpy i might take a minute before i judge. she might be trying to tell us all something.