Clothing


Garage sale

Image via Wikipedia

Spent some time purging drawers and closets in anticipation of the hamlet-wide garage sale later this summer.

Dee has outgrown nearly everything, which caught me off guard because normally I shop for her every other year. She’s put on exactly zero pounds but shot up an inch-ish or better. It’s all legs. Devilish hard to fit the child’s waist. Girls’ clothing these days are vanity sized and reflect the chunkier body types that have resulted from our processed food/low-level of energy lifestyles. Dee is not the shortest kid in her class anymore, but she’s got a Scarlett O’Hara waist compared to nearly all of her peers. Tiny waist and coltish legs spells difficulty in sizing her, so just about every pair of pants I got her back in late February are now floodies and still a tad too big around her waist. Hobbit-legged and thick-middled, the girl ain’t.

I rummaged and purged my own rather meager collection of apparel myself, sticking slavishly to the rule that “if it hasn’t been worn in a year, its history”. I continue to pride myself on the fact that every article of clothing I own could be neatly packed into a large Rubbermaid tote should the need arise.

All this pro-activeness called to mind the agony of purging and packing for the move to Canada before Rob and I married back in June of 2007. In fact four years ago yesterday, we left Des Moines behind.

I sometimes miss the idea of that house.  The openness and space. Some of what we’ve done in our recent renovations replicates it in a way, but we are far from done and even farther from achieving liberation from boxes of packed away stuff that is never thought of much less in danger of every being used again.

Over lunch today, Rob ruefully expressed what he called his “buyer’s remorse” about the renovation project that never ends. Selling and buying new, however, was never an option. Real estate around here is overpriced and much of the newer stuff is poorly constructed. For a little bit of debt, we can create spaces in our existing home that will more than suit as opposed to taking on the monumental debt of a brand new mortgage for what amounts to overvalued real estate on a prairie that is downwind of various petrochemical plants. It’s somewhat of a no brainer.

It’s doesn’t make the process less cumbersome or tiring.

The last time I purged a house, it was slash and burn. Goodwill, friends and friends/relatives of friends benefited tremendously from my zeal to simply lighten my load. I gave away more than I sold and simply threw away everything else. And with only the occasional exception (it would have been nice to have kept that Pampered Chef pizza cutter because the one I have now bites in comparison), I haven’t missed anything.

That’s the thing about stuff that most people can’t wrap their minds around – it honestly won’t be missed once you are able to pry your fingers loose of it. In all likelihood, you will never waste another thought on it again.

I toy with the idea of just getting a waste-bin  delivered and just have a chuckfest. But, of course, I won’t. A lot of what constitutes clutter isn’t mine, and though I am convinced that it would be years – if ever – that anyone would ask after the departed items, I respect the fact that what I deem useless and spent embodies something important for others.

Accumulation of stuff seems to be a condition of life – unless one is a monk of some kind. Renunciates are what they are called in yoga. Renunciates eschew things in an effort to seek the balance between living in a physical world without placing too much attachment on it while Householders do the opposite while still being expected to rise above it all. I think the latter is the more difficult. Having fewer things, as I have learned, spoils a person. The more room I acquire the less I want to fill it up. The more stuff one has, the harder it is to decide what’s necessary and the greater the likelihood that one won’t recognize the tribble like nature of stuff. Stuff breeds because it feeds want.

Too much stuff blinds us as well because it fairly demands that we attach value – monetary and emotional – to it, making it harder to get rid of and easier to let pile up in one way or another.

I suspect I will spend the better part of the rest of my life waging a quiet war of attrition with clutter and accumulation. Most days I am zen about that but today it’s raining and cold and my hair is frizzy. Not that this has any bearing, mind you, and I have just been thinking  – again – about how to lighten Rob’s load without any success. Maybe banana bread and cookies? At least that’s not permanent clutter.


Creepy Old Navy mannequins "in person"

Image by Daniel Greene via Flickr

Before I lose internet … again … a wee update.

The kitchen/great room renovation hums along. The entire front half of the downstairs is gutted and closed off with plastic sheeting that reminds me of those movies where virulent epidemics are sweeping à la apocalypse and everyone is wearing hazmat.

I spent over four hours yesterday pulling nails left behind after Rob and I yanked the old hardwood up by its 60-year-old roots. The dust was killer, and it occurred to me as it puffed up and settled again that the particles contain remnants of everyone who’s ever lived in this house. Skin flakes, hair follicles, disintegrated food and dirty debris from all over creation of people who had no idea that their imprints on the floor were more than just passing, easily mopped up or swept away.

Life to ashes and dust, man, remember that.

Dee bore up under the crushing boredom of a school vacation minus the vacation until Friday, so partly because Rob was worn to a nub and I was itchy to do something other than provide spotty physical labor and teach yoga, we went shopping Sunday afternoon.

Rob would rather hump plaster to the dump like Atlas than shop. Particularly at Old Navy, which is where we went. Because we had coupon and but also because I like it.

“Did you not see the level of clientele?” he asked.

“Low rent,” I agreed, “but that’s because the clothes are cheap.”

“And gaudy and meant to be replaced often due more to the poor, made-by-Chinese-school-children quality than anything else.”

And because I resemble that remark a bit, I paused, but I can’t justify spending tons of money on clothing anymore. Sturdy may mean it never wears out, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t tire of it and want something new or bright? In which case I am stuck with wearable clothing and though I do periodic closet sweeps, I don’t do garage sales more than once a year and there is a limit to my need to give my stuff away – even though that is a guilty pleasure of mine.

I also like their yoga-ish duds. As I am over Lululemon, I am in constant quest mode for the most comfy yoga pants – and no, sadly, I have yet to find them – but I did find these awesome walking capris at Old Navy for HALF-PRICE.

Suffice to say, with coupon we spent on four long sleeve shirts, two capris and a comfy fleece jammie bottom, the same amount of money that one pair of Lululemon pants would have cost. Added bonus is not contributing to a company that doesn’t have plus-wear (and by “+” I mean anything over a size 12 and I loathe companies that feed the sizism monster).

Then we went to the bookstore and BOUGHT BOOKS!!

Love browsing a bookseller on a Sunday afternoon. Heaven. And one consumer unnecessary that I sorely miss.

The awesome thing about shopping, when you rarely do anymore, is how awesome it really is.

Winter arrived today. It’s visited here and there since early October, but I think it will be staying now.

Oh, and Rob’s mother will be getting married in less than a month. No surprise – to me – but Rob is still incredibly ambivalent and the older girls have yet to publicly comment. A December wedding though does free up June again for Edie and Silver though when I mentioned that to her, she just stammered and blushed.

The wedding moving up is more to do with the groom being an American. Rob and I faced the same dilemma when Dee and I moved up here. We planned a September wedding to mollify Rob’s family a bit because a year would have passed since Shelley’s death. The year thing is a big fat hairy deal to a lot of people. However, being an émigré makes marriage a thing that can’t be put off to please one’s sense of timing. Governments get growly about foreigners taking up residence without cause – in their eyes – and paperwork. There are oodles of papers and stamps and approvals and other such nonsense.

So it is for my future father-in-law. He must be legal and the quickest path is to get the marriage thing taken care of upfront.

It’s not romantic. It’s hard on the extended family. But really? All that matters is that they are together and happy.

“I don’t know what to say, ” Rob confessed in the aftermath of a phone conversation with his mom.

“You can’t say anything, ” I said, “because you don’t have a leg to stand on.”

“Payback is a bitch,” he agreed.


 

Just to prove the muffin top is not limited to LA

Image by Malingering via Flickr

 

Though there are likely more than 12, I am guessing that the number one bad fit is some sort of trouser. It gathers unflatteringly at the crotch and produces a muffin-ish roll at the waist. It’s too long or a tiny bit too short depending on the female in question’s inseam because in America it’s 30″, 32″ or 34″. Period. With 31″ being the inexplicable default when manufacturers’ feel that catering to girth is duty enough.

What strikes me as amazing is that pouring ourselves into pants that obviously don’t fit has been in vogue for so long that women, more or less, can’t tell when they are wearing the wrong size.

Take muffining for example. Most young women spill over the waistband. Even those who are thin – by real life standards or Hollywood ones – feel that unless they are being squeezed up and over the top of their pants – they must be too big.

What a fantastic bit of salesmanship! Fashionista Americana must still glow pridefully for pulling off that neat trick.

A recent U.K. study* revealed that women, generally, have at least 12 outfits in their closets that don’t fit them at all. Too big.  Or, more likely, too small. And the decades old nonsense of buying something too small to encourage yourself to lose weight or get in shape is still one of the culprits behind this unsurprising revelation.

When I posted a link to the article on my Facebook feed, my sis, DNOS, replied that she probably had more outfits than that. Her husband is forever imploring her to thin the unwearable herd.  If I lived closer, I’d offer to help.  Some of the flock is mine.  Things I grew weary of or decided didn’t suit me. I bet that a good portion of my college days wardrobe is currently huddled together in my sister’s closet, discussing their days of yore – when someone actually wore them.

My youngest sister still wears a couple of my old pre-Dee pair of jeans I gave her during one of her many cash-strapped periods. Whereas DNOS will accept much of what I offer (though she considers my style and colour preferences fuddy-duddy), BabySis – a beggar if ever there was one – is choosy as hell. The only items she’s ever accepted were jeans and sweatshirts.

I pruned my own closet again mid-summer in anticipation of a garage sale that will have to wait until spring now. As I glanced through the closet the other day, I realized that Rob takes up most of the space. I would be hard put to find 12 ill-fitting outfits, but I could probably rid myself of four or five that I don’t truly love anymore.

True love is my criteria for keeping or purchasing clothing.

Which brings me to a list of sad statistics about women that this study also (re)discovered:

  • most women own at least three different sizes of clothing to accommodate their yo-yo dieting
  • Just 2% of women were happy with their looks
  • Most women think they are “frumpy”
  • 1 in 10 women thinks she is fat

I accidentally discovered I’d gained a bit of weight and am farther over my “happy weight** than I have been in a long while. The interesting thing is that I didn’t have much of a reaction. I happen to think that I look pretty good at the moment. The yoga I am doing has added a bit of muscle – which accounts for some of the weight – but it’s also changed how I “fill out” so-to-speak.  First time in my life that the number on a scale hasn’t sent me into a dieting free-fall. It was kind of nice.

It is nice.

I am whittling down my fabric possessions. It doesn’t have much to do with ill-fit. Much of what I sell or donate doesn’t fit my life-style anymore and what I can’t garage-sale, I have to pitch because it’s simply worn out. I have so few pieces of clothing that I am actually wearing them out – like I did when I was a kid.

*Boggles me a bit what people get paid to study.