Monday, December 17, 2012

I Bought A Dress: My Birthday Resolution

I fell in love as soon as I saw it in the winter Anthropologie catalog. 
Really, is there anything more delicious for dreaming than Anthropologie's catalogs?
But for me....that's all they are....dreaming.
I'm a realist, and I'm a stay at home Mom who rarely goes anywhere or sees anyone other than my husband, my girls, our families, the folks at church and the baristas at Starbucks.  All of these people love me.  None of them particularly care what I look like and/or how I dress.
If they do, none of them have complained.
Beyond that, we are also a family on a tight budget, and I've  managed to learn how to live with a very, very limited wardrobe.  I would tell you just how few clothes I have, and how old they are, but I think most of you would be shocked and honestly horrified.  With two quickly growing girls with different tastes and a husband who needs to look presentable for work, I consider my own needs to be at the bottom of the pile. 
It doesn't help that I've never felt quite comfortable with fashion.  For as long as I can remember, I've always been somewhere between "I just don't care" and "I am never quite right, and this is stressful, so I'd rather opt out."  Add in a dash of "these clothes are ridiculous" during my formative years, a sprinkle of "I was born in the wrong flippin century", and a rather unfortunately over sized portion of "we won't go into it now but the self esteem issues are major and/or I don't like to be noticed much" and you have the hot mess that I am today. 
It doesn't help that I despise shopping.
The straw that broke the camel's back was Tanith's awards assembly at the beginning of December.  I was dressed as usual - jeans and (old) t-shirt, plaid flannel shirt, no makeup, hair clean but not styled.  As I sat down in the gymnasium and looked around at the other parents I thought to myself,
"Wow.  I look like a hobo.  I'm not even trying anymore."
I was honestly embarrassed....and that's entirely new.
I spent the next week or so pondering my hobo-like state - really giving some serious thought to how and why I had ended up that way, and paying attention to my appearance in a way I really have never done.  My conclusion?  Something needed to be done...and quick. 
Honestly, though, I had no idea where to start. 
Buy some makeup?  I literally ran out almost a year ago, and have been relying on samples since for the few occasions I've needed it.  I go back and forth between loving and despising the stuff, and I have skin issues that make it problematic at best.  Plus, I've been contemplating trying a new brand, but didn't know where to start.
Worry about the clown shoes?  Note to self....the next time you buy your one pair of good shoes to last a few winters, orange mary jane Birks (while fun at first) will wear on you after a bit.  People with square feet don't have a lot of choices anyway, and so they'd best make better ones than I did that time!
Cut the hair?  That can wait. And it's really a non-problem given my fabulous stylist who won't let me do anything stupid and who always makes my hair look great.  More of an issue of me actually doing something with the stuff.
 Clothes?  Where to start?  Help!  When you need almost a complete overhaul it's a little bit overwhelming!
Then came my birthday.
At the end of a rather perfect day, my husband presented me with an envelope.  Inside was a hand-made gift certificate for "One Item From Anthropologie."  I was rather gobsmacked.  My husband wanted me to spend money in my dream store...and he was giving me the freedom to pick ANYTHING.
But....there was a caveat.
What he really wanted was for me to buy THAT dress.
You see, when I first saw that dress I took the rather outlandish (for me) action of actually posting a link of it to my FB page.  I may not like shopping, but I love to daydream and pretend sometimes.  That's all I really meant by the link.  That, and I honestly loved the dress so wanted a permanent reminder of it for just in case.  Sean took me seriously, though, and he would have gone ahead and just ordered the dress, but some of his online friends didn't think that was such a wise move.  They cautioned him to leave the choice to me...thus the handmade gift card.
But what he really wanted was for me to buy THAT make a dream a reality.
I kind of wish he'd just bought the darn thing on his own.  As it was, it took me until almost two days later - with Sean standing over my shoulder to make absolute sure that I actually ordered the dress - to pull the trigger.  Over the course of those two days I went through every single emotion possible - and yes, it really was that big of a deal.  I also spent a lot of time considering what else I could do with the money.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that very few of those options had anything to do with me and the hobo problem  It was just so blasted hard to consider spending that kind of money on a whimsy - even if it was half off!
It felt selfish. 
It felt completely out of character.
It felt impractical
It was honestly scary. 
But I did it.  I bought a dress while my husband and girls cheered me on.  And when it arrived a few days later I almost wept because it was so beautiful.  It's now hanging in my closet, and I will admit to frequently going in there just to look at it, touch it, admire it, and yes...dream of wearing it.  The fact that so very many of my family and friends cheered me on when I shared the news of my new dress, well that's just a bonus. 
I'm choosing to look at that dress as a promise to myself...a promise to move beyond the search for better health which has so consumed me since my children were born and into a place where I am also seeking grace and beauty.
With all of that in mind, I have made an official birthday resolution.  (No, that's not a real thing....but I don't care.  I'm making it a real thing this year.)  My 39th year is going to be the year where I pull myself together and stop looking like a hobo.  Baby steps, giant leaps and bounds...both will be needed, and all of those things I mentioned above will need to be addressed.  By my 40th birthday I would like for my appearance to no longer be an embarrassment or a hindrance to me.
Deep breath, and off the cliff I go....sparkly dress in hand!


DeeDee said...

As a former hobo myself - I will help you.
I have learned a few things, but mostly how to get over the guilt and grow gracefully into doing a few nice things for yourself :)

LeAnn said...

I am trying to resist the urge to ask for a picture of YOU in this fabulous dress... but will hold back :)

I can relate to this post on many levels and commend you for sharing it with us. I love shopping for my children (you are well aware of my gymboree addiction) but when it comes to myself... well I have a lot of the same hold-ups as you do. Here is to 2013 and your sparkly dress!

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

Brava, sweetie! (Though I can't imagine your ever looking like a hobo...)

Lecia said...


I think all stay at home mothers wax and wane with the 'hobo' issue... To me, it speaks of higher priorities and a comfort in one's own skin.

Happy New Year. xo