a wardrobe for all seasons
It's that time of the year again. Once more, it hits you that yet another year is almost over, and for a moment, everything that's happened in the past 12 months rushes back to you.
2017 counts as a banner year for me. For the first time since I graduated university 10 years ago, I walked away from full-time employment...and just kept walking. For a little while longer than is usual for me. I've been working part-time since I was 16 to earn my own pocket money, and aside from an eight-week jaunt around Europe after graduation, I've never been without some kind of job on the horizon.
It felt strange, then it felt liberating, and then I finally accepted what a glorious luxury it was to be able to put myself first, albeit temporarily, and give my mind the space to roam. I've always loved working, and I've had the fortune of loving my work for the past decade, and it took me a long time to realise that taking a break from doing what I love could be good for me too.
Living without a recurring source of income for a few months forced me to assess my spending habits. The desire for new clothes vanished almost immediately, which says something about the degree to which I bought new clothes simply because I could. I did miss having variety in clothing choices while living out of a backpack in Latin America, but I was also too busy exploring and immersing myself in new places to dwell on it. Dressing became a matter of wearing whatever I managed to launder in time over the sink.
And then when I got home, I revelled in having choices, but I was also struck by how about 50 per cent of my wardrobe felt irrelevant, as I no longer had to report to work. I'd always worked in a casual environment, but freelancing and lazing around meant I could be even more casual. All the time, money and space devoted to dresses and shirts in my "previous life" suddenly felt a tad foolish.
And then I realised I gained weight, which meant that a number of things I lived in no longer fit at all, while other items fit differently.
Meanwhile, an injury in my right hand I picked up on Colombia back in July continued to pain me, and eventually I found out that I had in fact sustained a fracture, and I needed surgery. My choices shrank even further - all I could wear (and it is still the case as my hand recovers) were clothes I could easily pull on and off with one hand. Buttons and side/back zips became the enemy. No belts please. Only shoes easy to slip into.
I spent many years writing on this blog about style, dressing and how my wardrobe evolves, but I think this was truly the first time the changes in my life outpaced the incremental changes I made over the years to how I dress and shop.
And it reminded me that as much as I want to plan, rationalise and try to predict what I want to buy for my wardrobe, so much can change and catch you off-guard. What seemed imminently sensible nine months ago could be come a white elephant in less than a year.
Realising all this has made it easier for me to step back when desire hits. It's helped me revive my ability to admire things from a distance, rather than casually collecting (i.e. accumulating) things that are lovely to have, but also quite easy to let go.
I have in no way given up my love of beautiful material things. But I do enjoy becoming more detached from the excitement of the new, and more attached to what I already have.
And rightfully so - my wardrobe as it is has been more than apt in meeting my needs, which has changed quite a bit this year. I'd like to think that despite my shopping being on the excessive side on recent years, I did make some good choices in choosing pieces that don't quite date or deteriorate so quickly.
Even if I have no immediate use for some of them, I feel like they're classic, well-made things that I may find occasion for in future. After all, some things in life are beyond my prediction, as this year as shown.
I hope everyone has had a good year, or at least, managed to cope with whatever's been thrown their way. Do share your stories!