As a child, Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) meant good food, new clothes, spring-cleaning, angbaos of cash from parents and elders from various branches of my extended family, and an all-round sense of festivity.
All these things still ring true, except for the cash part (because I’m too old to be collecting those!). As a big fan of food and clothes (and family), Chinese New Year remains my favourite holiday.
The holiday also has a long tradition of “out with the old, in with the new”, in all senses of the word. You’re saying goodbye to the good and bad of last year, and ushering in a new year of (hopefully) good luck and fortune. Buying new stuff is symbolic of all that, but at a practical level, it’s also just an occasion to go through your stuff once a year and throw away the junk, and replace whatever needs replacing. If you didn’t grow up particularly well-off, this might be the one time of the year you get new clothes. Or eat well, for that matter.
I don’t think I’ve gone a year without upholding this tradition of having something new to wear every Chinese New Year, even if it was just fresh underwear - without being conscious of it, I typically put off buying new bras and undies until Chinese New Year. I also “save” clothes I buy in the months leading up to the holiday and break them out in the new year itself. I enjoy the anticipation.
I was pretty set on not shopping last year after I got back from the States with sizeable haul, but I chanced upon these sneakers (top right) in November on discount, and, feeling buoyed by collecting my first pay check in months, I thought: "BUY". Perfect for Chinese New Year, I reasoned.
I’ve bought nothing else since, and now, with Chinese New Year rolling around this Friday, a tiny part of me is thinking: "Dammit I came so close to being 'shopping-free' for a change."
Ah well. At least these are handsome shoes, no? I have too many pairs of sneakers, but these ones, specifically in this colour, have always been on my "So Dreamy" list. Despite their fashionable ubiquity (they're Common Projects), I still find them quite special and beautifully made, in a way that's more appreciable in real life. I don't recommend paying full price for them though - they're after all just sneakers and you can get quality shoes of more durable construction (i.e. not glued together) at those prices.
CPs show up often during seasonal sales on websites like Matches Fashion and Ssense, and also on consignment websites like The RealReal, although getting them in your preferred colour and size takes luck and patience. I had no luck in the consignment stakes, and so when I saw them going for 50 per cent off, I went for it (I paid just over US$200; at full prices, Matches Fashion has the best prices).
Elsewhere, I have a bunch of “almost new” clothes — items I’ve worn less than 10 times since I bought them, and they'll do for the merry-go-round of Chinese New year festivities lined up for the first few days.
I also sent two pairs of old Dieppa Restrepo oxfords for professional cleaning and new heel caps, and I’m happy with how they fresh they look - the camel pair (pictured above after cleaning) looks especially amazing, seeing as it was discoloured in patches after about five years of wear (you can see how scuffed it looks here, while the photo above is filter-free). I admit I don't clean and condition my shoes as often as I should, but even if I did, I don't think I can replicate at home what a professional cleaner does to restore colour. At least, not without lots of practice...
The cost of cleaning and fixing cost me around S$80 (US$60) per pair, which when you think about it, isn't cheap, since my Dieppas were bought on sale and cost me maybe S$200 (US$150). I sometimes think that while repairs are the more sustainable option, they're not necessarily the more economical option. Not only is it not cheap, but you also have to hope that the person working on them has the skills to get it right. If this latest round of fixing buys me another five years with these babies, I'll consider it a good return on my investment though.
So that’s one pair of new shoes, a host of almost-new clothes and two pairs of good-as-new shoes. Bring it on, Year of the Dog.