Back to School Blues

You might think this post will be about how teary eyed I am over my first born starting kindergarten, but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite sad that my “little” girl is big enough for elementary school. She’ll now be spending 2/3 of her waking hours away from home. I know I’ll be one of many blubbering mothers pulling through the kiss and go line. Someone is sure to send me one of those sappy, sentimental emails about treasuring our children when they’re young and I’ll be reduced to a puddle of tears and wet tissues. But I’m also very excited about all that kindergarten will bring — new friends, new challenges, learning to read and write. Kindergarten is going to be a great adventure!

What has me blue today is the thought of going through fall without a wardrobe overhaul. Call me shallow, but I can’t help myself. I simply love fall, and part of that love is associated with shopping. Growing up, it always meant a full day at the mall with my mother and sister, purchasing a new wardrobe of jeans, school shoes, sweaters and school supplies. And we weren’t beyond sneaking these packages into the house and “hiding” them from my father, bringing out a new item every few weeks so he wouldn’t catch on to our excessive shopping excursions. I remember with surprising clarity entering The Four Seasons Mall in Greensboro (the pickin’s at the Randolph Mall in Asheboro were slim to none!) and racing to The Limited (Forenza sweaters anyone???) and 5-7-9 (God what I would give to squeeze into something from that store again!). For me, Fall=Shopping. But this year, I’m forcing myself to opt out.

First, when I look in my closet, I’m ashamed at how much I already have. And like most people, I wear 20% of my clothing 80% of the time (I may actually be closer to 90%). Thanks to my career in organizing and my station-wagon-driving life with young kids, most days I’m in workout clothes or jeans and a black t-shirt. No one would call me trendy or fashionable. But I do love a great pair of shoes, and I found myself actually pouting over a black cashmere turtleneck I spotted in a catalog the other day. I’ve tried to justify purchasing used clothes rather than new this fall — but somehow that doesn’t seem to follow the spirit of the project — simply trying to live with less.

I’m well aware that I spend way too much mental energy fretting over the way I look, how my pants fit, does something make my ass look big. For me, purchasing new clothes provides only a temporary high, and then I’m right back to struggling with feelings of fashion-induced inadequacy. To date, this exercise in consumer-free living hasn’t made me any thinner or richer — but I don’t think a quick trip to the mall would do that either. Look for me this fall, in last years corduroys (perhaps a bit tighter through the thighs), some beat up clogs and a slightly shabby sweater. I just hope I’m laughing, not crying.

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2 Responses to Back to School Blues

  1. Mom says:

    Perri – How can I delete the part about sneaking purchases into the house? Dad still hasn’t caught on to this little deception and I don’t know if he would be more upset that I allowed you two to participate or that I may still occasionally try this trick.

  2. Laurie says:

    Hi Perri,

    I am Carolle Epstein’s sister-in-law. My mom actually forwarded me your newletter and I am really enjoying reading and relating to your blog. I admire your efforts to conserve and cut back…something I also try (mostly unsuccessfully) to do myself. I was actually planning on running to Khol’s tonight just to “look” since I just had a baby and buying clothes at this point is not fun at all. I don’t NEED anything though, and now I am reconsidering because you are right, less is more. I
    ll say thanks on behalf of my husband!

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