A Different Kind of Retail Therapy

340118_10150481649864763_566809762_8512285_219204773_o-thumbnailI typically hate shopping….

The crowds, noise, florescent lighting, and the over-stimulation of my senses from too much choice of what to buy… not my cup of tea.

This week I succumbed to my worst nightmare… shopping along London’s Oxford Street where the shopping craze is overwhelming.

I was on a mission. Challenging myself to find something ‘pretty’ to buy.

This might seem kind of obvious, why wouldn’t you buy something pretty for yourself?

But I was convicted last week, after a Real, Raw & Related conversation with Michelle McCormick. While she has traded in her more manly attire for soft, feminine clothes and accessories, I realized I rarely go for the pretty option.

Comfort? Yes.

Stylish? Yes.

Neutral and matches everything? Pretty much.

Pretty? Beautiful? Eye-catching? Rarely.

This convicted me because even though there is nothing wrong with building a wardrobe that is comfortable (and functional), stylish, and makes it easy to get dressed without deliberating for hours…. All things that are important to me and reflect who I am….

It leaves out the part of me that likes to be, and wants to be, pretty.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past week.

Why is this the case? Why am I not comfortable in bright, colourful clothes? Why don’t I make the extra effort just for me? And what would it mean to dress in way that is a true reflection of all of me? The comfortable, practical me AND the feminine, sensual me?

As a 6 year old, I was dressed in dresses for school, which I chagrined since I was the only one, and so couldn’t wait until gym days where I got to where pants (with trousers for you Brits out there).  So maybe it starts there… rejecting wearing pretty clothes because no one else was and I didn’t want to stand out.

In fact, that is probably what it is.

Not wanting to stand out… in either a good or bad way… I’ve worked hard at points in my life to blend right in.

Except for in high-school where I had a pair of green Puma’s and tied the shoelaces backwards… just because I could. And I had another super cool pair of one-of-a-kind maroon platforms that I loved wearing with my plaid wool skirt that I may have hiked up just a little bit to show some extra leg.

I loved dressing for highshool. We’d have contests to see who could go the longest without repeating a top. And I’d borrow my best friend’s older sister’s ‘cool’ clothes to spice things up.

So at that point in my life I was embracing different, possibly sexy, but still not pretty or feminine.

In college I resorted to sweatshirts, comfy shoes, and jeans. And even though I tried to buy the more feminine cut suits when conforming to my company’s corporate dress code, I wouldn’t call those clothes ‘pretty’.

And forget the fact that at the time, I didn’t feel pretty regardless, as I was struggling with my identity, and all that I was in the form of an eating disorder, so shopping for pretty clothes was a trigger if anything else, because it proved my worst fear… even the fashion designers knew I wasn’t enough as I was.

Sometimes it’s easier to like yourself in black.

And so the habit that I formed when I was in my deepest darkest… wear loose clothes that don’t constrict or reveal your shape, and wear colours that blend in so that you don’t draw attention to yourself …. has stayed with me since.

You remember how Julia Roberts’ character in Runaway Bride figures out what kind of eggs she likes as part of exploring who she really is?

Well, I’m still on that journey of figuring out what clothes I like.

It’s a form of self-expression that in the past brought pain, and so I’ve erred on the side of playing it safe.

This week I decided to do it differently. While I was in London, and had access to some different shops than the usual ones in my little corner of Wales, I shopped around for some clothes with the intention of buying something beautiful and with color.

It was hard.

My eyes immediately laser-focused to the neutral and monochrome, hidden amidst a sea of 60’s-esque stripes and patterns.

I could recognize that those patterned and colourful clothes were beautiful. I wasn’t convinced they were for me though.

I’m not sure if it’s a remnant of thinking I don’t have the body type for it? Or perhaps because that teenager in me does want to be different, and why buy the pretty dress that everyone else is going to be wearing? I want something unique.

All to say, it was bloody hard work, but I ended up with a slate-green knitted cardigan with trumpet sleeves and a flowy structure that I look pretty damn hot in.

And a bright orangey/red/green spaghetti strap top to go with my new black  skirt. Both are cotton, stretchy, and while the skirt hugs my hips and shows off some leg, the top (which has a mixture of color that is way out of my comfort zone) is baggy and loose. Beautiful, but not bringing too much attention to my body.

I think I did allright for the first time purposefully hunting for ‘pretty’.

What about you? How easy is it for you to go clothes shopping? How often do you bring beauty into your life?


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