The Vintage Conundrum​

I’ve always loved wearing vintage pieces. When my cousin and I were little, we used to dress up in our grandma’s petticoats and frocks. I was hooked. This love continued as I started buying my own clothes, and I often found myself taking in pieces that needed extra love. There was something comforting to me about taking care of the old, unfashionable things.

Needless to say, this also resulted in me having rather too many things. Also, I had to admit to myself recently that I don’t wear most of them enough to warrant keeping them. What I do wear are the evening pieces. The daytime looks, not so much. My daily life is more active and slouchy than those stiff dresses and skirts can accommodate. Dancing, writing, dog-walking – I basically live in comfortable stuff that washes easily. Almost all of it is second-hand, but the look is decidedly modern.

This is, of course, not what my fantasy self wears on a daily basis, but she is in Paris now, dressed up like Dita Von Teese’s doppelganger. Her things must go with her.

So, I still love the vintage look and already own a number of pieces. I realised that I need to compartmentalise. A handful of evening dresses, being things I’ve worn in the last year, can remain. The daytime pieces, however, will need to be sold on to other vintage lovers, who will hopefully wear them more than I.

My skin deserves the best

In this bizarre search for beauty and glamour that many of us undergo as women, I have encountered many products. Some have been good enough for me to use the whole jar or wear frequently. Others have left me with breakouts and feeling lacklustre. They might be right for other people and they might have excellent reviews, but the way I feel is what matters here.

Perhaps this is just part of the insecurity that women are encouraged to have, or perhaps it is mine alone. However, I have been not always been good at listening to myself or my own body. Yet, the body is the starting point from which all other life experiences radiate. It deserves to be cared for, nurtured and treated gently.

With this in mind, I began a further decluttering adventure in which I tried to figure out what my skin thought of different things. It appals me to think that my body’s largest organ is frequently squished, scratched, blistered or generally irritated so I can look the way I think others want to see me.

So many things have left this way, from shoes with an awkward peep toe to a dress with a scratchy lining. I even dumped an expensive moisturiser that irritated my skin. But all of this was really just a prelude to a trickier skin conversation that happened around my underwear drawer.

Knickers riding up, legs being too tight, that weird ham hock look that legs get when elastic is too tight: all = normal. What was abnormal was the inflammation that my vulva would get when wearing the wrong underwear. Sometimes it lasts for weeks, sometimes just for a couple of days. I used to think that this was in my head, and I only got a diagnosis of vulvodynia after seeing three doctors. Even then, the doctor who diagnosed my condition was quite derisive about how much pain I was feeling. Absolutely absurd, considering that 1 in 5 women is now thought to experience this. When I was diagnosed just a few years ago, it was 1 in 500.

So my skin and I approached a rather decadent collection of lingerie and I listened, questioning each piece in turn. Some boyshorts were bad while some thongs were good; no particular style was guaranteed to work for me. One of the most liberating things I’m finding about minimalism is that I’ve become the expert in my life; I get to decide what stays in it.

My Ideal Self

I listened to Gala Darling’s Australian events recently, and she spoke some immortal words: What would your ideal self do in this situation? Now go do it. How delicious! This simple piece of advice sent chills down my spine.

This really got me thinking about all the times I act in a way that is contradictory to what I want in the long run. All the browsing I’ve done online, all the time I’ve convinced myself that I have writer’s block when, really, I know that I’m just insecure about making myself visible to others.

So I got to know my ideal self a little bit. Naturally, self knows herself and where she wants to go. She also knows what’s best for her, especially if others contradict her. She is not a people-pleaser, but she is generous and generally delightful.

Thus far, I’ve been asking myself this question for fairly mundane things, such as how I spend my downtime and the way I act in social situations. My ideal self has proved to be more motivated than I am, as well as less anxious. She also makes a great smoothie.

The ideal self is not to be confused with the fantasy self. The fantasy self is often impractical, greedy and willing to do all the things – particularly the things that your ideal self knows are ridiculous or even harmful. This construction usually leaves us feeling burnt out, committed to things we don’t like and, in my case, broke. My fantasy self has the wardrobe of a socialite and loads of quirky vintage furniture that no one ever uses.

In minimising the amount of stuff I have, I know that I will be escorting my fantasy self (lovingly) out the door, along with all her baggage. Perhaps she’ll take up residence in some Parisian garret, hosting parties for artist friends and enjoying those heels she can’t walk in. This is to make way for my ideal self, who would rather like a larger space to do yoga and hates being confronted with clothes she doesn’t wear.

My ideal self is also a woman of independent means. I’m rather looking forward to her telling me how to accomplish that for her.

Xo,

Lady H

Letting Go

This past weekend, I donated my wedding dress to a second-hand bridal boutique. Even as recently as last year, this action would have been unthinkable. Yet, doing so was joyous and liberating.

This wasn’t because I needed the closet space, although a couple of years ago I could have used it. I made this choice because I loved wearing that dress so much. I hope that another woman can feel like a bride in it also – preferably before it goes out of style. So the Laird Hamilton and I drove to the aforementioned boutique and handed it over together.

In a way, I expected to feel sad afterwards, but the truth is that I just felt a little bit freer. Apart from during closet clearouts, I hadn’t really looked at it in several years. The real joy in that dress is in the photos that were taken on our wedding day.

Lastly, I hesitate to mention this, but I think it might resonate with others. As I considered donating the dress, I got weirdly superstitious. As if moving the dress on was the same as moving on from the relationship. Obviously, this is silly, but I think many of us have nagging superstitions in the backs of our minds. It’s time that I release such nonsense. Perhaps I should think about minimising limiting beliefs next.

 

Andy's wedding 197.JPG

I shop, therefore I am.

When I was a teenager, I used to love writing about the things I’d bought that day. Books, clothes, shoes – they were all recorded, usually with their price so I could observe what a bargain I’d found.

Here, I’m going to revive that technique. Not that I wish to brag about all of the things I buy, but I will be recording all of the things that make their way into my life. This way, I will be holding myself accountable for all the things I purchase.

Part of me thinks that I should also record the amount of time that I spend scrolling and daydreaming about the way certain things would make me look or feel. Perhaps that is an exercise for another day. The amount of time I spend thinking about stuff is appalling,  and this obsession has made me rethink my lifestyle. Buying stuff is not how I want to think about my time on this Earth. I want to travel, to spend time with my dogs, to dance and write – not mull over how cute that coat would look on me if I were walking over the Clyde even as I sit, sedentary, next to sleeping dogs.

Yet, we are encouraged to shop all the time. Every bus stop bears an advertisement, every webpage is bookended by glamorous models wearing the next ‘it’ piece. Our society’s propensity for overshopping is both alarming and mundane. In keeping up this belief that everything is okay, we destroy our bank accounts and the planet. Shopping does not make us more alive; it usually does not even prepare us for life, because we often have what we need.

Therefore, for at least three months, my goal is to buy nothing unless it is a necessity. As it is 1 March, that means nothing for almost the entirety of spring. I’ve read about recovering shopaholics who have been able to do year-long shopping bans, and I admire this. However, I am hoping to emulate this…I’ll just do the first three months and carry on, taking it one day at a time.

So, in this spirit, I think back to the mentality that a friend had when he quit smoking. I’m just not going to shop today.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

While I once used this platform to discuss tarot card meanings, I have realised that, at present, I have something bigger happening in my life. My mindset around my stuff is changing, and I feel it’s time to document.

A blizzard is swirling outside my window, and I’ve spent this snow day clearing out my wardrobe. So far, two large bin bags await consignment or donation. It’s been productive, if a bit disheartening.

This exercise has been such an eye-opener for me. I’ve gone through all the items I’ve accumulated. Some need to go – they no longer fit or I just don’t wear them for some mysterious reason. Others can stay. The truth is, I’ve been struggling with a shopping addiction for years and am now trying to get myself in shape. My long-term goal is to become a minimalist.

Of course, I’ve had wardrobe purges in the past. However, none of them really stood the test of time. I’ve always held on to things I haven’t worn for years or allowed lacklustre pieces into the sartorial family. In the last 18 months, my body has also changed shape a little, so things that fit previously often don’t now.

So the journey here is twofold: to eliminate all of the pieces that aren’t working for me and to stop shopping. These are both reasonable goals; yet, in the past, I have gone through phases of addictive acquisition. Usually, these follow periods of loneliness or some other kind of emotional upset. The items purchased during these times often don’t stand the test of time and were simply a placeholder. Sometimes, the guilt of shopping itself has made me want to shop in order to quell the negative emotion. This is so backward, but I belong to a shopaholics’ support group and know it to be a fairly common reaction.

If I could return half the contents of my wardrobe, I would. However, that is a different journey. Here, I am going to dedicate my time and energy to things other than shopping. In doing so, I hope to reconnect with myself and simplify my life.

Xo,

Lady H