I’ve found that with the inevitable shift in seasons there comes an inevitable urge for change. As I basked in the warm glory of 65-degree weather today, I felt an all-too-familiar desire to totally reinvent my sartorial personality: I suddenly felt the need to stock up on poplin shirts, strappy sandals, and a host of other requisite “summer wardrobe” items to replace my pre-existing wardrobe.
I returned to my room giddy with anticipation for the balmy days to come, mentally planning potential beach-bound outfits while scrolling through pages of new spring arrivals, steadfast in my resolve to channel Gwyneth Paltrow in the Talented Mr. Ripley or Jane Birkin in La Piscine.
But the reason I felt so excited about the skirts and swimsuits that would dominate my sun-drenched future was because I felt disillusioned and disgusted by the clothes that filled my closet in the present. WHY did I ever let myself to buy this? I whined at a pair of flared army green pants I bought on a whim last September. What was I thinking? I grumbled at a cardigan I thought I absolutely needed a few months ago. I hate all my clothes! and I need new stuff! were the conclusions I reached.
"I couldn’t help but feel the person wearing my new clothes wasn’t really me, but rather the person I was desperately trying to be." Audrey Osborn
I soon realized I had experienced a similar sense of existential and sartorial woe when I first arrived on campus over six months ago. Last September, I eagerly welcomed those pants, that cardigan, a pair of penny loafers, and a shopping cart full of other impulse purchases into my wardrobe, seeking to magically metamorphose from a high school student dependent on t-shirts and jeans to a college student with mature and sophisticated taste—I wanted to disavow ill-fitting sweatpants and white sneakers in favour of a new sartorial ethos. And yet, while the novelty of a seasonal wardrobe with the potential to transform me from confused high school graduate to confident college freshman did lift my spirits somewhat, my post-purchase euphoria was fleeting. I couldn’t help but feel the person wearing my new clothes wasn’t really me, but rather the person I was desperately trying to be.
It’s easy for me to realize in hindsight that my frustrations are just manifestations of insecurities about who I am and how I want to present myself to the world. It’s only natural at this juncture (i.e. my slow and not-always-steady transition from “childhood” to “adulthood”) to want to reinvent myself through the clothes I wear. Yet, I’ve also realized that purging myself of clothing that reminded me of the person I am or once was and latching onto shiny new things won’t automatically incarnate a new and improved version of “me.” Personal growth doesn’t happen overnight. Trying to imitate Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Birkin, or any other girl I see frolicking on a beach on Instagram isn’t going to lead to self-acceptance. With this in mind, I’ve decided to put my summer shopping spree on hold, and instead, appreciate the clothes I already have. Maybe that will help me learn to accept the person I am.