When that new Netflix Marie Kondo show came out, I couldn’t even finish it. The idea of decluttering — especially clothes — does not compute to me. Hi, my name is Meghan, I have a wardrobe problem. The problem is, my closet bar just SNAPPED under the weight of all of my clothes. I’m a clothes horse. Ne-e-e-eigh!
I love clothes shopping. I blame my conditioning. It’s a rite of passage for my extended family: my mom, her two sisters, and my grandmother would all take these epic shopping trips to the Outlets in Niagara Falls or to department stores in the Buffalo area, and being old enough to tag along was a badge of honor. I mean, I was definitely a 13-year-old in a Dress Barn, but it was definitely a rite of passage to be a part of those shopping trips. Inside a store, we’d fan out across the departments and pick out things we liked for ourselves and asking opinions, holding up hangers and shouting someone’s name: “It’s PURPLE, it’s YOUR COLOR!” After a reasonable amount of time had passed, if the vibe wasn’t right, we’d holler, “Ding?” As in, timer’s gone off, we’re done, ready to leave. Agreement on “ding” meant we’d move on to the next store. They say you can’t go home again? I can’t go “ding” again, and that makes me so sad. We bonded on those trips. Even today, when I visit my mom, we usually find ourselves in Boscov’s or Kohl’s, waiting to appraise each other’s choices in the dressing rooms. Mom, you’re reading this, and you’re going to comment, so I’m just gonna say I’M SORRY I TRY ON EVERYTHING IN THE STORE!!! I am the worst, I’m sorry, I’m the reason these shopping trips take forever, I’m the pickiest human being alive.
Shopping for clothes is definitely my “happy place.” With or without my family, I love scouring the racks and picking things over, my ratio of try-ons to purchases is still around 9:1, and I love acquiring new clothes. Living near some excellent thrift stores means living in constant temptation. Luckily, I’m notoriously picky! I also love shopping for other people (as in, with them). I learned it from watching you, mom!!! I’m extremely at home clothes shopping with other people, even more so than getting drinks, “hanging out,” or (heaven forbid) a party. I’m awkward and awful at a party, but turn me loose in a vintage clothing shop and I’m relaxed AF. It used to be a pre-Burning Man tradition to do a thrift shop crawl looking for costumes to wear on Playa, and I looked forward to that almost as much as the burn itself. I LOOOOVE SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES!!!
When I moved a year and a half ago, I offloaded three boxes of clothes — most of which I deeply regret! Every one of my pieces was chosen after much careful consideration and has a story attached. Putting together outfits is knitting together histories. I’m enamored with “street style” — especially Man Repeller and Advanced Style — where people play with texture, shape, volume. Historical fashion, specifically of the 20th Century, fascinates me. A new outfit is like a new skin. A new persona? Or a new facet of your own persona.
I’m not going to evangelize extravagant dressing… I know it’s not everybody’s taste. But for me, it’s a lifeline. When I’m struggling with my mental health, waking up and getting out of the house is hard. One thing I look forward to is getting dressed! From my bed, I can see my open closet and mentally piece together the day’s outfit, then I’m excited to get up, put on clothes, and get out there! It’s like, working from the outside in. When it comes down to it, I just love wearing clothes. The swish of a full skirt makes me feel powerfully feminine, like the bold heroines of a Robert Heinlein novel. The drape of a bell sleeve makes me feel emotive and expressive, like Kate Bush on the moors. The pop of a sharp collar makes me feel gritty and rebellious, like a street punk on the Bowery in the 80s. Trust and believe that when you see me out on the street, I have put thought and care and purpose into every choice from my shoes to my hairstyle. It’s my favorite part of the day!
When “shopping for clothes” and “wearing clothes” are my two fondest hobbies, is it any wonder that my closet bar snapped in half? Look, some people’s addictions are very unhealthy. Smoking? Drinking? Drugs??? At least I, a Clothes Horse, am not in any IMMEDIATE danger. As long as I installed my new closet bar properly… if not, I may be found days later, crushed under a clothesalanche, an avalanche of fashion, a fashalanche. Here’s hoping.
This post was inspired by the Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire, answering Question #6: “What is your greatest extravagance?”