How To Manage Wardrobe Cravings And Sartorial Longings

You know what I mean by ‘wardrobe cravings,’ right? It’s like how you’re going about life, wearing clothes like most of us do…and suddenly you see a girl out and about or some image in a magazine of some new trend. And then a little bird sort of just buzzes in your head, saying, ‘Ooooh shiny!’ Not even ‘I want that’ — just ‘Ooooh shiny!’ But of course, you’re at work, or you’re on the way to somewhere else, or your toddler is about to hurl himself off a ledge and you need to pull him back, and you forget about that little inner birdie for the time being.

But then life continues, and now you’re a little more tired, a little more stressed or challenged. Maybe you got in a fight with your significant other; maybe your boss at work is being hard on you; maybe you’re feeling a little burned out. Suddenly that ‘Oooh shiny’ moment comes back — only now it’s disguised as a ‘THESE OFF-THE-SHOULDER BLOUSES WOULD BE SOOOO GREAT FOR SPRING THEY WILL CHANGE MY LIFE AND I WILL BE FOREVER TRANSFORMED INTO ETERNAL GROOVINESS I WANT I WANT I WANT.’ And depending on if you’re unwinding alone with a glass or wine, iPad in hand — suddenly you might have an inbox flooded with order and shipping confirmation emails as a result. Oops!

Now, I don’t want to be puritanical about clothes and shopping. Clothes are pleasurable — it’s nice to revel in the possibilities of textures, proportions and such. It can be oddly creative-feeling. But if you’re at all trying to be more mindful about your shopping, whether it’s to save money, divert your resources and time to other endeavors or just because deep down it leaves you feeling just a tad empty, then it helps to deal with those sudden yens for stripes, kitten heels, off-the-shoulder blouses or what not. Because, if you’re at all alive to the creativity and emotions we invest in clothing and you are a human being adrift in the restless miasma of reality, you’re going to have them.

The truth is that for a lot of people who love style, fashion and clothing, they’re almost perfect objects for projection. It’s constantly amazing to me how a whole industry has sprung up around the cultural necessity of getting dressed and then created a way to embroider fantasy, emotion and yearning around garments — and are able to renew this emotion season after season. Yes, we can treat clothes as purely functional — a lot of people do, and it’s not an inherent superior or inferior approach. But for me, I’m someone who has so many memories, nostalgias, wishes, ideals and narratives around clothes — and perhaps that makes me susceptible to ‘wardrobe cravings,’ as I call them.

But I don’t have endless buckets of money, endless amounts of space to store clothes — and honestly, I’ve had the realization really that no killer outfit will magically transform me into an avatar of fabulousness and help me transcend the challenges of my daily life. So I have to find ways to stop wanting to get new clothes! These are a few things that help me manage my little sartorial cravings…

+ Take out the next season’s clothes. This works especially well if you practice the art of the seasonal closet and pack away non-seasonal clothes. To be honest, I always get a hit of wardrobe cravings when it’s the end of one season but not quite the next one — my craving is definitely tied to longing for, say, sunshine or apple orchards or hot chocolate after a snowy walk, i.e. the pleasures of the coming season. I always want the next season to get here faster than it does — and of course it doesn’t help to see next season’s clothes in stores months before they’re wearable! So my thing is to take out my next season’s clothes, canvass them for a few items I can wear now and figure out how to layer them in while still being practical. It reminds me, too, of the abundance I already have, which is nice.

+ Try to figure out what it is that you’re REALLY needing. Okay, this is the super-high mindful approach, but hey, I’m a Buddhist, so what do you expect? Sometimes when we look at an object and long for it, it’s actually information about what our hearts, minds and souls are longing for. So, a sudden yen for party dresses is a sign for more fun and frivolity. I know for me, my leggings addiction flares up with I’m feeling especially restless and need a little break from my usual routines, whether they’re home, workout, work or creative projects. Instead of buying another pair of leggings (THOUGH ARGH I DO LOVE A GREAT HIGH-WAISTED LEGGING!) I try to find new challenges or shift my routines. It takes a bit of self-knowledge for this, of course, but often our cravings are actually doorways into the deeper, more buried layers of our existence demanding acknowledgment.

+ Prune your informational landscape. It’s no secret that we are positively saturated with images, copy, video and all manner of information these days, and those secret little algorithms online find a way to pipe through ads geared for your specific tastes. I definitely get tempted to shop more when I get an email from a retailer with an admittedly killer sale going on. So basically what I’m slowly doing is pruning my inbox, unsubscribing from shops and designers I don’t often buy from. I also try to limit my fashion website browsing to the weekend, too.

+ Dress the heck up. Sometimes I notice I get that ‘I want new clothes’ feeling because I’m going through a period of feeling drab. I’m likely just pummeling through days of job, #momlife, job, #momlife, workout, #momlife, job, job…you get the picture. And I’m likely just wearing workout clothes. Which, don’t get me wrong, I like wearing. But it’s turned into a rut, mirroring the other ruts I’m getting myself into. So sometimes I find it helps me to break out those ‘special’ items in my wardrobe and wear them out and about. Sure, it might feel a little weird to be wearing a dress around to wear errands, or a nice blazer and pants to work at the library. But it’s almost like honoring the parts of ourselves that our everyday lives don’t make room for, and that’s a nice and even necessary thing to do for yourself sometimes.

+ Of course, sometimes you are just tired of the same old same old and need a little more creativity in your closet. Or, whatever, you want something new! There’s no shame in that. My advice here is just to be smart about what you’re buying — and then really, really enjoy the heck out of it. It’s a bit similar to diet advice that says if you’re craving chocolate, let yourself have it, really really really enjoy it and then move on with life. Denying it and torturing yourself about it only makes its pull on you even more powerful; it’s the same with any craving, perhaps.

But you can be smart by shopping secondhand, decluttering beforehand to make room for anything new. And then when you do get something new, wear it out and often. Take a picture of yourself in it for Instagram! Use it as part of a capsule wardrobe challenge. Just enjoy it fully. Sometimes we can get overly serious about wardrobe and invest the endeavor with an air of high-minded virtue — and hey, I’m guilty of that myself! — but enjoying the experience of going out, looking and trying on clothes and then getting something for yourself isn’t innately terrible.

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