This sequined butterfly blouse has been in my Etsy faves for AGES. It’s only $30 and I absolutely adore it. But I haven’t purchased it for two very important reasons:
1. I cannot imagine a place/event/reason that would allow me to wear it.
2. It is not suited to my actual style, but instead to my imaginary style.
Now, I will occasionally indulge my imaginary self and buy something that has no real place in my wardrobe. And those pieces may work their way into common use, and blend, and sometimes my style bends a bit to accommodate them. But generally speaking, I find that buying clothes for the person I wish I was – or, even worse, the person I wish I was SHAPED LIKE – is a fabulous way to generate buyers’ remorse.
There are some pros, of course. If you’re stuck in a stylistic rut, shopping for your aspirational style can jar loose some much-needed inspiration, creativity, and bravery. If you’re in the process of transforming your look, then purchasing pieces for a you that doesn’t exist yet is actually a vital practice.
But there are plenty of cons, too. Your imaginary self may have many faces. Mine certainly does. The butterfly blouse belongs to the face that loves everything sparkly and shiny, and goes out dancing, braless, at swanky nightclubs. The umpteen trillion punk-influenced items that I covet feed my fantasies of being a don’t-eff-with-me rocker chick. The J.Crew suiting and gorgeous handmade briefcases that never seem to leave my wishlist must be linked to some inner businesswoman persona that is unlikely to ever surface. If I allow myself to amass pieces that fit ALL of these imaginary selves, what the hell is the real me gonna wear?
Whimsy is fantastic, and reeling in the occasional weird, wild, and wonderful piece will feed your dressing imagination. But constantly purchasing pieces that you can’t wear, that don’t fit your body or lifestyle, or that fit an imagined self but not an existing self often leads to dissatisfaction and dismay.
Originally posted 2009-09-01 06:02:00.