Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Little Self-Care, A Little Guilt. . . a New Dress. . .

 Thank you so very much for your spirit-lifting, heart-warming, sorrow-and-joy-validating comments on my post yesterday.  Both collectively and individually, they seem to me a model of empathy as distinct from and preferable (for me, at least) to sympathy. I'm going to do my best to answer each one, thoughtful as they are, although it might take me a few days, this being a week of transition.

I'm a bit sheepish to share these photos with you, but if a drive from/to integrity and honesty was the motivation for sharing my sadness, it seems only fair to be honest about my recourse to retail therapy in my self-care. As much as I agree with the Tilda Swinton quotation I included in that earlier post, it's also true that we can't practically remove ourselves from this capitalist-consumerist society. The best we can do is be thoughtful, considered, about our purchasing habits. I like to think I was, yesterday, although truly, part of me (and she can be such a judgmental bitch, seriously, pardon the language!) wishes I'd Just Said No.

But yesterday morning, Pater insisted we get outside in the sunshine, knowing its value as a mood-lifter; he led us up to Café Tourny where we were too late to get a croissant with our Grands Crèmes so instead, bundled up warmly at one of the sidewalk tables, we enjoyed our tartines (the best bread, delicious apricot jam). We watched the steady stream of passers-by, admired once again the charm of the Place, remarked on the travaux (construction projections, whether large or small) that seem to be everywhere. And we talked a bit about my slight depression and how best to manage it, even as it began to creep away into a corner, shrinking an encouraging bit just from being identified and discussed.

And as I felt increasingly positive, I thought I'd walk up to one of the main commercial streets here, Cours d'Intendance, to borrow some sparkle from the festive Christmas windows and street decorations (Little Secret Preview: I'm planning a Countdown to Christmas sharing of some photos I've been taking of Festive Windows for my Instagram feed, beginning December 1st). I have to admit -- and I told Pater this at the time -- that I planned to check out the new & Other Stories store whose construction I've been keeping an eye on since we got here. It opened while we were in Bayonne on the weekend, and we've only got one more day here so. . .

You know, I almost made it out of there with my retail fast maintained, not really even threatened. I kept being drawn to an item, liking the cut, the price, but then finding the fabric wanting, not worth the space the garment would take in my carry-on case. Or I'd realise that I could find something quite similar once I got back home. Or I'd remember that my sweaters at home would feel like new ones after the relative monotony of the last ten weeks. In short, I saw nothing that seriously tempted me, and I felt really good about being ready to walk out empty-handed.

And then, flipping hangers of garments along the rack, I arrived at a pair of wide-legged, black velvet culottes.  And a light, fluid, swishy velvet.  I mean. . . . Could I see these as the answer to so many evenings of What to Wear for a little Casual Glamour? Yes, yes, I could. . . And it may be there was a silk blouse, black background, colourful print, that I could wear with said velvet trews but also pair with jeans and a black blazer or cardi. (and I assure you, I wasn't influenced by That's Not My Age's post on velvet, my purchase having preceded my reading of her post, but you could be. . . check it out here)

But this little dress.
This one stopped me in my tracks. Because I love it in so many ways, but I wasn't as sure I could justify it. Yes, I need something festive for the holiday season (we're taking our two oldest granddaughters to Hansel and Gretel the week we get home -- how perfect is this dress for that?) but didn't I just say the black velvet pants would do that trick?
And perhaps the length makes this a bit too young for me?
And I've been wearing less print . . . less colour, for that matter.

Of course, you already know how this story ends, don't you? I chose to believe every word the sweet young vendeuses told me about how well the dress suited me--What did I mean? Too young for me? What? Of course I wasn't too old. Etc., etc.

So call me shallow, but this dress also came home with me yesterday -- I love the way it channels the whole Peasant thing that's going on right now (Again!) but in a way that seems relatively restrained, even sophisticated, to me. Of course I love the forgiving shape as well -- and it has pockets!! Always a plus.

In case you're thinking I recommend irresponsible Retail Fashion Therapy as a counter to Sadness or Depression, please know that I've spent considerable time with this low mood and I've managed it over the past few weeks by walking, keeping active with French lessons and yoga classes, writing here, cycling, taking photographs, texting and video-ing family. In other words, this was hardly my first resort and, in fact, it wasn't a deliberate resort yesterday. However, I had made room all along for a serendipitous fashion purchase or two, should it make sense. Given that my festive-wear needs refreshing anyway, and given that the shopping madness will be in full swing when we get back, it made good sense to carry that & Other Stories bag home yesterday.


Pretty obvious, though, from the rationalising, that for some of us, Retail Fashion Success/Happiness will always be somewhat diminished by a soupçon of guilt. But meanwhile, this Slightly Guilty Woman will be festively dressed.

So tell me, do you go through similar mental, ethical, emotional contortions when making an unplanned purchase of a serendipitous find? Or are you made of sterner stuff and you just walk away? Or are you so well-organised (I'm thinking of you, Sue, and the guidance of your wonderful shopping lists) that what you buy has already long been planned and justified? Do you think that, pace Swinton, sometimes Retail Therapy, within careful limits, is part of an overall self-care response to sadness, or is that too dangerous a route to tread?
Or just tell me if you have outfits planned for festive dressing over the next month. . . .
And if all these questions feel far too much like a homework assignment, or you just don't feel in the mood today, wave me a telepathic hello and we're good. ;-)

49 comments:

  1. Good for you Frances. Love that dress. Thanks for the mention. But I must say that although I have rules (shopping ones anyway) for myself and a list (always), I would have leapt at that dress also. Love the red on the black, especially for the festive season. And because it will never go out of style, and will always fondly remind you of your time in Bordeaux, and thus will reside in your closet long after its contemporaries have left. And so... that purchase has been thoroughly justified... not that we mature women need justification... but it helps:)

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    1. Oh, you're good. . . I'd shop with an enabler like you, any day! ;-)

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  2. Perfect dress. Perfect on you.

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  3. This dress is lovely,not ordinary one,it has a hint of seventies but with elements of breezy,festive and elegant. What's there not to like? So,yes,I approve :-)!
    I have lists and discipline to follow them,I don't buy a lot ( now!)-but some of my best purchases were love at first sight (and yes, there was a little guilt included,but only a little and only at the beginning) and my instinct was always right !
    I agree with Susan,you'll wear it a lot (and get a lot of compliments,too)!
    Do I buy things when I'm sad? Usually not (maybe it is the time to start :-)),but I like to buy expensive tickets for the theatre or concert than!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks for the approval of my purchase -- I do think I'll wear it a lot.
      I like the idea of buying tickets to work out of a funk -- music or theatre are very effective at transporting, at least for the time we're watching/listening.

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  4. Hi Frances, great dress, and may I also say that your hair looks fantastic - I love your curls at this length.

    I also have a tendency towards depression, something which really only hit me after the death of my mother 8 years ago. I don't have any answers, but I'm glad that your post brought forward so many comments in solidarity. Safe journey back home.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia -- the hard water has made it a bit tougher to manage my curls, but I'm liking this length for this cut right now as well.
      It does help to know that we have company in our occasional depression, doesn't it?

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  5. The dress is very pretty on you. The colours are just right, the length is perfect, no wonder you heard it call your name.
    As for me, I must admit that I do not enjoy shopping at all! Even less when I am looking for something in particular. First I can't make up my mind and in the end I come home with something I don't really like. But I promised myself to have a look at two new second-hand shops that opened in my neighbourhood these last months. You cannot go to a second-hand shop with a plan in your head, you just have to see what is there. perhaps that can take the prssure out of the whole thing...

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    1. It's true what you say about second-hand shopping -- and I find I don't get as exasperated there with the insistence on trends. Good luck -- I hope you find a treasure or two...

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  6. If you really love it and can even begin to justify it without breaking the bank, go for it! I would, no question.

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  7. Sure, we can feel guilty about many things, but when a small purchase makes you feel better...how is that bad? Of course, if you did it every day, that could be a problem. But the dress is so lovely, and you'll feel fabulous wearing it!
    jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  8. Good choice. The dress really suits you. Mary

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    1. Thanks Mary. I'm looking forward to wearing it.

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  9. I don't really like shopping but on reflection I realize I tend to buy things when I am feeling happy relief (eg. after an exam or a dental procedure). My happy vibe is so powerful at those times, I just sail into a shop and find the very thing I have been dreaming of for months. (I have gone so far as to buy new cars and appliances after big educational landmarks!)

    I like the dress too. Did you take the pants as well? Do you check luggage on the way home? ;)

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    1. A new car, eh? So my wallet got off lightly. . .
      I did take the pants as well (and a silk blouse!) We thought about checking on the way home, but, in fact, managed to squeeze everything back in and ended up carrying on. . . (I left behind some planned discards to make room)

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  10. Finding a dress which looks so nice on you and makes you happy is lucky. You can't plan to be lucky. You just have to embrace it when it happens! I wish you well to wear it and hope you enjoy your theatre trip all the more.

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  11. I think that dress is wonderful! - Murphy

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  12. What a pretty dress. Good for you for "breaking the fast." -Linda

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    1. Let's face it -- that fast was going to get broken before too long ;-)

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  13. Your hair looks fabulous. As does the dress.
    Party on!!!!

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    1. Yes! Now I just need an event. . . Thanks!

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  14. I really love the dress Frances (quite special and unique)...and the sound of the black velvet culottes ...great choices. I can see you wearing them many times ...with a smile!
    Preceded by good bread and apricot jam with a coffee ...perfect way to start the day!
    Rosie

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  15. Please don't be so hard on yourself. You have had a tumultuous several months. Life would be boring if all was on an even keel all the time. Allow yourself the time to readjust again to your new home after your trip. Allow your feelings to flood over you, and then let them go. Wear what you want to wear and do what you can do. Life is too short to dwell on things that are out of our control...and this is being said by someone who suffered from depression for decades.

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    1. It's so easy to be hard on ourselves though, isn't it? But yes, I'm trying to build in more self-care -- it's easy to think the travel is just that, but it can be wearing in so many ways. Thanks.

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  16. Love the hair, love the dress. What a great decision, and won't the little girls love it! I wonder if they need folkloric outfits to wear to H&G?

    ceci

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    1. Folkloric would be perfect, although we might come off a bit precious together. . . ;-)

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  17. That dress suits you beautifully. It's elegant, with a bit of swishy whimsy. And in future years, when you pull it out of your closet, you'll remember where and when you purchased it. The best kind of souvenir!

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    1. This is what I've arrived at, justification-wise, thank you Lorrie. I do appreciate the validation.

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  18. The dress looks wonderful on you--it's pretty and fun! I love retail therapy actually. Not very good at putting together a 'wardrobe' though. Would love to have Sue come along and whip me into shape. Not very organized for parties coming up--will have to wear boring stuff *alas*. Have enjoyed your travels, writing and photos immensely!

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    1. Wouldn't it be great to have Sue along on a shopping trip?!
      So glad you've enjoyed following along on my travels -- I've appreciated the company.

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  19. I'm with Lorrie (see her above comment). I flew internationally for eight years, during which time I had very little free time or money, so I rarely if ever shopped for clothes. I did purchase some inexpensive personal items, things for my apartment (especially the kitchen) and other things that were unique to wherever I was. In the decades since, I have never regretted one such purchase... they each remind me of a lovely time on my travels, and my children grew up hearing the stories they prompt. I'm quite sure you will feel that way about your dress, which is lovely and suits your particular beauty.
    During the last three weeks of post-election shock, fear and depression, I have found myself trying to justify splurging on a beautiful long velvet dress in exactly the hard-to-find shade of saturated green that best suits my auburn hair. So far, I haven't been able to get there...
    Have a safe, smooth trip home. As long-haul flight crew, we found that the one thing we could do to best combat the deleterious effects of long flights was to drink as much water as possible during and for at least 24 hours after the flight/s (even if you have to set your alarm clock to awaken you every four hours for a big drink). Dehydration due to the near-zero humidity cabin environment is the root of much of what we call "jet lag." Blue skies, Leslie

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    1. I'd encourage you to buy that dress, but you know better than I do the balance between the pleasure it will bring you and the financial compromises you might have to make elsewhere to buy it. But if you can imagine wearing it five to ten times, and feeling wonderful each time. . . .
      Thanks for the advice re jet lag. Right now, it's those nine hours' of time zones that's wreaking havoc with my sleep -- and then the tiny matter of a snowfall the day after getting back home. . .

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    2. I understand the effects of a big time change, as I had an 8-11 hour time change between origin and destination, and back, throughout the time I flew. Dealing with flight dehydration makes it much easier to cope with a time change. Best wishes!! P.S. We got (and relished!) a bit of your snow this morning in Portland. P.S.S. I ordered the dress. Now I'll see if I keep it!

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    3. Keep me posted about the dress -- and watch out! We might have more snow to share with you. . . ;-)

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  20. That dress looks wonderful on you. Love your hairstyle. I did not purchase an item that I loved on a trip to England and regret it. Enjoy your purchase- you deserve it. Mary Lou

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    1. Thanks Mary Lou. And sorry about that item you passed up (I've bought items on trips before that rarely got worn, so it can work both ways)

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  21. That dress is so cute and Very You. I think you've shown a lot of restraint, and this seems to be not only carefully considered but something that "sparks joy" for you. Can't wait to see those Christmas windows!

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    1. Thanks for saying this -- I do think I've been a very careful (non) shopper this visit, and I do think there's something very Me about this dress. I've been steering clear of colour and print lately, and this delivers those in a somehow restrained yet exuberant way (does that even make sense?)

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  22. love that dress and the velvet culottes sound fun. I always have the urge towards the material (literally) this time of year, velvet and sparkles, and chunky wool. I officially absolve you for "giving in". Beautiful morning here. Looking forward to catching up with you soon.

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    1. Yes! Texture is what we need in the dark months. . . Thanks for the absolution!

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  23. This dress is so beautiful, and so lovely on you! You should feel nothing but happy that it came your way :-) Not therapy as much as kismet.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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