Wednesday, May 10, 2006

$400 Dishwashing Outfit

I was up to my elbows in warm sudsy water washing the dishes (again) when it suddenly struck me: I am wearing a $400 dress. This realization hit me in the emotions exactly the way missing a step on the stairs does. You know, when you're going up the stairs and you think there's one more step, and there…isn't?

The idea of forking over $400 for a dress today causes a tidal wave of nausea to wash over me. Well. That actually might be the Drunken Monkey Pills. But still. The very idea seems absolutely foreign to my nature. Rejected at the DNA level. How much? For what? When I could probably get it's twin at Goodwill for $10 to maybe $25?

No. Way.

I bought this dress nine years ago, to wear to my brother-in-law's wedding. It is the last purchase of its kind, the end of an era if you will. Oh, what's that? A summer wedding? Oh, dahling, I simply must have something Fresh! and New! to wear to it…!

I rushed out to Nordstrom's and bought a $400 dress of dubious fabulosity (honestly – I'm looking at it today and asking myself if it has always been this shapeless, because it hangs on me with all the elegance of a sack…I haven't lost that much weight) without regard for the fact that our checking account had about, oh, maybe…$5 in it. That we owed $65,000 on credit cards. That we had $30,000 in car loans. That our combined income was under $60,000. That I was, in point of fact, unemployed at that precise moment.

That we were >>>this<<< close to utter and complete fiscal disaster, that I didn't need a new dress, that even if I had "needed" a new dress, there were other options that would have covered my nekkedness just as well for a fraction the cost.

I bought it because, uh, well. I like the colors. And it is a Designer Label. Can't remember what designer and aren't going to take it off to check, but I do remember that it was a Designer. Somebody…famous.

Sometimes, it's hard to reconcile that yes – I was that person. I was that shallow, that vain, that…idiotic. So lacking in self-esteem, so utterly self-absorbed and petty. Immature. Blissfully unaware of the consequences of taking such a short-sighted approach to life, and completely out of touch with what really matter to me.

I had the same core values then that I do now, really. The same basic belief set, the same overall philosophies, the same 'guiding principles'. I just…didn't pay much attention to them.

But it was shortly after buying this dress that a pregnancy test put an interesting spin on my psyche. It took things not being All About Me anymore to make me pay attention to things like my core values, choosing what really matters to me and focusing my energy on those things, and to stop rushing around trying to borrow the values of others.

Ironic, huh?

Yeah. I thought so, too.

Now. If you'll excuse me…the sink has somehow filled up with dirty dishes yet again (how does it do that?!), so the $400 gown and I will just toddle off to wash them. See, I could have had a dishwasher installed today, but it would have cost $500 more than waiting a week or two while they ordered the non-stainless-steel model and brought it on the normally scheduled truck instead of rush-delivering it…which is more in line with my core value of providing best possible stewardship for our resources, you see…


21st Century Mom said...

That dress is getting very close to having cost $40/year and that's good for a designer dress!

Congrats on the dishwasher - by the time you get it you will already be in love....

Very Herodotus said...

I don't understand how you do it. Seriously. Full time job with a long commute, four kids (four!), recovering from surgery, and now you're washing all your dishes by hand. And I'm thinking with all those people in the house that you must have a lot of dishes! The sippy cups alone slow a person down considerably, with all those little plastic valve pieces that have to be taken apart and washed separately from the cups and lids, then dried and put back together again. And if you're actually cooking suppers, instead of ordering out, then you've got pots and pans with all their burnt-on goodness.

And you're doing all this by hand? Every day? Standing in front of the sink doing dishes when a few days ago you didn't even want to get out of bed?

I don't understand how you do it. You have amazing fortitude, ma'am. My hat's off to you!


Anonymous said...

I don't think that because someone buys quality clothing, that they have low self-esteem. I think it's the opposite - as long as they can afford it!
Smart shoppers buy quality for cheap! (Check out Nordstrom Rack!)

Mother of Chaos said...

Michelle, point taken. But I don't think it is necessarily a matter of whether or not you can afford the clothes - it's more about the driving forces behind the purchase.

If you buy "quality" clothing because you love quality clothing, because it makes you happy inside, because you look at a cunning seam and a unique fabric and it gives you the warm fuzzies...More Power To You. What makes each of us happy inside is intensely personal and individual. There are people who surround themselves with ceramic thimbles and feel their little cups overflowing with joy every time they see that gold-edged one from Amsterdam. (Hoookay.)

But for me, I bought them because I felt inferior without them. I felt that everybody would look at me and say, "Oh, the poor little thing, she's obviously so poor!" if I didn't rush out and buy a new dress every time there was an Occasion.

I also lack the Fashion gene. I really do. So I'd read the magazines and buy the $$$ stuff thinking that hey - it's got to be good, if it's $400. (Oy.)

These days...well. I really do get a shocking amount of my "finer" clothing from Goodwill. $15 for a Jones New York suit that I will lay $100 down right now says it was never worn, not even once, by the previous owner? Sold!

See, in this way, I can spend way more money on having the absolute BEST of what I really love. Good food, good wine, good coffee, the absolute best of the best of the best. I even have a wine broker, of all things.

Good grief. I choose my own stocks, but I have a wine broker. (But he does get me some fabulously sexy wines I'd never have heard of...


I have, however, thus far resisted the $240 cut-crystal decanter. Thus far. Although I only have to type in www.wa- before Explorer fills in the rest :)

Anonymous said...

LOL! Tama, it sounds like you DO have the fashion gene especially since you're finding Jones of New York suits at Goodwill!
Yep, fashion and clothes give me the warm fuzzies (unlike thimbles).
I usually don't care what my wine comes in as long as it's good, but now you have me thinking about Waterford wine glasses. *sigh*

P.S. - I'm glad your surgery went well!!