Friday, April 6, 2012

No-Thing New Postmortem

I've been struggling to write this post for a few days now.  I can't seem to edit out all the babbling and/or make much sense, so I'm just going to give myself fifteen minutes to look it over and then post it, for better or worse.
I guess I could call this post Why No-Thing New Doesn't Work for Me.  Even if I hadn't bought four pairs of shoes a week before the end of the project, I would have to be honest and say the experiment wasn't working out the way I had hoped. 
I keep thinking about a quote I wrote down from the book Not Buying It:
Might beauty be a necessary luxury?
Yeah, I know, shoes are pretty mundane and not exactly an exalted example of beauty or elegance, but bear with me.  Back on January 13th I said aesthetics were going to be my downfall.  I am just not the sort to make do with something that assaults my eyes.  For example, my husband makes our kittens' food.  He mixes up a huge batch every month or so and puts smaller portions of it in the freezer.  If we hadn't already owned a bunch of matching glass containers, I would have felt compelled to buy them, because seeing a hodgepodge of plastic containers in the freezer would drive me crazy.  I know that's a weird example, and I sound completely OCD, but there you have it.
And on the subject of clothing: Is it enough to have all your relevant bits covered, have shoes on your feet and be warm enough, or do we allow some latitude for style?  Because I could probably clothe myself for the rest of my life with what I own right now, but, well, what fun would that be?  Emerson said Thoreau had "no temptations to fight against--no appetites, no passions, no taste for elegant trifles." Good for Thoreau, but I don't work like that.  I really enjoy clothes.  Looking for thrift bargains, sewing, and creating outfits is fun for me.  You might even call it a hobby.  And I just don't want to give that up.
Now I don't want it to sound like No-Thing New was a complete failure.  The "new" part wasn't really a problem, because we buy a lot of secondhand anyway (shoes excepted).  No, the problem was with defining needs vs. wants.  Look at that quote again:

Might beauty be a necessary luxury?

Maybe the line between wants and needs isn't as clear cut as it seems.  And maybe the much-maligned "shoppers' high" isn't always as terrible as it sounds.  Is it really so bad that I enjoy looking through the racks at the thrift shop, even when I don't need anything?  I love mixing new things into my wardrobe or home decor and breathing new life into things I already have.  I like to change things up.  Of course I feel excited when I score a cool new sweater for four dollars or an Australian wool blanket for next to nothing...does that mean I'm deficient somehow?

No-New Thing didn't work out the way I expected, but it did help me clarify my feelings about shopping.  I still think coupons are evil, advertising has created some ridiculous desires, and slighty expired food is just fine.  But I think my shopping habits are okay just the way they are.

So about those shoes.  I needed new black mary janes.  Really.  I also had $125 in Christmas and birthday money from my mom.  Moms don't want to be told you are saving your Christmas money.  I decided to get a new pair of Danskos.  Looking online, I found a few pairs I liked, but I was concerned about the fit.  Then I got the brilliant idea of going to the Dansko factory outlet to see what they had.  Well, I got my basic mary janes and then some.  Half off and more.  Can you blame me?


Moira said...

Beauty is an absolute necessity! PS I love your shoes - Especially the boots.Would love a close up of them! :)

Anonymous said...

Yay!!! for new shoes! And you got a great deal on them :O) Beauty is an absolute necessity. If it makes you happy, you can afford it, and it's your hobby, well. I do card-making and knitting, along with several other things. I buy stuff all the time if it's something I need and I will be able to use it, also I only purchase stuff on sale.

As far as shoes go, my favorites are Keen. They are all I wear :O)

Anonymous said...

I applaud you for:
1. trying no-new-thing
2. being honest about your feelings

It is a good exercise to examine your thoughts and motivations and be sure your actions do not have negative consequences. In this case, if you can shop and buy without havng your house look like "Hoarders" or withouot financial ruin, and what you purchase has positive psychological and emotional benefits, then surely it's ok and probably even beneficial. We all work hard, and denying yourself rewards (within reason) just doesn't make sense. Your experiment has made me think about my shopping habits, and I think I fall into the same category. So thanks again, and also love the boots!!

Linda C said...

First, the shoes. You need them or you will. You will wear them, you know they fit, they are attractive and you got deals. I have wished so much recently that I had gotten several extra pairs of some shoes I loved which the company has now discontinued or the similar ones have heels over 3 inches tall--too high. I also have some summer sandals I love--not in the inventory anymore. Enough to make you a hoarder--I am like you, shoes need to be just right. My heels are narrow ---but my feet have gotten wider at the toes, really spread out. If they fit in the heel the toes are too tight- if the toes fit, the heels fall off. And getting a size longer doesn't always work.

I like the look of those shoes!



Kathryn said...

As gift cards and certificates usually have an expiration date, you would be foolish not to utilize them; if you don't use them, you lose them. The gift giver wanted you to enjoy them.

I don't know that it is as much of a necessary luxury as it is social conditioning and status. It is a tightrope act between need and want.

In 3rd world countries, some people do not even own a pair of shoes or a dress; however, in our society, we are assaulted everyday with images to buy, buy, buy.

Sometimes it gives us a temporary quick pick-me up and confidence booster, especially if we get a compliment, to buy new things.

Depending on where you live, work and your social circle, it could be social ostracization to not keep up with current trends. If you wear nerdy or what your cultural circle seems "outdated" you are not "one of them" which can be the same as career suicide.

In theory, we should not be judged on our appearance; in fact, sadly, we are.

I don't think there is any shame in it as long as you are not going into debt to buy, it isn't overtaking your life or your home, and not a replacement for other things missing your life and you donate things you no longer need or want so others can use them.

I certainly can't talk; I have over a hundred pairs I am still weeding through. I have ended up adopting the rule if I haven't worn them in over 10 years (I started at 5 years, but kept coming up with excuses) I am not likely to wear them again and it is time for them to go.