“I need a new dress.”
“I’ve been working hard, I deserve these shoes.”
“I don’t have a red lipstick in quite this shade.”
We all tell ourselves these kinds of lies. I do it. This year I swore I would give up the act of creating outfits solely for the purpose taking outfit photos. And I meant it. But the thing is, I work from my apartment, mostly in an array of less-than-chic sweatpants – eighty percent of the outfits I put on, no matter how comfortable and casual they look, are worn primarily for the purpose of taking outfit photos before stopping for a pastry and a cup of tea.
And the other thing is, sometimes that old desire to wear a ball gown when I have nowhere to go comes back with a vengeance. Not just because gowns are beautiful, but because they are one of the lies that I tell myself in tangible form. They allow me to pretend that I live a fabulously relaxed life. A life that is unfettered by trivial concerns like the mounting number of emails in my inbox and the items on my to-do list that have remained untouched, unattempted, for months on end. When life is hard, but not really hard enough to justify complaining, beautiful things make it feel temporarily easier.
I have come a long way from my days of popping into H&M every time my workday didn’t go as planned. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t seek temporary solutions to long-term problems in the form of dresses, shoes and sunglasses. I do exactly that – still more often that I would like to admit. The truth is, based on the contents of my closet, I will likely never actually need another new dress. But sometimes, when I’m tired and frustrated, I want one, anyway – and I buy one, because I can.
The older I get, and the more I experience life, the more I think that it isn’t necessarily important to stop lying to myself… but it is important to recognise when I tell myself lies, and how often, and why. Sometimes, frustration is just temporary. And while a new piece of clothing won’t fix it, it won’t hurt, either. But sometimes, the problem is bigger, and the veneer of new things can’t gloss over it. When that happens, it becomes less about the lies and more about how to find a way to live so that I don’t have to keep telling them. Which is, admittedly, easier said than done.
I said recently that I don’t shop with my feelings anymore. Which is mostly true. Gone are my days of choosing new garments in the moment because I need a pick-me-up. But I still make a lot of purchases after long, tiring days. And I invent a pretext for making them rather than dealing with my feelings of exasperation.
I wore this dress no further than my own home. And it was glorious, even if it was a lie.