10 August 2010

A Fresh Start

Where to begin? After such a long pause between posts I feel like it's time to start all over again. Thus, that awkward first post where you have no idea what to talk about is now upon me again. California was nice. I ate and I shopped, and I ate and I shopped some more. I am four kilos heavier than when I left for Los Angeles in June (so much for that diet!) and I now own enough pairs of shoes to outfit a small army—that is, if said army were storming the mall and not overthrowing a hostile dictatorship in some far away land.

I have completed the Apple triumvirate and purchased an iPad
and iPhone 4g so that my Macbook will never be lonely again.

I'd now be a millionaire if wealth were measured in makeup acquisitions, yet completely broke if wealth were measured in money—which of course it is and which of course, I am.

All in all I am thoroughly satisfied in all of my purchases, some of which I will share with you in upcoming posts. First though, I'd like to talk about an article I read in the
New York Times this morning, one that has had me thinking all day long.

 "But Will It Make You Happy?"  (in a nutshell)  revolves around that age-old question, "does money buy happiness?" In it, the author interviews a formerly successful (and by "successful" I mean great job, great income, lots of possessions American-type of successful) woman who has "downsized" her life in order to reassess her lifestyle to see what truly makes her happy. 
"Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number."
Uh, yes you read that right. 100 items. 
"Today, three years after Ms. Strobel and Mr. Smith began downsizing, they live in Portland, Ore., in a spare, 400-square-foot studio with a nice-sized kitchen. Mr. Smith is completing a doctorate in physiology; Ms. Strobel happily works from home as a Web designer and freelance writer. She owns four plates, three pairs of shoes and two pots. With Mr. Smith in his final weeks of school, Ms. Strobel’s income of about $24,000 a year covers their bills. They are still car-free but have bikes. One other thing they no longer have: $30,000 of debt."
Sure this lifestyle may work for some, but what if it's fashion that genuinely makes you happy? As if the author read my mind, there is this tid-bit towards the end of the article:
"Buying luxury goods, conversely, tends to be an endless cycle of one-upmanship, in which the neighbors have a fancy new car and — bingo! — now you want one, too, scholars say. A study published in June in Psychological Science by Ms. Dunn and others found that wealth interfered with people’s ability to savor positive emotions and experiences, because having an embarrassment of riches reduced the ability to reap enjoyment from life’s smaller everyday pleasures, like eating a chocolate bar.

Alternatively, spending money on an event, like camping or a wine tasting with friends, leaves people less likely to compare their experiences with those of others — and, therefore, happier.
Of course, some fashion lovers beg to differ. For many people, clothes will never be more than utilitarian. But for a certain segment of the population, clothes are an art form, a means of self-expression, a way for families to pass down memories through generations. For them, studies concluding that people eventually stop deriving pleasure from material things don’t ring true.

“No way,” says Hayley Corwick, who writes the popular fashion blog Madison Avenue Spy. “I could pull out things from my closet that I bought when I was 17 that I still love.”

She rejects the idea that happiness has to be an either-or proposition. Some days, you want a trip, she says; other days, you want a Tom Ford handbag." Or in my case, an Alexander Wang Rocco Mini Duffle would do just fine, thank you.

Thank you Hayley Corwick for summing up my life in a fourteen word sentence.

Fashion gives me joy. For me, it isn't about "keeping up with the Joneses," (although who doesn't like to show off once in awhile?). But honestly, the majority of the population would not even know that I'm wearing Acne Atacoma wedges or carrying a Marc Jacobs Stam Bag. These are purchases I make for myself because I love them, not because I'm trying to impress anyone. I love a finely tailored jacket or a unique pair of earrings that can set me apart from the masses. Feeling good about myself makes me happy, and nice clothes make me feel good about myself.

That said, the author's message did not go unnoticed.

It's not fun living in a small space. And as much as I love to look at my beautiful shoes, having them sit on my stairs because I have no more room to put them anywhere else is a bit ridiculous. I think the time has come to "downsize."

I have close to a dozen pairs of shoes that I never wear, and will probably never where again. I have shelves upon shelves of clothing that hasn't seen the light of day for over a year, if ever and living in a cluttered apartment is really starting to gnaw on my nerves.

I've decided to give most of it away to my friends. Organizing and giving away my possessions does three things for me. First, it's an opportunity to really see what I actually "need" in my wardrobe so I can update it for the upcoming fall season. Second, it will create some much needed space so I don't feel like I'm living inside a shoe box. And third, it will make my friends very happy, which in turn makes me very happy.

So, before the month is out my goal is to not have to store shoes on the staircase anymore. And on that note, I am off to photograph my recent "acquisitions" so that I can share them with you, in hopes that you get as much joy out of fashion as I do.




estelle said...

I'm so happy to read you... I don't understand everything in details but in general I know what you mean or what the NYTimes means... For me when you earn more money your scale of needs automatically goes up etc. You always look above. Even people who don't have so much money they always want to be on the next step. So even if some people think that money can't make you happy, it helps you to feel better. A minimum of comfort helps you,please could she tell me if for homeless money wouldn't make them happy?!????? come on! this is a typical speech of anti capitalist. It's true that this system has some limits, proof is the recent crisis.
But money for primary needs?!: food, drinks, home, clothes etc. Ok maybe not "immediatly" Marc Jacobs motoboots (my new acquisition;) ), or a "Wang" bag but sure it will come soon!!! So each person has an addiction: travels, food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs , shoes (YES!!!), clothes (RE-YES!!!!), bags (do I have to mention it again? YES!!!), music, sport etc. In brief, everything needs money. so even for me I absolutly feel comfortable with the idea that sometimes I buy a luxury accessorize, or cosmetics... I assume that because I like also to dress with HM, ZARA, Gina Tricot etc and most of my clothes or shoes or not luxury but more HM etc especially here in Sweden where you don't find young and cheap designers that make you different from the masses. In brief I agree with you Andy!!!!

estelle said...

good chance for your shoes gifts...