There was no way I was going to not quit. It was mid-August in 2012, and I'd been working as a waitress all summer long. I hated it. It was a sticky, greasy job where I learned the value of tipping in America, and it needed to be over now. But I was shy and nervous about telling my boss I was done. Then my mom told me something. "Don't worry, honey," she said. "It's a restaurant. Those jobs have really quick turnaround, and restaurant owners are used to it."
She was, of course, correct, and I had no trouble dropping my miserable position. But this notion of some things being permissible on the basis of a common "quick turnaround" stuck with me, and made me wonder if it works in every situation - especially in the area of our clothing.
Years later, at the end of another summer - 2016 this time - I was sifting through my closet and preparing for the oncoming fall. I pulled my winter clothes out of storage and found a swingy tunic I'd bought the previous year for my very first capsule wardrobe. If you've been with Meanderblog since the beginning, you may remember it.
It's a crew neck, short-sleeved, flowy, black-blue, almost polka-dot (but not quite) tunic, and it screams loudly of my very core style guides. When I began examining my style and wardrobe preferences, I gravitated toward this piece instinctively - a sign of my obsession with comfort and neutrals to come - and it embodied the goals I had for my closet as I trimmed and tweezed it into my own curation.
But a year later, when I pulled it out of storage, something in my brain said "Meh, I've seen it before. I think I need something else. Something new."
Typing it out now, I'm reminded of my goddaughter, who was wont to cry pleadingly, "I need someting ewlse..." even when she was literally covered in stuffed animals, blankets, iPads, and snacks. Something about our human monkey-brain is easily trained into a "quick turnaround," constantly craving new, shiny things to entertain us (I tend to link this to our shortened attention spans created by a certain device which our generation has the privilege of carrying with us wherever we go, but I digress).
So there I sat, holding this lovely, year-old piece that I absolutely adored, blaming it for being less than brand new, and I was just floored. Where had this come from? I thought the point of a capsule was to buy nicer things that would last longer and that were true to my style - wasn't that what I'd been working toward this whole year? Wasn't I supposed to be past this craving for the new? Was this just part of the process of finding my style?
The answer I arrived at was: no. I'm not past it. I have been invested in a consumerist culture all my life, so yeah, it's going to take longer than one year to get out of that mindset. And it's going to be easy to fall right back into it, forever.
Last year, when I realized how small my attention span had gotten, and that I couldn't even sit still to read a book, I started working on strengthening the patience of my brain. I began by listening to an audio book, to get myself accustomed once again to a story taking longer than an hour and a half to get through, living with the story for days or even weeks and enjoying the slower process. Since it was an audio book, though, I could satisfy the itch to move while still working through the story. I still enjoy audio books, but my "patience training" means that now I can easily sit quietly and read for hours on end without breaking my attention too often. It's not perfect, but it is much improved.
In the same way, I decided to keep my tunic. I decided to let it hang in my closet for a while longer, just to get used to seeing it as a constant in my wardrobe. Maybe my brain just needed a little time to adjust to the idea that I don't get to replace my wardrobe every season. I said to my turnover-trending brain, "That's just not how we do things anymore. Look at how valuable this piece is! Look at how lovely and ideal this is for your goals! Remember?"
It worked. Other things have come and gone in my wardrobe, but my choices are narrowing and my "quick turnover" of clothing is reduced to nearly zero. I'm more accustomed to the feeling of "getting tired" of an item in my wardrobe and assessing if that is because it doesn't fit into my style choices, or it's because I'm suffering from monkey-brain again. Usually, it's the latter.
Don't get me wrong. I try to live a minimalist lifestyle, so whatever I don't use, I generally don't keep. But, occasionally, it's not that I wouldn't use it - it's that I think I'm supposed to not use it because it's yesterday's news. And that's just rubbish.
Two years later, I still have that tunic, and I wear it more today than I did when I bought it. It's a staple in my year-round closet. Another lesson learned in the road toward curation.
Thoughts on the topic of when to donate and when to hang on? Comment below - let's start discussing.
P.S. - this tunic is from Altar'd State at least two years ago, but this one from People Tree is kind of similar (ish?).