Sunday, January 4, 2015

The empress' new clothes

          Well, we're a few days into the new year and it finally looks like wintertime outside my window.  Thick snowflakes are falling, dusting the ground in a silent swirl of white.  The wind is blowing colder as an artic blast is well on the way.  I've been bundling up a little more and am thankful for all the woolies I've knitted over the years that keep my hands and ears and neck warm.  Even more so, I'm delighted to have a new-to-me coat to wear while hiking at the park.
          Last fall while donating at Savers, I decided to peruse the outerwear to see if they had anything new.  What a surprise to find an almost knee length purple fleece coat that was just my size.  With the coupon I had received for passing on some gently used clothing, I bought the coat for a song and have loved wearing it all season long.  It's funny, but I often forget how bright and beautiful it is until I'm in public and someone does a double take, smiling at me and saying something like, "What a great color," or "I love your coat!"  I've accessorized it with multi-colored scarves and handwarmers and even a hat or two, and it's been one of the best treasures I've discovered at our local thrift store.
          Still, I've just recently rediscovered the joys of owning something brand new.

          When my friend, Tracy, was cleaning out her closets last summer, she offered me first choice of the many wonderful skirts, tops, and sweaters she no longer wanted.  Tracy is an impeccable dresser and I lamented that a lot of the items weren't good colors for me as they were stylish and well cared for.  But there were a few pairs of shorts and a couple of turtlenecks that fit perfectly.  As Thanksgiving approached, I pulled out one of the sweaters on a cold, blustery day and loved how wonderfully warm it was.  How detailed and elegant.  How I could wear it from teaching a yoga class to meeting a friend for tea and still look put together.
          On a whim I googled the designer's name and found that the sweater could be found in a plethora of colors at Macy's.  So, on Black Friday when they were half off, I ordered one in black and one in dark blue.  That afternoon a friend came over to visit with her daughters.  While the girls were busy making cookies, I told Michele how excited I was to be able to buy brand new clothing in a classic style that looked good on me.
          "I've been wondering what to get you for Christmas," she smiled.  "Would you let me gift you with those sweaters?"     
          Now I didn't expect that at all, but after a little prodding, I thanked Michele for her generosity and eagerly awaited the arrival of my new sweaters.  And the very next day, Michele was surprisingly gifted with the exact amount of money she had given me!  Don't you love how karma works?
          A week later a small package arrived from Macy's.  You would have thought Publisher's Clearinghouse had arrived at my door by my response!  Each sweater was carefully wrapped in tissue, with a sheet of cardboard keeping it neatly folded.  There was even a little plastic bag with a spare button and thread, too!  And when I slipped the black sweater over my head, I was in heaven.   It fit like a dream and I marveled at how wearing something new could feel so wonderful.
          You see, I haven't bought clothing from a department store since the late nineties.  When I quit teaching my finances wouldn't allow it.  And when I went back into the classroom to teach preschool, I didn't want to invest a lot of money into clothes that would be soon be exposed to paint, crayons, Play-Doh, and sticky fingers.  Over the years I've been able to afford a nicer wardrobe, thanks to learning how to peruse the aisles at Savers for ideal finds.  In fact, except for shoes and a few select items, all of my clothes are second hand.  I don't mind at all.  It's a great way to reduce waste, reuse perfectly good items, and enjoy colorful attire that would otherwise be out of my price range.
          But I have to admit I got a real charge out of being the first owner of those lovely sweaters. 

          I'll still be a regular at Savers -- in fact I've recently found some gorgeous tops to wear in yoga classes this winter.  And my friends have learned that if they love something I'm wearing, it has always come from the thrift least until this past Christmas.  Now I wear the sweaters with my purple coat and enjoy the blend of something old and something new...something borrowed for a little while and something blue.
          This afternoon as the snow started to fly, I wore my purple coat to walk with a friend at the park and then to run errands.  It turned a few heads and made a woman smile.  "That's a gorgeous coat!" she beamed.  "You look so nice in it...and I love purple!"
          "Me, too," I nodded, thanking her for the compliment.
          As I walked on, I realized that it's not necessarily the clothing I wear on the outside, but the attitude I carry on the inside that adorns me best.  I've found that, old or new, the inner reflects the outer...always.