1.28.2010

On Why We Don’t Use the Best Things We Have





Last weekend I took on the Herculean project of cleaning out my wardrobe... trying to cull my stuffed drawers by either throwing away damaged clothes or donating the ones I no longer wanted to charity. I tackled one category at a time (so as not to become overwhelmed). I started with my pajama drawer, and then moved on to workout clothes, and then... actually, I stopped after workout clothes. I stopped because I noticed an alarming trend. And the trend was this:

I do not use the best things I have.

Allow me to elaborate…

In my pajama drawer I have two types of pajamas. The beautiful, lovely matching kind (I went on a loungewear buying shopping spree in London last year at Intimissimi and picked up the most gorgeous sets of pajamas!) and the kind that have loooong since seen better days. You know- Calvin Klein night slips that were gorgeous two years ago but now have frayed or torn lace, or a cotton pajama night set that has seen the washer one too many times. And yet, I found myself hesitant to get rid of my old pajamas- in fact, I didn’t get rid of any of them (after all, I do love that Calvin Klein slip!) and I moved on to my workout clothes.

There I noticed the same trend. I have some lovely yoga pants and tops from Hard Tail and Lucy yet I found myself hanging on to the ratty college t-shirt and cut off sweats of years past. That is when I paused.

Why could I simply not let go of the old stuff and only keep the best? Why would I want to wear a tatty old slip when I could lounge in my beautiful sea green silk pajama pants and matching chemise? Why would I want to take my dog on a walk in faded old sweat pants when I could sport a beautiful, flattering workout ensemble instead? What was I saving my best for? An invitation to Buckingham Palace?!

In short… why was I not using the best things I had?

So quickly, without thinking about it too much, I placed all of the questionable items in a bag and got rid of them on the spot. I have spent the week lounging in my absolute best and I can’t tell you how gorgeous and liberating it feels.

I would love to know… do you use the best things you have?


Pictured above are two of my current favorite lounge wear garments... a pink lace night shirt from Intimissimi and a satin pink dressing gown from Victoria's Secret.

24 comments:

vicki archer said...

Not enough is the answer...xv

CashmereLibrarian said...

Vicki's comment is oh-so-true!

Last fall my husband put his foot down on my workout clothes. He said, "You are always dressed so impeccably, but when you go to the gym, you look like a hippie truck driver!" So I splurged on some new work out clothes from Athleta, but only the other day I felt compelled to drag out an old college tee shirt to wear. Why??!

LOVE your lingerie. It's so cold here, I'm wearing Garnet Hill flannel pjs. Not so glamorous, but WARM!

Paris Poodle said...

I agree! I have some gorgeous Pjama sets that I only save for best - but Paris sleepover parties are few and far between so I usually like you opt for the PJ's which are shamefully well worn! I resolve to wear my best sets - I recently splashed out on a gorgeous silk pj set from Monsoon and its so beautiful I just dont want to ruin it with bed time wine/face cream! I guess I'll just have to take care and put more faith in the dry cleaner!

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

You are so right and I need to start doing this more. It is so sad what I wear to bed these days!

Bonjour Madame said...

Ah, the de-cluttering dilema. I know it well! You describe it so accurately. I always manage to hang on to some of the things that I should let go. I like how you tackled this by category of clothing. It makes you look with a more critical eye. I'll try this next time! Thanks!

Chelsa Bea said...

I've definitely been guilty of this. I suppose it's because I'm afraid of ruining my nice things. I want them to stay nice, and in order to do that, it totally makes practical sense not to use them. No, not so much. I'm starting to get better, and hopefully will embrace using all my 'nice' things on a regular basis. Great post!

Michael Rivers said...

I do the same thing! Clothing, candles, dishes, etc. Always making the excuse that I'll use/wear on a special occassion or that I don't want them to get worn out. Then I won't have anything nice.

A few years back Orpah did a show on this.

eurochic said...

I used to do this as well and then had a similar epiphany to yours...now I only keep that which is flattering and makes me feel good to own and use/wear. I try not to wear anything while lounging around that I would be embarrassed to leave the house in in case of fire (with my kitty in tow of course, but she always looks fabulous).

LPC said...

I am making a slow but systematic effort to make sure that everything I own is something I WANT to own. I'm not getting rid of my son's khakis, just making sure I have an alternative for when they aren't appropriate. Which is often.

BigLittleWolf said...

I recognize myself in this post. There are "special things" which I tend to reserve for use when I am feeling more deserving of treating myself as special (silly, as I think about it). Or, for when there is someone (else) "special" in my life. Equally silly.

Yet there are practical aspects, especially in the life of an overloaded parent. Nicer things often require more maintenance or special care, thus more time (and money). Easier (and faster) to use the same old same old, that you can toss in the washer or not think about if there's a food fight or a dispoal explosion.

:)

That said, the point is made. We deserve to give ourselves some days and nights of feel worthy of the something extra. The best things, for our daily selves.

Marsi said...

Been reading you for several months, and am finally de-lurking. I wonder how many women will read your posting today and find themselves at the lingerie shop, replenishing their supply after a hasty purge. Count me in; I just got back from shopping, where everything I got was 75 percent off and beautiful shades of pink. I have held onto ugly jammies because they were warm. At Victoria's Secret, I spotted some adorable pink flannel pajamas that were marked down to $12.50 (!!) and thought, "Warm and pretty need not be mutually exclusive any longer." I also bought a beautiful, filmy gown by that Italian brand they carry at VS -- the one your pink nightshirt is from, the one I cannot spell. ;o)

Thanks for the inspiration.

Rebecca said...

What can I say? You are so right. Ugh! Now I must go and conquer my lingerie drawer...

Lulu said...

I have to remind myself to wear the good stuff. I have Hermes scarves that I don't wear for fear of ruining them. This is silly. They're so beautiful I have to remind myself to take them out and enjoy them.

Now I have to rethink my pajama situation.

Tish Jett said...

It's interesting you write this now. French Elle just did a story about whether "housewear" -- that's what the magazine called it -- is ruining romance.

It was a little piece, with some omg it can't be true pictures, talking about how couples come home and put on their sweats, old t-shirts or sloppy pajamas.

Even the French? Imagine that.

Tishx

The Daily Connoisseur said...

What a great response! Where shall I begin?

Vicki- yes, that is so true... we don't use our best things often enough- if ever!

Cashmere- LOL "hippie truck driver". I can relate. When I am at home I sometimes shock myself by being a complete schlumpadinka (sp?)... and it is ridiculous when I actually have nice things...

Paris Poodle- I know what you mean about not wanting to 'ruin' your best. I felt the same way recently. When my husband and I went to Barbados I brought three sets of pajamas. One really nice one, one medium nice on and on 'all right' one (I don't even know why I brought the all right one... so lame). On the first night there I found myself wanting to wear the really nice one (the sea green silk pants and matching chemise) but for some reason reached for a different one! (probably because I didn't want to spill tea on myself or get face cream on the chemise or some other strange excuse). Thankfully I came to my senses. If a holiday in Barbados isn't special occasion enough to wear my best, then I don't know what is...

Lisa- lol- at least you know you're not alone!

Bonjour Madame- I tackle one category at a time because I oftentimes feel myself feeling more ambitious than I end up being. And then my whole closet will be on the floor and I want to take a nap- not good! Tackling one category at a time allows me to approach things with a critical eye and is probably responsible for this epiphany...

Chelsea Bea- Thanks! Yes Paris Poodle expressed similar concerns. But I changed my mindset and told myself- if I ruin it, I'll just buy another one soon... and I usually never ruin it!

Michael- I love Oprah and she is probably what planted the seed in my head. And yes, that is so true- this extends far beyond clothes- dishes, candles, cutlery- what are we saving our best for?

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Eurochic- that is a very good rule- to not wear anything you would be embarrassed to wear in public... I once had unexpected guests (neighbors) pop by to say hello and I was in sweats and the house was a little messy- I agonized over this for ages (I know... a bit overdramatic but that is just me :)

LPC- Want is key although I have to be careful with that because I tell myself I want those comfy sweats with the hole in the knee... not good :)

BigLittleWolf- Very good point- having small children would make it more difficult to wear our nicest things- what with all of the sticky fingers. Actually having a dog is similar... Gatsby does tend to put a muddy paw on my leg from time to time. But yes, we do deserve our best every day- life is too short!

Marsi- Thank you so much for your comment- I'm really happy you joined the discussion! Wow $12.50 for Victoria's Secret pjs? Where was I during this sale?? It feels great to find a bargain for a luxury. I love Intimissimi- I had seen a select few of their things in VS and when I went to England I was ecstatic to find an entire shop on the King's Road in London- An entire shop full of affordable, yet beautiful Italian lingerie- I was in heaven!

Rebecca and Lulu- good luck! and Lulu- I hope you enjoy every moment of wearing your Hermes scarf... you deserve it xo

Tish Jett- I wish I could read that article- it sounds fascinating. And yes, I think 'housewear' is killing romance! It might be the number one killer! (if not in the top three lol). Even if you live alone or don't have a romantic partner, I still think you should dress well- I always look at Amelie- she lived alone and was a very solitary person yet she wore those beautiful slips...

Merveilleux said...

I just did this on Monday! I have the huge bag of clothes to donate in the trunk of my car (that last step always takes me forever becaus I forget it's there).
I went through my pajamas and I have a TON of t-shirts my boyfriend gave me from races (he runs in a lot of races and always gets us both a t-shirt). So, I feel bad getting rid of the t-shirts since he gave them to me so I just keep them.. and now I have 2 dresser drawers and 2 shelves in my closet of these shirts.
I'd love to buy pretty silk pajamas and things such as this (when it's warmer.. i'm in socal too):
http://www2.victoriassecret.com/commerce/onlineProductDisplay.vs?namespace=productDisplay&origin=onlineProductDisplay.jsp&event=display&prnbr=GJ-259553&page=1&cgname=OSSLPTEDZZZ&rfnbr=5252

But then I feel like I'm just blowing money around buying pretty things when I have all of these practical shirts hanging around!
So funny you posted this because I've been thinking about it a lot lately! Thanks :)

Sharon Mayhew said...

We rarely use our best china, but my grandparents antique waterford crystal is used even less. I would be horrified if something happened to any of the glasses. When we do use them, there is NO alcohol in them...I'd hate to have the need to disown a friend. :)

Marsi said...

Another thought, now that I've forced myself to get rid of ALL of my old jams and replace them with new pink ones, is: men are visual creatures. No way around that; it's just a fact. And yeah, they're happy to take us (literally and, um, figuratively!) even when we're in our frumpiest nightshirts ... but how much nicer it is for them when we treat them to our best selves day AND night, no?

The Coastal Chicster said...

i have the same problem. i have a closet full of pretty tops and beautiful dresses, and i find myself making excuses - "then i'll have to go to the drycleaner," "handwashing is such a pain," "what if i spill something?" and "i should probably save this for..."

and as far as lingerie, i usually really enjoy wearing pretty lingerie - even if it's cold, i'll just throw some leggings underneath and wear my ugg boots as slippers. :) but i've procrastinated on hand washing and it's piled up so high that i'm DREADING washing it all. where will i lay it all out to dry? :)

i guess since i'm snowed in this weekend, i should get to it.

Brahm said...

I do the same thing! Sleep in the same old sweats, where the same jeans over and over, when have bought and own some great new stuff... what the hell am I saving it for?

Good post, my first visit to your blog, I look forward to following you now!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Merveilleux- Getting rid of gifts or things with (seemingly) sentimental attachment is the hardest thing- we feel guilty. We feel like we should keep the said item for an undisclosed period of time to honor the person that gave them to us- I totally have the same problem! I suppose if you have a lot of shirts from the races you could keep 2 that you like (so your bf doesn't get offended :) and get rid of the rest in the future :)

Sharon- I am not fortunate enough to have china yet but when I do have it I'm sure I'll be the same way- very protective! My parents have a lovely set that is only used three times a year- Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. On the flip side, my mother in law has beautiful china that she uses every day!

Marsi- LOL so true. We need to give the men in our lives a break and wander around the house in our prettiest. Cute pajamas are still comfortable so there is really no excuse! I wouldn't want to see me in a terrible old sweat ensemble either so I can't blame them! xo

Coastal Chicster- It is the pits when you leave your handwashing too long... then there is just so much to do and so little space to dry it in! But looking good is worth it, no? :)

Brahm- thank you! It's good to know it's not just us ladies that don't use our best often enough. Thank you for your comment and welcome to the blog!

Crystal said...

I've never thought about this in-depth till I read this post. I never really use the best things I have. It's a shame, really. Off the top of my head I can name two things that have gotten zero-to-minimal use in my life the past few years. One is a beautiful pink Oscar de la Renta slip my husband bought that I've worn a grand total of FOUR times. (He gave it to me as a Valentine's Gift three years ago.) I love it to pieces, but I think it's just that -- I don't want it to GO to pieces by any overuse. So I wear my ratty old cheap cotton slips. They're cute, but they're nothing like that Oscar one. ;) Also I have the cutest pair of kitten heel Coach slingback pumps that I bought in grad school and have not worn ONCE. Sometimes I take them out of the box to admire them like they're art, and then put them away, to be admired again at a future time. What's wrong with me??? I think I need more nice things in my clothing rotation to get me wearing them all on a normal basis.

I just read your comment re: finishing your novel. Many congrats!!!!! I know what you mean about how surreal it feels. :D

Marsi said...

OK, I realize I need to quit stalking the comments here, but this has been a provocative post for so many (including moi) that I can't help it. We use our bridal china every single day. We've broken a couple of pieces over 17 years, but better to use it and break it than have a complete set that you may as well not even own because it never leaves the cabinet. Ours is Lenox Eternal, and we even feed the cats with it!

 
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