Shop, Drop and Role Playing

I wonder what we are really buying when we buy clothes obsessively.

Take me for example. I was born the son of a glove salesman whose gloves came from a factory in Gloversville, New York. Talk about hand to mouth and five finger discounts.

My dad had an office on Madison Ave in the "Shmata" district of New York City where there were literally dozens of mannequin hands all over the place which I dutifully shook hello and then goodbye at the end of the day.

We were not a wealthy family. In fact I was the most blue collar member of my public school crowd who was often even bluer because none of my friends had to share a room with their old sister or wear hand me downs from my cousin Michael who at birth was 9-foot-7. I spent most of my early years looking like Dondi, the orphaned waif in adult sized army shirts.

In my dad's world all the salesman in the clothing racket dressed their families by swapping samples with each other barter style. So my dad donated, say a pair of still alive deerskin mink lined gloves for a nice pair of pants for me. Eventually every fall, I would come into the city, head right for the showrooms and pick out whatever I wanted. So even though we were on the shallow end of middle class I grew up wearing cashmere mohair.

So the damage was done. There is no escaping nice cloth and tailoring. My dad was a natty snappy guy as well (everything was monogrammed. Even his toothbrush).

Clothes became a comfort to me. It connected me to my dad. It made me feel equal to anyone who made more money than me. Every outfit purchased was Halloween. I got to become whomever I wanted to be based on the costume du jour.

Of course this practically bankrupted me. Clothing shopping is gambling in nicer shoes. It is the very same kind of addiction. The strange thing about it is if you make a mistake you somehow feel compelled to get your money's worth and wear what you bought even if those $5,000 shoes give you blisters the size of a monkey's head. To admit defeat or loss is, well, a defeat. Defeat?

Here's another part of the purchase puzzle. Hoarding. I am basically like the huge character in Game of Thrones and I'm walking around sayings "Hoarder. Hoarder."

Our closets become a Prince-like vault where we stash all our memories and dreams. The dreams come by holding on to things that we bought when we were like two that we actually think we will be able to wear again someday if we diet like Oprah.

There is virtually no "now" in our closet. If you went into yours right now and culled the herd based solely on reality all that would be left would be a polo shirt and two thousand hangers.

I recently lost 30 pounds and I do in fact now fit into my diapers. But here's what also happened: I was suddenly possessed with the overwhelming urge to get rid of anything that was not immediate or vital. In other words, my closet lost 30 pounds too.

Now my whole world is svelte and more importantly present and realistic. I have discovered that the less you have the more creative you become when it comes to throwing together outfits. It just feels so authentic and genuinely expressive. I am basically making the same fashion statement as Abraham Lincoln and Davy Crockett.

So my advice to you is: stop being a hanger-on. Wake up and smell the cotton blend. Stop living in the past, stop being unrealistic. Sure keep whatever you need to do so you can have the equivalent of Linus's blanket. There is nothing wrong about re-living Woodstock when you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night. So go forth and dress the part and air guitar a little Santana.

Shit. I have to go. There is a 30 percent off everything on the planet on the net.

Oh like you're not going shopping too.