February 21, 2015
I defy you to find someone who looks at more pieces of clothing, pairs of shoes, or accessories than I do. Any day I’m working on The Vivienne Files, (and that’s 6 days a week!) I look at hundreds, if not thousands of things. While I reject the vast majority of them as being unworthy of your attention, I still see lots and LOTS of things that are beautiful. Really, astonishingly, beautiful. (remember that green velvet dress?)
So I constantly have to remind myself that, just because something is beautiful, doesn’t mean that I really want to own it. The absolutely amazing Samuel Beckett Bridge, in Dublin, is beyond lovely, but I don’t really need to take it home with me. (could you imagine trying to move this to Chicago? Not that Chicago couldn’t use a couple more bridges…) So I’ve figured out that admiring something doesn’t necessarily meant that I want to own it – I don’t have a real desire for it…
So what happens when I see something that I really WANT? (like this utterly wonderful scarf above) I can see how I would use it, I really love lots of things about it… and I’m the woman who has snowflakes on all of her electronic wallpapers. I figured out how to cut out six-pointed snowflakes as a little girl, because I KNEW that snowflakes didn’t have eight points. I’m just screaming nuts about snow!
But I don’t need it. I have scarves in abundance. And I really ought to be putting away my money for upcoming travel, and for replacing essential clothes that don’t fit because of my shifting body composition.
Very few of us get everything we want. I will not be among those elect. I don’t know that I want to be.
However, if I were to suddenly sell a couple of my extra scarves…
Is this just greed, in the final analysis? How does one handle these desires?
Swan .nowlivinginfrance says
Wow – Dublin I am so proud of you !! A truly magnificent bridge and thanks to you Vivienne for posting. I shall be sending this article around to several people now too. My sons were born and brought up in Dublin and benefitted hugely from the education and people skills they acquired there. We now live in various parts of the world but have a naturally soft, and protective, spot for Ireland, especially Dublin.
Janice Riggs says
I used to live in Dublin! Capel Street… My belovedest is an Irish citizen, and we're going to retire in Ireland, in just a few years… Dublin has a charm and hidden beauty that few people can fully appreciate…
This is a hard one! Because, as you say, sometimes the alluring object really can play a strong role in one's wardrobe. On my "good" days I try to think of these things as objects in a museum. Out there to admire and enjoy but not to "follow me home"! I have been known to revisit items; and when they disappear, purchased by others. Well, usually they just fall out of my interest. If something persists for months and months, I have been known to give in [hello, lovely Linda Penwarden bracelet!]
Ah….the conflict between what we need and what we want. My closet is currently too full..but mainly filled with things I barely wear but love and can't throw away. Due to your posts, Janice, I have bought much less in the past year…so I'm. On the right track. I just keep in mind want or need.
Everything you write is so true. Part of the problem is seeing, admiring, wanting and acquiring is a little act of falling in love. And who doesn't like the feeling of falling in love?
I love the Samuel Beckett Bridge too. I have a photo of it in my living room that I took on a recent trip to Dublin.
Being content with what we have is never easy until we realize that so many people are in need. Such an honest post, I think we all struggle with the allure of getting something new! Love all your posts, greeting from a somewhat chilly Scotland! Love Beth xx
This one realization has forever changed my life…and not just about purchasing for my wardrobe. I am a fiber artist and it extends to purchases/accumulations of my materials and patterns. I love to cook so I chucked cookbook and recipe acquisition into the basket as well. That accounts for a very large portion of my life that has been influenced by one realization.
Actually, I think that bridge would look wonderful in Chicago and would fit in with the architecture, LOL. I'm struggling with the "want vs need" issue right now. It helps me to picture the alternatives side by side, realizing I can't have both items.
I often covet a version of something I already own. That helps me to realize that there is nothing at all that I "need." Doesn't stop me from wanting…. I love your blog. So interesting. And you place the creativity on how colors and outfits work together, not on single items to acquire.
Madame Là-bas says
I have been working on my desire to acquire this year. Because I find something attractive and can pay for it doesn't mean that I need it. To let go of this acquisitiveness would be liberating. As we age, accumulation becomes a burden.
Janice, I don't know if you were aware of it when you posted, but the colors in the bridge photo exactly match the colors in the scarf. I think that's a sign . . . . LOL. I don't mean to be an enabler, but you do look at so many lovely things each day, and if you once in a great while find something that speaks to you like this scarf, and you can afford it, then I think that may mean the scarf should be yours. And if you truly do have extra scarves, by all means sell them to make room for this one!
Janice Riggs says
Ahhh, Melanie, you're a wee demon, you are! I had not even NOTICED the colors…
weakening in the face of temptation,
With your help, I have gotten to the place of contentment. I appreciate beautiful things in stores and on others much like a museum too. There are a few things on my list of want/needs but they are long term investment upgrades for things I have right now. I am waiting until the prices drop on these and if I loose out I'm okay with it. I do have an issue with multiples, since I thrift, I have backups for key pieces of basics. But five black long sleeve tops, even in different shapes, is a bit much considering the odds of stains or rips making one unusable. Oh well, just have to acknowledge that six years ago I had a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Now I have a well thought curated wardrobe that gets worn. I even get more compliments than ever.
Mrs. GraceWorks says
Love this!! <3
For many, including me, the first part is impossible–how do you get rid of desire? I can't.
The second part is possible, even for me–and more important.
It's hard to resist marketing. My husband, for instance, adores Melville and teaches Moby Dick. So tempting to buy him whale themed shirts, rugs, pillows, sheets, etc. He would kill me, however.
As for Samuel Beckett–wonder what his living space looked like??!
Janice Riggs says
based on this, simple, spare, and organized…
I must be the rare bird… To me admire–and oh, how much I admire!–rarely translates into desire to acquire… I spend a lot of time looking at pretty things online, but mostly make do with a reduced wardrobe of items that sometimes verge on the dowdy because I don't replace them often enough. I am working on buying a bit more, and find it a struggle.
Which brings me to this beautiful scarf you found, Janice. The same creators also have another scarf (https://boticca.com/radical-chic/caprice-silk-twill-print-scarf/29476/) which stole my heart. I would love if you would base a "start with" capsule on it!
Janice Riggs says
happy to oblige!
Elizabeth Ellen Carter says
Thank you Janice! I just checked the link and the colours are stunning. Thank you to the lovely person who recommended it!
When I followed the link through and saw the tiara and the snowflakes, all I could think was the designer must have watched "Frozen" a few too many times! It's Disney princess wear for someone with much more sophisticated taste. As much cold weather as the country is having this winter, I'm beginning to think Elsa is on the loose.
Janice Riggs says
My plan would be to fold it so the tiara wasn't visible… I honestly never thought of Frozen when I saw this, but I can clearly see that if the movie is on your radar, this would cause those bells and whistles to sound!
I have a three and five year old, so I'm sure it's all on what perspective you look at it with!
You never got to watch the complete movie. The colors are overwhelming after a while (say 30+ viewings) and start to jump out at you in everything you look at. Personally, I love the icy blues, but having grown up with snow I guess it's in our genes!
Thank you for this thoughtful philosophical post. I think another part of the equation is what is under the desire? Do we yearn for something intangible that we think this item will bestow upon us? Elegance, being chic, belonging, ……..so many needs that clothing alone can't give us but we still yearn for it.
Deb from Vancouver
Janice Riggs says
YES. If I could figure out what I really want, then I could have it. But most people don't seem to be very good at figuring that out…
Some say that contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.
Lisa Laree says
If you look at this and it makes your heart sing…and you have some things stashed that don't anymore…I think selling the old to someone whose heart would sing so that you can acquire the new is perfectly logical and sensible.
I guess I'm voting for "going for it", too! Why don't you follow your own Vivienne files approach: "start with a scarf", work it into a wardrobe, combine it with accessories, compare it to your existing scarves, and analyze whether it would be useful. (To me, this scarf looks like it would retire well to Dublin!) While I have learned a lot from reading your blog about having a smaller/more efficient wardrobe, it ultimately means I acquire things more thoughtfully. I still buy things if they both work well with my existing wardrobe and bring me great pleasure.
I think of the wise words of a friend. "I don't want to own the electric company, or the water company and all the hassle that would entail….I just want to be able to turn it on in my house and have a little bit whenever I choose." To me, it's a good way to remember my sense of balance. Also…..love, love, love Dressing Your Truth – Carol Tuttle. I learned that I love certain pieces and looks from the other three types' styles. They will always catch my eye – cause me to pine over them. But, try as I might, those styles have never worked for my body and my personality. And that's okay. Now I just take a moment to absorb the beauty when a woman is wearing it fantastically. I don't have to own it.
Love coming to read your posts :) Such good philosopy here. You offten post square scarves, could you show me how you wear/ tie them? I cant quite get the look right :(
Coco Colmani says
I've enjoyed this philosophical post too, Janice. Like earlier readers, I also wonder about what the real need is. Sometimes it isn't for the actual thing, lovely though it may be, but something else that is calling out for resolution or satisfaction. But then there are the simply beautiful items like this scarf that would be so good to have in the wardrobe. Although I've learnt a lot from you (and also from Shop Your Wardrobe) about doing more with less, these temptations can be difficult to resist. Your little equations will be a useful mnemonic for me, thank you! And the image of the bridge will also be useful when I'm battling temptation – I wouldn't want *that* at home, now, would I?
Amazing discussion. Your blog contains the tools for us to plan our wardrobe (in our own style) and so usually buy only those items that enhance or fill in gaps our already existing wardrobe. I fully admit that every so often there are items that have that 'buy me' look and I have bought them. Many years ago I bought a lovely Tea Dress that is in my colors (with sunflowers all over it) but was always too small. It was just so cute. Thanks again Carol S
The first step is to admit the tug, the intense crush on The Thing; the second is to acknowledge other wishes and obligations. Then, If The Thing shows up in your dreams, if it is (as the gestaltists say) figural, see whether the vendor offers a return policy and order it. See if it really delivers. (That's not a purchase that means you will never travel again.) For what it's worth, I wonder if digitally-printed blurry florals, all over every hip e-tailer site right now, will date pretty fast?
Good friends of mine lives a 5 minute walk from that bridge, so I don't want the bridge, I want their hospitality, friendship and probably a huge cup of tea after too much fun on a night out!
People and experiences will always win over things.
Sure, having the right collection of things together on a trip will make that trip easier without the distraction of having to think about what goes with what. However, I have often had the mindset that if only I had the "perfect" xyz, I would be more efficient/smarter/prettier/more attractive/thinner/etc.
But having a better overview helps me focus on needs not wants.
(Well, I did get my dream carry on suitcase this weekend as have coveted it a long time and my new job role means travel)
Make a note of the scarf – then wait for the sales. ;) love the blog!
This is exactly what I needed to hear. I don't have to buy it just because I like it.