Apples, Bananas and The One

So many missions…. Winter boots for B and I have been ordered. I refused, of course, to order the ones he’d sent me a link for because I hated them, and decided which ones he’ll look nice in. One of today’s many quests is to find a Christmas dress, and as usual, my brain thinks I’m a millionaire and has locked itself in on a gorgeous Reiss number. My positive mindset doesn’t seem to apply to clothes. With pretty much anything else I am more than happy to make do.

Spent some years after the divorce really struggling financially. Because I am fiercely proud and independent, I refused to ask for anything from my ex-husband (who at the time earned more than twice what I did) and was also stupid enough to walk away without claiming what was rightfully mine – I had the house we jointly bought and had jointly been paying the mortgate on signed over to his name only, I left all the things we accumulated together for him to keep. I took only what was exclusively mine – my clothes, books, etc. I took half of Monkey’s clothes and toys, but left the big bits and replaced them – a new toddler bed, new high chair, new car seat and I even bought a new pram. Very, very foolish, but I was in Erin Brocovich mode and it felt like the right thing to do. No one was going to sail this ship but me.

Perhaps I wasn’t prepared for just how tough it would get, but I somehow got through it, even though looking back on it I sometimes wonder how I coped. But I made do. I learned that sometimes you have to choose between apples and bananas and settle on the latter when apples break your budget. I learned that sometimes you have to ration ham. And I learned to cope without Clinique products for a while.

Life happens in swings and roundabouts, and of course things improved little by little. From what can only be described as spartan living conditions, cheap ‘emergency’ furniture bought either second hand or from IKEA were eventually replaced and added to as I worked my backside off to get those elusive payrises, even embarking on a career I had little interest in but that paid the bills and afforded me apples and Clinique again.

Unlike apples and bananas and Boots own brand facial wash, I have never been able to do the budget clothes thing. I’m not entirely sure why, don’t think I’m a completely intolerable snob but with clothes you can really tell, in my opinion. I’m super fussy. With denim especially, and at a guess the piles of jeans in my wardrobe are worth several thousand pounds combined. Yes, it’s ridiculous. Pathetic, in fact. Why can I rewire my brain to accept bananas but not a dress from Primark? Why can I choose own brand yucky ham over the kind I’d actually like but not even begin to consider a pair of jeans this side of £200? 7 For All Mankind has a lot to answer for – after my first pair, I was a goner. I’ll occasionally cheat on 7 with the likes of Diesel and Replay, but no further.

So. I did make the effort to find a dress that wouldn’t cost a fortune and cheerfully headed with my sister at the weekend to the likes of Oasis and Warehouse. Slinky, cheap looking stuff. Some things were very nice, but I also think part of the problem is that I’m now 38, not 22, and I do not intend to head down the mutton-dressed-as-lamb route. So where would a 38-yearold find a classy and sexy, yet non-lamby, Christmas dress? Wallis? I don’t fucking think so – I still have a pulse for God’s sake. Reiss has always been a favourite of mine, and I made the mistake of browsing their website last night, half hoping there wouldn’t be anything I like which would mean finding a cheaper alternative would be an easier process. Fat luck. There it was – The One.

It’s not too pricey, thankfully, but definitely more than I intended to spend, so I am going to try to put it out of my mind and head to cheaper stores today when I’m heading into central London. What happens with clothes – and indeed now, too – is that I see the item I really love, then my brain locks down on it and because my brain’s decided it’s The One, it doesn’t matter how hard I try to find something else. Looking around ends up being a case of looking at each alternative and it only proves the point that The One is The One.

I’m going to try though…. Place your bets now.

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