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Using Clothing As Coping Mechanism

Discussion in 'Menswear Advice' started by Al Shosty, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Al Shosty

    Al Shosty Active Member

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    Hey guys,

    I don't know if any of you have had similar experiences over the years, but I fear that I'm currently using clothing as a coping mechanism to deal with a lot of other crap I'm facing in my life (just finished my Master's degree, but have no idea what comes next). In doing so, I've created a year-long clothing plan, which includes 7 sports jackets, cords, chinos, Barbour jackets, more Loakes/Meermins, etc. I know how stupid it sounds, but I'm looking forward to this time next year once it's done so that, no matter what happens in life going forward, I'll at least be able to put together some badass outfits. Honestly, I don't know how to get out of this ridiculous obsession. What's your advice? How have you dealt with similar conundrums?
     

  2. isealbz

    isealbz Member

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    It sounds like you regard being stylish as a hobby. As far as I can tell, it is not unreasonable to set hobby-related goals that involve spending money. For example, some musicians rely on music as a coping mechanism. However, producing music requires musical equipment. As a result, some musicians set goals with respect to the equipment that they plan to acquire in the near future. Is that unreasonable or unhealthy? So long as it doesn't interfere with anything else that is important, I don't see how. I suspect that it seems more unreasonable or unhealthy to plan out a wardrobe simply because it is less common to think of being stylish as a hobby.

    On the other hand, regardless of the hobby, when spending money on that hobby begins to interfere with other important goals, then it may be unreasonable and/or unhealthy. For example, being an unemployed (post-)graduate student can be financially taxing. So, it might not be a great idea for such a person to spend a ton of money on clothing that he or she doesn't really need. Hell, some moral philosophers (e.g., Peter Singer) argue that it is downright morally wrong to spend money on things that we don't really need, regardless of how reasonable or healthy it is.

    I'm a PhD student myself, and I don't have much money to spend on musical equipment or clothes! I'd rather put that money into other things that are more important to me at this time (e.g., traveling for conferences). That's just me though. If I had more money, I'd spend more money on those kinds of things.

    The nice thing about certain high quality wardrobe items is that they can last quite a while. So spending money on them is an investment that pays off in the future. That isn't true for purchases that people frequently make on food, alcohol, and low-brow entertainment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019

  3. Anachronist

    Anachronist Senior Member

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    Don't we all have this problem in this forum and this is what's all about, this meeting of anonymous sartorial junkies :D

    Joke aside, I have asked myself the same question and have to admit that there is both an upside and downside to this dilemma (and I acknowledge it as a real one!): on the one hand, this self gratification can indeed be very entertaining and educational (the amount of knowledge you can glean from sources like this forum is immense) with the potential side effect that with a change to better attire you actually feel better and (if you believe in systemic psychology) you consequently have a more positive impact on your surroundings, thereby changing things to the better.

    The hook however is that there is a serious risk of becoming a shopaholic and I'm not kidding here. If your happiness depends on the regular "consumption" of clothes and this becomes all in your life, it's time to rethink. Some people have successfully turned such an addiction (and this is precisely what it is) from a hobby into a successful means of living (see SpooPoker for example), but this requires a significant shift from focusing on self gratification to the desire to make a business out of your passion and this easier said than done, because the shift entails asking yourself what would excite other people and not just you (you see the shift from focusing on ones self to focusing on others)... this can help "heal" the root cause.

    However, as long as the self gratification stays within limits, especially within those of your surplus or expendable income and it's not th only joy in your life, don't worry and just live in good health happily ever after. We all enjoy and deserve treating ourselves to good things... that's what money is there for ;)
     

  4. Purplelabel

    Purplelabel Distinguished Member

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    Barbour jackets you say? I can hook you up. :D
     

  5. megabiscoito

    megabiscoito Well-Known Member

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    I have the inverse problem. Very young I had a passion about fashion and due to my demanding student life I think I putted this pleasure aside.

    Now I feel bad about it and I think it reflects in my self confidence, since I discovered is something that is part of me and somehow I neglected it.

    So since you are setting a wardrobe for next year I would like to ask you, how that is done?

    Can you help me doing the same? Setting a wardrobe?
     

  6. Jan Capek

    Jan Capek Well-Known Member

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    Well, who is to judge? Those who claim at gunpoint that we have to call them a "zee"? The racists who say only white is right? Or the drunks in your local bar? At least you are not hurting anyone with your little hobby (or game, or fantasy, or whatever it is). With such a gentle hobby I even think you are a pleasant chap who simply copes. Whatever it is you cope with, I hope it goes away soon so that you can focus on bigger things in life.

    Two memories ran through my head that evidence how vulnerable, at times, some of us are. Here is the more benign one:

    About six months ago I and my wife decided to treat a friend to his favorite restaurant in Prague. The dinner was fine, and at about half past nine, the bill arrived. I looked at it and instead of being grateful for the good time I had with my wife and a friend who once helped me, the thought that asserted itself as dominant was "There go the splendid Cucinelli pants I saw two days ago at an advantageous price."

    I am too ashamed to relate the other one.
     

  7. johng70

    johng70 Senior Member

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    There is nothing wrong with improving your wardrobe and sense of style. But, I think it's fair to say, once you go down this road - you're not going to stop after a year or two. About 10 years ago, I started turning my wardrobe and style around. Part of it was... "I'm tired of buying new shoes every 2 years, I'm going to buy 2 high quality pairs of shoes so they last me a decade". Well, it's 10 years later and 14 pairs of high quality shoes and boots later. More shirts than I care to admit to, 4 sports coats, a suit, 2 optimo hats, an Aquascutum trench, custom Aero leather jacket, custom overcoat, a stick umbrella, several pairs of dents gloves. So, let me say - spend only what you can afford to spend - if you can't pay cash for it (or pay the credit card bill off at the end of the month) you don't buy it. If you can, great. But don't delude yourself into thinking you're only going to do this for a year and then quit the habit :-D
     

  8. Anachronist

    Anachronist Senior Member

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    Geez, johng70, I think we could be brothers... what you nicely described is precisely what happened to me as well and your wardrobe sounds quite similar to what I've accumulated ;)

    The good thing is, I can blame it on my father... he always told me that he is too poor to afford cheap clothes :D
     

  9. johng70

    johng70 Senior Member

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    I suspect lots of our stories are similar. I'd like to pass some blame around to this forum too, while we're at it. Coming here is not conducive to keeping the habit in check! The one bright spot is my wife has now come around. We were in Chicago getting fitted for my Optimo and the woman mentioned Leffot shoe store was just a couple doors down. My wife said, "we should go look". Which led to me trying on Alden #8 Longwings which she liked and told me "$750 isn't too much". I do love that woman :) Now, if I can just get her to buy them for me next time :bounce2:
     

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