Not to mention my insidious fear of shop assistants in clothing shops. Why do they always look so put together, and intriguingly edgy, and effortless, when I had to really think about what to wear and then ended up going for the safe option every time? I completely understand why Tina Fey so often wears a lovely dress in the same shade of blue to awards shows.
The first time I walked into the Onehunga Savemart I was intimidated. So many clothes! Then I noticed that the people who worked there were all in red t-shirts and jeans, the changing rooms were pretty beaten up, and the floor was uneven. There were trolleys to put your finds in, masses of clothes of a million different types (really), books, more jeans than you would get at a Jeans West. My kind of place! No one was going to judge me for what I picked off the rack or tried on, no one was going to try to sell me something, it was oddly peaceful and restful, because there is so little interaction between any of the people there. Which is probably a bit sad for some people, but for me was rather nice.
I think the first time I didn't even try anything on. I suspect I bought a handbag - I've gone from having two "grown-up" handbags, both given to me by my mother, to rather a lot more, all from Savemart and all cheap as chips. I vowed to return, with more time (I can never go for less than 2 hours) and an open mind.
My fledgling op shopping confidence from my student days has returned, now with more faith in my body that has produced two children and I've come to feel more comfortable in. Sure, there's heaps of dross, but also some amazing gems. The best thing I've ever seen was a Vera Wang wedding dress for $60. I didn't buy it, not being in need of a wedding dress, and I guess it might have been a fake, but it was in great condition. My best buys to date have been wool jackets - I have little shoulders and seem to benefit from the cast offs of others who discover their new jacket is too tight.
To start with I was still very harsh on myself, rejecting almost everything I tried on. But the prices were so low (I often look at the "designer" stuff which can sometimes be as much as $60, but most of the rest is $10 or less) that the risk for me in grabbing something and finding out later I didn't have the confidence to wear it was almost eliminated. I tried on stuff for fun, stuff I couldn't imagine ever having an occasion to wear, but what the hell, I probably wouldn't buy it, and there was always the chance it could be great. My trolley got fuller, I worked out a system for myself of how to most efficiently try on masses of clothes while respecting the three items in the changing room limit, and I bought more handbags.
I started to take an interest in putting an outfit together (with a handbag of course), rather than only feeling comfortable in an ensemble put together by a shop assistant for me. I clashed colours, ignored rules ("blue and green shouldn't be seen", whatevs), and started to value my body for what it does for me, not how it looks. Clothes have become an expression of my personality, rather than a way to hide. If something doesn't end up looking right after I get it home or wear it a few times, whether it be the fit or the colour or the style, then it goes back in the donation bin, having cost me often less than a hot chocolate. If I find a better red shirt or green handbag then the lesser one gets handed on too.
I have found my attitude has changed from "my body's wrong for this" to "that 's too big/tight/bright/dreary"; the blame shifted from me, my body, to the clothing instead. This may seem like a very simple thing to many, but for me it was a revelation; it's the clothes that don't fit, not my body.
And that's how Savemart has changed my life.
Once a month or so I try to shoe horn in a few hours to visit the Savemart in Onehunga, New Lynn or Northcote (I hope to venture to Manukau sometime soon) for a fix. Sometimes I buy nothing (maybe a handbag) but usually I come home with something I'm excited to wear. It's a long way from my teens when I wore black constantly not because I was a goth (that would require learning how to do make-up and potentially standing out) but because I wanted someone to ask me if I wore black all the time because of Dinky Bossetti (no one ever did).
And I also own more handbags than I ever thought I could.