Thursday, April 14, 2011
What's a "Need" and What's a "Want"?
What's a "need" and what's a "want"? Always a ponder-worthy question in our society, even more so when it comes to women and adornment. "Needs" have a dual face in this conversation. Needs will help us with our daily activities - protection from weather, cold, sun, the odd indecent exposure ticket. Needs have a pocket for our keys, debit card, and grocery list. Needs enable us to make more flexible use of the pieces in our small, well-honed wardrobe. Needs help us catch the eye of a future mate, even earn the respect of colleagues and clients. We may need a reward for a goal achieved, or a rotten work week endured. Maybe we need to 'fit in' with our more affluent girlfriends, or look the way we think we deserve to at this time in our lives. Or we just need something to do, and shopping gets us out of the house, out of our head.
At some point in the paragraph above, most people will judge that the meaning of the word 'need' has changed, possibly to a definition closer to 'want'. That point will vary for different people, in different times and circumstances. Why do we use 'need' instead of 'want'? 'Needs' are much easier to justify, more practical and rational. We're not supposed to have 'wants', especially as more mature women. The old women we want to be(come) are wise, sophisticated, self-contained, elegant - not frowsy, loud, frumpy dumpy bats in need of glasses, hearing aids, medical attention. Not old biddies who craves visits from family, friends, who desperately need someone to see them. Will we be happier if we can distinguish our needs from our wants? Will we be happier if we try to fill our needs or if we try for our unspoken wants? Could it be there exists a golden mean between the two, some chalkboard-scrawled formula for satisfaction as well as bliss?
Musings about the purpose and practice of life, and it comes down to a little cotton jacket. It seemed every time i got dressed the last 3 months this Royal Robbins jacket fit my day. Comfy, warm without heaviness, practical pockets.......it also lent a casual-yet-pulled-together finish to so many looks. Seeing as it's over five years old (clothes don't last forever) and how i'd enjoy a bit more variety (especially come summer, when this jacket will get even MORE use), i decided a handful of similar jackets were in order.
I mulled it's features and watched how i wore and used this piece until i felt i had a good feel for what appealed to me - cropped, collar, in my color scheme, ligtweight but durable fabric, useable pockets for small items, flattering cut, details which echo my Amelia Earhardt/Isak Dinesen aesthetic. I could have looked strictly for another khaki jean jacket (and won't refuse one if it pops up somewhere). But developing a list of qualities allows me to acquire items which fulfill their practical purpose while at the same time allowing a much wider aesthetic field from which to choose. To illustrate, here are the two jackets i thrifted last weekend which fit my checklist:
So, dear reader, was it 'want' or 'need'? Most likely a bit of both. Would i have pushed it more into the 'need' camp if i waited to replace this wardrobe staple until it was stained, ripped, or otherwise ruined? Very possibly.
But who needs the hassle.
Further reading: posts which inspired/influenced this post:
Allie's very frank, practical, helpful post on developing and sticking to a shopping budget. This post is part of an ongoing series - check back or subscribe to make sure you see them all! Part one here.
It seems that Ari Cohen's NOWness video has sparked quite the controversy around the appropriate way for 'the mature woman' to present herself. Alarmingly, some people seem to feel that veering towards eccentricity is a danger to be avoided! (Heavens to murgatroyd!) I do feel that watching a person becoming a caricature of themselves can be painful. However if you are eccentric i don't see how getting older will do much besides......encourage your eccentricities. That said, if people take joy in their appearance, however that may be, it just makes me happy! (great post, Ms. Pesu!) I'm a 'variety is the spice of life' type of gal, and greatly admire many many styles, colors, silhouettes, and trends on others that i would never wear myself. Others do carry them off to perfection, and i am so very glad that they do.
Advanced Style on NOWness
more Advanced Style videos
Passage de Perles on "50+ style: the eccentric, the elegant, and the space in between"
Passage de Perles 'Is this outfit too Jung on me?' thoughts on invisibility and eccentrics
Deja Pesu on joyful dressing - what does it mean to you? "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution. --Emma Goldman"
there are very lively discussions in the comments of all three posts - worth your time to take a look!