What Packing My Wardrobe To Move To Italy Taught Me

I came to the realization I shop to avoid my problems.

I love fashion. I get that same tingling feeling seeing a frothy sheer dress I do when a man with a particularly great smile walks past me on the sidewalk. I get crushes on blocked-heel mules, daydream about bubblegum pink suits, and fall head-over-heels for low-cut summer dresses. Fashion is a game of dress-up for me, which is why I tend to over-indulge and impulse-buy more than I should.

Don’t get me wrong, I try to keep my purchases down to a minimum so I’m not left with a hodge-podge closet. But when I was packing up all of my things this month to make a cross-Atlantic move, I realized just how much I allowed myself to indulge into those impulses. And here I thought I was strict and thoughtful with my purchasing habits. 

All of my clothes had to fit into one 50-pound suitcase for this move, so a lot of cutting and donating had to happen. I left some favorite pieces that couldn’t fit behind at my mom’s house, but the rest had to be driven to Goodwill and left on the doorstep. I felt awful as I glanced back into the rear-view mirror, seeing the abandoned box just sitting there. But I didn’t feel bad because I was going to miss the clothes. On the contrary, I felt bad because I didn’t feel a pang of regret for passing them on.

What Packing My Entire Wardrobe For A Cross-Continent Move Taught Me
Marlen Komar

The downside of playing with trends is that they have a short shelf life. So while it might be fun to indulge in the odd fad here and there, after a few seasons you’re going to feel like those pieces are taking up prime real estate in your closet. And you will toss them out. Why did I get that sheer skirt that only works with one outfit? Where will I ever wear those leather clogs? Why did I get that midi even though I know I don’t feel confident in that silhouette?

I’m not saying to put yourself on a diet of only staples and basics. But what this pruning experience has taught me is that binge-ing on impulses is a fleeting feeling. It’s like a sugar rush. When I order that polka dot jumpsuit and wait for it to arrive on my doorstep, I’m all excitement and impatience. But once I have it, it gets shoved to the back of my closet with the rest of the things, and I begin to chase the next high. So rather than breaking underneath each craving I get, it might be time to slow down. To become more thoughtful about whether those hot pink pants really WILL change my life, or if I’m just saying they will so I don’t have to do the hard work in other parts of my life. 

What Packing My Entire Wardrobe For A Cross-Continent Move Taught Me
Marlen Komar

While I’m not going to stop playing with fashion, I am going to become a little more self-aware. We all have holes in our lives that we’re trying to fill. But sometimes it’s easier to fill up an ache with pretty new strappy heels than with confrontation. Like having that hard conversation with your partner, or admitting you don’t actually like your career path, or finding the strength to tell your friend “no.” I still love a good sheer dress, but I don’t think it’s going to be my crutch anymore.

Marlen Komar is a writer living in Chicago with a penchant for mom jeans and kimchi tacos, and primarily writes about fashion history. She has bylines in Bustle, CNN Style, Racked, Allure, Curbed, and Apartment Therapy, and rarely stays in one place too long as she travels for most of the year. Website: marlenkomar.com