Real or Imaginary

Sale PSA: A fox fur and cashmere wrap from Annabelle with great reviews, now 40% off, a high neck embroidered midi dress from ASTR, now under $45, a pretty silk midi dress from 10 Crosby Derek Lam, now 40% off, and a very pretty lace overlay LBD from DVF (perfect for holiday parties), now 40% off (I also like this lace pencil skirt, now 55% off, and gray walking coat, 50% off, both from DVF). 

One of my favorite threads on The Purse Forum (don’t pretend like you don’t read it) is one in the Wardrobe section, about whether you shop for your real or imaginary lifestyle (the originator of the thread, by the way, Sarah, has her own blog too).

My fantasy life includes a resort destination and a flat stomach

I love the line about real vs imaginary because I think it so encompasses a common wardrobe problem that most of us (or at least I) have – that we shop for some fictional self that swans about at formal events all the time, or that lives in a super cold icy tundra half the year, and a really glamorous resort destination the other half. I recently became acutely aware that I am also suffering from “imaginary life” syndrome when I took stock of all the items I purchased while pregnant, which included:

  • Long gold chain necklace for baby and/or toddler to grab onto and rip off of my neck
  • Light colored silk romper which requires dry cleaning
  • Two flowy lace Zimmermann dresses
  • Two Reformation dresses where it’s quite difficult to wear a bra
  • Thin black handheld Hermes clutch
  • Long ivory duster coat
  • Strappy heels which dig painfully into my feet whenever I add the weight of a baby in a carrier to my frame

The funny thing is the clothes I bought all can open/have button down on the front – apparently I just thought I’d wear very nice, fancier clothes breastfeeding. Which of course isn’t true, I basically live in cotton Gap items.

I felt so guilty looking at all my resort clothes that I immediately resolved I would try to wear them all and just deal with the dry cleaning costs, but now the weather has turned, and…well. I’ll just have to book a warm weather holiday soon, I guess!

How about all of you? Do you find yourself shopping for an “imaginary” lifestyle? What are your tips for “keeping it real”?

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  • Reply
    Alisa Gabriel
    October 30, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Constantly! I’ve blogged about this too and I’m sure it’s a common problem. In my fantasy life I go to chic parties, gallery openings, and live in a cool climate where I can wear my leather jackets (my particular Achilles heel) all the time. In reality, I live in totally casual Austin where it’s hot all the time, and spend summers on the even more casual Oregon coast, where Gap is “dressy” 🙂

    But remember, children do grow up and sometimes you’ll have babysitters and a real night out to enjoy your necklace, clutch and cute dresses!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    I might have the opposite problem. Am too practical and calculated. And I now go on vacation and dress in silk shirts because that is what I have in my closet. I go on date nights and wear the same silk shirts as what I wore to work. I really wish I had a few resort wear pieces in my closet. The thing was I did have the fantasy clothes, 3 years ago. Went on a crazy declutter mission where I got rid of everything that I dont wear more than 5 times a year. It gave me a well loved tiny closet. But lost that little something extra that we might all need from time to time. I am glad you ladies have a few options.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      This is a very interesting perspective! Thank you for sharing Archana!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I ricochet from one extreme to the other. Right now, I’m trying to find my niche by filling my closet with well made basics in solid colors that I can elevate with jewelry. Two years ago, I emptied my closet and went boho. It lasted a year. Then I emptied it again and went minimalist, mostly wearing Eileen Fisher. Or Eskander. It’s more “me” and can be accessorized with large scale jewelry. I never go anywhere formal these days, but just in case, I have a silk embroidered kimono that I can wear over black silk pants and top. I’d like to think I’ve found my niche, but I know myself well enough to acknowledge that I could get bored and go back to the drawing board. I once started to add up what I’d spent going boho, but it was too depressing so I categorized that experience as “sunk costs” and moved on. Denial comes in handy at times……

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Sounds very lovely to me. Style is always evolving, we do not want to be Mummified…

      • Reply
        November 2, 2017 at 10:41 am

        My fear is getting “stuck” in a dated look.

    • Reply
      November 1, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Love that you are so willing to experiment!

      • Reply
        November 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

        I’m always looking for my next “uniform”.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    I definitely do this, though not as much as I used to before I started being more careful about shopping. I have a strange predilection for collecting silk shirts when I can get them on sale, even though I rarely wear them because they’re so fussy to launder (I hand wash, which is fine, but don’t have any solution when I get stains on them, except to go to the dry cleaner, which is expensive and a hassle). I also own too many handbags even though, in actuality, I’ll only ever reach for the same Longchamp tote or similar simple, unfussy tote bag over and over.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Yes. And yes. I have a Santa-sack-size laundry bag full of clothes needing to go to the dry cleaners. Extra to 4 wardrobes full of other clothes untouched including in my 4 month olds nursery (so I’m going to a lot of places), because I rotate what seems like the same 7 pieces instead. Oh, I DID buy that Bonsai bag, and it is as ridiculously small as it looks! My kryptonite seems to be clutches/stupid-tiny bags. Like it doesn’t count as a full purchase if I only buy half a bag or something.

    • Reply
      October 31, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      Xin, I finally stopped buying handbags! I have many and rarely ever change into a new one! I still look though! Old habits die hard!!!
      I enjoy reading about Katherine’s Hermes purchases. Also, I’m dying to buy a Lonchamp. I like the blue one from the Lonchamp ad with Alexa Chung.

  • Reply
    S in HK
    October 31, 2017 at 3:47 am

    Dressing for my imaginary life is where my Pinterest board comes in handy! I love pinning photos of hats (guilty pleasure – Kate Middleton’s hats and fascinators), evening dresses, and of boho resort wear. 🙂

    • Reply
      November 2, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Great idea! I may have to mimic this idea….

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you for the heads up Ms Featherfactor. I had no idea you read my little blog! I am now reverting into buying more thIngs for My imaginary lifestyle. Not too much, but the odd ridiculous purchase is good for the soul…

  • Reply
    October 31, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    My imaginary clothes are always in a smaller size! I finally gave that up and buy the size I wear! Also, I do buy items that I can wear to parties, weddings, dinners, etc… Especially if I find these items at good prices! That way I’m ready. I totally enjoy your blog! I always read it even though I don’t always comment.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Hilarious! Love this post. Definitely can relate.

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