Here's what happened: I came across a chunky fair isle cardigan that was very nearly perfect--it was beautiful and kinda nerdy and super flattering and almost exactly what I was looking for. The only problem? The colors--muted grays, pinks, and greens--did nothing for my skin tone. I thought about wearing it with a brighter shirt underneath, or even putting on more blush to compensate, but deep down I knew this sweater just wasn't right for me.
As I put the cardigan back on the rack, I found myself getting genuinely emotional, thinking, "If I can't accept this sweater just the way it is, then I need to move on. Someone else, maybe someone with olive undertones, will come along and love this sweater the way it deserves to be loved." I caressed its pearly buttons one last time and I said goodbye.
Then I bought some cookies and $10 ballet flats and went home and wrote this list:
Top 5 Tips That Can Be Applied to Shopping and Relationships
1. You can't change a person. (You can sort of change a pair of pants. But not that much.)
If something's not right, don't force it. I could have bought that fair isle cardigan and spent years trying to make things work. Eventually we'd just get resentful of each other and I'd take him to Goodwill.
Sure, you can shorten pants and alter jackets, but altering humans is way tougher, especially if you've never done surgery before, so please, just move on. Wait for the guy or girl or shirt or suit that fits you perfectly, without massive alterations. I swear, you'll find it eventually.
2. Don't limit yourself with rigid rules and expectations.
I've had friends who have refused to get to know potential mates because they were too short or too tall or they didn't go to college or kind of looked like a squid, and I think that's a sad situation. Those guys could have been totally awesome and compatible with my friends, but now we'll never know.
The same is true of clothes: people tend to approach shopping with rigid ideas of what does and doesn't work for them, and ignore everything else. If you see something on the rack that intrigues you, even a little bit, I encourage you to try it on and see what happens. And if you meet a squid man, I encourage you to at least meet him for coffee. I bet he has some great stories to tell.
3. Invest in quality.
A string of shallow, unfulfilling relationships is not unlike a "Buy 9 get 1 free" earrings sale at Claire's. You get the instant gratification but later have little to show for it and there's a chance you'll get an infection.
Quality clothing takes a little extra money and care, and quality relationships take a little extra work, but in the end, it's worth the investment.
4. Trust your gut.
I rarely do serious shopping with a friend. I trust my intuition when it comes to clothes, and it can be confusing to come out of the fitting room wearing a dress that makes me look and feel like a sausage only to have my shopping partner be like, "That is AMAZING. You HAVE to get it!"
Maybe your friends are all head-over-heels for your new beau while you're lukewarm. Listen to what they have to say and try to be open-minded, but in the end you will be the one wearing that sausage dress or dating that sausage salesman, so you have to decide. And deep down, you always know the right answer.
5. Choose a partner (or an outfit) that makes you feel comfortable.
A skirt that's too tight is no better than a man who's too uptight. You can do better.
What about you guys? Have you ever encountered any of these lessons in the shopping or dating world? Have you ever dated a squid man? Should I stop eating expired sandwich cookies?