Sage Sisterly Advice: Wear Those Fancy Clothes!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with packing for long vacations.  On the one hand, I enjoy thinking about my itinerary, and deciding which outfits will correspond to each activity I have planned.  There's joy in the waiting, in the anticipation of something exciting, of limitless daydreamings and wonderings and fantasies unspoiled by the one course of action you end up taking once you get there.  Travel means adventure... and you should make sure you're dressed for it.  ;)

But I'm one of those people for whom packing is difficult for several reasons.

One: even when I try not to, I always seem to have a way of bringing way too much.  I have a "What to Pack" notepad that has "Bring Half of What You Think You Need" written at the top, and even when I dutifully check off each box, I'll probably still end up with twice what I need.  Last year, when I was preparing to study abroad in London over the summer, I even bought an app called Stylebook to help ensure that I wouldn't pack more than 50 lbs. worth of versatile clothes in my one suitcase.  I didn't, but when I returned, I realized there were things I packed that I never wore.  Go figure.

Then there's the "being prepared for all contingencies" thing.  I'm the kind of person who, should I happen to be ski vacationing in Alaska in February, would bring a bathing suit on the off-chance that there's an indoor pool at the lodge.  And I always, always, always bring a raincoat.  And an umbrella.  Because you just never know.

And then there's the strategy involved in picking tops that go with more than one set of bottoms, and vice versa.  And selecting items that pack easily with little to no wrinkles.  And even though there are laundry facilities at nearly every hotel, for some reason I feel better if I bring darker clothes, or clothes I've worn more often, or maybe that I'm not as afraid of spilling stuff on as I am others.  Maybe it's because I don't want to waste precious vacation time washing clothes, or maybe it's because, if I were not able to wash them for whatever reason, I'd then be saddled with a stained piece of clothing for the rest of the trip, which adds weight to my suitcase, but no style to my wardrobe.  Useless.  At which point, I'd probably start kicking myself and wondering why I brought it in the first place, this shirt or skirt or whatever, which was an integral part of several outfits, and now leaves my travel wardrobe several outfits short.  I'd start to think that I should have brought something more stain-repellent, which usually means something not white, because for some reason, it's an unwritten law of the universe that stains are actually more attracted to white clothes than they are to colored ones.

But I have some really cute, new white clothes that I want to take with me on my upcoming trip to Paris, because they're versatile, and versatility in packing is important in order to maximize available space for shopping and souvenirs once I've arrived at my destination. ;)

So.  To pack or not to pack.  Dilemmas.

I voiced this concern to my sister on the phone tonight.  "I live in fear of spilling things on my nice clothes," I told her (which, I realize, is a statement that sounds way more dramatic than the situation warrants).

At which point she responded with these sage words: "Sarah!  That is no way to live your life!  Clothes are replaceable.  And washable.  So wear what you want."

I laughed, because she was laughing, and because the silliness of my worries was finally exposed to me.  But I was also laughing because I saw something else in her joking chastisement.

It is silly to live in fear of spilling stuff on your best clothes.  Of taking chances that scare you if you see some possible benefit for you in the results.  Wear your favorite things because they bring you joy.  Don't save them for a special occasion.  Don't wait for the circumstances to be perfect before jumping in and trying something you think you might like.  That's how things end up getting shoved into a forgotten corner of your closet, or being stared at longingly for years without actually being put to the use for which they're made.  Wear them now.  And live your life for right now.  Don't let your dreams gather dust.  Go all out!  Take risks.  Because if you make a mistake, if you spill something on the nice white clothing that is your life, you can always go back and wash it out.  But you were made for great things, not to hang around in the darkest part of your closet, saving all of your brilliant potential for some day when you'll be more "ready."

So make today a day to wear your fancy dress, or your sparkly shoes, or your white t-shirt.  Wear the things you're afraid of spilling on (whatever that might mean to you).  Take chances that extend beyond clothing.  Do things that look like fun, even if you think you might look silly doing them, or you worry that you might make a lot of mistakes in the learning process.  Just live for now.  Don't wait.

And... maybe also don't stress so much about what to pack on vacation in the first place?  You'll remember the memories more, anyway.  :)

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