Post #14 – Shiny and New

Valentines Day is one holiday where I simply I rebel against the consumerism of it all. I warn my husband not to waste money on jacked up flowers or chocolates, and I refuse to buy cards (although I apply that rule to all holidays and events – I hate spending money on something people are either going to have to pointlessly store or throw away). The idea of trying to snag reservations at overly crowded restaurants also does not bear much appeal.

It also annoys me that it’s another “holiday” where we don’t get the day off work. Come on…..it’s either a holiday or its not! Don’t get me wrong, I get it, the INTENTION behind the holiday is very nice, but it’s everything that our consumer laden society does to the holiday that makes it feel like just one more big scam to empty our wallets.

So – after all that, how ironic that Valentines Day, during my mini rebellion of consumerism, was the day I chose to go out and buy some maternity clothes. I hadn’t planned it that way, honest. My husband and I had scheduled a maternity appointment after work, listened to baby’s heartbeat ticking away, stopped at Starbucks (yes I know, hold the finger wagging, I’ve already admitted this habit is in the neighbourhood of addiction – we just get so much darn enjoyment out of it!), and then went for a drive around a new developing neighbourhood.

Strange thing to do on Valentines Day right? For most people I agree, but my husband and I have a fascination with real estate investing and love to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s up and coming in our general area. So, there we were, happily driving around, critiquing positioning of new developments, price points, proximity to transit and schools, and sipping our decafe beverages. What a great Valentines Day!

Then, low and behold, we turn back towards the highway to head home, and I spot the new H&M store that I found out carries maternity clothes. It’s a solid twenty-five (25) to thirty (30) minute drive from our house, so rather than coming back another day my husband immediately offered to pull in and stop.

Hmmm, are you sure you want to stop in to look at maternity clothes? He’s always a great sport, and very considerate, but his extreme willingness surprised me! His responding comment clarified by mystification, no he insisted, I’ll drop you at the front, park, and then I can check my hockey pool. Ah yes, it’s all making sense now.

But, that sounded like a win-win for both of us, so why not? My husband promptly dropped me at the front of the entrance and began circling for parking in the overcrowded lot of people doing their Valentine’s Day duty of herding into the nearby restaurants.

As it turns out, a great bonus of going shopping when everyone else is jammed into a restaurant with hundreds of other couples having their “romantic” dinners, is that the stores are EMPTY! I made a mental note for future years that this might also be a really good time to go grocery shopping!

I hadn’t really done much shopping of any kind since my pregnancy started. I couldn’t rationalize buying clothes for myself when my body seemed to be changing daily. But, it was well past the point of being able to wear my regular clothes and I needed to buck up and spend a little.

When I walked into the H&M I was pleasantly surprised by the adorable tops and outfits all over the store. This particular store was a larger location, sprawling across two large floors full of trendy, inexpensive clothing. I suddenly felt excited that I was going to have some cute clothes that actually fit me!

So I wandered around the first floor and finally asked a store employee where the maternity section was, and was promptly directed upstairs to the second floor. Up I went, where I found a large mens section (completely empty), a massive children’s area (also completely empty), and just when I thought I was going to have to get further direction to the maternity section, there it was. Two small racks tucked into a far corner of the store, nearly hidden by two large pillars.

Hmmm….well, I wasn’t there to buy a whole wardrobe, just a couple pieces to get me through these last few weeks, so the maternity version of a couple of those cute tops I had just seen littering the first floor would do me fine. EXCEPT…….not a single one of the cute, trendy tops on the racks downstairs had been made in a maternity size. NOT ONE!

Instead, there were about thirteen different sun dresses (ummm…..its February right?!), some over sized baggy sweatshirts that resembled pajamas, and some plain grey/white/black t-shirts.

I am positive that when I got pregnant people told me that in recent years maternity clothes had made huge strides compared to what was available in the past, but seriously, I tried on one of almost everything (there wasn’t much, it didn’t take long!) and about 95% made me look like a walking blimp, or like I was wearing an xtra-large potato sack. Not exactly what I had in mind!

I really wanted to walk back downstairs and miraculously squeeze my belly into some of the much more attractive colours and patterns that had been in all the window displays.

Instead I weeded through my options and finally found a cute navy knit sweater with white polka dots that actually accentuated my belly instead of trying to hide it beneath layers upon layers of oversized fabric, along with a plain black 3/4 sleeve t-shirt style top that I knew I could use with a number of other items and accessories already in my wardrobe.

And, that was it. But really, I suppose that was all I needed. Add those two tops to my existing two pairs of pants and three tops that I had gotten from a girlfriend, and I had a minimum of ten easy outfits. Add a few extra layers onto some of the more versatile pieces, and I knew I could stretch that to at least 14 outfits that I could rotate on a bi-weekly basis. With only six weeks to go, and acknowledging that I might just need to wear these clothes for a couple weeks after baby arrived, I figured each outfit would be worn four times over the next two months.

Not bad! I had some variety and options, but I was also going to get some good use out of these clothes that I only required for a short period of time. Also, fourteen outfits was totally sufficient for people not to catch on that I was working with a ten (10) piece wardrobe. And, it hadn’t cost me an arm and a leg to look presentable!

Despite my initial disappointment in the selection, I left the store feeling happy with my purchases, and satisfied that I hadn’t overspent. I was already feeling more excited about my upcoming social events. Knowing that I would feel confident and put together in my own skin meant my focus would be directed on my friends and not on self-conscious concerns about looking frumpy.

A lesson that for people like me who tend to be frugal, the occasional instance of spending out wisely can bring a lot a huge sense of satisfaction.

I also returned to a happy husband who had blissfully been spending time checking all the action in his hockey pool. Happy Valentines Day to both of us!

Next-Up: Twenty Minutes A Day – Just For Me!