You know that scene from 10 Things I Hate About You when Bianca's discussing the difference between like and love ('There's a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.')? Well, this bag is my Prada backpack in that analogy. As for the Skechers? About 50ish items I sold to two resale shops on Sunday. The 50ish items I purged almost painlessly from my closet. The 50ish items James was so happy to see go because it meant less packing. As I watched the buyer go through my things, I kept wondering how I ended up with so much stuff. Oh, I liked them for sure, and perhaps even thought I loved some of them when I bought them, but I had no particularly big qualms about watching them go. Right then and there, I made a very big mental note to once again, recommit to only getting what I love.
Which begs the question, what do I love? Not really, really like, not that would be so cute with x and y and z, not that's the best I've seen, not it will do, not but it's such a great price!. I mean, unequivocally, undoubtedly, 100%-and-then-some love. When I saw this bag, I knew it. Everything about it made me smile inside. You know that feeling? I'm a neutrals girl at my core, and the mushroom taupe color was spot-on. I didn't want it any greyer or browner than it actually was. I adore silver hardware, and against the taupe (Coach calls it 'ash'), it made the bag so sleek and modern, yet classic all at once. I loved the longer strap for on the go and equally approved of the shorter straps for a quick grab or to perch on my elbow. The lining is a lovely teal color. The middle has a '40s-esque valise opening that I find ingenious. The only thing I didn't love was the price tag. I had never bought anything close to what the tag said (computers/iPads don't count), so I put it back, knowing it was impossible. But to my surprise, James said, "You should really get that bag. It's absolutely you, and your face lit up when you saw it. You just sold a whole bunch of stuff you didn't love. Use what you made from that to get something you do love." In the almost 5 years we've been together, James has never, not once, been so adamant about a purchase I'd been contemplating.
I went home and slept on it, talked with James some more. He was still adamant. I went back to the store the next day and made my purchase, paying for it in full from the profit I had made from selling/consigning. I used a coupon to bring down the price considerably, even though in the end, it was still the most expensive thing I've ever bought. But you know what? There was not even an inkling of buyer's remorse, not then and not now. Now when perusing things online or in catalogs, everything's put up against the "Caroline test". It's like seeing everything with fresh eyes. There are things I like (sometimes a lot) and now I'm content to put them down and walk away. There's no hemming or hawing, no double-guessing, just a clear cut yes or no. It feels sweet.
P.S. In a continuing process of analyzing how and what I buy, it's great to finally hone in on what I love enough to love for years to come. In today's fashion world, everything is ever-changing and replaceable. But I find that exhausting. There were times when shopping was overwhelming - too many choices, too many colors, too many different proclamations of what was "in" and what was "out". I don't follow trends blindly, but I was aware of them, and that awareness sometimes took me away from a piece that was timeless and very me to a piece that was hotter at the moment. Cue the internal debate, cue the hemming and hawing. I'm grateful for this fresh breath of clarity. Of course, just because I truly do love something doesn't mean that I have to get it or that I can get it. I'm a girl with a very real budget. My overall quality of life is the priority, and sometimes, things I would love to buy are just not in the cards. That being said, I also believe that living well means doing the things that make you happy, which sometimes means buying some things. The "Caroline" experience just has made me ever more convinced that it's worth it to wait for a really great piece. I think about mindless purchases more and avoid making purchases I can do without. My bank account is happier, and my closet is happier, too - less filled and more loved.
Tell me - what's your "sweet Caroline" moment?