That ultimate outfit

It’s a Shopping for Happiness first! This week, someone stopped me on the sidewalk to tell me she loved my outfit. This has never happened to me before, but I wasn’t entirely shocked – because the planets aligned, I hit the sweet spot, my number came up on the lottery. In other words, I found my ultimate outfit. You know what I’m talking about – that outfit that is perfectly “you,” something that's not only awesome, but exactly suited to your specific taste, figure and style. The outfit that makes you feel like your best self every time you put it on. 

This is it: A Maison Margiela pinstripe jumpsuit – sleeveless, with tuxedo-style lapels. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but that’s part of the thrill of the ultimate outfit. It suits you better than it would suit anyone else.

Pinstripes just speak to me. I like the classic blue style so much that I actually own a pinstripe bathing suit complete with lapels. (It’s essentially a pants-less version of my new jumpsuit and though it is 15 years old and pretty much shot, I can’t bring myself to throw it out). I even had a pinstripe maternity dress.

It’s not that I want to fit in with the bankers or play Nathan Detroit in an all-female revival of Guys and Dolls. I just want to look like my most sophisticated, confident and feminine self– that, is, me in pinstripes.

So when I saw this suit on the “get it before it’s gone” sale rack at Holt Renfrew, well, I had to try it on. I was half-hopeful that it wouldn’t fit because even at about 60% off, it would blow out a whole month’s Shopping for Happiness budget. Not even my wedding dress cost that much.

But when I tried it on I just didn’t want to take it off. I just kept thinking, “this is so me.”

I could imagine wearing it to an important interview, to a party, to work; with a tank top in summer or a classic white shirt in winter. What couldn’t I imagine? How I would be honouring my Shopping for Happiness project if I didn’t buy this outfit. This was surely what my mom meant when she wanted me to improve my wardrobe: to buy clothes that suited me and made me feel fantastic, not just things that fit my concept of “a good deal.”  

Looking at it logically, the price point was high but it wasn’t beyond the budget I’d set for this year. It just meant buying one thing I truly loved instead of buying a lot of less expensive things. So I bought it. I felt a little guilty, a little sick if I’m going to be honest…but I bought it, and I've been wearing it all the time.

Here’s the terrific thing about setting a budget for spending on yourself: it reduces (though in my experience, doesn’t quite eliminate) the tendency to judge yourself as good or bad based on the amount you “allow” yourself at any given time. Your budget doesn’t have to be $1,000 a month; it could be $50 a week or any amount that makes sense in your overall financial picture.

What’s important – and liberating – is that it’s a specific amount that’s devoted to you, over a specific (and renewable) time frame. It’s my theory that a budget can take the guilt and agony right out of that decision-making process so many of us go through when we’re shopping.

If you haven’t tried it, try it, even just for a week. You probably won’t spend more than you’re spending now, but you'll definitely feel less conflicted.

That’s what I’ve noticed, anyway, and while I know that no one thing I buy – not even an outfit as fantastic as my pinstripe jumpsuit – will magically transform my life, this change of attitude seems to be doing the trick.


Have you ever tried on your ultimate outfit? Did you buy it...or walk away? How do you feel about it now? Let me know!