I was in Westfield the other day and I saw a jacket. I wasn’t looking for jackets. In fact, I wasn’t looking for clothes at all. I was looking for birthday presents for my children’s friends, and fruit (the fruit was easier to find). But I walked past my favourite store (and when I say ‘favourite’ I mean ‘the store I wish I could shop at but can’t because it is prohibitively expensive) and made my first mistake.
I walked inside.
Normally, I stand outside this particular shop, look longingly at the clothes – every single one of which is a piece worthy of framing – sigh with deep yearning, and move on. But that day, god help me. I went in.
About 25 things caught my eye. I moved amongst the heavenly garments, stroking here, patting there, sniffing here (okay, so maybe not sniffing, but let me tell you, these clothes are so gorgeous they probably even smell good).
And then I saw it. The jacket to end all jackets.
It was a short grey leather jacket, in the most heavenly, buttery soft leather imaginable. The cut was divine – structured, but feminine, detailed, but subtle. It was perfection.
‘Would you like to try it on?’ asked the sales assistant.
‘No,’ I thought.
‘Okay,’ I heard myself saying, as if from somewhere above myself. The sales assistant helped me into it. And it was amazing. It didn’t just fit, it made me look better than I am: taller, slimmer, smaller of waist. And the leather was so exquisite I felt like I was enveloped in a soft cocoon (okay, so I’m exaggerating just a tad, but it was sooooo beautiful).
And then I looked at the price tag. And nearly choked.
Think of the most you’ve ever spent on an item of clothing. Ever. Then triple it. Then add a little bit more. And that’s how much this jacket was.
Normally in a situation like this, I would just exhale with despair and walk out the shop. But this time, something stopped me. I looked in the mirror. I looked sooooo good. I knew that this jacket would complete my wardrobe. I knew this jacket would complete me. I knew that I’d been working really hard and had some money put away and I could technically afford it (if I didn’t buy anything again for the rest of my life). I had to have it, no matter what the cost.
So I took the jacket off, walked to the counter… and walked out of the store.
I just couldn’t do it. No matter how much I loved it, I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on a piece of clothing, no matter how absolutely, heartbreakingly perfect it was. I had to let it go, this perfect jacket, this soulmate in the sartorial world.
Still, my heart is broken. Okay, so my heart isn’t really broken. That would be just a little too materialistic.
But is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at al?
I don’t think so.