miscommunicamp by steph katzovi header 02

Lessons to Live By: Looking Like A Million Dollars

Hi and thanks for stopping by. I am so excited that spring is finally here. I’m ready to say goodbye to my winter coat and hello to my shorts and T-shirts. I hope they still fit. It just so happens that the topic of clothing is what I wanted to cover in today’s blog post. Hooray me for a perfect transition!

When I was little, I used shirt labels to help me figure out how to match my clothes. A blue label on the top meant a blue or something-that-matches-with-blue for the bottom. A black label on top meant something black-matching on the bottom. Not a perfect system, I know, but it mostly worked. (Thankfully, my big sister, Jill, always pointed out when I had an outfit fail.)

Now that I’m older, labels have taken on a different meaning. I’ve noticed that some of the kids in my school are wearing clothes with fancier labels. In other words, more expensive brands.

While I like looking nice, I’ve realized something important about focusing too much on labels: clothing can make you look good, and it can make you feel good. But it doesn’t change who you are on the inside. At the end of the day, a clothing label shouldn’t make up the fabric for who you are. So just be yourself. Your true friends will like you no matter what the labels on your clothes say.  

I learned this life lesson thanks to what I’ll call a splurge sweatshirt.

Fancy pants

I’m friends with a bunch of different types of kids at school. When it comes to choosing friends, the most important things to me are that the person is kind, and that she or he treats me well. Liking sports and a sense of humor are also positives. If the first two criteria aren’t met, though, then that person probably isn’t for me.   

I have a few friends whom I’ve noticed have started wearing what I’ll call “the fancy brands.” They don’t wear anything too flashy or over-the-top. Take Elizabeth, this nice girl who’s in my grade. She’s not my best friend, but I’d say we’re “OK” friends. Elizabeth always looks sharp; her close friends do too. You could tell that they spent a lot of time picking out their outfits. I know from going to the Great Falls Galleria Mall that the brands they wear are the more expensive ones.

While my clothes are nice, they’re not super nice. My parents like a good value, so we usually buy clothes that are on sale or at stores that sell brand names for less. I’m pretty sure I fit in clothing-wise. But, then again, I prefer sneaker shopping more than clothes shopping.

One day, Elizabeth wore a new light pink sweatshirt. I don’t always notice when people wear new clothing. (And especially not ones that are pink—sorry to all the pink lovers out there!) You could tell Elizabeth’s sweatshirt was high quality. And it looked soft. Oh-so-soft. I bet that it felt super cozy to wear. I really wanted a sweatshirt like Elizabeth’s. Except I’d want it in a color other than pink.

I asked Elizabeth what brand her sweatshirt was. When she told me, I knew that brand was more expensive than the clothes I usually bought. Bummer.

Still, I really wanted a sweatshirt like Elizabeth’s.

It stands to raisin

I imagined how great I’d feel wearing a splurge sweatshirt like Elizabeth’s. How Elizabeth might say, “Noodle, you look amazing. What sneakers are you going to wear tomorrow?” Then, Elizabeth’s friends would all want to copy my sneakers. OK, I was daydreaming a little there.   

But how could I convince my parents to let me get this splurge sweatshirt?

I decided to ask my big sister, Jill.

“That brand isn’t cheap, Noodle. I don’t think mom and dad will go for it. You’ll have to be really creative if you want to get that sweatshirt.” Thanks for nothing, Jill. But she had a point. I couldn’t just ask my parents for a splurge sweatshirt. I needed a plan. 

I counted the months until my birthday. Darn! I’d have to wait four whole months if there was any hope of getting that splurge sweatshirt for my birthday. Maybe there was a holiday coming up? Does National Raisin Day count? Probably not.


I decided I’d ask my parents if we could buy the sweatshirt in advance of my birthday. 

“Do you need a new sweatshirt, Noodle?” That was the first question my mom asked. She looked me up and down to see if I’d somehow had a growth spurt without her noticing.

“Well, I have a couple sweatshirts that are starting to get a little short. See?” I held up my arms so that she could see my sleeves came up a teensy bit short. I may have exaggerated a tad that I was outgrowing it. It probably wouldn’t fit me in a few months. That part was for real.

“Mom, Elizabeth’s sweatshirt was so nice. It’s the nicest sweatshirt I’ve ever seen. It’s so soft. Like a kitten. Except you never have to feed it or clean up after it. You just wear it. Doesn’t that sound better?”

“While that’s a very interesting sales pitch, Noodle, how much does the sweatshirt cost?” I feared that question was coming. I had looked up the sweatshirt’s price. I didn’t think I could round down the amount, then reveal it cost a little more at the last minute. It was a sweatshirt splurge no matter how you looked at it.

One of a kind

My mother tried not to look surprised when I told her the price.

“That’s for one sweatshirt?” Argh. Moving on to Plan B…

“Mom, I really want a sweatshirt like Elizabeth’s. I’d be willing to do extra chores for it. Plus, lots of kids in my grade have that brand. I guess I just sort of want it too.”

“You realize, Noodle, that comparing yourself to what other people have—or don’t have—can get tricky. You don’t have to have the nicest things to look nice. Remember, you’re one of a kind.” 

“I know. And comparing myself to others doesn’t always mean that I’ll measure up. It’s what’s inside that counts. We’ve talked about all this before. But I still really, really, really want that sweatshirt. And I will need a new sweatshirt soon.”  

“I’ll think about it” was all my mom said.

Fit the bill

My mom surprised me a few days later. She showed me a website where you can buy designer clothes at lower prices. She used the word “consignment,” but I thought she was just saying the word “assignment” incorrectly. In any case, it meant the clothes weren’t new, but looked new (or close to it).

My mom pulled up a picture of a sweatshirt that was the same brand as Elizabeth’s, except this sweatshirt was white. And it cost much less than the Elizabeth’s.

“What do you think about this sweatshirt? It says, ‘like new’ on the description. That means it’s been taken great care of…and we’d wash it again to make sure it was super clean.”

“You mean someone has, like, worn it before?” I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. But I knew I wanted a sweatshirt like Elizabeth’s. And I knew my parents wouldn’t pay full price for it. Now it was time for me to get creative.

I imagined the person who had originally bought the sweatshirt had tried the sweatshirt on for ten seconds. Then, she decided the color didn’t look good on her. But she had already washed the sweatshirt so it couldn’t be returned. After that, the imaginary person decided to sell the white sweatshirt to pay for a different one. A good story, right? I could get behind that explanation.

“So, I could get this splurge sweatshirt, but at a price that wasn’t such a splurge?”

“Exactly,” my mom said. “This price is more in line with what I am willing to spend. Shall I buy it for you?” Heck yeah! I was going to get a fancy-brand- that-wasn’t-such-a-big-splurge sweatshirt!

Hits the spot

When the sweatshirt came, I carefully inspected it. It looked perfect to me. I couldn’t wait to wear it. (After washing it, of course!)

The day I wore my splurge sweatshirt to school, I got lots of compliments from Elizabeth and her friends. My other friends also complimented me on the sweatshirt. But some of them only did because I asked them what they thought about my sweatshirt.

By lunch time, everyone had forgotten all about my splurge sweatshirt. It’s a shame that I wore my new sweatshirt on a day that the cafeteria served spaghetti.

I almost cried when I saw a big spot of tomato sauce on my sleeve. Thankfully, my science teacher helped me blot it out so that the stain wouldn’t set.

I realized something important about my splurge sweatshirt in that moment: things are just things. While I am super happy to have my splurge sweatshirt, it isn’t going to change the kind of person I am. It certainly wasn’t going to get me new friends. My friends were people who liked me for me. What I wear isn’t what matters most.  

While I’m fortunate to have a sweatshirt that make me feel extra good, I’ll still be me on the inside…especially since I’m kind of sloppy on the outside. Especially when it comes to spaghetti.

Until next time, be your best you.

Do you have any stories about learning an important lesson from an experience? Please share with them me in the comments section!

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