Jumpstarting July

Shirley Jones Luke
4 min readJul 2, 2022


A New Direction for My Writing

It’s July 1st. Time to get my writing back on track. But before I begin, I must explain where I want my writing to go. The process of developing a writing purpose came during my hiatus from Medium. As I was trying to figure out how to develop multiple streams of income, it occurred to me that Medium could help me in one specific area — as a platform for my purpose.

While I want to dedicate a portion of my Medium platform to current events and social justice issues, my main focus will be writing about fashion. I should have been writing about fashion a long time ago. Fashion and all it entails has been a part of my life since high school. I’ve been a fan of fashion ever since.

When I was a teen, like most teens, I wanted to be popular and hang with the cool crowd. That crowd at my high school was in jeans, argyle sweaters, and Adidas. The Black girls had their hair relaxed and the Black boys were either rocking high-top fades or close-cut waves. Everything on them had designer labels and came from stores I didn’t shop in.

We were poor and fashion was off-brand stores and knock-offs of designer styles. If mom had a few extra dollars, I would beg her to take my brother and me shopping so I could go to Tellos or Rainbows and pick up a cute top or trendy jeans. I loved the styles at the stores and wanted to look like the cool kids. But poverty had other plans.

Getting new stuff was always a battle in my house. If it wasn't for back to school, Christmas, or my birthday, my mom wasn’t spending the money. Even though she worked, mom barely made enough to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Our father barely helped, disappearing for months at a time. If it weren't for food stamps and government cheese, we wouldn’t have survived.

When I finally was able to work and make my own money, I was able to buy what I wanted and help mom with the bills. My fashion dreams were being realized. Over the years, as I made more and more money, I invested more and more in fashionable clothing, acquiring outfits from Macy's, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and H & M. It was great to be stylish and receive tons of compliments on my outfits — until it became too much.

Poverty, racism, classism, and bullying had taken a toll on my psyche that I’m now just acknowledging. Every cent I acquired I would save until I could buy a bunch of clothes. I followed trends and then created my own version of them. I went from one closet full of clothes to now I have several rooms full of clothes. I became a shopaholic then a hoarder.

Shopping because my literal retail therapy. If I was happy, I shopped. If I were bored, I shopped. If I was upset, I shopped. Celebrating something? You guessed it — I shopped. Acquiring and maxing out credit cards became a part of my life. I had to be put together all the time. I had to be stylish, on-trend, and creative with my looks. It got to a point where I’d be wearing a different outfit every day.

And people noticed. The compliments would feed my ego and drain my bank account. There were countless times I was in overdraft on my account. I often had to rob Peter to pay Paul, borrowing from one credit card to pay another. I started working part-time jobs to pay down my debt. But I continued to shop.

Even when I had my bills paid and my credit cards at zero, the urge to shop would pull me back into the stores. I’m a mall rat. I love malls. I would often be in a mall every weekend. But when money was needed for a serious matter like car repairs, I would dip into my savings. But I still continued to shop.

Now, I’m making enough money to take care of my bills and feed my habit. My closets are full, but I’m trying to empty them. I’m learning to shop with intention. I got rid of many of my credit cards (or they got rid of me). My bank account is much healthier. I recognize my hoarding issues and I’m addressing them. It will take time but I’ve devoted my summer to decluttering my home.

So all of this brought me back to my focus — to write about fashion. I going to use my social media accounts to focus on fashion. I going to study fashion magazines and write about clothing. I'll examine what’s new and trending in fashion. I’ll look at the established designers (like Donna Karan) and the emerging/new ones. (like Telfar and Jason Wu). I must attend fashion shows (NYFW) and travel to other countries (Paris Fashion Week). Plus, I going to sell my clothes and create a capsule wardrobe. I’ll explore other fashion models such as sustainable fashion.

I have a big task ahead of me, but I'm excited about the possibilities. My interests in fashion can lead me into so many different avenues. It’s time to focus on the things that bring me joy, stack my bank account, and are creative. I’ll be using Medium to write about fashion and all its compoments. Stay tuned!



Shirley Jones Luke

Shirley is a poet and writer. Ms. Luke enjoys reading, fashion and travel. She is working on a manuscript of her poems and an essay collection.