So – after quite a looooooong time – I decided to make a pit stop here to walk through the end of the project.
In short, grad school was the death of this. It didn’t happen quickly – I made it about ten months – but eventually, I needed new yoga pants, new t-shorts, new supportive undergarments for movement class – the whole nine yards.
And it was the end of my blogging career, as well; I loved graduate school wholeheartedly and fully, but it took up nearly every creative thought in my mind (and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.) The idea of writing anything after a long day of Shakespeare and vocal training and acting class and rehearsal was woefully exhausting.
I’m now 30, four years out from the project, and my relationship to my wardrobe has changed deeply – and for the better. I’m really, really happy I did that, and I’m also really, really happy to put it behind me. I moved, after the end of my graduate program, to New York, where my acting career is going well and will hopefully flourish (fingers crossed you’ll be seeing and/or hearing me around your commercials or TV shows). New York on an actress’s budget is never generous, and I have finally quit my retail day job – which helps to keep the temptations to a minimum – but even so, I spent money freely and happily on clothes that could (no probably about it) be better served elsewhere.
But – I no longer break my budget for clothes. I’m better about saying no, much better, and I understand that my relationship with my wardrobe is not related to my self-worth or my concrete happiness. I no longer buy clothes that don’t suit my lifestyle, and I think the wonderful thing about 30 (as everyone says) is knowing who I am, what I like and what flatters me, and embracing being myself.
So – my style for the future includes lots of dark jeans and herringbone trousers, classic or artistic blouses, big earrings or statement necklaces and boots, paired with the leather jacket I bought on sale this spring and the faux fur scarf I picked up last fall. I’m much happier these days to buy statement pieces I love and expect to use for years, to pair with my this season’s t-shirt and leggings or skirt. (And my long-curated wardrobe, much of it sold in San Diego but all my favorites traveling east with me, has won me several fashion fans at several gigs.) (And don’t think my style doesn’t still include things like my favorite summer piece, sparkly silver tap shorts that I’ve paired with almost everything.)
I still like to shop. I maybe always will. But I also like money in my bank account. I like watching my savings get bigger. I like being out of debt, and when I get into debt again (because there’s always something, isn’t there, until you’ve built up the good cushion – which is my current goal) I like watching the number go down as quickly as I can make it happen.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. This blog was a much-needed outlet for me and an exploration of my ‘shopping problem’ – and it was such a happy place for me, and one I desperately needed, until my time at the Old Globe superseded it. (And y’all – that was such a happy two years. If I could time-machine back……well, New York’s actually been pretty great to me so far, but if there’s anything wrong with living in constant sunshine 20 minutes from the beach with a job you love a ten-minute bike-ride-through-the-park away, I couldn’t find it.)
To those of you attempting similar challenges – do it! You’ll never know the value of your wardrobe til you do, and I’m so so so glad I did.
Wishing you all well-curated closets full of clothes that make you feel powerful and attractive and capable and the best you you are,
First of all – hey! Hello! No, I’m not dead! Nor am I out emptying my bank account on fabulous ensembles (never fear).
I have, however, been wonderfully, deliciously knee-deep in Shakespeare, West Coast winter (finally, an excuse to wear all those lightweight coats), and the awkward, gradual adjustment that means you’re growing and changing as an artist. (Nobody said it would be easy to shed most of your bad habits . . . )
At this point, today, I am literally two months away from being able to shop again.
I’m also returning to my retail gig for Christmas (hurray, monies to supplement student loans!), so I’m about to hit again with the constant stimuli of clothing options.
Guys? I’m getting a little nervous.
I do, actually, genuinely, need some things. A good pair of charcoal yoga pants, for one – that’s a reasonable request, I think. (Also, I’m fantasizing about anthropologie’s $200 sequin pencil skirt. That, perhaps, less so.)
But I really, really don’t know how I’m going to do when I’m unleashed back into the world.
Here’s what I do know:
My style right now is temporary. I’m dressing for graduate school, which means comfortable, and cute; but I’m also dressing for San Diego, which tends to be more laid back and casual – beachy, really – than Chicago ever was. This is delightful and grand; I’ve been getting plenty of mileage out of my more casual skirts, and all of my t-shirts. But it also means that anything I might buy to supplement my closet right now is unlikely to be useful to me beyond the next two years.
I think maybe that’s how I have to start thinking of clothing. I know I’ll never be able to buy as compulsively and mindlessly as I used to; in part because I’ll never again have the finances, but also because I know now that it means that I’m unhappy – a big, red, waving flag in my face going “something’s not right here! feed my soul!” I’m not so worried that I’ll immediately return to my old lifestyle . . . . but I am kinda scared of the creeping indulgence of “well just this one thing” or “two” “or three or maybe this is just an exciting little haul and . . .” suddenly my closet is overflowing, my bank account’s bankrupt, and my need for the new and exciting reborn.
I’ve spent such a long time saying no to myself that I’m not sure I’ll be able to say yes on occasion without forgetting the first part.
“Rules” in this arena have never done me well. (If I wanna buy this $30 prom dress, I don’t care if I’ve promised myself only one piece a month, or only practical things, or any of that. . . . I’m gonna find a way to pick it up.) What I am hoping I can do is learn to only shop when I’m in a rational enough emotional place to have the following conversation with myself:
“Hey, lady, so. This thing you’ve got on – let’s talk about it.”
“A. How’s it fitting you? Will it still fit after it’s washed? Are you chubbier or skinnier than usual today – do you feel good in it? Do you feel it suits the way you want the world to see you?”
“B. What’s the quality like? Is it going to last? Can you machine wash it?” (I have too much dry cleaning in the closet already – no more. No. More.)
“C – and most important – What do you have that’s like it? What would this be replacing? Where are you going to wear it, and how often, and keep in mind that this is in your actual life, not your daydream world, not your catalogue-style brunching-and-painting-water-colors-for-a-living fantasy where you need more than six perfectly lovely playdresses.. . . ”
and “D. Can you afford it? What have you spent money on recently? Can you really justify the purchase of this when you look at your financial health at the moment vs the balance of what you already have in your closet?”
. . . . Sigh. (My inner self-indulgent is groaning already just looking this list over.)
This project has been amazing and beneficial, and exciting. Part of that discovery has even been the way that I’ve no longer needed the blog to prop myself; how new clothes have sort of vanished off the landscape of my brain. Style is still kind of important to me; I like to look nice, for sure. (Don’t we all?)
But two months from now, after my year of abstinence, I’ve got to teach myself moderation. One pair of yoga pants at a time.
Sixty-odd days from now, there I’ll be.
A couple of little observations as I barrel through my week:
- Making do or doing without is becoming paramount in a world where I need to dress to move every day. I don’t really like living exclusively in my yoga clothes, so I’ve been taking scissors to all those opaque tights. You’re gonna see a lot of solid fitted leggings. I’ve tried to be careful and moderate, so that I can still use them in tights-fashion, but I’m definitely altering my current wardrobe to suit my new needs . . .
- I tore the strap on my favorite sandals! And have yet to decide if I’m going to try to get them fixed or just make do until the project’s over. Other casualties include this pretty dress (stained, and returned to the drycleaners for a second go at getting it out).
- Y’all? I still just have too many clothes. For the first time in a long while, I played closet dress up today, planning outfits for the week and trying to mix and match clothes I’ve not gotten a chance to put on for a while. I’ve got ensembles set for the week . . . but still so many things to wear in the future. If it’s been a year and it’s still not gotten on me? It’s getting ridiculous.
- Also, remember when I lived in Chicago, and could wear sweaters and layers without getting them gross and sweaty? Sigh. My laundry bill is going to go sky-high as my rewearability tumbles. (You tease, San Diego, and your 55-to-85-degree-in-a-single-day weather.)
- My “working-busy-actor” style? Still evolving. I’m trying to move towards a practical, moveable silhouette with some sense of personal style, but as I figure that out? Expect lots of basics, leggings and colors. With maybe a slip or two, or the occasional sundress or fantastic top . . . I’m not quite over wanting to dress up all the time.
So I’m rapidly inching up on 100 days left in this project; that’s kind of a strange feeling.
I knew when I started that by the time I hit the last quarter of this project, it becomes a kind of cheat-zone. After all – anything I fall in love with in the next few months has real potential to still be available by January 15th, 2012. (Sidebar; it’s also weird to think that I’m only going to be 27 for the next three and a half months. Weird as it is, I don’t feel ready for 28….?)
I know I’ve been trying to find a way to evolve this blog into my new life. We’ve discussed that already – not only how my use of my closet has changed (I’m wearing my Target leggings day in and day out, for yoga and movement class) – but how my need to express myself through fashion is different now that I’m working in a creative place on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong – I still dress up, and play with texture, color and shape. It’s just now I’m doing it with the primary goal of comfort and freedom of movement, as well as style. (Also, Southern California may be fairly temperate, but it also seems to experience that full range within a single day. It’s 65 when I wake up, 82 at one, and 55 by bedtime . . . girl’s gotta carry a bunch of layers!)
I still want to show off outfits, fo sho. And I’m still not shopping!
But I do think now is a good time to start shifting my focus to What Happens Next. Yes, I’ve got three more months to go; yes, it’s been a fairly easy ride, especially over the last months. (And yes, I’ve still had many a little meltdown, which tells us that shopping is almost inextricably linked to emotional wellbeing for me.)
I’ve considered extending this project. It’s not a bad idea; I still have enough well-made and fairly well-taken-care-of stuff to get me through. I might even be able to manage another full year.
I’m thinkin’ about it.
On the other hand; there are things I need, especially in my new life. I’ve been craving a red cardigan. I could make excellent use of a couple of pairs of leggings in some good neutral grays and blues. And my sandals are starting to look gravely worn out; I’m not sure they’ll survive another season. (Ditto some of my beloved boots.) And while I’m still hanging in there without too much effort, redhead could definitely find use for some new socks and undergarments.
In addition to that, though, I think it’s important to acknowledge that I’ve changed. I’m gonna be 28; not 27, not 25, not 23. And yes, some of the stuff I bought then I’m still wearing, happily, and it still looks like me and feels like my style. But by the same token, I think I’m allowed to evolve. It would be okay to switch out things that no longer express who I am.
Now, by this, I don’t mean that I should go on a shopping spree (with student loans I don’t have). But I do think that just as I’ve allowed myself to grow, I can allow my wardrobe to reflect who I am now.
So. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to manage on moderation, how to keep myself from shopping emotionally, and especially, what criteria clothing will have to meet in order to join the closet I’ve curated rather carefully over the past nine months. And while it might be exciting, and challenging, and in some ways, safest, to extend this year off . . . . I think it’s going to be more challenging for me to find out how I can function when I’m not in cold turkey rehab. That’s the next challenge. The year of How Do You Shop Responsibly and Know What You Wear and What Are The Right Reasons To Buy Something New?
I started this project because I knew I had to stop my shopping problem somehow. Now that I’ve learned that abstinence won’t kill me . . . is it time to grow up and learn a little moderation?
What follows is a series of not-very-well-taken pictures (redhead had some other priorities). Nonetheless, hopefully it’ll show you a little bit of my grad school style.
- Skirt: Days 126, 100, 97, 92, 79, 77, 59, 57, 52, 51, 48, 23, 18,13, 10, 5
- Blouse: Days 166, 164, 110, 109
- Sandals: Days 226, 224, 173, 156, 150, 145, 142, 119, 44, 43/42, 41/40/39
This next ensemble I wore out to the bar the next day; it was already pretty clear that my sundresses would get limited attention over the course of the semester, so I figure it’d be best to give them a little workout before they were retired. (And – a little glimpse of my messy coffee table.)
I took this little dress to a campus-wide graduate student mixer (and slathered myself in sunscreen, too).
And this old thing? I slipped it on for my first day of orientation at the theatre. (And was glad of the impulse, cause they totally took an archival photo of us . . . . and yes, that’s a cameo by my kitten-cat.)
Now we have a bit of a gap in the documentation (sadly, leaving out the fantastic outfit for the program-wide BBQ, which featured a giant bow in my hair alongside the romper and the heels . . . ) until we reach the first day of school:
- Sandals: Days 204/6/7, 201/93/189, 199, 194, 187, 185, 179, 178, 177, 176, 175, 171, 170, 167, 166, 165, 164, 163, 162, 161, 160, 159, 143, 140, 139, 138, 136, 118, 117
- Tee: Days 69, 58, 27, 14, 10
And the third day:
Why, yes, y’all, yesterday marked a solid 250 of No Shopping.
Okay. So. As I settle into the last 115 days of this project (I know, I know, OMG!), I’m going to do my best to take snaps as often as possible – but I’m not going to be able to guarantee timely posting. (Again – I’mma do my best.) And to be honest, in the past few weeks of not documenting, my curiosity has been piqued. I still can’t believe that so little of my closet is in regular rotation, and I’m eager to see what else gets a hefty workout as I continue into the rest of the semester . . . .
Tip: it may be a fun game to play “guess which days Danielle has movement class and yoga”. (Freebee: yesterday was one of ’em.)
I may have been wading knee-deep through school and adjusting to So-Cal, but at this point I think any anthropologie-fond blogger knows about the situation unfolding with the Anthroholic blog and the Anthroholic Personal Shopping Service.
There’s been so much said about it already, and I honestly debated with myself for quite a while about what, if anything, I could add to the discussion. (Also, I’ve got a giant paper due** . . . . and really shouldn’t be putting it off so irresponsibly . . .) But especially as I’ve been reading everyone else’s blog posts, I’m noticing a trend; this breach of trust has been causing the blogging community to take a good long hard look at what we’ve been up to.
Foremost, I want to make this clear; I love y’all’s blogs. It’s always such a fun little delight to look at everyone else’s style, to pirate ideas, and occasionally to live vicariously through someone’s gorgeous outfit (long since vanished from the rails, or not practical for my own life, or waaaaaaay too expensive for my meagre purse).
I started this project (as I’ve said before) for a bunch of reasons. I so loved all the fashion blogs I followed regularly (and you can visit them all to your right), and wanted to participate in the joy of sharing our creativity and our style. Secondly, I knew that my shopping addiction had begun to spiral way, way, way out of control, and I wasn’t able to find a tool of moderation I knew would work. Thirdly, I wanted to use all of the fantastic pieces I’d collected; to figure out what worked on me, what didn’t, what I liked versus what I wore – to make my wardrobe a working one. And finally, I wanted to see if it was simply possible. This was my dare to myself; I double-triple-dog-dare you to go a year without buying anything else to wear.
I’m about sixteen weeks away from completing the challenge. (I’m still working on what happens next, but I’m hoping not to return to my former habits . . . and am pretty sure I’ll be able to stay somewhat strong.)(My student loans don’t have wiggle room for a Brand New Closet budget, for one.)(But they might squeeze a new pair of yoga pants.)
There’s been a lot of discussion about the sort-of silliness of what we do. And . . . well, yes, let’s be honest with ourselves; it is a frivolous hobby*. But it’s a creative one, and it’s fun, and it creates community. And until recently, it wasn’t harming anyone at all.
When I started reading fashion blogs, I noticed a change in my spending and my shopping. Very simply, I craved more. There’s already been plenty of discussion about how certain pieces become lusted after and start popping up in everyone’s closet (the Peppered-and-Striped skirt from anthropologie last year, for one – it showed up in so many places that I became convinced I wouldn’t be able to show my head as a fashion blogger without it.) (And um. Maybe, possibly, the Verdant slipdress is just sitting in my anthro account wishlist. You know. Cause there’s going to be so many popbacks in January.)
And now that there’s a community-wide conversation going about how to move forward. How do we encourage ourselves to be responsible bloggers and readers? How do we enjoy our love of style and sharing it without strengthening the notion that any one item is a must-have, or that your own closet is completely lacking, or that you have to spend beyond your means (whatever your means may be) in order to be a well-dressed, confident, and happy human being?
(Oh, umm. That last one might just be me, apparently.)
It was important to me, in this experiment, to test my final hypothesis; that one can be a reasonably-stylish, happily-dressed woman without anything except what she already has.
And I know I have sixteen weeks left to go, but I can already say this. All of the fashion bloggers I’ve loved, I’ve loved most when I watched their creativity; when I saw old pieces re-emerge, to be blended with new, or outfits that drew on different mixes of color and shape to change stuff we’d already seen into a brand-new ensemble.
Let’s not let this circumstance ruin our fun. Let’s move forward. Let’s keep enjoying our creative hobby, our community, the beautifully written and expressive words by some very well-dressed and well-spoken women, and remind ourselves to be responsible to the reading public . . . but first, responsible to ourselves.
*So is fly-fishing, or World of Warcraft, or wine-tasting or collecting spoons.
** And yet, I’ve been snapping some pictures; some grad-school outfits on the way if I ever finish this paper . . . .
Hey, you darling folk.
I’m so, so sorry for my hiatus here. I had no idea that my life was going to get this busy; or rather, that so much of my mental energy would be taken up. (I mean, clearly, I should have made a guess, but I used to do such a great job of balancing my work schedule with my theatre schedule with my social life with my second job. . . . )
Such a good job, in fact, that I didn’t anticipate the change that spending the vast majority of my time in class would bring about. I expected to be just as busy; I did not expect that so much of my brain would be needed to process the reading, create the scenework, and begin a grand shift into the acute and nimble listening that I’m going to need to polish my craft for the next two years.
That’s two wordy paragraphs to basically say: while I barely have the time to blog (let alone take pictures, let alone pick out cute things to wear), I am totally lacking the brainpower.
Don’t worry; I’m not fully abandoning you, and I’m not tossing out the project. (If nothing else, I’m starting to wear less and less of my closet, due to my creative energies being so completely engaged elsewhere – the last thing I want to think about is putting together an outfit when I’ve got three papers, a presentation and two audition scenes to create.)
But I am definitely trying to figure out if I can go on snapping images; I may not be able to document daily, as I’ve been able to in the past.
Let me tell you this, though; with the exception of (greatly) missing my Nebraskan family and my Chicagoan friends, I’ve never been more alive. I have a cute little apartment that I adore, I have a secure financial stream coming in, and I wake up every morning to a sunny day, a short commute through a gorgeous canyon in a cute little car, and then incredibly talented, smart people doing me the favor of giving me access to their wealth of knowledge about my favorite thing in the world.
There have already been a handful of moments where I’m not sure it’ll ever be possible to be more happy.
So. I’ve begged your patience so often I know you’ve probably given up me, and I don’t blame you! But know that I’m learning more and more than my shopping was such a big bandage over my ache for creative control. Now that I’ve been blessed with this gift? I need it less and less. And actually? I can boldly say – I no longer need clothes to make me happy.
I know. A new evolution.
I knew this year was going to change my life, but I had no idea how much.
( . . . . now, that doesn’t mean I don’t still like them a whooooooooole bunch. Y’all understand me.)
I’ll try to keep you posted. Hang in there, y’all.
So forgive me for still not having mastered the art of the San Diego photo; my courtyard’s a decent option, but my neighbors were out in full force this morning (and I’m still too shy to ask them to snap a photo). Hence, another grabbed on the way out the door;
Today was the first day that I thought “Screw what seems SoCal-stylish, I’mma dress up a little and wear something I love”. This dress is still a favorite of mine; I bought it for turning 26, and it’s a little too loose at the moment, but I am totally charmed by its full skirt every time I wear it. It’s the kind of thing I’ll probably purge if I end up dropping another size, or if I find in my new life that I just never have an occasion to pull it out, but it has served me so faithfully and continues to be versatile and pretty.
One change I’ve noticed is the shift from holding onto clothes for emotional reasons into seeing them as just something to wear. My 26th birthday was maybe the happiest I’ve ever had; I was single and a little adrift life-wise at the time, and the amazing, rallying support of my friends and family celebrating touched me incredibly deeply. I’ve got great pictures, and some equally grand memories of the evening, and I’m realizing it doesn’t dishonor the memory of it at all to give away the dress that I wore then. It was a beautiful, enormously happy evening, and I felt pretty and loved. Those things will still be true if I wish the dress into the arms of someone else*.
For the moment? I’ll keep it around. But if I end up letting it go, it only means that I’m making space for new adventures, in (eventually, probably) new frocks; that it’s okay to make room for yourself to change and grow.
*ideally, in my head, setting it free to have further beautiful adventures.
A timely outfit post? Who do I think I am?
This post is dedicated to certain behaviors I would never, ever indulge in . . . . like . . .
- Staying out til 2 AM drinking and getting to know people, then being too lazy after walking home to take off my slip from the night before.
- Not bothering to get dressed the next day, but lounging in my slip all morning….
- …..and being so loathe to do anything resembling real responsibility, that I skipped a shower or hairstyling, threw on a dress and called it a day.