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November 17, 2010 / Danielle

The Rules (And discussion in further depth)

The Rules, as they stand, are as follows:

1. I can’t buy anything that I can wear.*^~

Simple and basic and undeniable.

No underwear. No shoes. No socks. No gloves. No boots, no petticoats, no belts or jackets, no sweaters or shrugs or scarves, no tights or tanks or t-shirts, no stockings or skirts, no headbands or capes or pumps or slippers or rings or bracelets or earrings or aprons or muffs or mules or flipflops or slips or leggings.

No new jeans. No new dresses.

I have an overflowing closet. I’ve spent six months preparing. There is (should be? will be!) enough in my closet to, for 365 days, ‘make it work’.

2. I may borrow clothes.

Because this is an environmentally friendly, community-building, wallet-smart option that we should all be indulging in, right? Considering how the vast, vast majority of my purchases fall in the “want so badly I MUST need it” category rather than the “oh, a long-sleeved white t-shirt, I’ll wear the crap out of that.” Especially for party dresses, which can become so closely associated with the event they’re worn to that you don’t always want to recycle them, and yet somehow can’t bear to resell them or give them away; or any of many quickly-grabbed cheap t-shirts, blouses, tops (“This was cheap and it’s cute, and I’ll wear it tomorrow, why not?”)

New clothes seem to be associated with new enterprises (despite Thoreau’s warning); celebrations, vacations, new vocations. And changes in the season. And I do appreciate the experience of redefinition; the visible change on the outside that reflects how you’re different within. But when I feel the pull for new, rather than throwing down my hundreds, why don’t I ask politely for the loan of something lovely? (and spend $10 of those funds on dry cleaning and a prompt return.)****

3. I may make clothes.

While, again, a slippery slope, I think it’s unlikely that my limited free time/skill will lend itself to a whole new wardrobe. Since making clothes is often about the process rather than the product (knitting a scarf has always been more expensive and time-consuming than just buying the damn thing**), I’m happy to invest in that.*** But I’ll have to work on the process myself from start to finish; there will be no “well I’m just going to hire a costumer friend to finish up”, ‘cause that is cheating.

4. (and grayest area) I may accept clothes as gifts, but (the great big old caveat) I may not ask for them.

Because my mother will worry nonstop if she can’t send me warm socks.

Because my fashionista friends have looked visibly uncomfortable when I mentioned this project.

Because it’s rude to look a gift horse in the mouth.

But in seriousness . . . .this was a tricky decision, which was decided when I realized that I can’t actually fathom telling anyone, point-blank, “thanks so much, but I can’t accept that, I’m doing this project you see . . . .” (How can anyone be rude in the face of such beautiful, generous gifting?) Hence, the rule; these have to be actual, unsolicited presents, not “well we’ll just trade goodies” or “oh Mom I really neeeeeeeeeeed new boots liketheseglamorousonesfromNineWest.”

And – them’s The Rules. What would your rules be? Is borrowing/making cheating, in your book?

*yes, anything. well. except bandaids. that’s fair, right?+

+even if they are adorable bandaids from Urban Outfitters, they’re still for function, and I’m not going to wear them for style purposes.

^Or new glasses. If I lose my current ones.

~the caveat to this rule is that I may (with the emphasis of, if this is being abused, I’ll take it away) continue to buy these items as gifts. But they must be bona fide presents, with no pre-wearing/borrowing; they’ll come home, get (possibly) wrapped, and go immediately to other people’s houses to be put on other people’s bodies.

**The exception being that winter I was snowed out of work for all but four days of December, and ended up decimating my mother’s accumulated stash of extra yarn in order to supply everyone with presents (handknit during my third and fourth marathon viewings of Harry Potters I-IV.)

*** And, to be fair, aside from being broke and snowbound, loved every minute.

**** Naturally, no one is under any obligation to lend me anything. Though my lovely friends who panicked at the thought of this project have all thrown open their closet doors at the mere mention of it. (Possibly to avoid having to deal with my bitching?)

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2 Comments

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  1. Confused / Oct 5 2011 1:28 pm

    If you spent 6 months “preparing”, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? You didn’t stop shopping, you just pre-shopped.

    • Danielle / Oct 5 2011 3:13 pm

      Hi Confused – sorry, I don’t have your name – and let me clear that up; I didn’t spend six months shopping in preparation for the project. I spent six months thinking about what I would need, emotionally, to make sure I could get through it (without leaning on my favorite bad habit), considering (and discussing with friends and family) what the rules would be in order to make it purposeful and clear. For example, most people suggested that I allow myself to buy necessities like underwear, t-shirts and jeans, but I knew that for me, that still felt like cheating. Others suggested that I make it an option to replace anything that got destroyed or ruined, but I felt that meant I’d just got around sabotaging sandals in order to be able to buy new ones? (Which has proven less likely to have been true, but I really wasn’t sure how I’d handle that at the time.)
      Once I’d really committed to and decide to do this, I did shop for a month of so with purpose; I’d gone through my closet looking for the holes (such as jeans and underwear) and made sure to stock up (I bought a couple of extra pairs of tights, and some cheap flats, for example.) And absolutely, you make a valid point with regards to that. It felt different to me, though, because what I needed to stop about my shopping habit was its reckless abandon; I had no sense of shopping productively, from a need-base, rather than from a “oh it’s so pretty I’ll use it somehow I must have it” place. I was able to look objectively at my closet, work out what I would actually, legitimately need to give myself no excuses, and make sure I had those pieces so I’d be cleared for a year off with absolutely no “but well I kind of needed” moments.

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