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April 1, 2011 / Danielle

Week Eleven: A Summary

An early summary this week – for today is, technically, the end of Week Eleven – and I’ve got a moment and a few things to say. There’s a couple of things that have been on my mind since this particular week of not-shopping.

 First and foremost is that “wow, it’s only been eleven weeks? I feel different.” (Also, is a weekly summary going to feel stupid once we get to, you know, Week 39? How exactly will Week 32 feel different from Week 27?*) 

If anything, what I find interesting here now is charting my ups and downs. I wish it was all progress – a straight line diagonally upward, probably towards the point where I make all my own clothes from hemp and oats and cobble my own shoes out of oak-trees. (Oh, man. I need a picture for that.) But it’s not, of course. There are good and bad weeks; weeks when getting dressed is delightful, and days when I think “I just need something brand new immediately so  I at least know what to put on today, GAH.”

For example, this week was the first time I went shopping (for a birthday present for a friend, while killing time on meeting up with someone else) and did have a moment of temptation that was hard to resist. Not hard for the “oh god oh god I wants it” reason, but hard because I still like to buy things when I’m bored. And it would be new, and pretty, and who knows how lovely I’d look in it blah blah blah-de-blah. So while I have managed to shift part of my psyche away from the shopping dependence, there’s obviously still some heavy lifting to be done there. (More on that to come.)

This all plays, partly, into what I was discussing in my last summary.   I wanna update you a little on where I am from last week; just that I am making an effort to take better care of myself, get plenty of sleep and rest, and the right amount of fun and socialization (too little and I feel overwhelmed and annoyed, too much and I am twitchy and lazy-to-the-point of stupor.) I say this because I’m realizing (a “duh” moment) that combating any crutch or vice is obviously going to require a greater amount of care coming from the other, healthier parts of your life. If I’m quitting something, it has to be replaced with something else; or at least a great quantity, or attention paid to, the things I still have in order to make the leap and make it work. Quitting shopping meant a different strain that I’m now getting accustomed too (though, as I mentioned above, it’s still sometimes hard, on bad weeks, on boring days, in vulnerable moments.) Changing any other habits is going to take the same amount of attention to taking care of myself. (But it’s for the best. And y’all know I believe in being able to renovate yourself.)

Okay, all that emotional crap aside – let’s take a different tack and talk about something practical – how about cost per wear?

anthropologie ice-capped blouse: purchased second-cut sale, project cost-per-wear** $10

Cost-per-wear, for those of you not in the know, is basically how much money you’ve spent on an item divided by how many times you’ll wear it. In some ways, it’s an argument for buying high-quality (and almost always, more expensive) items; yes, my Hunter boots were a $140 (with a coupon!) splurge, but in the few months that I’ve owned them, I’ve already worn them at least (pause to trackback and add up) a documented 18 times, bring it down to under $8 per wear. Now, I’ll admit – that’s expensive. But double that for November and December and multiply by three years (a guess at their lifespan) and suddenly, we’re looking at a cost-per-wear of $1.29. Because I paid for a quality item in a color I liked and can expect to remain wearable and flexible (as well as intact and a nice shape), I can look forward to a cost-per-wear that’s much more reasonable.

I mention this because I’ve begun to link to items I’ve worn before (as some of you may have noticed.) This came from a desire to pay attention not only to the amount of use I’m getting out of some things (and not others), but to start really thinking about the money that’s gone into my closet and the practicality of all of it.  I mentioned in my last summary that it might be worth it to me, as a person who craves options and change, to have several pieces I wear only three or four times a year. Well, we’re almost a season through this project, and the pieces I’ve so far worn once or twice?  Are pieces I think of as essentials. And the ones I’m thinking of when I say “only three or four times a year”? Mostly haven’t made it out of the closet.

tulle paper-bag skirt: purchased final sale, project cost-per-wear** $2.12

I don’t know what my final numbers are going to come down to, in terms of my own cost-per-view threshold of acceptability. (Secretly, I fantastize about having them all be under $1. But mostly so I can start looking my mom in the eye again when I talk about my closet. “Mom! I don’t know why you think I spend too much, the cost-per-wear is merely cents!“) (Also, that might require Five-Years-Of-Nothing-New^.)

I know I’ve discussed that my circular loops of thought with regards to clothes are probably pretty foreign to those of you without shopping hobbies (and yes, that it should take me ten weeks to realize that if I don’t really wear heels, I don’t need to buy heels? does seem a little much, it’s true.) So all of this may seem a bit, well, obvious? To those of you who’ve always been strictly practical shoppers.

But I’m proud of the fact that in eleven weeks, I’ve been able to start looking at my wardrobe with not only a newly creative bent, but an intensely practical focus; I’m able to see what’s actually there, and what’s worth having – and keeping. (Letting to go, for the moment at least – refer back to above re: ‘giving up bad habits’ making you feel vulnerable – may be something I put off until I’ve settled more comfortably).

It is happening in baby steps. It may well take me all 52 weeks. But I’m going keep working  to love my clothes, enjoy my fashion hobby, and stay true to all the things I believe without compromising the bigger picture. So here’s to one more week down.

*Well now I’m gonna have to track back and look.

**Now, a lot of my closet stuff I’ve owned for a while – so actual cost-per-wear is probably half that or more. (But still.)

^Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind . . . . . but woof. (I’d have to learn how to make tights.)

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