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April 10, 2011 / Danielle

Week 12: A Summary

Formally – though twelve weeks is technically three months – I won’t actually hit a fourth of the way through the project until Week Thirteen is up (next Friday.) So as tempting as it is to go trumpeting my “I’mma quarter way through!!!!”, I’ll have to hold off another few days.

That said, today is the first day of what feels like real spring and summer in Chicago. It’s eighty degrees and beautifully sunny; there are people everywhere. My bedroom window overlooks a lovely and busy pedestrian thoroughfare, and I’m sitting here with the windows open, the new laptop propped on my fabulous little writing desk (which is covered in dust, I’m now noticing – but I just cannot bring myself to clean on this fabulous afternoon) and my feet on the sill; summer is on its way to us, Chitown.

So – with all that in mind – what did I notice about Week 12 (not quite a fourth through)?

I talked last week about how making big life changes – denial-type things, always for the better – does sap your capacity for self-control. And hooooo boy, did I notice that this week. It’s probably the hardest week I’ve had so far in terms of not shopping since Week 2. (And that tempting green shirt.) It didn’t help that there have been some very, very enticing markdowns at my retail gig – I actually contemplated buying a particular dress and just waiting until the year was out to wear it. It wasn’t even something I longed over and lusted for – it was just cheap, pretty, original, and part of me feels like “hey, I’ve gone twelve weeks! Don’t I get to shop now? Isn’t that reasonably enough time??”

But putting forth self-control-effort into keeping myself on a healthy diet (guys, I ate four types of vegetables a day, I am not even joking) definitely showed up in my shopping ban. It was funny – it was different than my previous “Oh god oh god I must have it” desperation. Perhaps because, being as I’ve not spent money on clothes (for myself – I bought a couple of birthday presents, and yes they went straight to the people for whom they were intended) for twelve weeks, there’s no longer the lingering sense of being out of control, or of being irresponsible. I don’t feel guilty, and I don’t feel desperate. But I did still want them, and they remained things that were not practical – more dresses, more shirts, and nary a single item that I could see actually wearing more than three or four times, period.

I just wanted these pretty clothes. Dammit.

I didn’t cave. I haven’t caved. I’m gonna keep working on not. But it was funny to see that even having broken the lust-argue-deny-argue-lust-try-love-cave-buy-guilt-wear-wear-tire-wear-put-away-and-forget cycle, I still crave new things. Even having learned to appreciate what I have, and to redefine what makes something valuable (a versatile color, a shape classic and flattering to my style, a piece that will help me reinvent and rewear what I already have) I still just want to buy and wear a new, shiny, pretty dress. Just this once. End of story.

(It is at least nice to note that my sense of it is different; I’m no longer panicking about what will happen if i say no to myself. It turns out? Saying no just means I feel a combination of letdown, sadness, annoyance, and smug self-congratulation. On the whole? It’s still not as much fun as saying yes to myself. But let’s hope that works out differently as we go on.)

So. Changing your life in one area means, as is no surprise, leaning more heavily on your other needs. Duly noted.

Another thing that’s now on my mind is the change of season. Especially on this gorgeous, gorgeous day – where I can get away with my favorite little pink sundress that defies layering – soon it’s going to be summer in Chicago. Which means a whole host of regular favorites are going to be temporarily on hiatus. And of course, it’s only part of the bigger picture – this being my last summer in Chicago – because then I’ll be going to school full time in a whole different climate. Theatre school, home of yoga pants and tank tops, is a completely different beast from the regular office life I’ve been dressing for for years now.

old navy black yoga pants. Purchased 2003. Soon to be the most-worn-thing in my closet. ( . . . fingers crossed they don't fall apart.)

I’m reluctant to get rid of stuff prematurely, and yet? From here, I can count fourteen – yes fourteen – skirts that I keep around specifically for wearing to my retail and office gigs. Yes, grad student style exists, and yes, I’ll have some days off to dress up and play – but for the most part, I’m going to be living in (at best) leggings, loose blouses, and boots or sandals. These fabulous heels? These amazing fitted pencil skirts? Those jackets I adore?  If I’m not going to wear them for at least two years,  is it justifiable to keep them for the uncertain future?

anthropologie skirt. worn once in this project. great for 1940s auditions. Not so great for 2011 grad school.

I don’t know what’ll be coming post school – I don’t know if I’ll be back at working in a office, or retail, or serving or whatever (or if, gasp, I’ll be making a living from theatre)(that’s kind of a delightful fallacy – hurrah!) – or even teaching – but it all begs the question; how long do you keep what you don’t really wear (if you’re not sure what life holds ahead)?

(And – umm – yes, I have been thinking about my personal version of grad student style. And yes, it will require some shopping. (I’m thinking some cropped cotton pants, a dolman knit blouse or two, a few Splendid t-shirt dresses . . . . ) But don’t worry; I’m gonna see this through. I can get a semester under my belt with what I have.)

(And I may have considered posting a “here’s what I’m brainstorming for grad school style!” entry . . . and then thought about what my classmates would think if they found it. Seriously, guys. This is just my fun hobby. I also like deconstructing Tom Stoppard and self-translating Moliere*.)

At the end of the day – I think I’ll end up getting rid of stuff that I don’t love, and storing the rest to just wait and see. If I love my pheasant pencil skirt (and ooh, do I), it’ll find a place in my life again.

anthropologie pheasant pencil skirt - much beloved. As yet unworn. (it doesn't like post-vaca hips.)

But as my life changes – and my clothing attitudes are slowly adjusted – it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens. Check back with me in mid-October to see what I’m sporting to movement class in San Diego.

Okay – time to get something done. Like taking all the tights from the radiator where they were hung to dry not a week ago and stuff them down at the bottom of their drawer to be never needed again! ( . . . til, like, Tuesday. It’s still Chicago.)

(Apologies if this post seems scattered – it is next to impossible to focus with the gorgeous world just outside the window.)

The world is changing, and my beloved hobby (and therefore, closet?) is changing with it. And almost twenty-five perfect through? Means I’ve got some legwork left.

*Okay, okay, one of those is a lie.


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