Thursday, January 7, 2010

Days 105-110 and a Fearsome Thought

What if September 14, 2010 comes along, and I'm a completely different person?

Perhaps this sounds overwrought, but I think I'm having some kind of existential crisis. (I'll pause here so you can come back after you've stopped laughing.....)

The crisis really kicked in when I decluttered my shoes last week. They had been sitting in various piles or on shelves or shoe racks for months, gathering dust. I felt like I shouldn't be too close to them. It was kind of like junior high when I broke up with a boy, but still thought he was really cute, and the idea of being friends with benefits occasionally seemed like a good one.

As I sorted the shoes, I wiped them down with damp rags and a microfiber towel. I matched up each pair and put them into keep/give away/throw away piles. As I sorted and touched each shoe, I had to ask myself if the shoes would suit my clothes and me next year, if I had things to wear with them, etc. (This book has wonderful lists of questions you should ask yourself about your belongings.) I was stunned to find that I could let go of so many shoes, and not give them a second thought once they were out the door.

I'm not an impulse buyer when it comes to clothes--maybe I'm a little bit impulsive when it comes to shoes. But I'm not crazy/awful. Most of my shoes were obviously worn. The thing about buying really expensive shoes--shoes whose designs are unique and solid--is that you can wear them over a period of many years. I have shoes I bought ten years ago that are special and stylish and will always be so because they're unique. But there were just too many of them that I wore too infrequently to justify storing in a house with almost zero storage.

Now I have twenty-three pairs of shoes to choose from each day, and it seems like too many.

And the thing is...they suffice.

I have the black patent and red patent Norma Kamalis that work with any dress-up WM/Sam's outfit I own. I have athletic shoes for exercising, athletic mules for wearing with leggings and cute Norma K sweat outfits. I have F'Uggs for the cold and snow boots for the snow, and rain boots for rain. Black boots and brown boots. Brown leather mules and black. Hideous man-slippers for walking on the cold floor late at night. You get the idea.

To bastardize one of my favorite family sayings, "I have a sufficiency, more would be a superfluity."

So, what happens when my narrow options are suddenly blown wide open? What happens, months from now, when I'm standing in Dillard's designer dresses or looking at shoes at Nordstrom and I realize that I don't have ten different acrylic sweaters to choose from, but a hundred, or forty different styles of black leather boots with 1"-4" heels to choose from instead of two or three? Will I even be able to bear paying $150 for a discounted Nordic wool sweater on Sierra Trading Post's site (one of my favorites), or $75 for last season's $350 Donald Pliner's at my favorite, secret West Virginia shoe store?

As Tim Gunn might say, "This worries me."

Day 105. Ah, yes, my ecclesiastic/monkish look:

Not flattering. Makes me look wide as a bus. I actually started out with a black turtleneck underneath and no belt. DH and DD agreed I needed to go back and try again.

Norma K sweater: $20; No Boundaries belt: $8; Norma K shirt: $10; Jewelry: $14; Norma K cords: $15

Day 106.I was still getting over the flu, but it was a good hair day. It was cold. That's why I look so strained.

To the Max jacket: $25 (available online at WM--comes in several colors. Cute, but the matching pants are cut for Nicole Ritchie. Don't bother.); George turtle: $10; Nine West Jeans: $17; Earrings: $7

Day 107. No photo. Still flu-y.

Day 108. You know I want to make you happy, which is the only reason I'm showing you this. It was New Year's Eve. I showered at 5:00. How sad.

Faded Glory sweater: $12 (had hoped for warmth, but acrylic); To the Max jeans: $17 (redeemed the day, almost); Earrings: $7

Day 109. Needed a little color in my life and was in the mood for pearls, too. I was hard at work on New Year's Day. Thought it would be a good habit to start on Day One!

George blouse: $12; Scarf: $5; Norma K sweater: $29; Earrings: $5; Pearls: $18; Faded Glory jeans: $15

Day 110. Didn't take this pic until 11:00 p.m. HUGE mistake. I'm not allowed to talk to people after ten p.m. My dear friend Maggie made that rule back in 1984 or so. Still holds. : )

Norma Kamali sweater: $20 (still my fave); George turtle: $10; Earrings:$12; That Damned Necklace: $7; Norma K cords: $15

Almost caught up.

Be well. If you're having an existential crisis, too, feel free to tell us about it!


  1. Wow, workin hard on New Years day?! I had six weeks off school and didn't do a thing. :-p

    And maybe this whole WalMart experiment has simply made you a more savy shopper? I wouldn't worry too much about this existential crisis. Getting to see the world of shopping from another point of view is a good thing. :-)

    Plus it's pretty cool to know that you can put together a pretty fashionable wardrobe out of anything! Good to know in case of the zompocalypse. ;-)

  2. You, Laura, would make a burlap sack look like Versace. Happy new year to you and Pinckney!

  3. Have to say I agree with Becca & Shane! I really admire you for even thinking of this project, and for sticking to it. You've been putting together lovely outfits. I think in September when you're looking at those 40 different styles of black boots, you'll discover it's easier to pick the ONE you really love... Of course, this is coming from a girl who only has 2 pairs of shoes. : ) (Is the plural of pair, pairs? It looks odd! Okay, it's late again, sorry!)

  4. Funny how we can embark on something, not realizing that it may change the way we look at things quite dramatically. The thing is, even if you view those boots differently, you will still be you. Perhaps a bit different you than a year before, but isn't all of life a process of change and evolution? A different perspective can be quite empowering, imho.

    Perhaps the question at the end of the day will be "do the clothes make the woman or does the woman make the clothes?"

  5. When I first got married at 19, and my husband and I were both undergraduates at UK, I spent a lot of time feeling depressed about "things"--as in, stuff I wanted (clothes, mostly, or items for our dreadful one-bedroom apartment) but couldn't afford to have. But a few years later, when we had to income to buy the stuff that amused us, it was almost worse. I didn't know what I wanted, and I felt blue that the thought that there wasn't anything to yearn for. "Existential" isn't so comically strong a word for these feelings, because I think our desire for possessions to keep us warm and make us whole isn't so different from our desire for a higher power.

  6. Hey beautiful,

    Love the pictures, especially the one of you writing in pearls! That is how it's done! I know what you mean about existenial crisis time -- for me, January is always kind of a strange month. It's that artificial feeling of a new start and yet in the dead of winter with nothing except Valentines Day (not a fave) on the horizon. I like Holly's comment about the desire for things to keep make us whole. We all know this truth and give lip service to it (except the maybe a little too honest types with the bumperstickers that say, Whoever Dies With The Most Toys Wins), but it doesn't stop us from secretly trying to make life better through clothes, gadgets, what have you to make it all seem easier. Oh and I'm with you on not doing anything after ten -- usually those ideas are bad, bad, bad in my case. (ie, Let's go eat everything at KFC!) Hope your week is going well!

  7. A friend I was out with on Saturday said that she assumed that she would be a completely different person every ten years, and that she was okay with that. I like that way of looking at things. You wouldn't go back to the person you were ten years ago, would you?

  8. Wow--So many intensely valuable comments.

    AG--The answer is no!!!! Postpartum was no fun, and I was kind of a bitch.

    Sweet Michelle--We need to redeem Valentine's Day for you. Especially since you have two adorable Valentines, now. And I must say--on the whole bad, bad, bad scale--eating everything at KFC actually sounds fun!

    Hi, Holly. Oh, what you say about having had nothing left to yearn for really strikes me. It does make it obvious, indeed, that what we're really reaching for will always remain just out of our reach.

    Sally--I think that's the question, exactly! (And as far as boots go, it's kind of nice not to worry about getting these wet. I just wipe them off and they're unscathed. Talk about a change in thinking...)

    Carrie--You're such a dear. I truly hope you're right about knowing immediately what I want/need!

    Shane--My darling, I can always count on you to make me feel like a suburban princess. xo

    Hey, Becca--You're so right. This project has really changed my shopping perspective. I hope I've gotten better at it.
    "Zompocalypse?" Now, that has a novel ring to it!