Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Know When To Say When

I wonder if you'll find this surprising:

After much soul searching and thought, I've realized that--after five months and two days of the Wardrobe by Sam project--I'm done.

This was definitely not an easy decision to make. I don't like to give up on goals I've set for myself. If I did I wouldn't have published my first full-length novel almost twenty years after I began writing fiction. In the end, it's not so much that I've given up, but that I finished early.

When I started the project, I had every intention of doing it for the full year I'd planned. In fact, that intention was solid right up until last week. What happened? I realized that I've reached a point of diminishing returns. I've learned everything I hoped to, and more, in the five months since I started.

Here's some of what I learned:

1. I am not my clothes.
2. Yes, I can get away with wearing discount store clothes pretty much anywhere--and no one will really care or even notice.
3. Inexpensive doesn't necessarily mean something is cheap, and it can look damn good.
4. Pleather is not evil, and if it's done well, no one can tell the difference anyway.
5. I may be vain, but only a true narcissist could take a fashion-type shot of herself every day and not go a little bit crazy.
6.Wow. People have a lot of energy about WalMart.
7. Costume jewelry is a good thing. Not only can it make an outfit--you can also travel with it and leave it lying out in a hotel room without hesitation.
8. I'm way more picky about handbags than I thought I was. I may even have handbag issues.
9.With the exception of a few too-young, bored cashiers with a tendency to share too much, the real people of WalMart are unerringly friendly, helpful, and patient.
10. I really am way too old to shop in the junior's department, but it's okay to buy a tee shirt there every so often.
11. Acrylic IS evil and shouldn't be allowed. Ever.
12. It's kind of fun to have polished fingernails again.
13. Without a doubt, I've had the loveliest, funniest, most supportive group of readers and commenters that a blogger girl could have. You all have shared yourselves and your stories with astounding generosity. I'm humbled by your kindness and more grateful than you'll ever know.

A part of me is busy lining up a long list of explanations of why it's okay that I'm ending the project now. But that's a personal discussion between me and the voices in my head that everyone else would find completely unintelligible.

There has been one strange but huge advantage in my having to shop at one category/brand of store. It's been very helpful when it comes to my ADHD. I always have a difficult time prioritizing and making choices. Here lately, my fashion choices have been very limited, and so I've had discrete, manageable boundaries within which to operate. Norma Kamali's mostly-black line makes everyday dressing Garanimal easy. If one-piece Barbaloot suits ever come into fashion, I'm just going to buy one in every color and throw all my other clothes away.

What's next?

Well, my DH says that I should learn to sew and wear only clothes that I make for a year. I told him that I would if he would. This was a huge mistake because he would not hesitate to throw on a toga made from a bedsheet, hop in the car, and go teach his classes or give a reading. I, however, know my limitations. I took an adult ed sewing class when I was eighteen. I bought a pattern and fabric for a jumper, and even--with lots of help--got it cut out. At the end of the eight-week class, I came home with a pathetic excuse for a belt.

I expect that my fondness for life-changing projects won't disappear. There was my Flat Belly Diet blog and, now, this. I have much to think about, much to write. Much of what I learned doing WBS will no doubt end up in a book--but probably a different book than I'd begun to plan. Mostly I need to continue working on my novels. And of course I'll be blogging at Notes From the Handbasket--though with a lighter hand. I won't hesitate to include fashion in my posts. Fashion is the ultimate shiny object.

Here's my final ensemble. I was messing around with lighting for a beauty shot of my DH, and Bengal, who was home from school, got bored of being my test model and ran away to hide. "You do it," he said. "You take your own picture all the time!"

To the Max blouse: $3 (clearance); Grace Elements sweater: $15 (Sam's); Faded Glory Jeans: $15; Earrings: $7; Necklace: $10; Faded Glory boots: $23  Total: $73

Hugs and Hugs! xoxo


  1. Although I am new to WBS, I have really enjoyed it. Thanks for your dedication to such an interesting, unique project! It does sound like it's run it's course for you, though, and that you have learned some great lessons. I will look forward to keeping in touch (we will always have Norma!) and reading The Handbasket. Best of luck in everything you do.


  2. I was thinking that maybe with Garage Sale Season coming up I'd try to only get my kids and myself used clothes for a year and see if it worked out. However, I don't usually spend much on clothes anyway and I have no compunction about fashion whatsoever, so I'm pretty sure it would work out.

    Do you think you're just having a bad week?? Maybe wait just a couple of days and see if your resolve returns. Or maybe have a couple of "cheat days"! But regardless, we've all enjoyed your ride and it seems like you've learned a lot. I'm hitting the mothership today and I'll grab a two litter of Sam's Choice cola to have a drink to your success!! (Do they make Sam's Choice Rum?? I thought not...)

  3. Hi, Branda. If there's anyone who could dress herself and her babies fashionably from garage sales, etc. it would be you! But I think your "however" is very smart. With your 3 busy kids, you have plenty going on.
    You know, I hadn't given thought to a "cheat days" option, and maybe I should have. I'm such an all-or-nothing kind of person when it comes to willpower. I'm already fretting about Lenten Sundays, when I can indulge in the sugary treats I've given up until Easter. I'm afraid that once I'm sugared up on Sunday, Monday will be a nightmare.
    Thank you for making me laugh so much, Branda. Your candidness has always impressed the hell out of me! xo

  4. Hi, Kimmy. I've loved having you visit WBS and the Handbasket. Thank you so much! Your Stuff Kimmy Likes blog is So Fun--a terrific idea. I just put you on the Handbasket blogroll so everyone else can meet you, too!

  5. Laura,
    I am nowhere near the fashionista that you are. I like jeans and hoodies. But even I could not live in Wal-Mart clothes for a year. I need my Vans (best tennis shoes ever!) and can't resist the end of season sweater sales at JC Penney....and Victoria's Secret has some awesome cotton sweaters.
    However, I did learn that with proper accessorizing I could cute-up my clothes a lot, all from watching you do it with the basics from the mother ship and Sam's.
    Thanks for the project. It was a blast!

  6. Laura,

    Loved reading the blog and hate to see you go! That said, I hope you can post a photo of your first post-WBS outfit. It would be fun to see where you run!

  7. Thanks so very much, Patti! I will do a photo. Great idea!

  8. We also need a picture of the acrylic bonfire you're going to have, right?? Hmmm.. will acrylic burn or just smolder...

  9. Aww, I'm saddened to see this project end. I feel like I've learned so much about you from it - not only about the project itself, or your clothing choices, but the YOU you. I'm really happy about that, cuz you ROCK. : )

    I'm glad we still have your candidness at the Handbasket, tho.

    Happy Lent!

  10. It was fun and I can't wait to see what you'll do next. Congrats on meeting your goals and see ya at Notes From the Handbasket!

  11. Cin--I'm so glad you feel like you got something out of all my agonized accessorizing! That's one of the key things I got out of this project, too. I always feel a little more "dressed" if I have cute accessories. You're a dear--Thanks for all the encouragement!!!

    Branda--Hm. I kind of like that idea. I know Bengal would love it. But mightn't we have to wear bio suits or something?!

    Carrie--Thank you, sweetie! Now I feel all warm and happy. You've been awesome with all of your fun comments. And this will give me more time at the Handbasket--I've been neglectful. See you there!

    Tia--New projects are a writer-chick's lifeblood, aren't they? I'm so glad you've come by here--thank you so much! We'll see you at your blog, too! xo

  12. Well, shoot. I completely understand your deciding to end the project here, but it was awfully entertaining, and I'll miss the posts. Plus, I learned a lot!

    Looking forward to seeing what you do next —



  13. Hey beautiful,

    I'm glad you did this -- I think it's been a great project which gave me a lot to think about in terms of clothes and priorities. And I think it's good to end something when you've come to what you needed to know. Love the post on sacrifice -- trying to come up with sufficient response!