Sunday, May 24, 2009

Accomplishment #31: Learn Basic Clothes Maintenance (#85)

I'll admit -- this is something that I did not learn while I was in high school. My mom, bless her heart, did my laundry. But then college came, and armed with a roll of quarters, some Tide, and about a month's worth of dirty clothes in the new hamper purchased for my new dorm room, I went to the laundromat and... did my laundry. It came out fine. Hey, I was young and full of promise -- there was nothing I couldn't do, except math and time travel and get to class on time. (Some things never change.)

I actually like doing laundry. There is something so gratifying about sorting and measuring and pouring, and then the smell and warmth of clothes right out of the dryer. Granted, I do have a washer and dryer so that makes things easy, but I never even really minded going to the laundromat -- once I actually GOT there. (It's the motivation that's the hard part.) Where else can you sit and read and the people watching can't be beat? Granted, seeing your neighbor's chonies spinning in a dryer can be weird, but just don't look too hard.

So yes, I can do laundry. I can even sew buttons and seam splits (albeit not all that perfectly). I can maintain my clothes maintenance, but it's the actually clothes quantity maintenance that is a challenge.

You see, I have A LOT of clothes. A LOT. I worked in a vintage store for 8 years and have an addiction to thrift shopping and bargains. And I'm not exactly trendy -- I tend to wear what was "in" fifty years ago than the latest fashion, so basically I'm so out of style that I don't have to worry about keeping up with it. I'll wear something I bought 15 years ago with something I got last month. I had 4 HUGE closets in my old apartment, so it never felt like an issue. But then I moved into a house with tiny closets with a boyfriend who needs to shield his body from the elements (damn him), and two small children who need a place to put their tiny sweaters and toys. Needless to say, the closet real estate is a bit scarce and hard to come by. Where my closets were happily full before, now they are crammed and look like they're vomiting skirts and jackets all over the place.

Yes, I know I have too many clothes. WAY too many. While I have a small case of the guilts when I'm rifling through my closet, knowing that there are poor people out there who need clothes (but like they'd want a sweater with poodles on it or gold lame capri pants), it's also intermingled with a sense of joy (some of my stuff is, in my opinion, amazing) and sentiment (I have the memory of an elephant and can remember where I got almost everything, and what I was doing when I was wearing my plaid skirt or turquoise sweater). And I've gotten rid of so much stuff, and regretted it. That's the thing about vintage -- I will never find another circle skirt with windmills and kissing Dutch couples, nor will I ever find another 1950's rayon Japanese pagoda print dress. Sigh.

But in the past few years, despite the gluttonous abundance of goodness in my closet, I've been a total schlub. For one thing, I don't go out as much anymore, so all my dressy dresses are gathering shoulder dust. Granted, it's not like I was ever one of those girls who was all decked out with the right hairdo and heels and seamed stockings, but sometimes I was fancy. (At least when I started the night out.) Another thing -- since I no longer work in a vintage store, I wind up just wearing the same old jeans to work, day after day. It's easy to get complacent, especially when you're running late to work and would rather not think too hard and be comfortable. And another thing -- I had gained weight, so many of my favorites didn't zip or button and made me want to cry, even though I didn't want to get rid of them.

Happily, I did lose some weight this past year. Not a lot, but enough to make me want to ditch my schlubby jeans and go out and buy new clothes. (After all, isn't that your just reward, after depriving yourself of butter and bacon and 2 am greasy goodness?) But even better, some of the clothes I actually already own zip again. Of course, being a clothes whore I would love to go shopping and buy new things, but don't have the money or the room. And as I was digging in my closet looking for something, I came up with an idea.

I challenged myself: I would wear something different every day for thirty days, no repeats, and shop in my closet instead of a store. That way I would save money by not buying clothes in my "new" size, and I wouldn't have to cram more crap in my vomiting closet. And I could revisit my old clothes that I love and justify their existence as mine -- if I'm wearing them, I don't have to feel guilty about having them, right? And I would record it all in photos and post on Flickr, to keep myself honest.

So thus it began:

day 2 of 30 days...
Day 2

I missed the first day, so started on the second. My friend took this picture after work -- clearly I felt dumb. I think that was the hardest part, the posing for the pictures. (This was the only one someone took -- the rest were with the self timer. Believe me, I took a lot and kept the "best." I am a terrible subject and an even worse photographer.)

But it got kind of fun:

Day 16
Day 16

Day 24
Day 24

And ridiculous:
Day 40
Sick and sick of it

The rest of the photos are here.

And I did it. It was fun going through my closet and excavating old treasures, and wearing something different. (Everyone at work would ask, "What day is it?") It motivated me to get up in the morning and think about what to wear, and not go out looking like a troll that just rolled out of a moat. When I would explain to people about what I was doing, it inspired them to do the same thing, and I love that. And even though it was a silly experiment -- it's not like I'm Accomplishing world peace or feeding the hungry, I'm just wearing old clothes I haven't worn in years -- it did a few things. One -- I saved money by not buying anything new, even for my "new" waist size. That's awesome.

Also, and most importantly, I felt better about myself. Wearing old schlubby jeans makes me feel tired and faded and, well, like a schlub. I don't feel like me. Clothes have always been such a huge part of my identity, and to have just reverted to wearing the same boring thing everyday... yawn. While it has its merits (definitely -- carelessly comfortable topping that list!), it's good to break out of that every once in a while.

And another thing I did find some things don't fit, don't look good, and I'm not going to wear them again. So I can get rid of stuff, make more room, and buy more clothes that I don't need. Hooray! Sigh.

But I did reward myself with a treat after I was done with the thirty days. The economy needs stimulating, right? But instead of buying new clothes, I bought a new purse that matches EVERYTHING. And it's made from recycled barkcloth, so it's good for the environment!

My new purse!

Check out this seller on etsy -- her purses are the best! atomiclivin on etsy

What was scary was that I barely scratched the surface (or rather, the depths) of my overstuffed closets, so I'm still motivated to keep it going. My work schedule hasn't made it all that possible this month, but I'll be starting up again in June, adding pictures once again, and prompting my coworkers to ask, "Okay, now what day are you on?" I'll dig out my fabulous Pucci pants (75% markdown at a discount outlet!) and wear them to... um... somewhere. And even though I'm wearing ugly sweatpants as I write this, maybe, just maybe, after I take a shower I might put something nice on and take a picture. Maybe. It might just be a schlubby day after all, but it's nice to have a choice.

Thirty-one down, 66 to go.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No really, I haven't given up!

No, I haven't given up on the blog, I swear! I'm just lame. And busy. Busy Accomplishing things... and playing Lexulous on facebook. (It's good for the brain you know.) And reading good books:

This is the next Book Club selection. See? I'm keeping up! buy it!

And here's a preview of an Accomplishment:

Alabama and Mississippi -- May 2009
You can't tell from this photo because I'm mid-blink and looking a little inebriated (I WASN'T), but this was an Important Occasion.

More later!!!