Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Change is Messy

My poor family. This is our dining room table:

If you look carefully you will spot the (deservedly) much maligned broccoli sweater and a whole pile of scoop-neck Faded Glory acrylic sweaters. Also a Norma K cheetah skirt and top ensemble I bought because P thought it was cute and kind of sexy. There are purses and never-worn shoes, too, and an entire bag of things I bought in on my last St. Louis trip. Oh, and the most hideous swimsuit ever. But, hey, it was October and the only others on the rack were way frumpy skirted one-pieces or shiny bikinis.

Yesterday I received an email from WalMart asking about my "recent return experience." Uh, which one? I know many people have been banned from returning things to Target because they return things too frequently. I suspect that I'm near my limit at WalMart--and I have about $250 worth of tagged stuff to go back.

When I ended this project almost two weeks ago, I found myself in a bit of a daze. Honestly, I felt as though I'd just been let out of fashion jail. It took an act of will not to go automatically to the rack and shelves where I kept my WalMart clothes. The night I realized I could wear one of my favorite Flora Nikrooz gowns, I was so excited I almost cried. Then I wore the shearling coat I blogged about last time every day for a week. I didn't want to take it off! So there I was in fifty degree weather wearing a coat meant for thirty degrees. Does anyone else find that a little sad and kinda shallow? Sure, I learned a lot from the project, but I don't think it changed me all that much. I'm still a sucker for an awesome coat. Oh, well.

I had done a pretty good job of stowing all of my pre-WalMart clothes. One of the pictured laundry baskets is full of them. WalMart and pre-Walmart laundry is mixed together in the second one. I had stacked all my sweaters--two piles deep--on my top three sweater shelves, so all I had to do was pull one out to get dressed. Most outfits/dresses/skirts/jackets are still on their regular racks, ready to go.

But now I find myself in one of those awkward seasons--you know, like late September and October, when it's hot enough to wear shorts one week, then cold enough for jeans and a cotton sweater the next week. The fashion trade calls them transition periods and designs whole seasons of clothing around them. I used to make sure I had at least two pairs of khaki chinos and a khaki skirt for transitions. I got out of that habit about five years after chinos went out of style--or, at least, I stopped wearing them. In transition periods, I always have tons and tons of laundry about until around November, when I finally get around to putting the warm weather and transition stuff away.

Complicating my WalMart/pre-WalMart transition is the fact that I'm actually keeping about 1/3-1/2 of what I bought during the project.

Here's a list:
Everything from Sam's Club, with the exception of the broccoli sweater, a couple broom skirts and swim coverups that still have tags, and the toasty warm orange Green Tea hoodie that I might have kept if I'd followed the Dry Clean Only instructions.
LS cotton tees, Danskin workout wear, tennies, yoga and sweatpants that I bought for workouts/sleeping
Bras (because I hand wash them, they're in great shape and will last out the year)
Hanes cotton underwear and socks
2/3 of the jewelry
All camis (a cami is a cami)
All Sam's Nine West blue jeans and CK cords (though I'm not bowled over by the CK cords--they haven't washed so well) 
Leather shoes and sandals, and all Norma Kamali Shoes
Almost everything Norma Kamali except: the polka-dots I bought out East, the cheetah stuff and a few thin sweaters that are too big and not flattering. A strapless jersey dress I'm too fat to wear now. Two pairs of black career pants, matching vest and jacket (too flimsy). And this, because buffalo plaid is only flattering on seven year-olds and attractively-coiffed pencils.

The stuff I'm glad I bought and am delighted to keep:

This Norma K dress ($20). I felt great in it and love the red shoes.

Norma K. black cords--fine wale, wash very well.
Scarves! Love them all!
Australian F'Uggs. (Seriously--if they had the Uggs label on the back, I couldn't tell the difference. They've held up great.) (Sam's)
London Fog All Weather Leather handbag from (Sam's)
 Calvin Klein brown hooded down coat (Sam's)
Those plain camis. ($7 under a $150 sweater? You bet.)

Dr. Scholl's athletic mules. Fabulous for slipping on with workout socks for the exercise bike. Does anyone else hate to have to strap on tennies for that?
And, last but not least, That Damned Necklace.

In fact, I think That Damn Necklace should be celebrated. So I'm awarding a new That Damn Necklace in Brown/Bronze to reader Branda because she thoughtfully took note of it often. Lucky you, Branda. Wear it in good health--or not!

I'll let you all know how the mixing, sorting, returning and donating goes soon. Plus, I still have a couple of piles of yummy mysteries to give away.

Thanks for dropping in. I've missed you all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts and a Post-Project Pic

Yesterday, the lovely and talented Patti suggested in a comment that I should post a pic of what I wore on my first post-project day.

Yes, that's a thick and yummy RL cashmere sweater beneath my favorite coat. And there's my black/brown Brahmin bag, and the toasty leather gloves I bought to match the coat. Oh, oh and a necklace that I love. Sorry you can't see my black, heeled boots, but really it's the coat that's most important. And did I mention the coat?!

As I disassemble and reassemble my wardrobe, I'll post from time to time about the stuff I'm keeping and the stuff I'm giving away, and why.


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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Which I Go Totally Mad and Get All Out of Order

Egad, Monday was ADHD kind of day. I feared it would be when I realized it was 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night and I was still ironing. Yes, ironing. Finally, I had to stop and go to bed with a pile of ironing unfinished.

This morning, my DH sat down in his favorite chair to drink his coffee and I had to chase him out of it because he was sitting on several unironed sweaters. "Forgive me," he said. "I thought it was a chair." I told him that of course it wasn't a chair--it was now, like all the other horizontal surfaces in the living room, a pre- or post-ironing work surface. But I did clear him a space, and finished the ironing. Two and a half hours and two and a half episodes of INTERVENTION later, and I was finished.

Why is it that my closest friends and family members (my parents the exception) don't always even know where their irons are? Ironing has become such a part of my current life. In fact, it's become such a part of it that it's gotten to be rather a bottleneck. Do you have things that act as bottlenecks in your life? Things that you really don't like to do, but know that you eventually must do?

I'm going to throw tradition to the wind today and post some pics out of order. Just because sometimes my pics get to be a bit of a bottleneck. And it's just that kind of day....

Day 145:

This was part of my WM sweater extravaganza I indulged in on my last St. Louis trip. I bought three. Or four.

White Stag sweater: $9 (clearance); George tank: $10; White Stag Necklace: $8; Earrings: $5; Faded Glory jeans: $15   Total: $47

Day 146:

I confess--this photo was definitely more about Miss Nina Garcia than what I was wearing. She couldn't stay off of my keyboard, so I made sure she got her picture taken. This is basically the same outfit I wore to meet with the book club that had read ISABELLA MOON a couple of weeks ago.

Norma Kamali dress: $20 (red!); White Stag sweater: $9 (same style as above); George cami: $7; Scarf: $5; Norma Kamali Leggings: $10; Faded Glory boots: $23   Total: $74

Day 151: 

Was so busy doing Valentine crafts for/with Bengal's 4th grade class, that I forgot to take a pic of myself. Here's the craft. It worked out great!

Day 153:

This is my last Valentine's Day picture for this year. Did it seem to anyone else that Valentine's Day seemed a little over-the-top this year?

More Miss Nina! I love the tongue action. Oh, and those are my gorgeous flowers from my gorgeous Valentine. This is the same outfit I wore here.

Travel Elegance (Sam's) Jacket: $34; Travel Elegance skirt: $37; George blouse: $14; Necklace: $7; Earrings: $3; Faded Glory boots: $23  Total $118

Work on those bottlenecks a little at a time. I DO NOT recommend ironing before bedtime, then doing it again in the morning. Come to think of it, no wonder INTERVENTION resonated for me today. : )


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day-wear or Nightwear, as it were.

Because sometimes Valentine's Day pretties from Victoria's Secret are too classy anyway....

Smart & Sexy bra: $10; Smart & Sexy boyleg panties: $5 (Note: Color on the label reads CRANTSTC. Hm. Crantastic, maybe?)

Smart & Sexy gown: $14

What can I say? Really, I've done us all a HUGE favor by not modeling these for you. I was surprised at WalMart's limited Valentine selection. There were far more choices up in the front of the clothing department near the sweats and workout wear. Definitely more pajama than lingerie. 
I heard a radio commercial for the PajamaGram people today. They were advertising their Hoodie-Footie suit:


Couldn't find anything like this at the mothership. But let me ask you...Say, you're a woman, and your Valentine gives you an attractively wrapped box full of nightwear. Which would be your preference? The Hoodie-Footie or something lacy and, well, kind of sexy? Or would you prefer a cotton cami and boy shorts, or maybe an Eeyore or Tinkerbell nightshirt? (Lots of those at the mothership!)

Day 141:

My face is all shadowy here, like I need a shave. Aside from the fact that my indoor photography sucks, I think I'm getting kind of vampire pale this winter. It's just been too darned cold to spend much time outside taking pics of myself.

Sweater: Grace Elements: $20 (Sam's. It's the batwing cotton sweater that I have in purple as well.) George turtle: $10; Nine West Jeans: $17 (Sam's); White Stag necklace: $8; Earrings: $7; Faded Glory Boots: $23  Total: $82

Day 142:

My favorite Norma Kamali sweater: $20; White Stag turtle: $7; Norma Kamali Cords: $15; That Damn Necklace: $7; Earrings: $3 (clearance); F'Uggs: $30 (Sam's)   Total: $82
Day 143:

Now here's a glamor shot! This is how I spend cold winter afternoons--editing on the couch. The throw/blanket is not from WalMart, but blankets don't count. I think Bengal brought it back for me from his trip out west this summer.

RL sweater: $21 (Sam's); Faded Glory jeans: $15; Earrings: $12; random socks: ?  Total: $48

One last thing:
Totally random winner of the first Stack O' Mystery Books drawing is...Holly W! She'll receive NEW WORLD MONKEYS, THE MURDERED HOUSE, FACES IN THE POOL, THE WATER'S EDGE, and ILLEGAL.

I think I'll give more away next week, too. 

Go send those Valentines! xo