No Pants 2012: I Made It, Suckers!

In January of 2012, I gave up clothes shopping for a year. You can read about my journey here and here. This post is part of my effort to reinvent my wardrobe and look good, without being a rabid consumer of cheap crap.

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So, I made it a year without clothes shopping.

I went out to shop today with my sister-in-law, a well-known professional shopper and the only person who was willing to take on the Mall of America with me the day after Thanksgiving and live to tell the tale. I want to tell you that I got all this super fancy stuff and I gorged on clothes, but not really.

I bought maternity jeans. A couple tunic tops and a sweater. They are basic. Bold colors. Good fits. Yawn. I feel like your mom shopping at Chicos.

The truth is, I’m saving some of my pennies to shop with my personal stylist friend who helped me last summer. Also, for this tunic, which I am pretty sure can cure cancer.

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Also, I am 12 weeks pregnant and in that adorable phase that I like to call the lady-lay-off-the-Whoppers phase, where I look just enough chubby to be noticeable, but not enough circly to be identified as pregnant. And honestly, I did not feel the need to gorge on clothes. Unlike when I went to college and, after a 18 years of not being allowed to watch TV, I went and drowned myself in a smorgasbord of  “Desperate Housewives” and “My Super Sweet 16” and CSPAN. When I walked into the Mall of America, I was all…



And I am not trying to be all high and mighty. I imagine this is what it feels like after taking a break from refined sugar. You go from craving it in your belly to realizing that despite it being completely unAmerican and bordering on high treason to think this, that one piece of cake is enough. So, I got some basics and I’m holding out for some cute spring dresses and some Toms.

This is probably when I should remind you that I am not a fashion blog. I’m not gifted with the clothes. I’m just a normal girlmiddle-aged woman, who loves leggings and dresses, hates pants and fancies herself a hippy, even though she gets giddy at the sight of a nice Ann Taylor sweater set.

My goals for shopping this year are to focus on nicer pieces. Pieces that will last. Quality that fits. And things I like, not just things that are cheap. I went to Destination Maternity and tried on a pair of maternity skinny jeans that felt like butter. They were just delicious all over my thighs. But they were $125 and that is more than I have ever paid for a single piece of clothing in my life. So, I passed on them, which probably means I already failed. But baby steps. I am a Midwesterner after all. The idea of paying full price for anything makes me reach for the Zoloft.

I’m excited to shop. Sure. But more than that, I’m excited to feel like I’ve learned that clothes are not a panacea. They don’t cure. And that I have plenty. This past year, I survived two photo shoots a movie premier in LA and a fancy conference where I was a panelist all without shopping.

I have plenty. You have plenty. And I hope that for me, 2013 will be about quality over quantity in all things.

Goodbye, Wal Mart.

PS If you want an insightful post about what I learned, go here.

No Pants 2012: What I’ve Learned About Fashion

Back in January, I gave up clothes shopping for a year. You can read about my journey here and here. This post is part of my effort to reinvent my wardrobe and look good, without being a rabid consumer of cheap crap.

In approximately 27 days I can shop again.

It’s almost been a year, since I gave up clothes shopping. In that time, I’ve purged over 10 black trash bags of clothes from my closet. Two bags of shoes and one bag of purses and belts.  And yet, today, I still managed to clear out another half a bag full of clothes from my drawers. After a year of saving, I’m still surrounded by excess.

Last year, I looked at my dismal wardrobe made up of cheap Target finds and thrift store salvage and calculated the cost of my habits. Over $50 a month, and nothing to show for it except well-worn graphic tees and ill-fitting pants. [Read more…]

A Trophy Wife

Today at the Doctor’s office the nurse asked me my occupation.

“Uh, good question.”

The nurse didn’t laugh.

“Um, I’m a writer. I guess. Freelance.”

I’m pretty sure she checked off “Unemployed.” But only because there is no “Trophy wife” box.

For the past year, I’ve been working up to this point. We’ve been planning and saving and not buying pants, just so that when the moment came, I could quit my regular consulting jobs and write. It’s a dream come true. We paid off my last Sallie Mae loan and all we have is one small government loan that we will pay off by the end of the month. We did it. We’re there. We’re high fiving Dave Ramsey and all the angels.

So, naturally, Monday night, when it came time to quit. I curled up into the fetal position and sobbed. Dave poked my shoulder, like I was a dead bird on the sidewalk. “Are you okay? You, uh, don’t have to quit.”

“No, I want to. I just don’t want to be a trophy wife.”

That’s when he offered me ice cream. And I cried harder, because I obviously just wanted some Cheetos. Men.

I’ve been juggling an array of jobs since college–copywriter, proofreader, editor for a martial arts magazine, community manager, social media consultant, writer, blogger, marketer, test reader, tutor, teacher. I love working. I love how work defines who I am and gives me an outlet to explore my passions like Bigfoot and the difference between North and South Korean taekwondo. But like so many people, I want to just write. I know. So original. I’ll spare you the stories of how I read early and wrote books at a young age. You know them. They are your stories too. And they are all the same. Little girl loves books so much that she wants to become part of them. She grows up and struggles to make that dream happen.

So, Monday night, on the cusp of taking a leap further into that dream. I panicked. Giving up some of my permalance jobs (although I do hope to say “yes” to more freelance work from time to time) feels like giving up part of who I am.  And now, with my babysitter gone on her maternity leave. I am not just a full time writer. I am a full time mom. And when people ask me what I do, and I tell them I write, they are going to hear, “Trophy wife.”

I shouldn’t care. We all have our own paths. And I love my daughter. I’m so excited that I can share this part of her life with her, before she goes off to school and unfriends me on Facebook for dancing Gangam style on the internet. And I have writing jobs. I’ll still make money. And women should have choices. We are free. Independent. Strong. We should all be so lucky. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I am scared.

Scared of failing. Scared of losing myself. Scared of waking up in a Mickey Mouse shirt and Lee jeans, driving a minivan and regretting all that writing that I was going to do.

Leggings with shorts are what smart people wear

Back in January, I gave up clothes shopping for a year. You can read about my journey here and here. This post is part of my effort to reinvent my wardrobe and look good, without being a rabid consumer of cheap crap.

The other day, I bumped into a friend at a coffeeshop and she asked if I was still doing that “No clothes shopping thing?”

I broke down crying.

Yes. YES I AM STILL NOT SHOPPING. And no, I haven’t gotten used to it and whenever I see someone in a fetching top I go dead inside. This is how serial killers are made. The next time I see a Target commercial, I’m just going to snap and start killing people for their clothes. The cops will be all, “This woman was forced to remove her J Crew sweater at gunpoint and then shot! But the killer left her $300 jeans. Look, remains of chicken nuggets were left a the crime scene! MY GOD! WHO DID THIS!?”

But what if the clothes don’t fit? Returns will be tough.

January 1, 2013, I can shop again. So, to bide my time and to prevent homicidal rages, I created a pin board of all the things I want to wear. Yes, there is a Katniss inspired outfit on there. Don’t judge me!

But here is what I would love, if you would suggest your favorite pieces of clothes, trends, wardrobe staples, and tunics that I can wear while I compete in the Hunger Games. You can link them below in the comments or just send me to your Pin boards, or Disqus lets you upload pictures. I need some help, because this is what I wore last week.

Wait? Where are you going? I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS! Also, that is my basement bathroom. The previous owners painted the concrete floor pink, filled the shower with mold and then sold the house to us.  We would renovate it, but the last time we hung drywall together we almost divorced and that was 6 years ago and we still haven’t recovered. Also, with the results of the recent election, my marriage is already on tenuous ground. I mean, I TRIED to make Dave feel better about losing with these cupcakes, but he just told me I was gloaty and then cried for Karl Rove.

 Wait. He didn’t cry. Dave never cries. Because he feels no emotion except superiority and smartness. He is a rock. An island. His heart is titanium wrapped in razor wire. It doesn’t beat, it CUTS YOU.

Also, I need to tell you something. Along with my friends Heather and Jen from de Novo Alternative Marketing,  we will be bringing Listen to Your Mother to the Eastern Iowa area in May! I want you to audition, or help us, or both! We need sponsors and people who audition and tell other people too (I call them “Peer Pressurers” ). And if you can’t do those things I want you to cease being my friend, you are dead to me.

Just kidding.

(Not really.)

I’m excited. Super excited.  Watch this site for updates! We’ll be launching a site next week.

PS A site I’ve never heard of “nominated” me for a “Most Beautiful Baby Blog” award, which I only get if people VOTE! So I was told to tell my friends to VOTE. VOOOOTTTEEE. I don’t really believe in voting contests because they are just free traffic for the site. Also, “Most Beautiful Baby Blog” have you seen this site’s design? I MADE THE BANNER IN MICROSOFT PAINT! In some countries using paint is a punishment for stealing. But I also secretly love that somebody thought enough of me to nominate me for a scam. It makes my heart so happy.

PPS On an unrelated note, I am a raging narcissist.

PPPS People giving thanks on Facebook every day makes me want to stab November in the eye.


No Pants 2012: Month 9 is almost done…

Back in January, I gave up clothes shopping for a year. You can read about my journey here and here. This post is part of my effort to reinvent my wardrobe and look good, without being a rabid consumer of cheap crap.

Today, it took me 30 minutes to put on clothes. That’s 30 minutes of me putting on a shirt, shucking it off, trying again. Rolling up my pants. Pinching my back fat.  Tickling my baby. Trying on a necklace. Sucking in my stomach. Pulling a toothbrush out of the heating vent. Tying scarves. Sighing into the mirror.

I settled on rolled up jeans with gray belt, black shirt with green necklace.

Did you ever pay an exorbitant amount of money on a mediocre meal? That’s what getting dressed this morning felt like. After all of that time I should have emerged exuberant, stylish. Coiffed. Instead, I’m muddled and mediocre.

This month, I lost a pair of wool pants that I loved to the tyranny of the dryer, my favorite knit dress I lost because it finally got holes after living with me for five years and my favorite white sweater because The Dave washed it with the jeans. I pretty much cried over that dress. And there was a part of me that figured I could just go buy a new one and only me, Dave and the spreadsheet would know…I didn’t. I know it doesn’t matter, but I didn’t.

Tracy Morrison wrote over on Sellabit Mum, that in all the kerfuffle of dressing, fluffing, primping and priming that it really doesn’t matter, but she continues, “…some days this is truly all I have to make me feel significant. Because so many times I feel like that little girl blending into the wallpaper with nothing interesting to say.”

That’s the thought that kicks me in the gut everyday I get dressed. No one cares, really. Not even Dave. He doesn’t care if I stop shopping for a year (although, he does enjoy the money savings).  I’m really just doing it for me. To save money and pay down our debt (we’ll reach our goal the moment I get paid for some work I did this summer, so any day now…) But the unexpected benefit is that I am learning who I am in the middle of all of this polycotton blending, piles of wool, knit, and maybe some polyester. The benefit of looking outward is that it is also making me look in.

Am I leggings or am I capris? Leggings.

Am I comfy tee-shirts, button ups or tunics? Tunics.

Am I colors, am I grays and blacks, am I muted hues? Colors.

It’s such a little thing to learn at almost 30.I’m kind of ashamed. Why do I have so much black, when all I want is a bright yellow? Why do I have only one sweater when I want to swim in them? And it’s such a first-world problem, not being able to shop, because you don’t want to until you’ve paid down debt from your Master’s degree.

But almost 2000 years ago, Marcus Fabius Quintillianus orated, “Vestus virum reddit.” The clothes make the man. It’s the first Latin phrase I learned and it’s been ringing in my head all year. Like a nagging nursery rhyme.  So there must be something to all of this–the window dressing of my life. Between the nakedness of birth and death, there are tunics, thrift store sweaters, hospital gowns, silk shirts, wool hats, knit dresses, and whatever else fits my self.

Me and my friends Kristin and Alexa, at the LA Shorts Film Festival, where my movie “The Way The World Ends” was shown. I wore an old stretchy black lace dress, gold shoes and I had a lovely gold necklace, but Ellis hid it. And I didn’t find it in time. I discovered it a week later in the couch cushions.
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