It’s Monday, so it must be time for another one of my weekly Project 333 updates. If you’re new to the blog and would like to read my previous Project 333 posts, click here. If you are interested in started Project 333 yourself, this page provides an overview and general rules of the challenge. If you’d like more information and help with delving into the Project 333 challenge, I highly recommend the “Dress with Less” microcourse.
Before I delve into my update, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my posts last week, especially my Friday “Boring Wardrobe – or Boring Life?” post. It means a lot to me to have the support of my readers! I enjoy reading your comments and value all of your input and insights. While I may not choose to implement everything suggested (at least not right away), I appreciate your taking the time to reach out to me to share your experiences and feedback.
Ten Weeks In and Still More to Say!
It’s amazing that I still have more to write about my Project 333 experience after so many weekly updates! The challenge really is rich in terms of what it can teach you about your wardrobe and your life. After my Project 333 term is over (not that I’ll never do it again, but probably not right away), I will encapsulate all of my key insights in a wrap-up post. A number of others have done this and I’ve really enjoyed reading about their experiences. In fact, I’ve been sharing a few links to other bloggers’ posts in each of my recent Project 333 updates (see below for a few more…).
This week was relatively uneventful in that I didn’t experience any major challenges or epiphanies, but I’m not complaining! It was a good week overall and even included a few enjoyable social occasions. Rather than highlighting wins and challenges as I’ve done in previous weeks, I’ll just share a few of the observations I made during Week 10.
Getting Dressed is Much Easier!
Confession time (there have been many of those, haven’t there?)… I’ve always struggled with being on time to the events and appointments of my life. I’m one of those people who always seems to run a few minutes late, and I often find myself rushing to get out the door.
Working with my smaller Project 333 wardrobe has helped to streamline my getting ready process. Without the difficult task of selecting an outfit from among 200+ garments, I’ve been on time to many more of my appointments! While this has been true throughout the entire Project 333 term, I really noticed it this week. Each of my outfits was compiled on the fly as I “sprinted” (well, not literally!) to leave the house.
Embracing the Warmth
While “June Gloom” is still mostly in full force around these parts, there have been a few breaks in the clouds. I was fortunate that it was warm enough for a skirt outfit on two days last week. I’m really looking forward to the warmer days of July through October when skirts and dresses will be my primary attire. I much prefer skirts and dresses to pants because they are easier to fit (for me, anyway), often more comfortable, and more flattering to my body type.
I probably should have included far fewer skirt/dress outfit options (or even none) in my April through June Project 333 capsule, but I didn’t want to eliminate that option altogether. If I had it to do over again, I likely would have halved the size of the skirt/dress portion of my capsule in favor of a few long-sleeved tops and other topper options besides open cardigans. This would have allowed me the option of wearing a dress or skirt on unseasonably warm days while still having ample pants outfit variety on the days with more typical weather. Live and learn…
Shopping Psychology Shifts
I went to the mall the other day to pick up some cosmetics and hair products. While I was there, I popped in to Nordstrom to see what was left over from their Half-Yearly Sale (the sale that I wrote about in “Resisting the Allure of a Sale“). I visited the shoe department, the handbag section, and a few of the women’s clothing departments.
I did not experience the numbness or the high that I normally get while shopping. In fact, I didn’t lose my wits at all during my time at Nordstrom. My brain remained engaged as I looked at the sale racks and the non-sale items. If anything caught my eye, I was able to consider it and ask myself how the item in question might fit my wardrobe needs. I asked myself if I would want to wear the item tomorrow, if I already had something very similar, and if I would buy a sale item even at regular price.
I Left Nordstrom Empty-Handed!
While I felt a bit “dazzled” by a few glittering pieces, nothing I saw was worthy of purchasing. For the first time in a very long time, I left Nordstrom – my shopping Mecca – empty-handed!
A few of you mentioned that you think my shopping budget is still too high and that perhaps I shouldn’t shop at all for the foreseeable future. Others suggested that I was merely biding my time until I could shop again during my May shopping hiatus. While I’m not saying you’re wrong and I likely will do another shopping hiatus before too long, I am seeing powerful progress in myself as my “recovering shopaholic” project inches toward the six month mark.
Shopping is Losing Its Luster
Shopping is beginning to lose some of its luster for me. I am starting to view it from a more objective standpoint and am no longer buying mindlessly. My emotional buying is what got me into trouble in the past. It’s why I felt so bad about the nearly $50,000 spent during the past ten years. I felt like I had so little to show for all of that money, as much of what I’ve bought was ill-advised and is long gone from my closet. Much of what remains was also bought in haste and to fulfill the hole in my heart instead of a gap in my wardrobe.
I would love to reach a “happy medium” with shopping and I’m starting to believe it’s possible. I know of people who write a list of a few items to buy each season to update their wardrobes and then only buy those items. These people are exceptionally well-dressed and have beautifully curated wardrobes. They shop with an objective mind and don’t allow flashy displays or compelling sales to shift their focus away from buying what they actually need. This is how I want to be around shopping. It may not happen in 2013, but I feel it will happen for me before too long!
Week Ten Outfits
Below are the five outfits I wore during week ten of Project 333. I mostly like these outfits, although I am looking forward to integrating some of my other wardrobe pieces back into my closet. While my wardrobe at large is not optimal, it definitely is more varied in terms of colors and styles than my Project 333 capsule. Although I’ve been tempted to make more swaps during the final weeks of Project 333, I’ll likely stay the course while making note of the ways I’d like to shift my wardrobe moving forward.
Useful Links – Project 333 and Otherwise…
I’m glad you’re enjoying the links to other bloggers’ accounts of Project 333. Here are a few more:
- A More Uncluttered Life: Project 333 – An Introduction (I love her opening comments on her wardrobe realizations! An update with her clothing selections HERE)
- Snazzy Turtle: Project 333 – 2 Months In (an account of one woman’s imperfect P333 experience with lots of learning nonetheless)
I’d also like to share some other articles I’ve read recently. I’m an avid reader and love learning about a variety of topics. Since I periodically stumble upon articles that profoundly impact me, I thought, “Why not share them with my readers?” So from time to time, I will include other “useful links” in my posts. I hope you enjoy today’s selections!
- Three Questions to Ask Before You Buy (very relevant to the topics discussed on “Recovering Shopaholic”!)
- Lessons from Love and Loss: Lean into your Life While You Can (what the author learned from two very different life experiences – a birth and a death)
- A Revolution of Contentment (excessive shopping and other compulsive behaviors are discussed, as well as useful tips for increasing happiness in life)
Fantastic progress! Not buying anything at Nordstrom’s is fantastic. I think you’ve had really impressive insights lately – hope they will result in many new, positive changes in your life!
Thanks so much for your kind words and for all of your support!
Debbie, I find your posts about Project 333 very interesting. I commend you on your honesty about what this project has taught you about yourself, and I think it’s great how you have been able to articulate your thoughts and insights so well.
Clothes shopping has never been a big issue for me, my problem has been more in the line of not knowing what looked good on me and fit me. That is something that I have slowly started to learn during my own Project 333 journey. I loved what you wrote about shopping starting to lose its luster, and how clothes shopping with a list is your ideal. It’s my ideal too. Now that I have finally started to make some sort of an inventory of my clothes, I have realised what I need and what I don’t need. Hopefully one day I will be in a place where I know exactly what to get and where to get it, instead of wandering aimlessly around malls, frustrated because I can’t find anything to wear.
I’m glad you find my Project 333 updates helpful and that the project is helping you with your wardrobe as well. Many people struggle with what looks best on them. I struggle with those issues myself even though I help others to shop and make the most out of their wardrobes. I have my blind spots and often buy the wrong things. Project 333 really helps, though, in that it allows us to slow down and really work with our wardrobes. We better learn what we like and don’t like and listen to our inner wisdom instead of all of the marketing hype from stores and the fashion industry. I wish you continued growth on your journey and more enjoyable and productive shopping moving forward!
What a great week, so much progress made and you are already reaching a “happy medium” with shopping. The photos of you wearing your week-ten outfits reflect the gains you are making too.
As you know, clothes shopping has been a big issue for me as well, and I love hearing that shopping is starting to lose its luster for you because it is happening to me too. And I have become one of those people who write a list of a few items to buy each season to either update or replace in my wardrobes and then only buy those items. But I had a Project 333 surprise this week when a pair of sandals I wear all the time (good quality sandals) suddenly turned shabby and needed replacing. And then later in the day I discovered a big tear in the lining of my (new) middle-sized purse, which means that now I only have the small one. This all happened in addition to me discovering this week that I only liked one top with all four of my skirts. In an emotional moment I went to Nordstrom and returned the defective purse, and searched shoes, purses and tops, and left empty handed because my common sense kicked in and reminded me not to buy anything unless it was a 9 or 10.
Debbie thank you for your writing and sharing here so that we can all benefit and learn together. And thank you to your readers for the wealth of comments posted.
Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Terra. I’m glad to hear that you’re experiencing similar shifts regarding shopping. It’s better to leave a store empty-handed than to buy either mediocre pieces or things you just don’t need. I’m glad the concept of aiming for “9”s or “10”s (“8″s can be good, too!) is helping you. I hope you find replacement sandals and better tops soon!
Congrats on your progress especially the ability to go to Nordstroms and not buy anything! While your clothing budget is your business you might be interested to put it in context of what other people spend. Although we could spend as much as you if we wanted, I am on track to have spent approximately $700 this year on clothes and hubby will spend about $500. That includes complete outfits for our son’s wedding. We only buy what we need and have much smaller wardrobes than you do. We would rather spend the money on travel, recreation, monetary gifts, or savings for retirement. Choices are what this is about from my perspective as there is no right or wrong but only the satisfaction derived from those choices. Good luck with your ongoing journey.
Congrats on your wise spending, Juhli! I suspect that my spending will go down soon as well. I wanted to set a budget that was a stretch (it is, believe it or not) but that I could still reach for this year. Next year, my husband and I will re-evaluate and will probably allocate some of my clothing budget to some of the other categories you mentioned. He probably spends about the same as you and your husband on clothes and I think he dresses well (I should think that – I buy all of his clothes!). I’ve made SO many shopping mistakes in past years, but I trust I will make fewer now that I’m learning to shop more consciously. I’m sure my wardrobe will soon be in a much better place and I won’t need (or maybe even want) to buy as much.
I chuckled as I read your shopping comments about Nordstrom and their sales. Its only been a few years since we got our first Nordstrom store here. In fact, we had a Rack here before we ever had a full fledged mall store. Nordstrom seems to be the favorite shopping destination for many of my California friends, while in my town, Saks was the place to go.
My preference is to shop at their Rack store, mostly because I find the mall store to be rather unnerving. I don’t like my attention being diverted from the mission at hand by fawning sales people interrupting my train of thought. I don’t want to converse. Our local mall store is amply stocked with “solicitous salespeople” who drive me nuts trying to “help” me so I can’t think straight! (I’m sure this is a deliberate sales tactic to get people to buy more by befuddling them so they can’t make up their minds while in the store, so they buy more than intended in to “think about when they get home” –and hopefully keep).
Shopping for me is usually about efficiently conducting the mission of locating a specific thing that I’ve predetermined I want (and researched online as well). I prefer to be anonymous when I am shopping. Sometimes I will call the store ahead and ask them to hold a garment so I can be sure to get exactly what I want. Once in a store, I might ask a salesperson directions to a department or a collection if I am not familiar with the store’s layout, but other than that, I want to be left alone to make my decision.
In general, I couldn’t care less what the salesperson thinks about the garment and how it looks on me because I figure they are on commission and just want me to buy whatever catches my eye. I have deliberately conducted experiments where I’ve asked salespeople if a specific color looked good with my skin tone, knowing full well it looked hideous (like chartreuse, as an example–a color that makes me look like I am dying), only to have them tell me it looked “great!”–a nanosecond after I saw the flicker of doubt in their eyes. I also often find salespeople to be incredibly uninformed about the lines they are representing.
But, I have diverted from what was to be the main point of my comment, and maybe some of you will really feel me as well on this:
I find myself being turned off by shopping a lot lately because I simply do not like clothing that is embellished with sequins, beads, crude embroidery, transfer designs (especially the rubbery ones) and the like. How many times have I glimpsed the sleeve of a garment whose fabric or color is pleasing, only to pull it out and reveal the front is emblazoned with some horrific and/or garish embellishment?
These are not wardrobe staples! Their application in real life is limited because of the specific nature of their design or (what I perceive at least) their transient appeal–unless I am totally missing the point. So I ask, in all seriousness–where do people wear all these sequins and beading? And why? Does everyone have social lives that I don’t seem to know about, where such glittery clothing is in its element?
This brings me around to my main point at last–to reminisce about my most recent visit to Nordstrom Rack (last week), where I sought (and still seek) to replace a top of a specific color–one that is hard to find, a pale blush taupe color that is “my beige”. I glimpsed the short sleeve of a tee in that very color on a circular display in Rack. I pulled it out, only to discover that while the sleeves were of plain fabric, the entire front was emblazoned like barnacles with sequins. My heart sunk. I said, “really?”–and then I looked around across the store, at the racks of embellished clothing, and said, “I don’t think so”–and walked out empty handed. There is nothing so deadening to one’s shopping libido than such a moment of truth.
I wholly agree!
I always love your comments and stories, Deby! I love how you test salespeople by trying on chartreuse 🙂 I agree with you about there being too much embellishment on clothing these days. I like a bit of bling at times, but too much looks juvenile and can also look cheap. I wish there were more variation in styles overall.
I see your points about shopping at the Rack over the regular Nordstrom, but our local Rack is sub-standard. I sometimes enjoy the interaction with Nordstrom salespeople (I’ve mentioned this before) but they can overdo it at times. I never rely on their style advice, though, as I know they work on commission! Sometimes they bring my “extra” things to try on and I think, “Really? You truly believe THAT will look good on me?” Some of them are good at discerning what works and what doesn’t, but many of them just grab what’s popular and bring it in without seeing if it’s at all like the other pieces you selected or if it’s a good match for your coloring and body type. Salespeople are not stylists, although many of them are using such monikers of late (don’t get me started on THAT). Some have good style sense, true, but that commission thing can get in the way. It’s best to trust our own instincts in terms of what we need, what we live, and what looks good on us!
First off, I envie your June gloom. I live in the sweltering South, and I miss nothing more than a cool Summer day. Secondly, you are approaching shopping with a new attitude, and that is a great milestone.
I wish I could send some of this gloomy weather your way, Cornelia, but I certainly don’t envy the sweltering heat! Thanks for your kind words on my new shopping attitude. Hope it sticks!
Ohhh Debbie- I am SOOOOO happy for you and the “Nordstrom” experience. You really put yourself to the test by even entering the store and you should be so proud of yourself for leaving empty-handed ( not because you didn’t see things you might have been interested as you mentioned) but because you were able to be objective and rationale about the items. What an amazing step forward! And I just have to make observation on your current outfit pics- not abt the outfits per say which do look good but something I am not certain you may notice until it is pointed out- do you realize that you look much more relaxed and comfortable in these pics ( and no it is not simply you may be more comfortable with having pics taken- it is deeper than that), there is an underlying calmness showing when I look at your face – it is reading to me as you are becoming more at home in your own skin, happier and more confident with who you are/I get the sense that this “wardrobe” project is changing and will change more than just the shopping for you at much deeper levels. There is a definite change- just compare the current pics with a few of the first couple of months.
Thanks so much for your astute observations, Abgurl! I think I AM more relaxed and comfortable these days. Writing this blog and interacting with so many of my wonderful readers has helped me in many ways. I am learning and growing more than I would have hoped. I do think my style is evolving much more rapidly than it has in the past, too. Project 333 has helped a lot, as it’s pushed me to pause and really consider what I love and how I want to dress and be perceived. I know that this will continue to evolve in the coming months and will likely be revealed in the monthly “favorite outfits” posts which I will continue to do after Project 333 is over. I appreciate all of your ongoing support! You’re one of the ones who’s been there since close to the beginning.
Congratulations on a fantastic week! And sincere apologies for doubting your resolve. My “biding your time” comment on your earlier post was uncalled for and seems unkind, although I really didn’t mean it to be. I’m sorry.
And again, many congrats on your myriad breakthroughs this week!
No apologies necessary, Roanne! You were not the only one who made such an observation and in all honesty, I doubt my own resolve! I am pleased to be seeing progress in my shopping behavior, but I know I’m not out of the woods yet. I appreciate the honesty of my readers and I didn’t think you were mean at all!
I am really enjoying following your blog. It has REALLY helped me with shopping with a purpose. I find myself only shopping when I am replacing items, and I look for quality over quantity now. I don’t mind spending a few extra bucks for something that is worth it. AND, I have been shopping in the off season for winter items lately. I found a pair of amazing boots for over half off. I’m stoked! Keep up the good work. Thank you for being so inspiring!
So happy my blog is inspiring you and helping you with your shopping, Daphne! It means so much to me that my journey is helping others. I’m glad you’re shopping more consciously and aiming for quality. In the long run, you will be SO much better off!
That is great to hear about you leaving Nordstrom empty handed! Shopping is also losing its luster for me as well. A friend asked me if I would like to take a ride with her to do some shopping (it requires a road trip to go to a mall where we live). I agreed, but I only bought one necklace that was a style I have been wanting that goes with dozens of outfits. I didn’t even try anything on. I was having more fun helping her look. It was pretty funny because she was worried that I wasn’t having a good time. I was fine and perfectly content and I loved it. Very nice outfits this week. I don’t know if you have and/or like the style, but have you thought of boots to go with your skirts and dresses? You would be able to wear them more often and in cooler temperatures.
So wonderful to read your story, Tonya, as I know that you and I have a lot of similarities. It seems like the one purchase you made was done with purpose and that the necklace will serve you well in the future!
Thanks for your compliment on my outfits. I do like boots with skirts but waited too long to try to buy a pair last year. Come August (even though warm weather will have just started here), I will be combing the shops for a good pair of boots to wear with skirts and dresses when our cool months roll around…
Debbie, after I wrote my Nordstrom rant earlier, I remembered that you had wriiten a much earlier post about how you liked going there because the salespeople greeted you and engaged you in conversation. Its funny how we have a different experience! It just occurred to me that because you are a stylist, you probably go there often for both yourself and your clients, so you have a more business oriented relationship than someone like me who is just breezing in.
Although I focus on specific items I want to add to my wardrobe so it seems like I shop with a purpose, at the same time, I do a lot of recreational shopping in that I like to skip around to a lot of stores to find some item I have targetted. Also, because I have been a serial returner (although I always preferred to think of my activity as “marketing research”!), it can get a little embarassing. Many of the stores I shop at have multiple locations because I live in a large metro area, so as long as I don’t mind driving, this system works, especially as each store has its own atmosphere, which I enjoy.
I realize I shop to vacate in addition to looking for specifics. My home life is demanding in that my disabled mother lives with us and requires 24 hr. assistance. Consequently, its difficult to schedule true vacations of several days duration, because providing for her caregiving when we leave is so complex and fraught with the tension of leaving. The solution is fun day trips of shopping to far flung stores or other recreational forays that are like minivacations where I can get out of myself and soak up a colorful ambiance and relax. it doesn’t matter to me if I walk away emptyhanded, it is the experience of the display, the touching of fabrics and examining the styles I am craving.
I love your characterization of serial returning as “market research.” I may use that one! You seem to be shopping much smarter these days, and there is nothing wrong with having shopping be a recreational activity, so long as you don’t overbuy or buy things you don’t love or need. In your case, I can see how a bit of browsing could help relieve the stress of ongoing care for your mother (what a wonderful daughter you are to take her in and care for her!). It seems like you enjoy the tactile experience and stay “in your right mind” now while shopping, so why not? I am getting there…
I do like to interact with some of the Nordstrom staff and have built relationships with some through my personal shopping and shopping with clients. But I have to remember that these salespeople aren’t really my friends. Will do a post on that soon, as I know many shopaholics use shopping as a way to connect with others, too.
Debbie, it IS market reseaerch if you think about it! Every season we are bombarded with new styles, fabrics, colors. The average person’s wardrobe is comprised of separates. And the average length of time a person can ACCURATELY remember a color is….30 seconds! So how on earth can we be expected to select separates to combine with the pieces we have at home–unless we take them home to test them out?
Secondly, the lighting in most dressing rooms is so horriic that it makes you look like a cadaver no matter how beautiful you are. I simply dont understand why one of e upper scale stores don’t put a little thought into the dressing room lighting so as to show both the customer and the clothing in the most flattering way? One reason for my “market research” is that I simply will not bother with trying to evaluate a garment under sickly fluorescent light.
Yes, you have to remember these salespeople are your business friends based on a relationship of commerce, unless you are also personal friends with them outside of the context of shopping.
I think your recent trip to Nordstrom would have been a success even if you had purchased something, because your reasons for shopping have shifted. As long as our perceived NEED to shop, the compulsion we have that can only be satisfied by stepping into our retail establishment of choice, is what drives us, we aren’t shopping in a healthy way. The transition to shopping the way you describe in this post is a major step in the right direction. I have turned that corner as well, thanks to this blog and lots of personal soul searching. The luster is definitely fading, and the few times I’ve shopped over the past several weeks there has been no sense of compulsion, but a more casual desire to simply “check things out” or look for something specific and leave. Thank you Debbie, for inspiring all of us so much!
You made some really good points, Molly! You’re right in that my reasons for shopping are shifting and I’ve started to shop in a healthier way. I’m glad the same is true for you as well and that my blog played a role in your shift. I wish you continued growth and smart shopping!
Leaving Nordie’s empty handed? That’s wonderful! Earlier today I ran an errand, to a pet store for supplies and in the same strip mall is a TJMaxx. Usually I would stop in there to browse, since it’s one of those stores where you never know if you will find something. But then I told myself, “you have the boutique at home with all those unworn clothes” and I asked myself “what would you be shopping for’ and I realized the answer was nothing. So I didn’t go in. It felt like the biggest accomplishment.
Good for you for avoiding browsing in TJMaxx, Lisa! Reminding yourself of the “boutique” was very helpful, as was the pointed question, “What would you be shopping for?” I find that when I ask myself such questions, I am able to either avoid shopping altogether or at least shop in a far more directed fashion. I haven’t been to Nordie’s in a while and am gearing up for a trip. I’m going to go in with a list, though, and I will definitely leave empty-handed if I can’t find what’s on that list!