Day 31/366: if at first you don’t suceed, try, try again

Right at the end of my first month I have had a bit of a failure.  Brastop, a great online website for underwear and large cup bras emailed me today to let me know that the sale was finishing this evening.  I have been wearing an uncomfortable bra for the last few days and I’m fed up with only having a couple of bras that feel completely comfortable, so I bought three bras and five pairs of pants.  I am not proud of myself despite the fact that underwear is a bit of an essential.

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I also bought two jumpers, a shrug and a coat yesterday from local charity shops.  Now this is something that I was allowing myself to do this year, but four items of clothing in one afternoon is a bit much and I’m feeling a little bit sick about bringing more clothes into my house when I’m supposed to be reducing the numbers of clothes in the house.

I will be photographing unworn and unloved clothes for selling on Ebay tomorrow and I did pass on three rarely worn cardigans to colleagues at work (who are very pleased with them), so I will be getting stuff out of the house.  I’m also going to be sending some bras to a charity called Smalls for All who send underwear (new knickers and lightly worn bras) to African countries as many women aren’t able to buy bras and knickers because of poverty.  Have a look at the website for more information, and thanks to Cassie for letting me know about the charity.

Wardrobe Weekly

Below are pictures of my outfits for this week.  So far, I’ve not repeated an outfit yet this year.  I’m wearing things that I haven’t worn for ages which is helping me discover what I love and what I really don’t enjoy wearing.  Most of the non-loved clothes will be going to a charity shop or sold via Ebay. This experience is affirming that I much prefer wearing dresses to anything else.  I don’t really like the way I look in separates. Whether this is a failure of imagination or style or an innate conservatism I can’t tell.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays’s outfits below. The jumper in the fisrt picture and the dress in the third were both purchased the week before New Year and this week was their first outing.

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Thursday’s outfit was sadly worn for a funeral.

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday I’ve been at home, so casual all the way.  Really don’t like the combo I’ve got on today, the jumper is positively frumpy, the lengths are all wrong. The shrug in the second picture is one of the things I picked up whilst charity shopping, it’s from Laura Ashley.  Not sure it goes with this dress shape-wise, but should work with round/scoop neck skater dresses.

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Day 24/366: weekly wardrobe roundup

Another week with meetings, so a chance to break out the smart dresses.  The one issue I have at the moment is that I’m having to cycle to work every day as so many bridges are closed after flooding in December that the traffic is a complete nightmare and a ten minute car journey takes an hour.  So everything I wear has to be suitable to do a half hour cycle in.  Jersey dresses are fine as I can tuck them into waterproof trousers, but anything long or creaseable is not an option.

On with the clothes.

This is one of my favourite dresses.  I got it from New Look Inspire in autumn 2014 and I have worn it loads.  It’s sleeveless, but in the winter I stick a layering top underneath which I think looks fine.  The cardigan here is from Fat Face and I got it second hand off Ebay probably four years ago.  It’s got a high wool content and it good and warm.  I really like the fact it’s cropped which means that I can wear it with skater style dresses.Capture Mon

This is a Monsoon wool skirt, probably five or six years old and a Marks and Spencers wool jumper which I picked up from a charity shop last year.  It’s in really good condition, no bobbling or anything.Capture Tues

This is another favourite dress which has seen a lot of wear.  I bought it from Joules in the summer sale last year after having had my eye on it since I first saw it in February last year.  This style is so easy to wear and flattering, and IT’S GOT POCKETS, totally love this.Capture Weds

I gave a presentation on Thursday so really needed to give it my best “smart” appearence which includes wearing a brooch that my parents gave me when I got my degree.  The dress is from George at Asda and was purchased in the tag end of the winter sale last year for something ridiclous like £6.  I have worn this for meetings, interviewing and now presenting.  It’s really smart.  The jacket/cardigan was a sale purchase from Per Una  years ago.  It had a hideously huge corsage sewed onto the lapel and I hardly wore it because of this, so decided to remove the corsage and I’ve worn it loads since.Capture Thurs

No outfit for Friday, I had a hideous migraine and didn’t get round to taking photos.

Saturday’s outfit was to wear to a Burn’s Night fundraising Ceilidh for the Cumbria Landscape Fund which is raising money for repairing flood damage in The Lake District and Cumbria.  I had a fun evening, and this dress was fabulous for dancing in as it has a circle skirt which is good for twirling in.

Dress was from Asos Curve via Ebay in 2014.  I altered it significantly at the neckline and the waist and it looks an awful lot better for it.  Not my neatest job ever as it was complicated by the lining, but not too noticeable.Capture Sat

A gratuituous picture of a haggis and men in kilts from last night….

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Sunday’s outfit when I finally dragged my carcass out of bed is something I haven’t worn for over a year.  It’s a tunic dress from Evans with pockets which I got three or so years ago (in the sale, think it was a tenner – I love a bargain)

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So that’s my wardrobe weekly round-up.

Day 22/366: looking back at where it began

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Theme this month :

“Talk about how our teens/childhood influence our choices in clothes and things today”

I’m unofficially joining in with this Blog theme as it fits so well with what I have written.

This was a surprisingly difficult blog to write and it has brought up some really unpleasant memories.  But I think they need addressing as they are part of the root cause of my shopping issue.

For years as a teen and twenty something, I didn’t have any nice clothes.  I lived in ugly ill-fitting jeans, oversized men’s t-shirts and rugby shirts and fleeces.  This wasn’t actually because I wanted to dress like this, but was more that I did not fit into clothes sold in standard shops.  I was also terribly, horribly, awfully body conscious and thought that I didn’t deserve nice clothes.  I thought that I couldn’t possibly be attractive if I did wear pretty things, and that people would laugh at me trying to dress up, because of course I’d been told all my life that it wasn’t possible to be fat and look nice.

The photos above show me at three different parties at ages 18, 19 and 20.  The one on the right was taken at a Christmas dinner and all the other girls showed up in dresses.  But I was too self conscious to wear anything that would even slightly show my figure and also, it was almost impossible to buy pretty clothes in my size.  In the 1980s and 1990s, most clothing shops (suitable for a teenager!) went up to a 14.  16 if you were lucky.  This was the time of Small, Medium and Large equating to sizes 8, 10 and 12.  Dorothy Perkins only started carrying size 18 around 1994.

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The photo above was taken when I was 14 or 15.  The shirt I’m wearing is a Dorothy Perkins maternity shirt.  I remember the excruciating shame of the fact I had to buy maternity clothing to fit me because I wasn’t able to get into tops that fitted loosely enough to hide my body.

These two photos are me being as properly smart as I ever got.  On the left I was wearing this exceptionally ugly suit at a christening where I was a godmother. There are no words I can think of to express how awful I felt in it.  I knew I looked terrible, but I wasn’t able to find anything more suitable to wear that fit. The photo on the right was taken when I ended up wearing one of my Mum’s Laura Ashley dresses to the sixth form dinner.  I look more middle aged in this then than I do now.  It’s so sad to think how much I hated myself, how much I absorbed the jibes and bullying about my appearance.

I was so unhappy with the way I looked. I felt frumpy and horrible. And to be honest, I looked frumpy and far older than I actually was.  I was 32 in this picture, but I think I look older than I do now and that’s down to how I was dressed and how I comported myself.

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It wasn’t really until I was in my late 30s that I even started to consider that I could wear nice clothes.  I make a few forays into something different which included wearing tunics over jeans (I seemed to think that I couldn’t possibly not wear jeans or the world might end) and finding some interesting skirts.

I finally bought a couple of dresses which I didn’t wear often because I felt embarrassed despite the fact that I looked really good in them.

In 2006, I had started following Livejournal’s Fatshionista community which was so incredibly liberating to be a part of. It was radical fat acceptance at its very best, it was the start of a new online movement.  As the Fatosphere developed with blogs like Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose (The Fantasy of Being Thin is possibly the best post on diet culture I’ve ever read, seriously worth a read) Lesley Kinzel’s Two whole Cakes and Marianne Kirby’s The Rotund I discovered more and more amazing women talking about body image in a way I had never imagined possible.

I was obviously absorbing some of the amazingness of these wonderful women.  By 2010 I had started wearing skirts and dresses a lot more of the time, in fact I would wear them to go out and walk the dogs or go up to the allotment.  I had a slow revelation that I was so much more comfortable in skirts and dresses and that I found trousers and jeans so restricting.

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In 2010 I bought my first Beth Ditto dress which remains one of my favourites even now.  I was on a roll, I actually liked how I looked in this!

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I am so grateful to the fatshion, fat acceptance, health at every size blogs that I read over the past nine years.  I realise how far I have come in accepting who I am and how incredibly important and empowering it has been to be part of a community of supportive women.  I don’t love myself and sometimes I can’t even describe the feeling as “like”, but I no longer feel the crushing shame that I did all those years ago.  I don’t feel ashamed of my body for looking the way it does; most of the time I’m neutral about it which is a good place to be in compared to how I thought of it in the past.

But….. I’m fairly certain that this acceptance of myself for how I look and my sudden blossoming interest in clothes which are now actually available in my size has led to my shopping issues which I will talk about in another post.

 

See the other bloggers involved in this challenge!!

Betty: http://ift.tt/1UfOkoR
Cathy: http://ift.tt/22hrkKf
Christy: http://ift.tt/22hrkKh
Daisy: http://daisysays.co.uk
Kaye: http://ift.tt/22hrmSk
Kellie: http://ift.tt/22hrmSm
Leah: http://ift.tt/1jYK36D
Lee: http://ift.tt/1Sbta8I
Lisa: http://ift.tt/1MoGKAO
Mookie: http://ift.tt/S2eNL2
Nikki: http://ift.tt/1jYK2zx
Sarah: http://ift.tt/1MoGMIU
Vicky: http://ift.tt/22hrl0D

In social media the Plus 40 challenge can be found at
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Or Email: plus40fabulous@gmail.com

Day 21/366: My willpower is severely tested

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Today I faced my first real test of willpower. I had an hour and a half in Preston whilst waiting for a train. The station is right next to a shopping centre with shops that I don’t often get to.

Usually I would spend time in Primark, Debenhams and Evans rifling through the sale racks looking for bargains (especially at this time of year in the tail end of the sales when bargains are at their most bargainacious!) However, I resisted, and didn’t even go into Debenhams and Evans.

I did go into Lush and got some shampoo and conditioner and some soap, but these are needed as I’m running out. I treated myself to a lip balm too which felt naughty.

I let the side down though and bought a matt lipstick from Sleek, so feel a bit guilty about this as I wasn’t going to buy makeup this year either. I just can’t help myself, my compulsions are strong and I have less invested in not buying makeup than clothes.

So there you go, mostly a win with a  tiny bit of lose…

Day 17/366: weekly round up

Weekly wearing my wardrobe roundup.

Back to work means that I had a couple of smart days due to meetings.

This was last Sunday’s outfit. Dress was from Dorothy Perkins last year and is far more bodycon than I would have ever considered wearing even two years ago. But it’s comfortable and great for wearing at weekends

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This Asos Curve dress was an Ebay purchase about two years ago. I didn’t like it to start with as it’s quite gathered at the waist, but actually it’s now one of my go-to work dresses. The amazing cardigan was also off Ebay, it’s M&S and is 100% wool.
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As I wrote about earlier this week, the blue and cream polka dot dress is Karina (a US brand) via Georgina Grogan of She Might Be Loved blog
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Next dress is a staple meeting dress, it’s the first thing I ever bought from White Stuff two years ago and has served me well as a work dress. The fabric is printed with anglepoise lamps! I love it so much I also have it in red.
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I have to say I didn’t feel all that comfortable in this outfit, it felt constricting at the waist and I felt self conscious all day. Skirt and cardigan are White Suff from 2014 and top is C&A from France.

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Another Dorothy Perkins dress with an altered neckline as it was much too high on me. Think this is around four years old. Cardigan is from George from three years ago
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This is yet another Dorothy Perkins dress, probably 2-3 years old. I altered the neckline and the sleeves. Shrug is a never before worn item from Kaliko which has languished in my wardrobe for three years.
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And lastly today’s outfit. Very old clothes as I was making marmalade which is a messy business! Cardigan is Fat Face from ten years ago, skirt is George and top in Matalan, both seven or eight years old.
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Apologies about the formatting, doing this on my phone is not that easy!

Day 14/366: oooh, shiny

I think in general people are magpies, and very much drawn to new, pretty and shiny stuff.  Our ancestors were wearing jewellery and beaded and decorated clothing 25000 years ago during the last ice age and as humans began to work metal; jewellery and clothing became more and more complex and beautiful.

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Beads made of mammoth tusk Image via Twitter

So what has this got to do with buying too many clothes you might ask?  Well, beads and beaded clothing that took a lot of time to make were status symbols.  To create things that had no practical purpose meant that you had the time and resources to do non-utilitarian, non essential activities; you were not just out gathering food or collecting fuel.  This meant that jewellery and ornate clothing was scarce, precious and therefore highly valued as a status symbol by our ancestors.

25000 years isn’t very long in evolutionary terms, and we are still very similar to our ancestors in our desire for attractive, shiny things that demonstrate our status to the people around us.

Up until the late 20th Century with its huge rise in provision of consumer goods and general rise in incomes in the West, pretty clothes and jewellery were scarce unless you were very wealthy.  People would generally have one “smart” or “special” outfit and possibly a piece of jewellery or two.  Dresses were often made at home and were patched and mended and made to last as long as possible because it was expensive in both time and money to purchase fabric and make something new.

We now live in a time of plenty, in fact many would say we live in a time of excess, where our very ancestral human desire for new and shiny things can be gratified at any time of day or night.  We are constantly bombarded with images of things that trigger our desire for pretty things but also trigger our status anxiety.  Indeed, the consumerist society that we live in depends on our instinctive need to show status and position.  Look at any magazine, TV advert or billboard and you will see a lifestyle of shiny things being sold to you.  The economy would collapse if we only ever bought what we needed rather than what we want.

So it’s no surprise that many of us end up with so many clothes, shoes and bags that we could never wear them out in our lifetime.  We still have that basic, underlying anxiety about scarcity and status that our ice age ancestors had which never seems to go away, no matter how much you buy.

 

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Tiffany diamond necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12/366: unworn and unloved no more

A quck update, today I wore one of the dresses in my wardrobe that I acquired last year but hadn’t had an opportunity to wear. I bought it from Georgina of She Might Be Loved in an internet sale. I took the waist in slightly as it was a little too big, but it fits perfectly everywhere else. It was brilliant for today’s meeting, and I got loads of complements on it.

Another win for Wearing My Wardrobe in 2016!

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Day 9/366: first week of wearing my wardrobe

Well I managed the first nine days of the year without buying any clothes which is pretty good going for me especially at this time of year with the sales in full swing.

To help me keep to my goal of buying no new clothes in 2016, I have set up a Facebook Group called Clothes Shoppers AnonymousI hope this will also inspire and support other people who are interested in reducing the amount that they buy this year.  Please do join the group if you’re interested.

I’ve decided to post a weekly montage of what I have worn from my wardrobe every week, so week 1 is below.

This week I have been at home and not well, so I have to admit my clothes choices have not been the most inspiring! Hopefully next week when I’m back at work things will be a bit more interesting…

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Skirt Primark 2014, top H+M 2014
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Dress: Dorothy Perkins via Ebay 2015 worn over Primark baselayer 2015
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Dress: Dorothy Perkins 2012 worn over H+M baselayer 2013
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Dress: Matalan 2009 or 2010
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Skirt: Next via charity shop 2010, jumper Figleaves 2009
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Jumper dress: Monsoon 2013

Day 7/366: Addicted to the Purchase High?

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I’ve now done a week without buying any new clothes, although obviously I had two online shopping parcels arrive on Saturday.  I have however bought some perfume online today which isn’t so good (although the perfume smells gorgeous – I have samples already).

What I want to know is why I feel such a compulsion to buy things all the time. What is it in me (and in many others) that makes us such acquisitive beings?  In today’s Guardian Suzanne Moore talks about the now famous book by Marie Kondo called Spark Joy which muses on how we should only keep things in our life which bring us joy, and get rid of all the other clutter.

Well lots of things in my life don’t bring me joy, but are essential to every day life: things like dog poo bags or floor cleaner or sellotape, so I’m not sure that I go with this argument.  However Moore makes a good point at the end of the article when she says:

But the decluttering industry can’t deal with the broader aspect of why we feel so out of control in our own homes. After all, we have merely done as we were told: consumed. Now, it has become excessive, and we are swimming in our own tat. Is this elevation of tidying enough to stop the circle of shopping, of built-in obsolescence, of fashion, of our complete lack of connection to where any of our products come from?

To be free from this cycle may indeed be magical. The illusion that it is up to each of us individually to sort this out may be comforting. But liberation from the mess we have made is about more than a neat sock drawer.

And clothes bring me joy most of the time, but actually looking at it objectively, maybe it’s the *act of acquisition* that brings me joy.  I love trying on clothes and shoes and imagining wearing them during exciting or satisfying moments of my life.

Unfortunately, the reality of wearing clothes in my life is never as good as the imagined and I end up with an overstuffed wardrobe full of lovely clothes for which there aren’t necessarily the occasions to wear.  If the best I felt about the clothes was at the moment I purchased them, well really, what is the point?

It’s as if we are being sold the instant of purchase rather than the actual item we are buying.  Spending money can sometimes be seen as an almost sexual turn on. So is it the act of spending money not the thing itself that brings me joy?

This may be why I find myself making so many purchases; am I addicted to the purchase high?  If so, this is something that needs addressing as it is seriously disordered behaviour.  Consumerism is fucking me up.

 

Day 5/366: unworn and unloved

In light of the Telegraph article I posted yesterday, I decided to look at how many dresses I own that I had worn less than three times (not including my final purchases of 2015).  It turns out, rather a lot….

So to start with, these dresses have only been worn once or twice.

My Scarlett & Jo shame can be seen above….

Below, a selection of Simply Be and other dresses. Was gutted that the Boombands Em peacock dress doesn’t suit me very well.

Why do I bother buying maxi-dresses?  I’m so short that they make me look incredibly frumpy.  And Lady Voluptuous dresses are so gorgeous, but I’m seriously lacking places to wear them to.

And now on to the lovelies that I’ve never worn.

 

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All of the dresses in the bottom two photos were purchased second hand off Ebay, Depop or Instagram. Some of them I’ve not had the occasion to wear them, but others I’m just never going to wear because they don’t work e.g. the blue skater dress with black embossed pattern in the left hand picture just doesn’t fit right and the neckline on the body-con dress on the right is so low that it shows my bra which makes it impractical to wear.

So that’s most of the dresses I own which I’ve only worn a couple of times or not at all.  At least six of the unworn ones will be going to friends or Ebay, and I think that quite a few of the others will also end up on Ebay as they obviously don’t work for me.

I suppose that when buying off Ebay/Depop etc, you have to be prepared for the fact that some things won’t fit and/or won’t suit.  I have had many successful Ebay purchases, and by buying on Ebay have managed to get hold of dresses that I’ve seen on bloggers and loved, but can’t afford.  Looking through my bank statements it seems that most of my clothes purchases last year were online and second hand which means that on one hand, I have saved money, but on the other, I’ve ended up with things that don’t necessarily work for me.

The scary thing about looking at my dresses like this is that I acquired the majority of them last year.  I think this increase in my spending can be directly linked to being active on Instagram which I joined in November 2014.

Seeing other plus sized women wearing gorgeous clothes on the internet has been a catalyst for my spending to get out of control as I want to look as gorgeous as so many of them do.  But owning the same dress is not the same as looking like someone else and I think has been a source of dissatisfaction with my life and appearance.

I’m glad that I’m ruminating on my (bad) clothes buying habits as it’s actively addressing the issue for me and showing me that I have a compulsion to buy because I think it will make me happy when really, it doesn’t.

It’s not good for my self esteem, it’s not good for my bank account and it’s not good for the planet.