Mar 28 2011

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

Continue reading

Jan 19 2011

the clothing experiment update [day 237]

Here’s the experiment.  I decided to reduce my wardrobe by 50%.  I also threw out a mini-challenge.  Take 25 pieces of clothing from your closet, place them in a box or plastic tote.  Put it away for a month and see if you miss any of the stuff in it.  If not, take it to the thrift store.  If so, take out the item(s) you missed.  Here are some updates.

50% reduction

I still have a long way to go on achieving a 50% wardrobe reduction.  I’m close, but I still need to purge some more stuff.  I went through my drawers and got rid of about 40% of that.  I need to make my 2nd and 3rd passes there.  I also had 2 loads of dirty laundry that were not included.  I didn’t count the pieces, but just guessing, I need to get rid of about 75-100 more pieces.  I’ll do that later in the week.

my boys did the mini challenge

I had both of my kids pull 25 clothing items out of their closets.

My youngest, 10, has some emotional attachments to his clothing, and to stuff he’s never even worn. Wow, we all start this process early. He has a lot of hand-me-downs that he intends to wear. The process was not easy for him.

My oldest, 11, is way pickier than I thought. I learned a lot about him in the process. He hates yellow and thinks it makes him look like a clown. He won’t wear anything with a collar. He had a lot of clothes in the back of his closet that were too small, and some clean laundry. I thought he had a lot of clothes, but he doesn’t because his brother, being the same size, has hoarded them all.

50 pieces of clothing is going to the resale shop.  And my boys? They feel good about it. It’s easier to keep their rooms clean.

others taking the challenge

I have gotten some great responses to the mini-challenge.  Besides the several people doing it, here’s some great feedback.   Continue reading

Jan 17 2011

airing my dirty laundry… and clean laundry [day 235]

I promised you dirty laundry, so here it is.  There’s actually more of it, but this is my basket.  My kids have one upstairs too.  So why an I showing you this?  I have no idea, other than it seemed like a fun title for this blog post.

I was thinking a few days ago how ridiculous it is that I have as many clothes as I do.  I have a relatively small closet, at least considered small by Frisco standards.  It’s a walk-in for skinny people.  I thought, “What if I got rid of half of my clothing?”  Helping my friend move back into her house, and helping her purge clothing from her son’s outgrown wardrobe, was the final push I needed to do this.

I decided to do it.  Get rid of half of my clothes.  Going into this, I had no idea if this would be easy or difficult.  Will it feel like a sacrifice?  Let’s see…

Let’s start with my closet.  I have approximately 278 pieces of clothing in there, so I will need to purge 139 pieces.  The first pass through the closet yielded 84 pieces of clothing.  Not bad for a first pass, but still a pretty long way to go.

The second pass, which was a little bit difficult, yielded 28 pieces of clothing.  This pass felt a little bit like a sacrifice, but when I thought about it, most of this is stuff I don’t wear anymore.  This batch included my pair of mismatched shoes, as they’re too small and hurt my feet.  Sad about those, but it makes sense to pass them on.  These will go to the first person that asks for them (size 7.5), as the thrift store would pitch them in the trash thinking they need exact matches.  Continue reading

Nov 27 2010

BLACK FRIDAY: the video [day 185]

Any other day of the year, no retailer would allow you to walk around their store with a camera around your neck, they would stop you and make you put it away.  On black friday, that’s not the case.  With the busyness and chaos of the thousands of shoppers, extremely long lines and merchandise everywhere, nobody stopped me.  Here’s the black friday 2010 video to the tune of AC/DC’s Back in Black.

A few black friday observations:

  • It’s controlled chaos. The retailers are creating it and they’re prepared for it.
  • There’s a size relationship. The bigger the person, the bigger the packages.  Oh, how some psycho therapist needs to analyze this.
  • People like to get a deal. I’m not sure if they really want or need this stuff, but there seems to be an accomplishment once they’ve gotten a deal.  If they researched a possible purchase during the year, they could probably find a similar savings.  Is it really a deal if it’s cheap and not needed?
  • Loss leaders. There are some deals that can’t be found throughout the year, but these loss leaders are only available to the first 3-5 people according to the ads.  Not a bad deal, but I would do the cost analysis, time and effort versus cost savings.
  • Warranties. Many of the big ticket loss leaders have very limited warranties.  Before buying, you better make sure it works before you put it under the tree.  Many items have 15 days warranties.  They might as well just skip that altogether.
  • 2 types of men. The ones that like electronics with a willingness to get up early and fight for it and the “my wife made me do this and I better get sex tonight” male drag-a-longs.  I might start a line of t-shirts before next year.
  • Sporting event. I’m pretty sure most women see this as some sort of sporting event.  It’s a race for the best deals and to get all the shopping done at one time.  Most of them are getting lots of practice time during the year, so it should be a good game.

There’s much more, but that’s the big stuff.  Now, what to get my kids for Christmas without going shopping?

Jun 19 2010

playing dress up [day 23]

Most people would argue that I’m an extravert, and although I do have those tendencies, I’m very much an introvert.  On the continuum of ‘E’ to ‘I’, my slider is much more toward the ‘I’, which is one major reason I’m not comfortable in large groups of people.  I feel exposed and awkward.

Last night I had a wedding to attend.  It’s not only the large group thing, but I also don’t like to wear fancy, dressy clothing.  I know this because I really don’t own anything besides casual clothing.  I also know this because of the bulging eyes and gasps from my friends last night, as they’re scrambling to find their cameras, in complete disbelief that I was wearing a dress.  That is, my $3 thrift store dress with sandals I dug out of the back of my closet, that were broken and stapled together to stay on my feet.  I guess I fit in well enough with the current trends in clothing, which was good, because a wedding is no place for me to make a statement about society’s pressure to conform to ‘socially acceptable’.  The photo on the ‘right’ shows how I feel about fashion.  This was part of a gallery showing I had a few years back called ‘excessable’.  It says more than I could ever put into words.

I’m quite sure my feelings on clothing stem from my childhood.  My mom had me in beauty pageants and I was never allowed to choose clothing I liked.  I was taught from an early age that you are judged by your appearance, which explains a lot about the way I dress myself today.  If I’m going to be judged, I do not want to be thought of as a conformist to our culture.

Don’t get me wrong here, I like style and a lot of my clothing is what would be considered ‘in style’ by our current fashion trends.  It’s the excessiveness, the name brand gods and the financial prostitution that bothers me.  Yes, I know those are harsh words, but allow me to explain.  I really wouldn’t mind having a new top, or for that matter, a whole new outfit.  The excess in this industry makes it difficult to choose an outfit, and if I can finally select one, it becomes my identity.  People don’t see me first, they see what I’m wearing.

The financial part?  I use the words financial prostitution because it means money and using your talents for an unworthy cause.  80% of my wardrobe is from thrift stores and the rest from discount stores.  Sometimes I wish I had a new outfit, but I’m not willing to make the financial commitment that is associated with it.  The retail establishments are making a killing off of clothing, many of them using cheap labor overseas to make it even more profitable.

Finally, the name brand god.  One of my favorite pairs of shoes are my Ed Hardy shoes, although I only wear one at a time, the other being a Converse or Sketcher.  My EH shoes were free, but they make the statement that I spend a lot on my clothing and that I support major retailers.  I like the artwork on them, but I think people see the name, not the art, then they judge.  Cynically, I do this too.  I see name brands and here’s the process I go through.  First I judge them, thinking they have spent a lot of money and have been sucked into the excess of our culture.  I get angry with them for being wasteful with their money.  Then I get angry with myself for judging, as it’s not right, I should treat others like I want to be treated.  I don’t like being judged so I shouldn’t do it.  After my conviction, I realize I don’t know their story.  Maybe their stuff was free, maybe they paid full price, not for me to worry about.  I need to worry about me and my actions, which brings me to my latest experiment.

My most comfortable pair of shoes is a beat up pair of Nike shoes.  I’ve had them for about 6 years?  I paid full price for them when they first came out.  I’m not sure it was money well spent, but I have gotten a lot of use out of them.  I was looking at these shoes one day and realized I’m a walking advertisement for Nike.  Each shoe has the name or the swoosh on it five times!  I got a razor blade and cut all of the logos off.  Sadly, they still look like brand name shoes, even with giant holes in them.  I’ve worn them at least five times, in different settings.  Not even one person noticed anything or said anything.  It really makes me want to go cut all the logos off ALL of my clothing.  Don’t be surprised…  Oh, here’s a pic of the shoes.

Society’s expectations of style and fast moving trends are a reality, and not something I want to eliminate.  What I would like to see?  Balance.  (you just thought of New Balance shoes, didn’t you?)  Money spent wisely on sensible clothing purchases, supporting companies that support fair labor practices and all of us, including myself, not to judge people by what they’re wearing.

I have to wonder if I would be as uncomfortable in large groups if I knew we all embraced each other’s outer and inner individuality, without judgement?  Probably not, but it might make it more tolerable.  Am I the only one that struggles with this?  I would love to hear your thoughts.