Challenge Update: Week 16

Forgive me Internet, for I have sinned. (Sort of.)

Challenge Rule 1: Buy No Clothes/Don’t Covet

I feel like a person who does not hold alcohol well, who just had a little sip of champagne at a birthday party and finds herself dancing on the tables belting out some song to which she doesn’t know all the words.

So what happened? Stupid social media advertising, that’s what happened. They know me. They read me like a book. They conspire against me. Over the last few days, I have gone so far as to imagine the Facebook advertising algorithm as a diabolical little cockroach rubbing his forearms together in delight, squealing, “I’ll get you, my pretty.”

Rewind. What exactly happened? Yes, well, I was innocently scrolling through Facebook as one does, when something caught my eye. It was a dress. It was a rainbow dress. No, no, not a cheesy Roy G. Biv kinda thing. This was a boatneck dream with horizontal stripes of multiple widths on top, in shades from pink to mustard to aqua to coral, the sweetness of it cut by white, and vertical stripes in the skirt, which was made up of tiny little ribbed perma-pleats. My words cannot do this dress justice.

Naturally, I clicked on the dress. I literally couldn’t stop myself. Then I immediately saw the price. One hundred sixty euros! For a DRESS!!! And yet, I had the real, absolutely lucid thought, “this dress is totally worth 160€.”

Knowing me as you do, with my obsession for Cost Per Wear (the infamous CPW), there is zero justification I could make to buy a dress worth 160€. Already I am still “paying down” a 50€ dress from two years ago to get it down to less than a 1€ CPW. So no, I did not buy the dress.

The only possible way this dress could be worth 160€ to me would be if I wore it 160 times in less than one year. That, my friends, is asking a lot out of a rainbow dress (more on this later.)

But do you see the mental gymnastics I had to do to convince myself that it wasn’t something I needed in my wardrobe?

Oh, but it didn’t end there. No, no, no. That would be too wise of me. Instead, I went on Amazon and started looking up rainbow fabric, thinking I could find something by the meter that I could make a rainbow dress out of. Naturally, part of my challenge was that I could only refashion items I currently had on hand as of January 1, 2021. So this was out of the question. But I put fabric on my wishlist, anyway.

So I guess this is the Sixteen Week Itch?

At any rate. I survived. The Challenge survived. I hate Facebook and their cockroaches who know me better than my own family does, who gave me a sip of champagne only to find me standing on top of a barstool singing “Rainbow Connection” at the top of my lungs.

Challenge Rule 2: The Inventory

Once the scalawags get back to school next week I am going to attempt my seasonal changeover. Stay tuned.

Challenge Rule 3: Go-To Catalogue:

Inasmuch as I was laughing at the idea of wearing a theoretically purchased rainbow dress 160 times in one year to get it below the 1€ per year threshold, here I am reaching for my own favorite-already-in-my-closet rainbow dress every time I don’t know what else to wear. This is just going to have to be okay. My existing rainbow dress is my all-time favorite Go-To item. End of story.

Challenge Rule 4: Mise en Place/Plan Ahead:

A Mise en Place mishap occurred this week. Due to this (almost at its end) neverending lockdown, I have found my Mise en Place mojo suffering a bit. There is a reason for this. I had, for a while there, gotten into the habit of doing my Mise en Place around 7:00PM while my men were occupied with their pre-bedtime ritual of 20 minutes of Blippi (awwwwh yeah, you fans of Blippi out there raise the roof!)

The timing of this seemed rather immutable during our regular school schedule, since we would have dinner, do the dishes, be ready for bed, toys put away etc before their Blippi-fest. However, when we changed over to European Summer Time in March, the previously 6:00PM COVID curfew changed to 7:00PM. Our afternoon playtimes at the nearby parks went later and later. Suddenly, we were trying to shovel together our evening routines into 20 minutes instead of 40 and we would still be doing dishes etc when Blippi started.

Naturally, this didn’t put me in the right headspace for Mise en Place. When something you 1. Love to do, 2. Look forward to doing and 3. Know is good for you, becomes a chore, then something’s not right.

So, what had to happen happened: I did a lousy, distracted job of Mise en Place and ended up feeling frumpy and unhappy with my outfit choice, a choice which was supposed to feel fun and fancy. (At one point I actually had my rainbow dress in hand, and then was like, come on, Lils. Do something else.) Because I wasn’t used to doing it anymore during the Zombie Olympics (the time after the boys go to bed), it didn’t even cross my mind to go back and fix it.

I woke up in the morning, went to get dressed and said, “Ugh! Who put this out? This is awful!” (It wasn’t that bad. A simple change-out of the tank top and I would have been far happier. But there ain’t no going back to the closet at 4:00AM for a different tank top.) So I suffered through that outfit all day, dressed as a humble penitent as a reminder of the importance of doing my Mise en Place.

The worst thing of all: My indulgent husband rarely, if ever comments on what I wear. He probably learned this twenty-some years ago when we had an argument over me “having nothing to wear” while I stood in front of an overflowing closet. (He is a highly teachable man.) That said, the only outfit he commented on since the beginning of the year? That one. “Oh…” he said. “You don’t wear…” he made a finger pointing gesture at his torso, “that very often.”

Challenge Rule 5: Repair and Mend, Alter when Necessary:

I am still sewing machine-free, I had an irrepressible urge to start sewing something. I think it was That Dress (muttered in much the same way someone might shamefully whisper “That Woman” about the town floozy) that got me all jacked up.

So I started working on my re-fashion of a bathrobe into an adorable summer wrap dress (in a rainbow of cool colors…that should serve as a small consolation) with petal sleeves that will look nothing like a bathrobe, no, no, no it won’t, when it’s done.

To be continued…

Round up

I have, once again, highlighted for myself the importance of doing my Mise en Place, and because I do truly believe that it is the single most important thing a woman can do to start decluttering her head and her heart, I will dedicate the first two weeks of the month of May on the blog to the Magic Making Practice of Mise en Place. Or Mise en Place in May. Or Do Not Bother Me I Am Putting Out My Clothes in May. Something catchy like that.

My sister, Poppy, also a Mise en Place evangelist, will be contributing to the extravaganza, as well as another fabulous woman from my family, a paragon of organization and wealth of experience (and amazing clothes). I cannot wait to share with you the down-to-earth tips, the hacks, the practical advice.

But…I also am eager to make the connection between how we feel about our wardrobe and how we feel about ourselves. I will argue that how we present ourselves is an exteriorization of our thoughts about ourselves, sometimes in convoluted and complicated ways that need to get untangled.

Those first two weeks of May will be equal parts practical and philosophical, so buckle up, it’s going to be quite a ride.

In Other News:

Lockdown should be over on Monday. Lockdown should be over on Monday. Lockdown should be over on Monday!!!!!!!

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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