Challenge Quarterly Report: Q3 2021

AKA Challenge Update Week 39

Nine months have passed since I started my Buy No Clothes in 2021 Challenge.

Just as I did at the end of March and the end of June of this year, I want to take a few minutes to look back at the last three months and give myself an excuse to celebrate.

Where progress was made.

Last quarter, I started by bemoaning the fact that I had made absolutely zero progress towards getting my books published. Well. That’s funny, because this quarter, I did.

I got an offer for a book contract which I ultimately declined, because nothing about it was what I wanted. Which sounds pretty cheeky coming from someone who has never published a book before. But there are times when doing the counterintuitive thing is exactly the thing we have to do, even if we don’t know why.

This quarter, I have queried six agents, all six of whom I would dream of having on my team to represent me as an author. Six was my goal. Six doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is what I though I could handle this month. If I were a real go-getter, a real self-starter, I would have pushed it. But I met my goal, and that is already something to celebrate.

Non-Rule related progress

Just for fun, here are a few random things that have happened since my Purchase No Clothes in 2021 Challenge began:

  1. I survived our first back-to-school season with everybody needing to be in different places at different times.
  2. I have morning and afternoon work time every single weekday. Yay!
  3. I have an unbelievable workspace at the University Library only three minutes from the boys’ school so I can make the most of every single second.
  4. I was able to reinvent myself as someone confident and unafraid to address unpleasant situations when it comes to my children and their classmates. This, right here, deserves fireworks and an ice cream celebration.

And now, with no further ado, and in order to keep my boss (that rather severe looking woman at the top of the page) happy, here is my Third Quarterly Report:

Challenge Rule One:
Purchase No Clothes and Don’t Covet

Key Performance Indicators:

O€ spent on clothes or accessories.

  • I received gifts. Do gifts count?
  • I received hand-me-downs.
  • While neither of these cost me any money, they did cost someone money, and I feel a little like I’m cheating here.

Reduction in sum of covetous thoughts.

  • While the overall number of covetous thoughts has been reduced, my covetous thoughts came out of my covetous mouth and fell on receptive ears.

Next Steps:
This next quarter I am intent on keeping my covetous thoughts to myself, and not acquiring anything, be it gift or hand-me-down, that would spring from my own imaginings.

Challenge Rule Two:
Complete the Inventory

Key Performance Indicators:

Wear everything at least once in 2021.

  • This is done.

The Basement Bin is Empty

  • This was done in Q2

Next Steps:
Do another seasonal changeover, from summer to winter. Cull anything in the lot that I know doesn’t fit right or that I don’t want anymore.

Challenge Rule Three:
Create a Go-To Catalog

Key Performance Indicators:

Three designated casual “Go-To” Outfits

I attacked a “Cost Per Wear” Challenge this summer to bring the last few items of my wardrobe down to 1€ per wear. I nearly made it, I just have one last dress that needs a few more wears! Having just 4 dresses to choose from was a big big challenge, and I couldn’t stick to it. I needed more options…

Three designated polished “Go-To” Outfits

This has morphed into having very specific outfits for specific occasions: I have three specific “funeral” outfits, specific “church” outfits. These are easier to keep track of.

Next Steps:
Keep trying and finding different ways to make this a habit.

Challenge Rule Four:
Practice Wardrobe Mise en Place every day

Key Performance Indicators:

Do Mise en Place every evening for the next day’s ensemble

Doing this nearly every day this year has been, by far, the rule I delight in the most. Just how much easier life is when everything is ready….blissful.

Last quarter, my goal was to encourage the other members of my family to pursue Mise en Place. This has been met with less resistance since school started, although it is still spotty. I love it when this is their idea, but when they don’t suggest it, I need to not shy away from reminding. Whether or not they want to do it is their problem.

Next Steps:
Talk up Mise en Place to everybody I meet, and make a routine with the boys so that this becomes non-negotiable.

Challenge Rule Five:
Repair and Mend, Alter when Necessary

Key Performance Indicators:

Mend (at least) one item per day

  • Yeah, no. I fell behind on this, and I don’t even feel bad about it.
  • One thing I did do recently was take the stash of “beyond repair” items and cut them into rags.

Improved sewing/tailoring skills

  • I altered more sleeves than I have arms this quarter, both on new-to-me items and on older things that I wanted to fix permanently (rather than using safety pins!)

Next steps:
Survive on the very very limited selection of summer socks that remains, and gleefully break into my Fall socks that are mercifully more numerous and less holey than my summer socks. I do believe that the one thing I will buy myself, as close to January 1, 2022 as possible, will be new socks.

What’s next?

That is a good question

I feel nothing but love for what is in my closet, but I need to further reduce the quantity of items in it. I still feel like I have too many choices. I know now that four dresses is too few, but that I also simply own too much. Just too many choices, in very specific areas. I have swaths of closet that I rarely ever wear (although I did make myself wear them at least once this year.) I need to be willing to say “Thank you and goodbye.”

Also, our basement storage, although devoid of my clothing, is filled to capacity with toys, outgrown little boy clothes, unused furniture, dishes and other junk. I would really love, by the end of this year, to empty that basement storage unit.

Get ready for next year

I realize that I only have three months left to get a handle on my urges, on my abusive relationship with myself, before I remove the guardrails that were holding me together this year. That’s scary.

I know that one of the secrets is mindfulness, which I will soon be exploring as a facet of the virtue Lucidity.


So there we have it! Nine months of my challenge in the bag. Three months left, to dig deep and start dreaming about what I want from next year. Three months isn’t too short, after nine months of detox!

One thing is for sure, this space has been enormously helpful for me to work through my myriad thoughts and theories!

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.

One thought on “Challenge Quarterly Report: Q3 2021

  1. Yay for so much progress!! I never knew the term mise in place as a wardrobe term, but when I was teaching, if I didn’t get out my outfit for the next day, I’d almost have to call in sick! And making daily clothes bundles for my grands, was the best trick I ever learned!!
    I think new socks will be a quality investment you deserve!!
    And I also think gifts and hand me downs do not count against you.


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