Challenge Update: Week 44

Eight weeks to go!

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

I bought nothing, but boy oh boy did I inherit some pretty amazing things.

What is really quite funny about the things that I inherited is that there are a few of them that I used to covet. Let me explain:

I have a very very dear friend with amazing, I mean, impeccable, irreproachable taste. She was doing some decluttering and asked me to come over and take a look before she put the load into a donation bin. Let me tell you: I had my keys in my hand so fast.

There were, amid the items she was decluttering, pieces that I had vivid memories of seeing her wear. Among them, a faux fur coat which I remember her wearing to my house for a tea party more than ten years ago. I remember seeing her walk in wearing that coat and thinking that I had never seen anything so lovely. Now, that faux fur coat is hanging in my closet and the cold weather cannot arrive soon enough. (FYI: I hate cold weather, so this is, in and of itself, something magical.)

Challenge Rule 2: The Inventory

I haven’t added everything I inherited into my inventory yet: I can’t be sure that it is all going to stay with me. There are a few pieces too beautiful to attempt to alter with my poor skills, but that would require either a different body to make them look right, or some skillful alteration. So I am waiting until I meet up with another friend who might love them, and see if she is interested before I do anything I might regret!

Challenge Rule 3: Go-To Catalogue:

I made a concerted effort to work on my Go-To Catalogue, seeing as how this is the one area of the Challenge I have been miserably failing at. This took literally 20 seconds each day.

The interesting result was that I discovered that I very much have two Fall “uniforms” and that any departure from this leads to outfit dissatisfaction.

The “Uniform” is a concept that reminds me of my childhood. My father used to have what he called his “Weekend Uniform”: one of several different color chamois shirts (which I believe nowadays are called flannel shirts, but which we called, “shammy shirts” and will forever remain “shammy shirts” to me) and sweatpants.

The idea that the “Uniform” is not reserved just for servicepeople is not new…I even wrote about it in my weeks’ long Ode to Mise en Place. But realizing that a Uniform can be a variation on a theme, not necessarily just several of the exact same black mock turtleneck or an endless row of the same gray hoodies, that felt new to me.

Challenge Rule 4: Mise en Place/Plan Ahead:

Using the “Uniform” idea, I did my Mise en Place with a different kind of goal: wear the same thing every day without wearing the same thing every day. This week, that meant wearing an above the knee dress, leggings and a pretty top or sweater with a cute obi to hold it all together. I managed four days of this in a row without batting an eye. (See top photo for my favorite, although the zebra dress did make an appearance and looked fabulous!)

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

I have been knitting the second sleeve on the little pale violet bolero I intend to wear to our Christmas Concert. For you knitters out there, you know that the second sleeve is always the slowest go. This one is in the round, and has all kinds of cables and decreases, so it seems to be taking forever. Other than that, I haven’t touched a needle all week.


My husband had a Law School Professor who said that in L1, the first months were living hell, but that there is light through the Turkey. For whatever reason, L1 students loved that expression, and particularly, my indulgent husband still to this day, loves that expression. If we can just make it to Thanksgiving, then we can take our foot off the pedal a bit.

I feel much the same way about this Challenge: if I can make it to Thanksgiving with my Challenge, then I will know I can make it the rest of the year. What I want, between now and Thanksgiving, is to start a list of the practical, must-have items that I desperately need/want to replace at the end of my Challenge. (New opaque black tights are the most urgent, #1 item on the list, followed by summer socks, which are important but not urgent.)

Then, the question becomes: what next? Do I re-up the Challenge for another year once those basics are replaced? I actually wouldn’t be opposed to it. I have, on any number of occasions remembered that little thought I had many many years ago, “What would it look like if you let Jesus dress you?”

He certainly has better taste than I do.

In other news…

While the French blog won’t launch officially until January, I am doing a small social-media only French-language version of my “No Stress Holiday Guide”. The idea is two-fold: to try my hand at creating quick turnaround content in French (although it’s not the creating that’s the problem: it’s the correcting and editing myself that is problematic) and to build an audience.

This whole project is scary to me: my audience for this content is people who actually know me, who I run into at the grocery store and at the climbing wall (true story! It happened on Monday!) It is far less scary to publish under a nom de plume and be authentic about my shortcomings than it is to be me to people who know my kids and their propensity to roll down the sidewalks growling like dinosaurs and my propensity to pretend I don’t know them when they act like this.

But as my friend Jonathan said, “You have all these people who know you and like you. It’s a waste to not share what you are doing with them in a language they can understand.”

Apparently this is called “sympathetic capital” in marketing, and apparently, according to him, I have a solid quantity of it to cash in. We shall see. For now, it’s just a brand new form of me feeling awkward and testing out what it feels like to be in over my head.

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.

2 thoughts on “Challenge Update: Week 44

  1. Ok, so you have on 2 dresses?? The black lace peeking out at the bottom, and the sheer lace sleeves?? You
    ‘re cute, so is the outfit! Is that the blue denim top you altered? I wondered what an obi was! My Japanese being limited to geisha, kamkazi, and kimono. I had figured out my uniform of leggings, and long Tshirts. Now my physical health has dictated an immediate change to only pull over dresses. Of which I have exactly 2! So, of necessity there will have to be a few pieces purchased. My daughter has several bamboo dresses, which feel so lovely!! But since she is so tall, they’re of no use whatever to me now. 😦


  2. Now, now, now, my crafty friend! Dresses that are too-long should never be a problem! Belts can help in a pinch, but hemming is a real possibility! I’ve used staples to try a hem length before, and scotch tape in a pinch! Even…I am not proud, but that iron on Ikea curtain adhesive has helped me hem before! Aren’t you observant, though? Actually, the sheer long sleeves is a transparent long-sleeve tee that my friend gave me…I wore it under the dress to make it a little warmer! The black lace is my half-slip which falls down all the time, so I have decided that it is a design feature and not a flaw! An obi is like a tie-on belt, that holds an outfit together and can give an “illusion” of a waist over many many layers of clothing which might otherwise give a “sack of potatoes” look! I discovered this trick while pregnant and have made it a mission to craft but never buy them…I’ve made some out of old suspenders, a nightgown of which I loved the fabric but hated the nightgown, a maternity dress…they are really versatile and super useful!


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