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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spring Sandals in the Air!

I was feeling a little blue yesterday and found myself in DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). Old habits die hard. I don't need any shoes at the moment but the pull is magnetic. And it's no wonder! The spring sandals are in ! The spring sandals are in! Here's just a sampling of what I found:
So beautiful! Each and every pair whispered, "Pick me!" or "Try me on!" or "I'll make you look sooo good!"
So here was the test: I was feeling a little down, spring sandals were calling me and I was sick and tired of being cold. Would post-Bye-Buy me stay strong or would I relapse?
Then I saw these:

See that price tag? 80% off $69.94. Crack. Could I resist? I tried them on and they fit perfectly! Comfortable, supportive. The brand: Tahari. These were good sandals. I went to the mirror. Were the front straps a little too wide? Probably not. The ankle strap was nice. But the front straps ...
Yes- the front straps were too wide. They looked just clunky enough that they were not exactly right for me, even at 80% off!

Success! Wooo! The new me is staying strong! Now, for a reward ... one of the other pairs of sandals?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Finally Found Someone Who Looks Good in Colored Jeans!

Finally, someone who can actually pull off the red jeans! Jack rocked the Valentine's Party at preschool and the ladies loved him! Hope you had a rockin' Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Prabal Gurung for Target: I Tried It On!

Target is featuring a limited time fashion collaboration with designer Prabal Gurung. You've probably heard this as the buzz has been at full volume for weeks now. Even Good Morning America featured it as a "news" segment. I probably couldn't pick out a Prabal Gurung dress in a line-up, but his fans include Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama so I was definitely intrigued. My personal reviews of Target designer collaborations in the past are mixed. They must sell well because Target has continued the practice.

Looking back at the Bye Buy year, one of my big fears was that Target would collaborate with a fabulous designer and all of the pieces would be perfect for me. And I wouldn't have been able to buy them. The challenge year is complete so I dashed over to Target to check it out. Well, I went under the guise of buying cat food but who am I kidding? I wanted to see the goods.

My first clue that all was not fab--everything was in stock. When Target featured a Missoni collection in 2011, demand crashed the Target website and the stores quickly sold out of everything except sizes XS and XXL. My size was there in each and every Prabal Gurung style. Hmmmm ... Maybe I was just early. I selected the following items:

My agreement with myself dictates that I try things on in the store before buying. The Target fitting room is not my favorite place but a deal is a deal. With an open mind, and genuinely hoping that a designer label would be included in my spring wardrobe, I tried each piece.
Here's what I found:
Red Sandals: The style is pretty. I found them to run narrow. If you look closely, the stitching gives a cheap appearance. I would love red sandals but know I wouldn't wear these.
Long sleeved tee: I love the print that runs through this collection. The vivid florals really catch my eye. The tee fit well with appropriate length in the body and the sleeves. As you can see, the eye is drawn to the top which is nice, but the vast white area at the bottom left me looking thick(er) through the middle. I sure don't need that.
Lime Dress: The quality of this dress was nice but the sizing ran small and short. The style is suited to someone younger than myself.
Black Dress w/ Floral Inset: This was the one I really wanted to work. It's figure flattering, not too young and gives a flirty spring vibe. At $39.99, I was really ready to say Yes! to this dress. Alas, this too ran small and short. I was super bummed. 
All-Floral Dress: In real life, this is like a t-shirt dress with a ruffle hem. It's pretty but better suited to someone with a narrow figure.

For the price, the quality was good and the styles were an upgrade to typical Target. As I have learned the very hard way, it's only really good if it is really right for me. Sadly, these were not right for me. No lovely floral designer dresses in my spring wardrobe so far. I left Target deflated and feeling old. I even forgot to grab the cat food. 

There will probable never be a perfect Target/designer collaboration for me, but I'll keep an open mind. Hey Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenburg and Anya from Project Runway, why don't you talk with Target? I would definitely get in line.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Be Perfect

I am one of those annoying perfectionists. Not perfect, just constantly striving to be so. I annoy even myself. It's always been this way. I don't think it's a family thing. I have two sisters who seem to lead a normal, happy existence content with who they are. As simply and automatically as I draw breath, I aim for perfection.

So what's wrong with that? From one of my favorite quotes (Marianne Williamson)

"Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone."

I have finally realized that it's not trying to be perfect that is the problem. Before I try to be perfect, I have to decide what perfect is. For too long, I have tried to live up to many brands of perfection. How I look as dictated by fashion magazines. How I parent based of widely spread, false ideals. How I work by letting too many opinions define my measure of success. I am finally, after a half century, trying to be my own brand of perfect. I am finding, much to my relief and delight, that perfect lies in the imperfect

I have found that my perfect wardrobe does not contain the optimal, impeccable outfit for each and every occasion. My wardrobe is manageable with good basics. My closet is neat. I know what I like and what I feel good in. I glean far more satisfaction from this than the split second joy in feeling like my outfit is the best. 

I am no longer trying to implement a documented decorating style in our home. I simply surround us with stuff we love. Not stuff in fashion, but trinkets from vacations, kid's art and family photographs. I am even learning to revel in the worn-ness of it. The stained sofa, the frayed rugs and the scuffed walls. Who knows, I may come to a day when everyday clean is considered "company clean" (although I doubt that one).

My attention deficit is a marvelous thing. My unconventional children are interesting. My work, though difficult to define, is rewarding. I will continue to implement as many of my crazy ideas as humanly possible. This is my brand of perfect. So, find your brand of perfect and be perfect.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What's More Fun than a Shopping Spree?

What could be more fun than a shopping spree? What could feel better than sliding on a new outfit, snapping of the sales tag and setting off for a new beginning? What is more exciting than the first glimpses of colorful, hopeful spring fashions?

I'll tell you what. Not spending money. 

Having spent an entire year without buying clothes then one month buying clothes, the NOT buying is much more fun.I have decided that I like money more than clothes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is it Zumba or is it Maggie?

At my core, I am a dancer. Not a professional, not by a long, long shot. I am a dancer from the heart (which also means that I should do so in the dark or at home). When I hear a good beat or infectious rhythm, I just can't help it, I have to move. When I heard that there was an organized dance exercise class that embraced my own love of dance, I knew I had to try it. It was called Zumba, much cooler that Jazzercize or Dancing to the Oldies with Richard Simmons. I signed up for a class through community education.

The class was packed with about 75 women (yes, all women) and the buzz was electric. The instructor, a gal named Maggie who seemed approximately my age, was welcoming,  encouraging and full of energy and enthusiasm.  The hour went by quickly and was kind of a blur as I struggled to fall into step with the ladies around me. I limped out with a strained hip knowing that I had found my place. I was made for Zumba. 

For the next 2 years, I attended every class. I learned the routines and positioned myself closer to the front of the class. I got the real Zumba shoes and had Zumba playlists on my iPod. Make no mistake, a Zumba class is exhausting but no matter my mood upon arriving, it was better when we were finished. I felt cool, sexy and fit. 

During the Bye Buy year, I evaluated most aspects of my life. One area that needed improving was spending quality time with my husband. We decided to join a gym together. It was expensive so I no longer had the budget to join Maggie's Zumba classes. The gym claimed to have Zumba classes and I joined in at three different times with three different instructors in hopes of finding a replacement for my favorite class. 
Whoa ... very different. Perfect-bodied instructors that quietly go through the moves. No wooos. No calling out the next steps. No reminding us that it's okay to fall into freestyle every now and then. I did not feel joy. I tried the Zumba home DVDs. Not so great. I tried playing the songs on my iPod and doing the routines from memory in my living room. Not as much fun. Perhaps Zumba wasn't as fun as I remembered? Or could it be that it wasn't the Zumba I liked, but Maggie? 

I think what I really liked was having a room full of enthusiastic, like-minded women who can dance with abandon without embarrassment. I loved the lively music, even though it wasn't strictly from a Zumba soundtrack. I loved that it was okay not to pretend there was a pole involved. Just joy, pure dancing joy. 

I did finally find a Bodystep class at our gym that is pretty good and my husband even comes along. But as soon as the budget allows, I'll be back at the community ed class with Maggie, shaking my groove thing. If you are in the Lake Orion area, I highly recommend trying Zumba with Maggie. Since I find it so different from actual Zumba, I think I'll call it Mumba (or Zaggie?)
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Monday, February 4, 2013

Have you ever had a McDonald's milkshake? They are often sold as the beverage to accompany a meal. They taste pretty good. Better yet, Culver's offers a chocolate milkshake that I think tastes even more delicious. Then I found out that a medium McDonald's shake has 580 calories and the medium Culver's shake has 912 calories! As a life-long dieter, those numbers are burned into my brain and I will never be able to enjoy one of those frosty concoctions again. Same with the 680 calorie bread bowl that does't even include the soup. Once you know these things, you can never un-know them.

For most of my years, my head was in the sand about the way I purchased clothes. The money thrown away, the time wasted and emotional turmoil it caused was just put in the back of my mind like knowing that probably the chocolate shake has a few more calories than a diet coke. The year I spent living with the poorly chosen purchases is burned into my brain like the calorie counts. I know that I used to buy clothes that I didn't need. I treated them like throw-aways. I figured out that I liked to control how my kids looked by constantly adding to their wardrobes so they would never venture out to make their own choices. I finally understood that my grandson is so cute, no outfit in the world could make him cuter. Now these things-- I can never un-know them.

I sit here in February evaluating the first month back to the mall. I have purchased some things but fewer than I had anticipated. The truth is, the thrill is gone. I can no longer enjoy a milkshake when I know it has 912 calories. I don't enjoy clearance shopping because I know where the clothes will likely end up (in the donation bin). I don't want to spend money that I don't have to spend. And, frankly, I have better things to do than wander around the stores. I now buy what is necessary and do so thoughtfully.

During the Buy Buy year, I had to find diversions to lessen the pain of not shopping. No longer diversions, I would rather (yes, really rather!) read, keep up on organizing, have time for working out and write. I enjoy my cleaner, less cluttered home. I spend way better quality time with my family. 

I was tested last weekend. We were invited to dinner at a very nice restaurant. Yay! I like to get dressed up and eating out occasionally is a treat. I pulled out one of my favorite dresses, which looks a little better on now that I have been going to the gym more often. I curled my hair and wore eye shadow. Then I went to the closet to select a pair of shoes. I remembered that I had no basic black high heeled shoes. I have red, orange, bone, silver, fuchsia, and multi-colored versions, but nothing in a simple black shoe. Instant thought: Can I get to DSW, find the perfect shoes and still get to a restaurant on time? Of course I can! I am super-shopper! I can find the perfect shoes, on sale, is less time than it takes to ... wait a minute ...  I could, but should I? Did I have shoes? Not perfect shoes, but passable shoes. Would anyone even look at my shoes? Probably not. Do I really want to rush around and be stressed before a nice evening out? No. So I put on the unseasonable peep-toes and went to dinner. And it was goooood.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Re-entry Into the World of Buying

Now that I am back into the retail world, free of the restraints of my self-imposed Bye Buy challenge, I am finding out just how difficult restraint can be. Under the Bye Buy rules, I could buy nothing so it was easy. There was no decision other than to remain true to the challenge. I have given myself the month of January to replace some things and supplement my wardrobe to make it more effective for my lifestyle. So why did I walk around the store with a pair of chartreuse, ankle-length, wool trousers--afraid to try them on but still wanting to buy them?

Better question:  Why am I walking around a department store? The perils of re-entry.

When I am home, it's easy to dress for my lifestyle. It's real. I've decided that if I am working from home and going to the gym later, I'll just wear my exercise clothes all day. If I have an appointment or meeting, I have some great outfits that I love to wear. I've pared down and organized my closet very effectively.

When I walk into a store, though, it is like I have entered a fantasy world. A world in which I stroll around in wild-colored ankle trousers with fabulous statement shoes. I am thin and beautiful in this world. I surprise and delight myself and others with my innovative outfit choices. I don't think I actually work in this world, except to critique fashion. I probably lunch at lovely restaurants in this world with stylish and interesting friends. My fantasy world probably looks like images in the many, many magazines I used to subscribe to. Sadly, this world does not exist.

Pre-Bye Buy, I bought the things I found in fantasy world and they remained in my real-world closet, mostly unworn. In my head, I know better now. I can distinguish between real life and fantasy. I know to buy well-fitting, quality clothing that works with the rest of my wardrobe. As the post-Bye Buy weeks pass, slowly but surely, my real life remains in focus and I am embracing it with gusto. I still like those pants, though.