Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What I learned during Lent 2014

I don't think there's really much value in doing A Thing unless one evaluates the effects of The Thing, at the very least in terms of insights gained.  So I've been thinking a bit about what wearing the same 30 items of clothing for 46 days has revealed to me...

Once I hit on a combination that works, I tend to stick to it

A lot of the things I posted throughout Lent were definitely Outfits.  And the same Outfit cropped up a number of times.  Often these items that go together have been purchased at or around the same time.  In other areas of life I think I reflect this too - I have Ways of doing things.  Mostly I think they are the most efficient or effective or thorough ways, but mostly they are just the way I first learned to do them.  Sometimes with some post-hoc justification.

I wear things for years

That khaki skirt?  I think I've owned that for at least 8 years, possibly longer.  And while relatively recent purchases feature strongly on my Lent list, there are items in my wardrobe that go back to my school days.  Which is before we get onto the heirlooms that I have inherited from various friends and relations.

I have favourites and like to wear a uniform

That jersey blazer?  It was mere weeks old at the start of lent and it was worn 16 times.  Nothing else was worn more than 6 times.  And the items that were worn 6 times each were all worn to work several times.  So either that striped jersey blazer is just my ideal item of clothing (and it might be - it works with trousers, shirts and dresses, it can go to work but it casual enough for the weekend, the arms are ever so close to being long enough and it's very comfortable) or I could do with adding something to share the burden.

Lent is at an awkward time of year for this sort of experiment

My first few outfits feature a lambswool jumper, a heavily-knit tunic and thick opaque tights.  By the end I was in summery dresses with thin or no tights.  If the aim of the game was to cut down on clothes it would probably be most meaningful to carry it out twice a year in winter and summer, allow for layering and a few mid-weight things for transitional seasons and chuck the rest.

I am toying with the idea of putting some of my clothes away for the summer.  I live in the kind of climate where very few things are only worn in one season, but there are some things (woolen skirts, for example) that I'm not going to want out again until September or October.  And as my in-use storage space is limited, giving everything else a bit more freedom to move might result in it being easier to see and thus get into rotation.

I own a lot of clothes

This was revealed more by the Big Holy Saturday Spring Clean than by the 30-item exercise, but even though I was wearing the same 30 items for 46 days, I only scratched the surface of the clothes that I own.  And some of those clothes would get a lot more wear on other people.  Perhaps it's time to adjust to a sparser wardrobe containing only quality items that actually fit well and that will really last, where possible from independent or ethical suppliers.  It certainly might be time for a clearout.

I have weirdly good recollection of where I got my clothes

Only one item (that khaki skirt again) am I not sure whether I bought it on sale or at full price.  All of the others I know.  Many of them I could even give you a ballpark figure for what I paid.  Which brings me to my next insight...

I very rarely pay full price for my clothes

Only two of the items on my list were acquired at full price.  And one of those was bought at TK Maxx, so it wasn't the manufacturer's full price.  The only full price item in my list that was bought at its original outlet is the flare jeans.  And when you are the dimensions I are, jeans are pesky creatures that very rarely show up to fit in the sales or second hand.

It's a lot easier for me to take on projects that affect only me

We were better at using up all or most of our delivered veg during Lent, but sometimes that meant neeps for dinner every night and you've got to be a willing participant to put up with that.  We are also very used to having a meat component in our day-to-day diet.  I have spent time previously being nearly-vegetarian and eating very little meat while on a budget, but it is much harder to impose these things on someone else.  The veg delivery is changing now with the seasons, so the neeps should run out soon.  Perhaps we'll miss them.

It is possible for neeps to be a tasty part of the winter diet

And the answer is roasting them with salt and pepper in chunks with other root vegetables.  They were't bad parboiled and fried off before going into a risotto either.  If they're going to be mashed, my preference is for there to be carrots and either parsnips or potatoes in there too, but if they have to be alone then a generous helping of butter and back pepper helps them go down.  My next experiment will be to put them into a cake in place of carrots.

Taking on a specific project for a defined period of time is beneficial

I am so easily overawed by the enormity of a task that I never start it.  If I had decided to 'evaluate my wardrobe' I wouldn't have known what to do.  But I have wound up thinking a lot about the items I chose for my Lent project (even if very little thought went into putting them on the list) and about other items that I haven't been 'allowed' to wear for the past six weeks.  So I might just re-evaluate my clothes and perhaps I'll make some changes, but I might just continue on in my whimsical and individual way, dressing the ways that I like to dress.

I haven't been all that good at blogging my adventures, but I have built up a stash of articles and I feel good about that.  Perhaps my next few should avoid the topics of clothes.  There's probably some mileage in the veggies though.

And perhaps I will take on other projects.  More worthy projects even.  That could be good.

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