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71 Dresses in 71 Days: Week One

I have an addiction. I’m addicted to dresses. Dad, if you’re reading this … look away. LOOK AWAY, I SAY! I have 71 dresses. 71. That’s a lot of freakin’ dresses. I was a tomboy in elementary school and a kiss from Donny Osmond (whose puppy love brown eyes and magnificent white teeth made me swoon) couldn’t have gotten me to wear a dress. In middle school my legs were so skinny and bloody from my nascent shaving skills it wouldn’t matter how many times Peter Frampton came alive I was NOT wearing any dresses. In high school I had a sneaking suspicion my legs might actually be pretty, but that was quashed quickly in college when a boy I loved desperately informed me I had cellulite on my thighs.

But guess what? After we broke up the next few boys I dated worshiped at the shrine of my legs and all of a sudden:

It’s raining dresses! Hallelujah!
It’s raining dresses! Amen!
I’m gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet!
It’s raining dresses! Hallelujah!
It’s raining dresses! Every specimen!
Long, short, full and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean!

It’s been a magnificent love affair. But ladies, it’s got to end. I promise myself over and over that I WILL NOT look at that Boden catalogue pretending I’m going to buy something for my Mini Boden children, I WILL NOT walk into Anthropologie even to buy someone else a gift, I WILL NOT go into White House, Black Market — where the sales ladies are so good you buy not only a dress, but shoes, belt, earrings and a purse to match — but I always cave.

If I have a particularly disheartening work day I tell myself I’m just going to look at the new spring collection at any-store-that-carries-dresses online. If I feel fat, bored, angry, sad, creaky and old I cave in. “How long am I going to look good in dresses?” I ask the universe. I’m 47! Maybe I’ve got ten, twenty years left to wow in a dress? Then it’s diapers and dentures from there. Who knows what kind of hair grows on your legs at 90?

So this is my experiment. For the 100th time I’ve told myself I’m not allowed to buy even one more dress — in fact, let me raise that ante — I’m not allowed to buy ANY articles of clothing (this means shoes, sock, bras, lacy underthings, shirts, blouses — you get the friggin’ point) until I have worn every single one of my 71 dresses.

That means 71 dresses in 71 days. And I will post a photo of each dress on this site so you all can hold me accountable. I am purposely taking a light tone here about my addiction. But, in fact, it makes me feel pretty bad about myself. So here goes:

Here is dress #1 — a lovely frock from Boden (this IS NOT a sponsored post)

If you would like to join me in wearing all of your dresses before you shop again — or maybe for you it’s shoes? Or jewelry? Or all clothes? — you can send me your photo attached to an email to me at shannoncolleary@aol.com — and I will post your photo alongside my own. Wish me luck and keep me honest.

Dress One frame

This little baby is from Boden. Posing for this photo is the first time I’ve worn it. Super comfortable and with pockets. They had me at “pockets.”


Tags assigned to this article:
dress addictionshopaholicshopping addiction

40 comments

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  1. Ginger Kay
    Ginger Kay 14 March, 2013, 16:27

    I love dresses, but they so rarely fit me right that I mostly wear skirts and t-shirts. I envy you your 71 dresses that fit.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:37

      Hi Ginger — that’s just it, they don’t all fit. They’re a few that are quite simply too freaking tight. But I keep them because I’m always going to lose five pounds. But somehow I never do. I have gained three pounds so I suppose I can be grateful for that. Sigh.

      Reply this comment
  2. Frugalistablog
    Frugalistablog 14 March, 2013, 16:29

    I’m in! Oh my goodness, this rings true for me too. Do ball gowns count?
    I’m going to count my dresses and send you my pics EVERY. FRICKIN. DAY.

    Reply this comment
  3. Zoe
    Zoe 14 March, 2013, 17:05

    Um, I’m suddenly feeling really bad for myself because I have maybe 5 dresses (not including a few formal gowns I used to wear when I had fancy pants events to attend in Washington.)

    I love dresses but have a hard time finding just the right ones, and I hate the way my legs look much of the time – pale and stubbly – so pants are usually my garment of choice. Looking forward to seeing those 71 dresses of yours, though!

    Oh, and the Boden catalog… that’s just trouble right there.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:39

      Boden is trouble. It’s like needle park up in there. Just so you know my legs are white and stubbly too. They get a 3 o’clock shadow and one of my calves has a big dent in the front of it. I tell people it’s from a shark bite, but actually someone hit me with their waverunner. Now you have to send me a picture of you in a dress. Make sure it’s a photo you like bc I’m going to post it. xo

      Reply this comment
  4. PhotogCynthia
    PhotogCynthia 14 March, 2013, 17:59

    That’s an adorable dress. You look great in it. One down 70 more to go.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:39

      Just looking at the 70 in your comment makes me feel like the Imelda Marcos of dresses.

      Reply this comment
  5. Kathy
    Kathy 14 March, 2013, 18:22

    I am also a fellow shopoholic. I can barely make it through the week without buying an item of clothing, shoes, handbag or accessory. It just makes me feel so happy having lovely new things in my wardrobe. I tend to buys tops and have so many I have to frequently throw them out to make room for the new ones! I must count my dresses – I reckon I would have at least 71! Will keep you posted.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:40

      Kathy, please go count your dresses and report back immediately.

      Reply this comment
      • Kathy
        Kathy 15 March, 2013, 01:37

        Well I raced home from work and counted my dresses but I have fallen short of your 71. Only counted 48. I did sell some on eBay and donated to charity shops awhile ago. So I did have 70 at one stage!

        Reply this comment
  6. Janie Emaus
    Janie Emaus 14 March, 2013, 19:34

    Not only do I not have 71 dresses, I don’t think I have enough clothes to wear a new outfit for 71 days. But I could sneak into my daughter’s closet!

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:40

      Janie this just means you’re a much better person than the rest of us. Damn youoooooo!

      Reply this comment
  7. tania luviano
    tania luviano 14 March, 2013, 19:54

    What’s wrong with having too many of anything? I don’t get it!

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:41

      Okay, this is not helping. You’re like the little devil on my shoulder whispering, “buy it, buuuuuy iiiiiittttt!”

      Reply this comment
  8. Jenn Willey
    Jenn Willey 14 March, 2013, 20:42

    Oh how I wish I was blessed with beautiful legs to feel even a little comfortable wearing pretty, girlie dresses. I inherited chunky calves that I can’t even cover up with a cute pair of boots. How I envy your 71 dresses since I have like 5 of them that may still have tags. 🙂

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:42

      Alright Jenn, go cut the tag off one of those dresses, put it on, have your picture taken and send it to me. I know you look better in a dress than you give yourself credit for. xo

      Reply this comment
  9. Pattie
    Pattie 14 March, 2013, 20:48

    that is a great dress. I’ll tell you what. Once you wear your dress then you have to pass it on to someone else. Hey, what if I volunteer for that job? Okay… fine. I will. Send ’em on down.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 March, 2013, 21:43

      My girlfriends love me because I frequently drop my extras off to them. The thing is, if I didn’t buy all of these clothes we might be able to pay off our house. Or at least make a dent.

      Reply this comment
  10. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon 14 March, 2013, 23:21

    Dang. I love dresses, too. But my “addiction” is a little weirder. I love making them, which generally means I can’t wear them because my vision is greater than my sewing skills. And I don’t wear dresses, anyway, because they’re not practical. Good luck with your challenge.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 15 March, 2013, 10:56

      Hi Anne — I’m so impressed that you sew. I went to the tailor the other day to get him to help me sew a button back on my blue jeans. That is a little lame.

      Reply this comment
  11. AnnW
    AnnW 30 March, 2013, 11:42

    So what, you have 71 dresses. Sounds like you wear dresses all the time. Sounds like some are old. By the time you are done here you will have a better perspective. Why don’t you just set yourself a clothes budget for the year? Stick to it. Only buy more clothes if you make extra money from: garage sales, or books, or whatever. You could also trade with people. I just bought your book. If you go on a book tour you need new clothes. I have this theory that I only spend about $2000 a year on clothes, for the last 30 years or so. Why don’t you learn to sew? Then you can really go crazy. Dresses are easy to make, not so much detail. Ann

    Reply this comment
  12. Kyle
    Kyle 23 June, 2014, 07:41

    I happen to think the whole project is GENIUS. A friend sent me your way when I posted on FB this am my shock in seeing I have 25- I thought that was a lot! I think your project is the opposite of conceited, I think it’s more introspective than many realize, and I’m tempted to do the same thing. Looking forward to catching up on your posts!

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 June, 2014, 09:33

      Hi Kyle — thanks so much. I’m reading a great book by Gineen Roth called “Lost and Found” about shopping addiction and one of the things she stresses is paying attention to what we already have and needless to say I have a lot.

      Reply this comment
  13. Elaine Plummer
    Elaine Plummer 24 June, 2014, 10:14

    Cute dress and great idea!!

    Reply this comment
  14. LadeeAlana
    LadeeAlana 25 January, 2016, 11:39

    I’m a crossdresser, and I have more than 71 dresses. This white lace dress is one of my favorites.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/10379538@N05/14022698815/in/pool-2053016@N25/

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 25 January, 2016, 13:42

      Ooh must go look. I’m going to assume that you put Eddie Redmayne to shame!

      Reply this comment

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