• Perhaps 71 Days of Dresses Is 71 Too Many? Dress #8

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    Hi guys — today I got my first bit of feedback from an honest, thoughtful reader telling me this No Shopping Project #71dressesin71days of mine isn’t really coming across the way I intended.

    I was a bit worried posing like Vanna White on a daily basis with yet another dress might seem like showing off and, according to my reader, it seems I’m right. So here’s what I’m trying to do:

    I have a shopping addiction. I shop for a piece of clothing for myself on average once a week. Sometimes it’s not as frequently and sometimes it’s more frequently. It hasn’t notably impacted our finances, but if I really stop to add up everything I’ve spent over the last several years on clothing I could probably have done something more meaningful with that money. (Like pay off our house)

    I really want to stop spending compulsively. Many times I’ve sworn to myself I wouldn’t buy ONE MORE THING until I’d worn every single item in my closet and my drawers that I already own. That conviction would last a day or two and then I’d relapse.

    So this time I had the idea that I’d make it a public goal. That I would start with my dresses on this blog. When I counted how many dresses I have I was mortified. 71 dresses. Granted they’re not lined with crack, but still. So I planned to wear all 71 dresses a day at a time on this blog so that I would not relapse and shop again during that time.

    But I think what’s happening is that I’m accomplishing the opposite. I seem to be hosting my own one-woman fashion show. I’m vain so I am definitely not taking unattractive photos of myself in these dresses. So I am open to any suggestions about how I can bring this project back around to what I’d initially intended.  All comments and suggestions would be very much appreciated and likely implemented. Truly. It makes me feel fortunate to know there are readers who care enough to tell me when I’m coming across as a horse’s ass.

    Having said all of that, I was greeted to this in my mailbox when I returned from picking up my daughters from school:


    I make a lot of jokes about how Boden is my drug of choice. But it’s really not cute anymore. Normally I’d get a flyer like this one with heavily discounted items and would run immediately to the computer and buy something. Today I threw this flyer away because of this project. Every time I log on to my computer a Boden ad pops up somewhere on my page and flashes at me.  In fact, if any of you computer gurus can tell me how to get that to stop I’d love your help.

    I want to stop consuming and accumulating.

    Also, I’m just about finished writing an extra-curricular project so my #71dressesin#71days project won’t be all I’m blogging about. I did wear my 8th dress today, and despite that flyer I did not succumb to shopping:

    Shan in 8th dresspic

    ADDENDUM: After reading all of your helpful suggestions in the comments below I’m going to do my NoShopping Dress post every Friday, with a gallery of the dresses to keep me honest. I will also be asking which ones to keep and which ones to donate to charity.  THANKS SO MUCH for your input!

    P.S. If you are someone struggling with shopping addiction I’d love it if you’d join my journey and send me your photos. Or if you are someone who has conquered a shopping addiction I’d love to share your success story. Thanks so much!


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    42 comments > Write one

    1. Greg says:

      I think you have to catalogue the dresses, Shannon. If you think you’re coming across as Imelda Marcos maybe find a drag queen to model them?

    2. Kathy says:

      From a fellow shopaholic I think we both should unsubscribe to those tempting fashion websites that send you an email every day. I’m getting far too many anyway and would be more than happy to delete them from my life. I have already started putting money that I would normally spend on fashion into what I am titling ‘my holiday account’ and I intend to take my daughter to Bali later on this year with the money I have saved. Maybe you could do the same?
      P.S: I was enjoying seeing your dresses!

      • Shannon says:

        Kathy what a great idea. Bali. Oh, I want to go too!! Don’t worry, the dresses will keep coming. It’s been great to wear them and not shop.

    3. Alanna says:

      Hi Shannon!

      You’ve so addressed my concerns and clarified the point of the project – thank you. Perhaps you could post a gallery of dresses weekly or fortnightly so that you stay accountable, and that way you can keep doing your normal fabulous thing without the project coming across the wrong way? And in your post in the gallery you could address the point of the project etc?

      Just a suggestion.

      PS. Will be clicking on overly as regularly as usual. Hi from Australia!

      • Shannon says:

        Alanna — I love the idea of posting once a week. Even I was getting sick of writing about my dresses daily. I think what I’ll do is post my gallery on Mondays with my progress. Again, thanks for speaking up. xo

    4. Susan says:

      How about choosing 36 dresses and donating the rest, or selling them and donating the money? I literally have 5 dresses and I’m able to get through the year. I suppose I buy one new dress or so a season if I’m retiring one. I think it’s great that you are trying to downsize! It’s weirdly head clearing to clean put your closet!

      • Anne Pole says:

        I agree with this idea and would take it a step further; take five dresses per week to a good consignment shop (or have someone take them for you if you feel you might come home with a purchase). When you get your check, endorse it to your local food bank or women’s shelter. And then keep doing this, perhaps even adding some money to the check when you’re feeling especially good about what you’re doing. So many of your dresses look alike that it is clear that your are buying for the high rather than for the dress of your dreams.
        There are so many women out there who are struggling to feed themselves and their children. Think of the tremendous good you could be doing for someone else while you learn to stop feeding your habit.
        I KNOW you can do it!

        • Shannon says:

          Hi Anne — You are so right about me having duplicate dresses. I’ve found a flattering style and keep buying it in different prints and patterns. Also what I’ve realizing is that I really don’t wear dresses very often. Wearing a dress every day for the last 8 days has made this particularly clear for me. It’s not the dresses I mind so much, but the shoes. As much as I love the way a heel looks I prefer comfort, and even bare feet if I can get away with it. In the past I’ve donated dresses to friends, but I like the idea of donating to a better cause.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Susan — I love the idea of donating the ones that no longer fit. There are several size 4s floating around in my closet from my pre-baby years and it’s probably time to accept that ship has sailed.

    5. Rebecca says:

      I love your project and hadn’t read your blog in a while, came back yesterday, and was so happy! Keep a gallery, and maybe, as another person suggests, post every week or two.

    6. Dina says:

      Personally I don’t know why people have a problem with you posting your dresses. If it is an issue of “every day” for them – or you – how about a weekly dress post? Or a couple times a week. How about a short commentary of how much you love – or don’t – each one. Post your favorite 3 or 4 for the week? If you are looking to downsize, that type of thought process might help you keep the ones you want, and decide which to pass along…

    7. Marcy says:

      I find your posings a nice humorous start to my day…that being said, you do realize by posting your catalog you also posted your home address? lol

    8. Irenka says:

      I just stumbled across your post!
      Honestly I dont share your shopping impulses but sometimes I wish I did. It seems that my problem is the total opposite, I never shop for myself because I feel bad and constantly asking “if its worth it” or “Do I really need this” resulting in a REALLY bad wordrobe!

      I think Your project is honest and I feel its a good thing! And why not show of your dresses!? Do it and inspire us too :) we should feel good about how we look!

      And if you have the space to keep them all, then why not :D

      Maybe an ad to your promise could be “if I buy something new I must give away something old or donate..blabla..” ;)

      Enjoy Your dresses!

    9. Mia Trachinger says:

      Hey Shannon -

      Your request did get me thinking – and a number of thoughts popped up. One was that actually you buying yourself pretty dresses is not something to snub out. I get what you’re saying about consuming/accumulating, etc., but I’m on the flip side, never taking the time to buy myself anything – which is it’s own kind of weakness/self denial. Treating yourself once in awhile is lovely.

      Now to the consuming part of it. One thing I was thinking of doing when cleaning out my closet was posting items online and asking my “friends” whether I should keep them – the platform shoes from Berlin? Donate or keep? Maybe that’s something you could do – two shots of you in different dresses – which one to donate? Which one to keep?

      I see part of “not consuming” as getting used to living with less – and sharing what you have – not just not shopping. Simplifying and being able to actually see ( and appreciate) what you own.

      And as we all know when anything gets out of balance with us ( shopping/eating/drinking) it’s just us soothing/substituting/covering up for something else. We all have our fallbacks of false comforts – it’s great that yours doesn’t affect your health!

      That’s it – I loved seeing your posts from Africa -
      x Mia

    10. Elaini says:

      Wow you have an amazing collection and I love the way you write! I came here via designmom. What if you somehow raised money at the same time as you do your dress project? I wore the SAME dress for 100 days to raise money for orphans (yes I’m crazy) and it was pretty amazing to see what happened NOT through me but through a community of people coming together. What if you had people sponsor a day or something? Or auction off your dresses that you no longer want? :)

      • Shannon says:

        First of all I love that woman Design Mom. I was almmmmoooost in Paris last fall and set to meet her, but alas my plans failed. She’s awfully lovely to pass me along. I can’t believe you wore the same dress for 100 days! I was watching The English Patient last night and through my tears I still wished that Juliette Binoche had more than just that one war-era dress. sigh. Anyhow, yes, I am thinking about how I can use this project to not only clean up my shopping addiction, but to also contribute in some way.

    11. Elaini says:

      You just made my day by answering back! Thanks! Yes, she’s pretty neat and so are you! I’m sure some day your paths will cross… :) Haha yes I was inspired by another woman named Sheena who did it for a year. I can’t imaging styling my dress differently for a whole year…100 days was hard enough even with lots of help! Oh yes vintage dresses are the best! Well be encouraged that what you are doing is really neat and inspiring to other shoppers as well. :)

      P.S. I know you are probably crazy busy but if you care to see the 100 ways I styled that one dress you can watch it in 2 min here: http://misselainious.com/the-100-days/

    12. Shannon says:

      Elaini I am going right over to check out your video!

    13. Emily says:

      I love a good fashion show. Keep ‘em coming! I am all for clearing out the closet, but I don’t think you should give your “hippie” dress away. Expecially not if you have good memories from it and it fits. I think you should use it as a swim coverup. It is really summery.

    14. Ulli says:

      Well, I am late to the party, but I “got” what you were doing from day one. I am also open to shop for dresses. I just started a new job and decided that I would do one work month wearing a different outfit every day (meaning dress, skirt, top), shoes are repeats and accessoires too.

      Seriouly. I am starting my 4th week Monday and so far I have found zero issues. So far that’s just 15 work days in different outfits….

      So, I think now I am going to extend it and see how long I can ACTUALLY go…maybe 6 weeks? That would put me at 30 outfits….and that doesn’t include the summer dresses that I have and can’t wear right now or a couple of outfits that worked in my old job but are a bit too much for this job.

      It has really curbed my appetite. I work in an area full of boutiques with lovely things and I am barely interested actually shopping because I have really felt “WOW, my own closet is actually FILLED with amazing things I have collected”….let’s hope this lasts.

    15. Ulli says:

      And if you want to get rid of dresses: Do a “shop my closet” thing. I have seen other bloggers do that. I might be in the market for some of your dresses and you could donate the money, involve your readers ect.

    16. Elaini says:

      ::Happy Dance!:: Thanks for literally making my week. The fact that you respond to comments is pretty darn amazing and I love it! Thanks for inspiring me.

    17. Deb says:

      Just found your blog, and was not even a little horrified by your 71 dresses project — I think many of us can relate. I just purged (stay with me) eight giant garbage bags of clothes, and was so mortified by this mountain I had to lie down (but couldn’t find the bed!) Granted, the clothes went waaaay back, back past before-babies, and through office-serious, office-casual, I’m-a-cyclist, I’m-a-camper, I’m pregnant, and apparently a pink-showgirl phase that I’d rather not talk about. These things happen. So I’m happy to join you in no-shopping land and will enjoy your impromptu fashion show along the way. Hang tough :)

    18. [...] means 71 attire in 71 days. And i will put up a gallery once per week right here so that you all can grasp me to blame. i might additionally like to understand which clothes I must [...]

    19. Lady Jennie says:

      You’re sincere and sweet. :-)

    20. Donna says:

      Came over from huffington post. I *love* this idea and totally get it. Right now I’m working retail and I don’t buy anything that isn’t at least 75% off, and usually more than that. And I have to love it on top of that. I am looking at clothes on customers all day long and so far I suggest #2 and #7 as *definite* keepers and nominate #4 and #8 for donation/sale. The fact that you look so great in all the dresses definitely makes the task harder. To decide on the in-betweeners, I will have to see more of the dresses!

    21. Donna says:

      Maybe I will get brave enough to do my own dress count as well. I’ll let you know if I do. Just bought a dress last week (knee-length but fancy) and the only “occasion” was that it was 90% off. I’ll be keeping it though because I really have nothing else like it and hopefully the right occasion will come along.

    22. AnnW says:

      I have this Thrift Store addiction in Colorado. I felt I had to check it out several times a week to get the good stuff. Most of the things I bought were not for me. It was near my gym. After four or five months of working out five times a week, the urge went away. Very strange. Now I am back at my other house and there are no thrift stores around here. Oh well. This dress is not a keeper.

    23. Debbie Roes says:

      I just saw your article on Huffington Post today. Good for you for taking on the challenge to wear all of your 71 dresses! I don’t have a dress addiction, but I do have a shopping addiction and started the year with over 300 items in my closet. I’m gradually paring things down and have placed limits on my shopping for this year (and probably beyond).

      I’ve also taken on the wardrobe challenge, Project 333, in which participants only wear 33 items for 3 months. I’m blogging about my experience and sharing my outfit photos on my blog, Recovering Shopaholic (my name links to the blog). So far, so good. I’m learning a lot about myself and realizing I don’t need a packed closet to dress well. In fact, I’m dressing BETTER with fewer items to choose from.

      I wish you the best of luck with your challenge! I will follow along to see how you’re doing.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Debbie — your project sounds really cool. I’ll pop over and take a look. I’ve donated two of my dresses so far and two more are on the chopping block.

    24. sarah murphy says:


      If you are really serious about conquering this very real addiction/compulsion, try giving April a call. Although I am not a client, I do know her, and she is a lovely, generous, caring woman, who also happens to be in the business of helping people learn new behaviors and overcome shopping addiction. I’d think that whatever you paid her would be less than the cost of 71 dresses, even on sale…. Best wishes for you on your journey.

      • Shannon says:

        I’ll definitely check April’s site out. I was just at the mall today buying Mother’s Day gifts at Papyrus, which is usually a safe store for me. Just a bunch of over-priced cards, but suddenly they’ve added a whole new display with jewelry, scarves and amazing bags. My mouth literally started watering. I checked the price tags on a few of the purses and was actually grateful they were all priced over $200 because there was no way I was going to spend that much. I was able to get out of the store with just cards and soaps for my moms. I definitely attribute this willpower to my blog. If I lie here it defeats my entire purpose.

    25. Florence says:

      Hi, I’m sorry if somebody already suggested this, but get adblock and adblock plus on your computer. It’s free and should stop most ads.

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