30 Days of Denim – Lessons Learned

THAT, my friends, is a whole lot of denim!

When I started this little project I had a few intentions:

The first, could I transform how I felt about getting dressed everyday? Not that it caused me stress, but it wasn’t really something I did with intention all that regularly. Could I start to develop a “style” or could I learn to recognize what my own style was and feel inspired by that?

I think you can glance up and see that YES! I do have a style (Jeans and Cardigans, FTW!)  But we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

The second – Would doing something like this help me get a bit more in touch with my physical self? This is another YES! But there were so many things I discovered in between that I want to discuss.

Here were some of my most important lessons learned.

1. Style takes effort (duh) but that effort is two-pronged: Inspiration and Execution. I had never really thought about that until I had to come up with 30 separate outfits. In my mind I thought that I was just not a person who executed on the style front very well.  But it turns out that I was actually not spending enough time in the inspiration phase. And you know what — I LOVE the inspiration phase.

I’m a creative person by nature and have always loved looking at pretty things. I pigeon-holed myself into thinking that style was something that just happens for those who are sophisticated! and thin!  and fabulous!  But really style is just another level of creativity to cultivate in everyday life if you so choose.  And not everyone does and that’s ok.  We all must pick and choose our endeavors, and I may not always choose to prioritize fashion with intention, but that epiphany made me feel like I had a whole new creative outlet instead of feeling like it was something else I needed “to work on” and that was empowering.

2. Execution is just practice. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some. Some outfits will be better than others, but luckily no one is keeping score. This Ira Glass quote about art has spread like wildfire around the internet and I think it relates to all creative endeavors.

If you trudge through the muck, you are bound to find some gems.  It’s about the process, not only about the end result.  And it’s ONLY CLOTHES in the end!

3. The camera can be your friend. And I’m not just talking about the Cher Horowitz advice. Did the thought of that just make you cringe? Because let me tell you, I cringed my way through at least the first 10 days of photographs. I died over the dumb looks on my face, how rigid I looked, my lack of posing ability — you name it, I nitpicked at it.

But about a third of the way through the process I began to get comfortable with looking at myself “on film.” Yes, I still noticed something I perceive as “a flaw” here or there but I was able to let go of the criticism and appreciate the documentation. I have years of time where I don’t have a single photo of myself or my body — and how much does that suck? Knowing that I was committed to doing this for 30 days made me realize that I was going to have to make a choice: hate myself daily for a month, or learn to embrace some of the great things about how I look. The latter is harder than it sounds, but man is it a discipline I recommend! Being confronted daily with choosing a picture of myself that I wanted to show the world (uh…well, I mean you guys) meant I had to find something that was acceptable so I had to calm down with the “UGH, I hate this picture of myself” talk. And how crazy is it that when you stop talking so negatively about yourself, you stop feeling so negatively.


4.  Being inspired doesn’t need to translate into mass consumption.  I was afraid, once I started pinning lots of pretty outfits on Pinterest, that I would feel the need to go out and BUY! ALL! THE! THINGS!  And listen, the thought crossed my mind about how I *needed* a new navy cardigan, and I *needed* a new green striped shirt.  But I actually found that this project helped my streamline my spending.  Because I was looking for inspiration I started to see a trend in things that I liked and so ultimately I made a list of all the useful articles of clothing I wished I had in my closet.  Recently I went over to Nordstrom Rack just for fun on my lunch break and man, did they have a BUNCH of cute things!  But nothing was really on my list and while everything was cute, I wasn’t particularly inspired, so I passed.  And no one was more shocked than I was!  But having a better idea of what you want makes it easier to pass up the things that are only ok.  And for me?  That’s a win!

So those were the big lessons, but there were a few superficial lessons too.

1. I need a new haircut. BAD. :) Let’s talk about this more next week, mmmkay?

2. Obviously I like jeans and cardigans. I’m going to try and step out of that comfort zone this fall but it will definitely be a challenge now that the weather is cooling! Here’s where the inspiration comes in though because now I know what I want to look for: cute, warm outfits that don’t involve cardigans. Excuse me while I go pin…

3. Collaboration is so much fun! Garrett and I had a blast doing this silly project together and I NEVER would have thought that would be the case. It was great to do something creative together daily! I think we will collaborate again, although who knows on what. While we were both relieved when this was over to not to have to worry about fitting in a photograph of an outfit each day, we also kind of miss it. Weird, right? Who’d have thought???

It was a lot to learn, do and process, but in the end I’m glad I did it. Thanks to all of you for your feedback, support and for being such a great cheering section through the process. Did you find this helpful at all for yourself? Are you glad it’s over? Do you have any ideas for what I should try next time? Leave a note in the comments, I would love to know your thoughts!


If you would like to continue following my fashion inspiration, here is my board on Pinterest.

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October 2011
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