clothing · fitness · self care · shoes

Five Lessons Catherine learned from a Buy-Nothing year

Starting July 1, 2022, I began a half-year commitment to buy-nothing*. What that meant for me was no buying clothing or shoes or accessories, with the following exceptions: 1) I could replace worn out sports clothing items or underwear; 2) I could buy from my favorite consignment shop Wearovers, provided that I brought items to consign at the same time. I then re-upped January 1, 2023, for another half year, until July 1, 2023.

First of all, before the lessons learned, here’s how it went:

July–December 2022 went very well. I accidentally ordered a pair of cute but contraband pajama bottoms to go with the needed replacement underwear, but that was about it. I enjoyed feeling liberated from asking myself time and time again, “do I need that? Do I want that?” It was a relief to have buying clothing off the table as an option.

But as I rang in the New Year, my resolve weakened. I ordered a pair of teal-blue Chaco’s sandals. Why? Because my sister and niece had pairs (purple and tan, respectively) and I really liked them. Sigh. And then I ordered a pair of work shoes– blue suede Dansko patti shoes. In my (feeble) defense, I wanted a more comfortable supportive shoe for teaching, and these fit the bill. But there are still those sandals, purchased in January.

Then as my birthday approached in April, I decided I just wanted some new things. I bought two long-sleeved colorful shirts and a chocolate brown jacket. Then in June I bought a(nother) black jacket for work.

Forgive me, readers, for I have purchased. Not a lot– certainly less than I would have if not for that pesky buy-nothing plan I made ages ago. But I didn’t follow the plan completely.

Still, doing this for a year wasn’t for nothing. I’ve learned some things.

First: I now know I have a more-than-ample supply of clothing for a bunch of occasions; I’ll do Rent the Runway if I have a gala to attend, but otherwise I’m all set. Even after a bit of Marie Kondo’ing, I’ve still got lots of sources of sartorial joy.

Second: I like wearing a smaller number of favorite mix-and-match tops, bottoms, jackets, scarves, etc. Wearing my current favorites slightly more often has not drawn gasps from colleagues or students. Focusing on what I have and how I feel like accessorizing has been kind of fun. I’ve even brought some older favorites back into rotation, which always makes me feel virtuous.

Third: I thought that browsing online would be harmless– an idle pleasure or brief downtime activity that wouldn’t tempt me overmuch. WRONG. This may seem absolutely obvious to all of you, but I thought that the fact of my resolution would shield me from too much exposure to fashion commerce. Browsing is NOT a good idea when one is on a buy-nothing plan.

Fourth: the Internet never forgets you and what clothing or shoes or accessories you once liked or even looked at. You will keep seeing these same items, over and over, while engaging on other online work. For instance, after briefly browsing summer sandals a week ago, I have been besieged with cute summer sandal ads, that keep getting bigger and bigger, even as I was reading a Smithsonian magazine article.

Here are some ads that kept popping up.

Shoe ads: top left includes a pair I bought in person, top right are others I might like, and bottom is a bigger view of the original ad. All obscured my view of the article I was trying to read.

I silently acknowledged the cute sandals, and returned to my reading. But the sandal ad people were having none of it. Their second salvo came across my laptop window:

Three more ads, with as-yet-unseen-by-me cute sandals, throwing in a cream-colored boot and brown suede shoe just for fun.

When I steadfastly refused to click, the advertising bots switched tactics and showed me some sneakers. They are relentless. Moral of the story: when you browse, be prepared to be followed around by those selfsame items, entreating you to buy them.

Five: a buy-nothing plan about anything (clothes, books, home goods, etc.) will likely have some fine print attached, because life is complicated. I’m going to resume my buy-nothing plan for the rest of 2023. What I like best about it is that it provides an occasion– namely the end of the six-month period, which is what I’m doing– to consider if I need or want to replace anything, or if there’s something special I really want to buy. Slowing down the process of purchasing has been great for me and my bank account. For me, it’s not really buy-nothing, but rather buy-slowly. That’s fine with me.

Readers, are any of you doing buy-nothing plans? How are they going? What have you taken away from them? I’d love to hear from you.

clothing · fitness · habits

Catherine follows Sam in no-shopping since July 1: a report

When Sam posted to the FIFI bloggers that she was enacting a clothing purchase freeze (with a few exceptions) until July 1, 2023, I thought to myself: 1) what a great idea! and then 2) OMG, what will happen if I see something super-cute on sale on the internets? Spoiler alert: the answer to 2) is: I look at it, maybe swoon and sigh, and then go about my no-buying business. It’s surprisingly non-hard to do this, I found.

Like Sam, I also allowed myself a few exceptions:

  • replacement of necessary active gear in case something gets ripped or lost or otherwise needs replacing (this hasn’t happened so, far, btw).
  • Purchase of replacement bras whenever mine get too ratty or lost, etc.
  • Purchase of used items at my favorite consignment shop Wearovers, IF I bring in some of my own stuff at the same time.
  • Purchase of clothing as gifts for my niece and sister.

I admit to some frantic ordering of jeans (white, blue denim and black) on June 29. In my defense, I returned all of them except one pair of white jeans, which I love. I also sort of accidentally broke my own rule when ordering bras– I got caught up and bought a cute pair of dark pink and white tie-dye pajama pants. It all happened before I knew it.

Magenta and white tie-dye pj pants with jogger ankle cuffs.
Magenta and white tie-dye pj pants with jogger ankle cuffs. I mean, can you blame me for being led astray?

Rules feel hard to me. The idea of following them ALL THE TIME feels very constraining and a little anxiety-producing. Of course, I regularly and easily refrain from big things like arson and blackmail (whew, you might be thinking), but the little things feel hard sometimes. I think it’s the pressure of doing (or not-doing) something ALL THE TIME. EVERY DAY. WITH 100% SUCCESS RATE. Put that way, it’s enough to make all of us a bit anxious.

The first couple of weeks felt hard for that reason. Just knowing that I wasn’t supposed to buy anything made me a little antsy online. As time passed though, I realized why: I used to spend a lot of time looking at clothing and other items online. Sam mentioned this too, and we talked recently about how not doing this kind of idle computer-window shopping has changed our online behavior. Sam’s now doing other activities (like Duolingo) and also getting more curated and tempting items in her media feeds.

I’m feeling liberated from anxiety-browsing of clothing, and relaxed when I do see cute things in my media feed. I think Facebook knows what I’m up to, though, and isn’t happy. I keep getting these ads in my feed for clothing that clearly appeals to me personally– bright colored and patterned tops in light-weight fabrics in easy-to-wear styles. And (get this): the top line says: MADE IN SOUTH CAROLINA (my home state). Man, do they play hardball…

And yet, I’ve browsed but not bought. Knowing I’m not buying is calming. I can browse all I want, not worrying about buying. But I don’t browse nearly as much.

So I’ve also turned to my closet and chests of drawers. Man, do I have a lot of clothing and accessories. I decided to do triage on earrings, getting rid of those I don’t wear, and polishing the ones I do. I have a lovely handmade wood earring rack (bought on Etsy a while ago), and it’s now set up so I can see all of them in their timeless glory.

Wood Earring rack with many pairs of earrings. Some of them are made by my friend Pata.
Wood Earring rack with many pairs of earrings. Some of them are made by my friend Pata.

Okay, that’s not all of them. But these are the ones in active rotation. Hey, it’s all a process, right?

My closet is not yet fit for public inspection. But I’m working on it. The goal isn’t to provide some beautiful instagram-worthy space, but rather to make the clothing I have more visible and therefore more used by me.

Originally I committed to the no-clothing-purchase only until December 31. But now I’m inclined to continue until the summer. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s getting to be a habit, which is, I guess the whole point.

Readers: have you ever imposed a clothing or accessories embargo? For how long? What was it like? We’d love to hear from you.

clothing · fashion · fitness · shoes

Sam checks in after four months without shopping

Four months ago I announced on the blog that I was taking a year long hiatus from shopping for shoes, clothes, purses, and jewelry. You can read that post for the full back story of why, and you can also see some of my pandemic purchases! Online shopping was a stress reliever during the pandemic but I have way more than enough stuff and it was taking up a lot of mental space as well as physical.

A few people have asked how it’s going.

First, in the interests of full disclosure, I did make some exceptions so it’s not been no shopping. I think I even announced those in the that original post. They were non underwire bras (after I decided not to go back to them once the pandemic was over), a dress for a friend’s wedding that worked with my new knee, and new running shoes which I’d planned to buy after surgery. At the time of the no shopping pledge I didn’t know when that would be.

Second, I’ve had fun watching the clothing ads slowly disappear from my social media newsfeeds. But there are some fun exceptions there too. Facebook is honing in on my personal style. My son Gavin says that with my cane I look like a Muppet pirate. Lately the ads are getting more and more specific. Lots of pink and purple and red. Lots of furry, shiny fabrics. So I’ve resisted but maybe I’ll ask for one for Christmas.

Third, it’s certainly made me realize how much clothing I have. Instead of shopping online, I’m shopping in my closet. It’s led to some discoveries and it’s also led to some clearing out of things I don’t wear. It’ll be a good opportunity to take stock, organize, and prune my existing clothes collection. I’m glad to have that as a focus for the year instead of buying new things.

Fourth, shoes are easiest to resist. I own a lot of very nice shoes and boots. I’m tempted a lot by jewelry since I lose a lot of it. I hardly ever buy purses so there’s not much challenge there at all. And clothes are really the focus of this whole thing.

Fifth, I do need things to distract me on my phone still. And I’ve found a thing that’s not shopping. Instead when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep or when I’m waiting in the car for people, I’ve been working on my Spanish using Duolingo.

Check out my progress!

Sam’s Spanish progress

Sixth, it’s also not been no shopping. Regular blog readers might recall shortly after knee surgery, while taking strong pain medication at night, I went on a pillow shopping bender. I guess I Google searched for best pillows for getting comfortable after knee surgery and bought them all. They just kept arriving, for days. More pillows!

Here’s Cheddar with one of the new pillows!

Yay for tonight body pillow and Cheddar the dog

And I am keeping a digital scrapbook of things I’ve been tempted to buy so I can check in at year’s end and see if I’m still tempted.

beauty · clothing · fashion · racism · sexism · stereotypes

Jewelry and Exercise

Do you wear jewelry when you exercise? If do, how much, and why?

This McGill wikipedia entry describes that jewelry has been used for

  • Currency, a display of wealth, and a way to store things,
  • Making clothing functional (such as jeweled clasps, pins, and buckles)
  • Symbolism (to show membership, status, political affiliation, or relationships)
  • Protection (in the form of amulets and magical wards), and
  • Artistic display (personal style, fashion, etc.)

I normally wear at least some jewelry for most of these reasons. When I exercise, I wear my fitness tracker ring (to “store” data?) and my wedding ring when I want to reduce the likelihood of being approached (a magical “protection” amulet?).

An anklet while running? Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio Copy

I’ve noticed that my (semi-) regular exercise has had an impact on the jewelry I wear these days: thin, flat, light rings and an equally thin, light, and short necklace that I don’t have to remove. However, I do replace big earrings with small sleeper hoops when I bike or curl or whatever. I don’t normally wear bracelets or anklets, and I have no other piercings (other than a tongue ring, which stays in).

You may have a different approach–you don’t wear jewelry of any kind, or you take take off some or all jewelry then put it back on after exercising. And, of course, it depends on the sport! But there aren’t any sporty people I know who leave on all their regular day-to-day jewelry on while exercising.

I wear some jewelry when I exercise because I like the jewelry I have and I lose what take it off. Also, the jewelry I wear allows me to exercise unimpeded. If I’m honest, I might also keep jewelry because I think it communicates that I am a recreational athlete.

My assumptions about exercise and jewelry

“A quick shot after getting wrapped for the boxing gloves, before the ring comes off and the gloves go on.” Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that exercise and jewelry do not go together, that the more competitive the athlete the less jewelry they wear. Where did this idea come from? Practically speaking, jewelry can hinder performance and even increase injury risk. But I have also assumed that “serious” athletes care more about performance than appearance.

I admit to holding the converse assumption as well: the more jewelry, the more the exerciser cares about appearances. For sale these days is a bevy of “exercise jewelry” that is advertised as waterproof, sweatproof, and non-tarnishing. But do serious exercisers really go for these? The workout jewelry and charms on Etsy are cute but not all practical for the exercise they represent.

While I do not want to police what people wear, my immediate thought about the “strong AND pretty” message of workout jewelry is that it reflects what Andi Zeisler (2016) describes as “marketplace feminism”–reducing social movements and personal empowerment to beauty and fashion items for purchase.

Challenging my assumptions

Then, recently I saw a web news article whose accompanying image made me question these above preconceptions.

I was struck by the size and amount of jewelry worn by track and field athlete Sha’Carri Richardson in recent photos on the Yahoo news site. Richardson is photographed while competing at the 2022 USATF outdoor Championships at Hayward Field wearing multiple hoop earrings, nose rings, a necklace, a bracelet, and a belly piercing with a full chain (not to mention flowing hair, false eyelashes, and long fake nails). She did not qualify at that event, but later at a different international event, wearing similar jewelry she did qualify.

Photos are of Sha’Carri Richardson racing in June 2021 by jenaragon94, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Cropped photo of Richardson.

Recently, jewelry wearing, jewelry design, and jewelry store ownership have all gained attention for their historical and cultural meaning and significance for African North Americans. I do not claim to know why Richardson wears what she wears, but I imagine her exercise “look” might go beyond personal beauty and fashion choices to deeper personal and cultural symbolism. A recent article on Serena Williams mentions her wearing Love earrings in her very last tennis match as a tribute to the game, and braids with beads she wore early in her career to honour African cultural traditions.

One of the only fitness activities that stereotypically show athletes with jewelry-like “accessories” in North America: yoga practice. But appropriating prayer beads is for another post. Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash

Perhaps Richardson, Williams, and other non-white athletes wear their jewelry styles precisely to challenge dominant white-centric stereotypes of competitive athletes as de-jewelled and unadorned. Their accessories lead me, us to realize there is in fact a whole world full of athletes engaging in various types of sports and exercise while wearing jewelry and other body adornments.

Old habits, but some new thinking

I probably won’t change my own minimal jewelry-wearing habits while I exercise. But, this reflection has given more insight into what drives my current jewelry-wearing choices. Some of it is fashion, but mostly it is simplicity and convenience.

It has also invited me to confront the narrow range of imagery that reinforce what is “normal” for athletes to wear (or not wear) when it comes to jewelry. I’ll think twice about my ideas about the relationship between jewelry and exercise. Some competitive athletes wear jewelry for its social and political meaning, not (or not only) to make a fashion statement.

clothing · fitness · media · research

Sports Bra Drama

I usually pay little attention to sports bras, as I don’t seem to need much support and the one I wear is based on whether or not it is clean. Any love I have for sports bras comes wearing them exclusively since giving up underwire padded bras during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam put it best here: “I’m still in love with lots of my formal work clothes but never again will I wear a bra that pokes in my ribs.”

I am a no-sports bra drama kind of person.

Bras Win Euros?

When I read the headline of the The Guardian article, “Secret support: did prescription bras help Lionesses to Euro 2022 glory?” I rolled my eyes at the sensational lead. Way to diminish the accomplishments of female soccer athletes. Would a male soccer player’s win be attributed to his underwear if he ran around in them after a winning game?

I have already written about how media commentary athletes’ bodies can reinforce gender stereotypes, undermine women’s athletic performance, or both. Our FIFI bloggers have also explored the topic of sports bras and athletic wear, highlighting the challenge of fit, double standards, and other gendered nonsense.

The Guardian’s headline led to more than sensational bra talk. The article described the findings of what little sports bra research is currently available: poorly fit bras can shorten women’s strides up to 4 cm. A seemingly small measurement, but “marginal gains” can add up to a big impact when it comes to athletic performance.

My Bra-Nundrum

When I am in a sports store, I walk right by the sports bras section, eyeing its wares with equal parts suspicion and derision. I am stubbornly uninformed about sports bras because I believe the industry is exploitative: the more women need these products the higher the price they seem to be charged for them. Brand logos inflate prices further. It’s all a bra racket to me.

But as I read article, my mind wandered to my own sad collection of stretched-out or over-tight sports bras I have acquired over the years. If I am honest, most of my off-off-the rack sports bras don’t fit or support me the way they probably should.

four sports bras on a table
Left to right: A black sports bra that is literally spandex; a grey sports bra from Goodwill (lost padding); a teal sports bra I have had since my 20s, a newer yellow sports bra that does not fit because it was an online impulse buy. Not shown: the one well-fitting sports bra own, worn wearing while taking this photo.

The article made me wonder: By not buying quality sports bras, am I forfeiting some comfort and performance out of principle? Did the purported bra drama lead me to realize that maybe I should invest in research-designed sports bras…because gender equality in sports research is a principle I believe in too?

The Need for (Some) Bra Drama?

It’s not new news (to me) that the Lionesses’ custom sports bras would fit better and be more supportive than those found in the bargain bin. And it’s also not newsworthy that the “prescription” outer- and under-wear articles for which elite athletes pay top dollar remove some impediments to their performance.

The real newsworthy story is the paucity of research on the fit, comfort, and support of women’s athletic gear, which includes sports bras. Women’s sports continue to be seen as second-class, right down to the lack of substantial research on an clothing item so clearly necessary for so many women athletes.

It’s a little sad that this disparity needs a woman athlete celebrating in a sports bra to draw attention to it. Perhaps The Guardian article is a fine piece of feminist sports journalism precisely because the sports bra drama is leveraged to spotlight the (lack of) research of athletic clothing design for women.

Let’s hope that an increase in research sports bra design eventually leads to better sports bra products for everyone—so that more than just top female athletes can perhaps get their 4 cm back when they play.

What’s your take? Does media sports bra drama usefully draw attention to the need for more research on women’s athletic clothing? What factors do you consider when you buy sports bras?

body image · clothing · cycling · fitness

Sam’s thoughts about shorts

I posted an article recently to our Facebook page about shorts. Called How To Wear Shorts and Love Your Legs, it told the story of a powerlifter who grew up ashamed to wear shorts because of her big legs.

In some ways it’s not a problem I have–though I certainly have big legs too–because cyclists all wear shorts. On the bike, there isn’t really a choice. Yes, there are bike dresses, about which I have complicated thoughts. but they’re not made for long distance riding.

Pretty much cyclists wear form fitting shorts. I was riding with some women recently and we took a timed selfie. The phone sat on the ground in order to get the best view of our legs. That made me laugh because usually the concern is to put the camera up high to avoid double chins.

Here’s the pic:

People at work see me in shorts because I often ride in to work and then change there. If I get carried away answering early morning email, more people than I might like see me in shorts.

But there is one place I often don’t wear shorts and it’s an odd one.

At the gym I tend to wear capris or leggings, not shorts.

I think it’s because I work out at the gym the most in the winter and there’s the leg hair issue! Then I get used to wearing capris or leggings and feel self-conscious in shorts.

It’s so odd how that feeling creeps in and how place specific it can be.

I’m good wearing shorts out and about on the weekend in daytime, but I would never go out in the evening in shorts. The other night I went sailing in bike shorts but then when we opted for dinner out on the way home, I had a last minute moment of panic about what I was wearing.

Good gravy. It was a patio in the summertime. We were eating pizza. It wasn’t exactly a fancy night out. Shorts were clearly not inappropriate, and yet…

I hate those lists of what not to wear after 50. I’m pretty sure bike shorts in public, when not actually on a bike, might be on their list. But I also recognize, as I edge closer to 60, it’s going to take a bit of work not to care.

Here’s Ernie not listening!

Ernie with socks over his ears

How about you? Shorts, yes or no? All places or just some places? Is it about modesty about a judgement about whose legs, which kind of legs, what age of legs, ought to be seen out and about in shorts?


How about we just stop telling women what to wear?

In Ontario the legal fight that won women the right to be topless began 30 years ago when Gwen Jacob, a 19-year-old student was charged with indecency after removing her shirt on a hot day. Since 1996, when Ontario Court of Appeal found that Jacob was not guilty of indecency, women in Ontario have had the right to appear topless in public.

You wouldn’t know that from my newsfeed today.

Here’s two stories that maybe don’t look to be that connected that floated across my social media newsfeed.

First, there was all the fuss about Florence Pugh’s sheer bright pink dress, both from people who were appalled about seeing her breasts and nipples, and then from men who were critical of what her breasts look like.

UGH. Just SHUT UP. Please STOP.


Says Pugh in the article linked above,

“I’ve lived in my body for a long time. I’m fully aware of my breast size and am not scared of it,” she wrote. “What’s more concerning is… Why are you so scared of breasts? Small? Large? Left? Right? Only one? Maybe none? What. Is. So. Terrifying,”

“It has always been my mission in this industry to say ‘f*** it and f*** that’ whenever anyone expects my body to morph into an opinion of what’s hot or sexually attractive.”

And then from last year, Woman With Double Mastectomy Told To Wear a Bra to Pool, So She Gets Creative. Geesh. In this story a woman with a flat chest because she’s had her breasts removed is told that she needs to wear a bra under fitted long sleeve swim top, because “pool rules.” You might like her solution.

You know our view here on the blog. We’ve written lots about #freethenipple here, as well as about nipple phobia.

We’ve also written about the decision to have a mastectomy without reconstructive surgery.

Michelle Goodfellow, “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2015, and at that time I wrote here on this blog about my decision to have a double mastectomy without reconstruction, and about what it was like to go through the rest of my breast cancer treatment.” Since then Michelle has appeared topless on national television and blogged about that too.

More and more I think it’s pretty simple, we should just stop telling people what to wear. Don’t like someone’s breasts? Look away.

STOP sign. Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash
challenge · clothing · family

Sam’s first few days of not shopping

In my blog post A year without buying clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry…Can Sam do it? I declared that I was going to go a year without buying clothes, shoes, jewelry, and purses. That’s July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

I’m two days in and thought I’d report on how things are going. Lol.

Mostly I’ve been responding–deleting emails from Fluevog and text messages from TomboyX, my favorite shoe and underwear companies respectively. I’ve unsubscribed from mailing lists. I’ve taken the Poshmark app off my phone.

Friends have been asking if I stocked up at all. I did make offers on a bunch of stuff I liked at Poshmark and had some of those offers accepted. I did buy a number of good quality black and white t-shirts, some new underwear, and bras. In the bra case I was replacing the underwire version I’ve rejected during the pandemic.

Have I been tempted to buy anything?

Not really. I went on autopilot registering for an upcoming cycling event and put the event jersey in my shipping cart. But by the time I checked out, I remembered, and took it out. Bike jerseys are among the last thing I need. I think I own about 30. Last I counted that was 31. See Old shorts, thinning lycra, and too many bike jerseys.

Tour de Norfolk bike jerseys

We parked outside my favorite consignment store in Guelph today and I did consider the sale rack. But I resisted. I didn’t even go in and see if any of my stuff had sold.

I’m still undecided about a friend’s upcoming wedding. I said I’d make an exception for unexpected big events. I think though there must be something I already own that I can wear. Time to try on all the dresses that I reject as being too dressed up for work.

For those of you who are doing this challenge with me, how are you finding it so far?

challenge · clothing · fashion · fitness

A year without buying clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry…Can Sam do it?

I’m going to take the plunge and quit shopping for clothes (also shoes, purses, jewelry) for one year, July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023.


Well, I’ve been inspired by Mina Samuels’ account of her one year no shopping challenge. See Making Room in My Mind: A Year of No Shopping.

Not having much stuff with me is one of the things I loved about my sabbatical years in other countries. I arrived with a suitcase of clothes and wore them for the year. I had a few work outfits, a few hanging out at home outfits, some bike clothes, a bathing suit (not 7!) and a raincoat. That was about it. I spent a lot less time deciding what to wear and since I only brought clothes I really liked with me, I was pretty much always happy with my choices.

Simpler life on sabbaticals suits me and while I haven’t been able to make that work at home, I’d like to try.

I’ve also been stress shopping in pandemic times and I’d like to stop that. In terms of pandemic stress bad habits, it’s not the worst but who really needs a nap dress or a #workfromhome llama onesie! I also now own Pride Hunter rainboots AND bright pink UGG rainboots, and leopard print crocs with fur inside. Really, that’s enough frivolous footwear for a lifetime.

Sam’s frivolous footwear
Animated Sam in her llama jammies onesie

Regular readers know that I’m a critic of fast fashion and I used to teach about the ethics of consumption in the context of fashion. While I mostly buy made in Canada clothes, not fast or inexpensive, there’s still not much good in owning as much clothing as I do.

I also hope to get rid of stuff I don’t actually wear. Possibly that might include the nap dress. Lol.

Finally, I’d like to put some money away for travel once the pandemic travel panic eases a bit and I feel like, for me, the bother/pleasure is right again.

Why not?

I get a lot of pleasure out of clothes, and clothes shopping, and putting outfits together. Why quit one of things that makes me happy? The thing is I’m curious. Can I get a different sort of pleasure working with what I’ve got? That’s its own sort of sartorial challenge, right? I confess I was tempted by Nicole’s challenge, wearing the same dress for 100 days, but when I went to the website that sells the wool dresses connected to the challenge, I somehow ended up with three different styles and colours in my cart. I don’t think moderation is the path for me here!

Why blog about this here?

Well, mental health is health and we write about well-being broadly construed here on the blog. I like Mina’s description of making room in her head for thoughts other than shopping. Also, there are some fitness implications. See exceptions below! Most importantly thought putting it out here makes it real, makes it more likely that I will stick with it. I’m also taking all shopping apps off my phone. Do you have any other advice to make this easier? Wish me luck!

Any exceptions?

I will make exceptions–say if my cycling shoes break–or if I need a new pair of cycling shorts. I’ve been shopping for a new non-underwire bra for work clothes and while I am hoping to snag one before the 1st of July. If I don’t, then that too will be an exception. I am not putting off the challenge for the sake of finding a decent bra.

A cute cat waving goodbye

Goodbye Luc Fontaine, goodbye Lesley Evers, goodbye Fluevog and Poshmark too (used clothes are still clothes…)!

Sam’s #OOTD Instagram
More #OOTD instagram
clothing · fitness · gender policing · Guest Post

Sweater Vest (Guest Post)

by Brett

Gender dysphoria has plagued many moments of my life. In fact, some of my earliest memories remain stark in my mind as moments of feeling lost in my body. Being at the golf store with my dad, and having a ravenous obsession with the sweater vests. There was something about the sharp argyle patterns, and crisp cuff lines. I couldn’t tell you how my parents responded to my want for the purple and grey one I got my grubby little hands on…but I do know it never made it home with me. I couldn’t have been much older than 6 or 7, but if I close my eyes and imagine the smell of fresh leather and the sound of people testing out clubs in the range area, I am brought back to that store. I can feel the 80% cotton and 20% cashmere in my fists, imagining how it would show off my arms without hugging my petite frame.

However disappointing my sweater vest memory is, it was one of the first moments of clarity I had about my identity. Maybe that vest didn’t hang in my closet, but it hung in my mind as a siren for what was yet to come.

I have been an athlete my entire life. Growing up I was a multi-sport athlete through every season. Winter was hockey and volleyball, Spring included track and field and rowing. Summer featured more track and field, occasionally soccer, and ball hockey. Finally, Fall brought about cross country, and basketball. On top of it all, fitness is a passion that has always ignited my deepest sense of self.

I began my own training around age 9. While the drive has remained the same, the goal has weathered many gender-fluid storms. As a child, I loved the attention of having ‘unbelievable’ strength…especially when it showed the ‘boys’ who was boss! What was so wonderful about this time was that societal pressures, and peer-level interrogations, hadn’t forced me to evaluate my beauty, yet. Instead, all that mattered was doing the most pushups, planking longer, and running the fastest. It was a simple time.

However, puberty wreaked havoc on my gender-fluid being. Suddenly, I was painfully aware that my breasts had been replaced by strong pectoral muscles. I remember foolishly thinking that my back side would have to make up for that, to maintain any kind of desirability. During these years, I tortured my mind into conforming to female beauty standards. I was worried about being too ‘bulky’, not having breasts, and not having curves. I would stand in the mirror, flaunting skin-tight dresses, skinny jeans, and leggings knowing that the aesthetic appearance of my body was ‘to standard’. However, witnessing my body in feminine clothing made me want to crawl out of my skin. Suddenly, the goal was no longer obvious. This was the fantastic beginning of a complex, heartbreaking, and liberating fitness journey.

The transition to ‘men’s’ clothing came gradually. It started with looser fitting jackets; then shirts. Finally, the button-downs began to appear, as well as straight-cut pants. My muscular arms and broad chest started to look ‘at home’. The goal changed, quickly. I began to observe my male-identifying, athletic peers. The way their shoulders filled out the hem of a fitted t-shirt. The infamous ‘triangle’ shape in which your shoulders taper to a narrow waist. What I used to think was attractive for men became the desire for my own form. It wasn’t attraction…it was envy.

My workouts have become fixated on acquiring strength, and I’ve learned to appreciate the painful calluses that stubbornly rest on my inner palms and fingers. While the skin-tight dresses rarely surface anymore, I can tell you that they don’t fit the way they used to. But I’ll be damned if I don’t admit to feeling like a warrior in them. Miraculously, my gender-fluid soul has found appreciation in this strength as it embodies each of my identities in a different way (but more on this, later!).

I am on my way. My ‘men’s’ cut t-shirts are becoming less baggy. My ‘men’s’ cut jeans are pinching too much when I sit down. And I’m proud to tell you all that there is a navy-blue sweater vest hanging in my closet.

Sweater vest

Bio: Hi! I’m Bret and I hail from Guelph, ON, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I am currently working towards an MA in Philosophy at Western University, and enjoy engaging in feminist theory, ethics, as well as gender and sexuality studies. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be taught by both Sam and Tracy, and I am excited to joint the Fit is a Feminist Issue community! When my nose isn’t in a book, I can be found in coffee shops, at the gym, or taking on car repairs that are far beyond my capabilities.