Monday, November 23, 2009

The Brown Dress Report

Well folks, I did it!

I wore two identical brown dresses for 31 days in a row. (With the exception of the doctor's visit-but I changed when I got home, and an appointment at an exercise place, where I changed right after...well, right after I did the laundry, that is).

I liked the ease and simplicity of not having to think about what to wear. That aspect of the project appealed to me.

Not focusing on my clothes for a month has allowed me to delve into my inner self and gain some personal clarity on some issues. That's been good and somewhat unexpected. I don't know that I truly expected that. I learned that there's really nothing new inside of me. I'm still me. How exciting. Not.

I saw more clearly how broken I am. Into the desert, and I see this blubbering, broken mess of a person who is me. In the ultimate reality of things, clothes are just clothes. Not important. And that can go both ways. Plain brown dresses are not holier than any other type of modest garb.

I also learned that a brown dress is not the right thing to wear on all occasions, unless I want to form some sort of monastic-wannabe community of brown dress wearing ragamuffins. Yes, that's right. I felt like a ragamuffin after about two weeks. Well, I guess I only felt like a ragamuffin at Church. I missed dressing up.

The dresses held up OK, but they've each gone through the wash 15 times or so, and the new has definitely worn off. They are still nicer than most things I wear, but they certainly are not very dressy. (I did try to wear each more than one day, before washing but that usually did NOT work out, even though I try to wear an apron in the kitchen consistently. I'm a messy.) Very much in the comfy at-home and running errands category of clothes. Most of my life fits that category, but not Sunday mornings.

On a practical level: I had planned on mixing things up with some fun scarves that I own, and also with a variety of sweaters and jackets, and the weather turned out to be TOO WARM. Seriously. On many many days I was sweating a little bit and wishing I could just change into a t-shirt already. But I stuck with it.

IRL people's reactions to the brown dress project: I think I made some people snigger behind my back. I definitely got some gentle teasing. I think mostly people were like: "Why on earth would you do that?" When I confided to one friend that I was glad the project would be over today, because I was sick of the brown dress, she said she figured I would be.

I figured I would be, too. I am sick of the brown dresses. I pretty much accurately predicted how I would be to be wearing the same thing every day for a month: Very excited and happy at first, settling into a "this is normal and I"m ignoring it" phase, and culminating with a "I'm so sick of this and I want a change" phase. Yes, that's me.

But one thing I think it has cured me of (at least for now): My weird fascination with "plain dress" and the desire to have a uniform.

But you know what? I'm not getting rid of those brown dresses. They will probably be a staple in my wardrobe for a long time to come. For today at least, I will thoroughly enjoy wearing some sweat pants. Who knows? Tomorrow I might just reach for one of those brown dresses. They are, after all, so comfy and practical!


ragamuffin diva said...

I think you did a wonderful thing, struck a blow to vanity, and learned something about the state of your soul and the art of simplicity. You don't have to wear two brown dresses for the rest of your life to benefit profoundly from this experience.

May God continue to bless and keep you, reveal Himself to you, and grant you peace.

thegeekywife said...


Jane G Meyer said...

Alana--how fun to read about your brown dress adventure. Thanks for sharing all your varied emotions and thoughts. How did your children react to your dresses--I'd love to know.

Speaking of children, I'm wondering if you're interested in children's books and perhaps blogging about my new one--The Woman and the Wheat? If so, send me an email and let's chat.

deb said...

Off topic -- but ever since you mentioned having your thyroid levels tested, I've been concerned to hear the results. Do you have them yet? More than once, when you've blogged about some of your fatigue and other health issues, I've wondered: could her thyroid have anything to do with it? If so, it's easy to treat. If not, well, it's good your thyroid's healthy, and you know more about your health.

Hope this isn't too nosy, but since you blogged about it, I figured you'd be okay with sharing the results.

I was found to be extremely hypothyroid about four years ago. The interesting thing is, after taking thyroid medication for it for a while, it got better, and now I've been off the med for over a year. I didn't think that was supposed to happen, but apparently my thyroid had some temporary issue, not a permanent shutdown.

In any case, I wish you ongoing improvement in your health.