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The Great American Apparel Diet: A Diet I Can Keep
We are in for a treat today!  I am so excited to feature a guest post from Angeline at the New Professional, a blog about personal style and fashion on a budget for young professionals.  Her blog was one of the Forbes.com 20 Best Fashion Blogs for Professional Women.  I love checking out what Angeline is going to wear to work everyday and I am sure you will too!
Hi folks! Angeline from the New Professional here. When Classy Career Girl invited me to write a guest post on my participation in The Great American Apparel Diet, I jumped at the chance. The Great American Apparel Diet has been quite the experience for me, and I’m excited to share a little more about it with you. ( And nope, nothing to do with the clothing brand!)
The Great American Apparel Diet is simple, and not just American anymore, either. No clothing purchases for one year (exceptions: underwear, shoes, accessories). Launched in September 2009 by some intrepid Seattle-ites, it has grown to include participants from around the world. The original group of dieters has since finished their one-year commitment, but many others, like myself, have joined along the way, setting our own one-year marks according to our start dates.

No Clothing Purchases for One Whole Year?

To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what made me want to stop shopping. Shopping has never done me wrong. It has never driven me to debt, gotten me in trouble, or even been the launching point for a spousal argument. I consider myself a conservative shopper—I buy things at reasonable sale prices, think about how they’ll jive with the rest of my wardrobe, and have no qualms about returning things if I change my mind.
But I am a challenge kind of girl. Competitiveness is one of my strongest (or weakest) traits. I guess I joined because I wanted to see if I could do it, and I’ve stayed on it to say I finished and because I hate quitting. Ask anyone. If you look at my resume, the only time I’ve ever left a job is because I’ve moved out of the region or state. So once I started the diet, I just sort of kept going. Ten months later, I don’t regret it one bit.

Despite my vague goals, I’ve learned a lot from this challenge.

First of all, I’ve learned how to diet. While I have self-control when shopping, I have none when it comes to food, or television watching, or Internet browsing. I won’t lie—I’ve cheated twice. One was a moment of weakness, the other a moment of unpreparedness. But I jumped right back on the wagon after my indiscretions without a second thought, something I’d never been able to do when I binged on French fries or wasted half a day watching makeover shows on TLC. As I near the finish line on this year (I can start shopping again March 1), I can only hope this lesson stays with me.
Lesson two: swaps are awesome. How many times have I packed up bags and bags of clothing to drop off at the SPCA thrift store? Countless. Feels great, doesn’t it? But who knew that you could pack up those bags of clothing, bring them to a swap, and come back with different stuff? Pretty fun.

[Related Post: 5 Essentials For Minimalist Work Fashion]

My third lesson, probably the most valuable, is that living with this wardrobe for an entire year (give or take a few swapped items) really showed me where my wardrobe is adequate and where it is lacking. As a new professional (hence the name of my blog), I had accumulated my work wardrobe pretty haphazardly, and never really took inventory of what I have and how useful it really is. Jeans? Could use another trouser cut pair. Basic tops? Got plenty. Cardigans and sweaters to layer over stuff? Need some that actually fit. Good lined trousers and pencil skirts are staples worth investing in. Who knew?
The shopping diet exceptions were also a learning opportunity. I finally learned the value of accessories. I’ve never really been into jewelry, but now reach for my drawer each morning to find that finishing touch. Belts? I don’t know how I ever lived without them. Accessories help you create brand new options out of combinations you already have.
Joining the diet also jump-started my blog. I had been sitting on this idea of an outfit blog dedicated to office-appropriate clothing and professional development for nearly a year, and just needed something to get me off my bum to actually do it. The whole not-shopping thing added an interesting angle to what I wanted to do. I blogged daily to stay sane in journalism school but had left it behind a few years ago—getting back on the wagon has been refreshing.
Will my shopping habits change once I’m let loose in March? That is yet to be seen. There are certainly plenty of items I want to add to my wardrobe, but I don’t imagine that my shopping habits will change all that drastically.

If you are considering some kind of shopping diet—for whatever reason—I do have a few tips:

1. Start small. Although this is by far my most ambitious shopping diet, it was not my first. I’d give myself quarter-long bans in college, and in 2009 went January 1 through June 30 shopping only on rationed gift cards. You wouldn’t run a marathon without some conditioning first.

 

2. Have a goal or outlet. One of the great things about the Great American Apparel Diet is the blog. Every participant has a username and password to contribute to this blog, which chronicles the shared experiences and provides a really nice support system.

 

3. A stumble is not a fall. We all get weak, but one rogue purchase doesn’t have to derail you. Over the long run, my two purchases over the year still amount to much less than I would have spent had I not been on the diet.

 

4. Get creative with your wardrobe. Remixing. Heard of it? Everyone’s doing it. You probably already are, too. Check out some fashion blogs for inspiration.

Have you ever dieted anything other than food? Would you try out something like the Great American Apparel Diet?

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