Style Maven

Project Enough: The Shopping Ban Rules

As  one part of the Year of Enough, I'm choosing to focus on mindful consumption.  I am not throwing away all my stuff and becoming a minimalist - I like my stuff too much for that.  I love stuff.  So much.  But I want to enjoy and appreciate the stuff that I have, rather than adding to my growing pile of possessions.  It's a soothing, numbing thing for me, to shop.  I love finding deals.  I am the queen of bargains.  I am an expert thrifter.  Despite these mad shopping skills, the amount of stuff I buy? Well, it ultimately makes me feel bad, to be spending money that could be saved for something else, to think of the environmental impact that my, and everyone else's stuff has, to think of the people who have much, much less than I do.  Aren't there more useful things I can do with my time than shop?  Don't I aspire to more than to simply have stuff?  Clothes are my joy, a way to self express.  Books are my lifeline.  I enjoy having a pretty home.  But surely, I'm at the "enough" point now, with what I have?  I've gone past "stuff that makes me happy," almost past "stuff that makes me feel kind of OK."  Surely, I do not need to more stuff to my stuff to feel complete.  And yet, it feels like a never-ending cycle.  Buy stuff, feel good, then start to feel bad, buy more stuff, feel good, then start to feel bad, buy more stuff...I don't know when it stops.  It's time to take away that crutch,  which isn't serving me anyway, and do the emotional work that I need to do to self-soothe, and really be aware of what my consumption means, for me, and for the world I live in.  To that end, it's time to introduce the rules of the Shopping Ban:

  1. Clothing Purchases: no clothes, accessories or shoes will be bought.  The exceptions are athletic wear, tights and underwear which need (need being the operative word) to be replaced because they are worn out, have holes, or are too gross from overuse.  Costume/performancewear needs will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.  I have also lost quite a bit of weight over the past year and am down 2 clothing sizes.  If I lose more sizes, I may need to buy more clothes, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. There will have to be rules set in that situation as well:  consignment of perfectly good too-big items, for example, before I can purchase new,.
  2. Housewares and Books:  no housewares, books or other decorator-y tchotckes.  The exceptions are pieces of essential household equipment that have broken, cannot be repaired, and for which I have no suitable replacement.  Example: my red teapot breaks - I still have 4 others in other colours - no need to replace the broken teapot.  No books (I love the library anyway), and no magazines, with the exception of my all-time fave, Vanity Fair, because this isn't about self-denial, it's about mindfulness: when I asked myself what one magazine I would choose over all others, Vanity Fair won by a mile.  I chose to subscribe for a year, which is approximately 1/2 the cost of buying each issue on the newsstand.
  3. Makeup and Toiletries:  no makeup or toiletries except to replace finished items for which there is no suitable replacement.  For instance, oops, I'm out of my favourite Kat Von D lipstick, Cathedral.  But I do have a full tube of MAC Twig, which, well, they're close enough in colour.  No need to re-up on Kat Von D until Twig is done.  Same with my eleventy-seven different shades of red lipstick.  WHO NEEDS ELEVENTY-SEVEN DIFFERENT SHADES OF RED, I ask you?  Here are some of the reds I currently possess:  NARS Cruella, MAC Red Rock, Besame Red, Besame Noir Red, Besame Red Velvet, Benefit Matthew Williamson Limited Edition Red Gloss,  Kat Von D Vampira - those are the ones I can name OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.  Just for fun, here's some more. Purples?  Got 'em.  MAC Rebel, MAC Men Love Mystery.  Pinks?  Don't be silly:  MAC Twig, MAC Girl About Town, Clinique All Heart, Smashbox Posy Pink...Whew.  sorry about that lipstick tangent. I just really like makeup.
  4. Coffee:  No solo designer coffee runs.  Coffee with friends as part of a social outing, totally OK.  But no more "I'll just pop by Starbucks on my way to work."  I have a Nespresso, a Keurig, a Bialetti AND a French Press.  And a really really cute Kate Spade travel mug.  There is no earthly reason why I shouldn't manage to make coffee myself on my way out the door in the morning.  

Acceptable Purchases:  In addition to the exceptions listed above, there are some purchases which will be acceptable during the year.  

  1. Nails: I get my nails done once a month.  I like the way my fingers look with nails, which I can't grow myself (I like biting them too much), so acrylics it is. 
  2. Hair:  I will get my hair cut and coloured at regular intervals, but no crazy experimental colours which I have done to be uber trendy in the past - just enough to cover the greys which are infuriatingly showing up with more regularity

In case you were wondering, I am totally terrified that I am going to fail at this.  That within a week I'll be surfing the online sales or planning a new spring wardrobe.  That I'll make a sneaky trip to the mall to pick up just one thing.   I am trying to prepare myself for this by avoiding temptation - I used the service to unsubscribe from all the retailers' newsletters that hit my inbox every morning.  I am contemplating unsubscribing from all the cool plus-size fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram and Twitter, but I am hoping I can use these folks for inspiration rather than seeing each post as a directive to Go Forth and Shop.  We'll see how that goes.

I also have created an inventory of my stuff, to remind myself just how many options I actually have, from a clothing perspective, and reinforce the message that I do not need more.  I used Google Spreadsheets, and created a tab for each category of clothing: Shoes, Tops, Bottoms, Dresses, Skirts - and within each tab items are broken down even more by sub-category: Pencil Skirts, Full Skirts, Long Dresses, Sweatshirts, etc.  I also created a Pinterest Board of all the clothes I have from my favorite fashion site, Eloquii, where I buy 90% of my clothes.  This is a nice visual reminder of everything that's in my closet, so if I'm stuck for inspiration I can just take a quick look at my board for an idea.   I've also inventoried textiles and furniture on my Google Spreadsheet, and will be tackling makeup, books and housewares next.  My insurers will love me!

So, those are the rules of the ban.  And the ban is...for all of 2017.   Bring on the inevitable tears, tantrums and frustrations.  I'm excited and scared to see what happens next.

Update - A Real-Life Response from Lululemon

As I mentioned in my

blog post

yesterday, a brave and gorgeous friend of mine wrote a heartfelt letter in September to lululemon expressing her disappointment at not being able to fit into their sizing.

With her permission, here is the amazing Dani Fecko's letter to lululemon, and lululemon's response, which can be summarized as, "not changing our sizing structure, but we'll take your feedback into consideration."  I received the identical response when I wrote to them in 2007 - so I guess they're still getting around to taking my feedback into consideration.  Sorry about the highlighting, haven't figured out why it's there or how to get rid of it...

Sent: Sep 16, 2013 8:44:00 PM 

Subject: Disappointment 

Dear Lululemon, 

I'm writing to express my concern at your severe mismanagement of 

expectations. I'm going through a change in my lifestyle right now. I let 

work rule my life for many years, and was not healthy. Now, I have a 

wedding coming up and am working to make fitness a priority. Im watching 

what I eat and I'm working out at least four times a week. I feel awesome. 

I'm revisiting my yoga practice now and I'm really enjoying it. I get to a 

yoga or pilates class at least twice a week and I bike or run at least 

three times a week. I don't feel any pressure from my classmates or 

teachers to look or feel a certain way. I'm doing what's right for me and 

moving at my own pace. I feel like Im really moving along and am more 

comfortable in my skin than I have been in a long time. 

At least I was until I went into your store looking for a new yoga top. It 

was my understanding, based on your company values, that Lululemon is a 

company that stands for inclusion, joy and being healthy. It seems that you 

can only participate in those values, and in trying to get healthy, if you 

wear a size 12 or lower. It would seem that your actual values are quite 

different than what you preach: only people who look healthy now can wear 

your clothes, even if they only wear them to buy groceries. Those of us who 

are not the ideal “lululemon shape” but are working on themselves, to feel 

and be healthier, may not be seen in your clothes. 

I have fit into Lululemon clothes in the past. In fact, I have some pants 

that have stretched out that I still wear. Needless to say, I'll be looking 

for new ones. And when I am a size 12,and then size 10 and then size 8 

again, I won't be coming back to your store. Because I believe in 

practicing what I preach. And I'm working to get healthier – not to fit 

some store's ideal body type. 

With great disappointment, 

Dani Fecko

And here's the response:


lululemon athletica



Date: Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Subject: RE: Disappointment (#2046-380799686-0948)

To: Danielle Fecko 

Hi Dani, 

Thank you for taking the time to write to lululemon athletica. 

Currently our size range is 2 - 12 (or XXS – XL) for women and S-XXL for men. Our goal is to elevate the level of health and fitness in every community we touch and we recognize that people who are passionate about health and fitness come in all shapes and sizes. At this time, we don’t have plans to change our current sizing structure. However, we are a culture based on feedback and are our design team is committed to reviewing guest feedback on an ongoing basis. We are passionate about product innovation and will take your thoughts into consideration as we continue to develop new product that support the sweaty pursuits of our guests. Thank you again for reaching out and sharing your feedback. 

Warm regards, 


lululemon athletica 

Guest Education Centre 

Toll Free (US & Canada): 

1 (877) 263-9300


(604) 215-9300


(604) 638-1200

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creating components for people to live a long, healthy, and fun life 

Size Matters.

It seems to me to me like Business 101: if someone repeatedly makes requests to buy your product, then you can probably assume that if you make it available, they will buy it, and you will make money.  If you choose not to make that product available to the people requesting it, then there's something else going on.  You are choosing to exclude that market for a reason, usually one to do with what you may call "corporate strategy" or "brand positioning" but what some people, especially those affected, may call just plain prejudice.

Popular American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire last year when its CEO, Mike Jeffries explained to Salon magazine the company's decision to limit its sizing to Sizes 0 to 10 as part of a corporate-wide strategy to appeal to the "cool" and "attractive" kids, not just implying that if you didn't fit in a Size 10 or smaller, you weren't cool but actually saying their clothes were not for the "fat kids."   Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon, noted in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV that "some women's bodies just don't work" with their clothing.  

Ignorant comments such as those made by Jeffries or Wilson are not something new to me.    I have been called fat my whole life - even when I wasn't fat.  I can't remember how young I was when I was first called fat by other kids - I literally can't remember a time when that didn't happen.  I have a picture of a gorgeous 6 year old Dani on my fridge who could never be called fat - and yet that's what was happening at school.  And when you hear something often, you start to believe it, and live it.  I was fat, so I ate.  And the insult became the reality.  As a teenager I wanted nothing more than to wear the same clothes as my girlfriends and despaired when, as a 17 year old Size 12, with boobs and hips and a butt, I couldn't fit into the same "baby tees" or low rise jeans.  I cried many times in mall dressing rooms feeling fat and unattractive.   I went on Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 13, and actually did quite well with the program, but I endured taunts from classmates throughout elementary and high school, regardless of how thin/fat I was at the time, because I had already been labelled "the fat girl."   Kids who didn't have better comebacks in our juvenile disagreements often resorted to "Well - you're FAT" to end the discussion.  And it usually did, with me in tears.   

This prejudice did not go away as I got older. I matured, but society didn't.  If I refuse to give money to a panhandler in my Gastown neighbourhood, they will shout after me that I'm fat. I've had drunk guys whose advances I have ignored shout about how fat I am as I walk away from them.  I met a record industry insider in the early 2000s when I was younger and desperate for a career as a singer who told me that the reality was, I didn't look like Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears and that's what I'd need to look like to make it as a singer.   I've been routinely overlooked for parts in theatre because of how I look - even in my early 20s I was being thrown into the "mother" or "old lady" or "funny girl" boat, because how do you cast a big girl, no matter how bright her smile, as the ingenue*?  Regardless of whether I've been a size 8, 12, 16, 18 - and I've been them all - these issues still affect me in my adult life.  The "fat" label, once affixed, is hardly ever removed.   And sometimes we keep it there ourselves: I know even when I've been wearing a Size 2, and been sick and green from starving myself, I've looked in the mirror and still seen a fat person.  

So, no, that companies don't want to make clothes for fat people isn't news to me, but perfectly in keeping with my experience as a big person.   I don't feel the need to make immediate indignant retorts on Facebook when people like Jeffries or Wilson show their true colours.  The message isn't new:  Fat isn't cool.  Curvy isn't cool.  Thin is correct.  It is beautiful. Thin is fit, and healthy, and there is no other possible definition of what "fit" or "healthy" can mean.  And if companies like Abercrombie and Fitch and lululemon would prefer not to cater to myself or other women who do not fit their size charts, it is their prerogative and I don't have to shop there.   

Still, I feel it keenly when a dear friend who I think is beautiful and amazing writes a brave letter to lululemon asking why she can't buy a shirt in their store to wear to her regular Pilates workouts, and receives a flip response about why she does not fit their image of a "target guest."  I feel bad for my male friends who have subjected themselves to gruelling workouts and horrendous diets of shakes and pills to live up to some image of "maleness."  I have lived this frustration.  I've cried those tears, I've fought those battles.  17 year old me would be bitterly disappointed not to have the same clothes as all of my friends.  33 year old me sees it as an opportunity to scour the Interwebs for cool brands and designers who no one else has.  It hurts me, but I also have tools at my disposal (mainly income) to help me cope.

So, some women's bodies, bigger women's bodies, "don't work" for Chip Wilson.  This isn't news. 

What is news to me, and saddening, is how people who I consider intelligent, sensitive and educated - people who know me, and know other bigger people - accept these messages and reinforce them, without a thought to how they affect people they claim to respect and care for.   What is news to me is how people who have experienced weight issues themselves, once resolved, show little empathy for others.  What is news to me is that the media onslaught of "thin is beautiful" has been internalized so much that smart, caring people reduce weight issues to two causes: gluttony, or laziness, and thus justify exclusions like those made by lululemon and A & F ("Well, if you want to wear these clothes, don't be so lazy.  Don't be so fat"), when the reality is that size and weight are so much more complicated, difficult, and sensitive issues.

When the Abercrombie & Fitch story came out, I posted a link to the story on my Facebook and said, "Thanks Abercrombie & Fitch, thanks to companies like you I spent most of my teenage years crying in dressing rooms."  I was half kidding, but also serious.  A firestorm of comments followed, in which a friend who had lost a considerable amount of weight (and was, in my opinion as a person who has had every kind of eating disorder under the sun at some point or another, unhealthily fixated on her "new"body and "new" self) stated that I should suck it up - that if I wanted to wear A & F, I should just lose weight, or shut up about it.  A man who had actually dated me, and so whom I feel reasonably confident in saying thought I was attractive, felt the need to wade in on the comment thread and explain why he preferred thin women.   The majority of comments basically expressed that size was that simple: thin is good, fat is bad, and if you want to be thin, don't eat so damn much.  Go for a run.  And if you're fat, you deserve to be excluded and shouldn't complain.  I was willing to wade into this debate, and hear my friends' positions, as appallingly insensitive as I thought they were being (two of those who commented de-friended me after our exchange of comments, incidentally - so perhaps they were more sensitive than I thought?), in the hopes that maybe I could educate them on what it's like to live in my shoes (a "regular" size 7, in case you're wondering.  My feet aren't fat). 

So today, I read lots of posts by people appalled by Chip Wilson's comments about women's thighs, in particular - and that women's thighs "rubbing together" may be the reason their pants' quality has declined in recent years.   What was disappointing to me however were the social media comments that did NOT find his comments appalling and size-ist: 

 "No man can wear a Speedo either." 

Why not? 

"Of course he's right, some people shouldn't wear those pants."

Who are "some people"?

"I don't understand why people think that every company has to cater to the needs of every body shape around.  If you're plus size you won't look good in it, don't buy it." 

Great - but how come it's always the larger people who don't have a right to be "catered to"?  And who's making an alternative? Oh, nobody?  That's helpful.

"Exactly.  Some people shouldn't wear these clothes.  Period." 

Sorry, who are these "some people" again?  You mean bigger people?

"Plus-size people should stop complaining and get to the gym."

Thanks,  I'll slot it in after my third trip of the day to McDonalds.

Well, I can't help myself.  I feel the need to point out, for Chip, Mike and others, the following:

1.  You don't have to be "plus size" (defined as size 16 and up) to not have a gap between your thighs.   Here's a great article from Slate on that topic.  

2.  It's not plus size people's complaints that Chip is responding to, because lululemon does not make plus size clothes.  Their largest size is a Size 12, and that is only available in limited styles.  I wear tons of lululemon stuff, and there is also tons of lululemon stuff I can't wear.  For instance, most lulu shirts and hoodies feature extremely long and thin arms that just don't fit my chubby, stumpy arms.  

3.  People who do not fit into lululemon or A & F are not necessarily lazy unhealthy people.  My friend who wrote the letter to lululemon is not what I would even call plus size.  She walks, bikes, does yoga and Pilates, but just cannot fit her gorgeous sexy boobs into one of their shirts.  

4.  Fat people like to exercise too.  I do yoga every day.  I dance, I run, I hike.  I am not by any means exceptional in this.   And fat people who like to exercise also like to have clothes to wear while they are doing said exercise.  Sometimes fat people who exercise will, like some of my friends (and like me at some points in my life), turn into thin people who exercise.  Sometimes they won't.  In my book, if they're trying to be healthy, then that's OK, and they should be able to buy a pair of pants to try to be healthy in.

5.  Fat people have jobs and have money to spend in retail therapy, the same as anyone else.  Fat people like shopping when they can find stuff that fits them, and like to look good.  We would be outraged if The Gap said it wanted to exclude, let's say, all people with acne from wearing their clothes.  We wouldn't consider that socially acceptable.  So why is it socially acceptable (or defensible, or explainable) to exclude people based on body type?

 6.  People who are not thin may be so for reasons out of their control and for which they do not "deserve" to be shamed.  Hormones, emotional issues, health conditions, genetics - these are all things that affect weight and shape.   Mike Jeffries and Chip Wilson are not in a position where they can know the story of every potential customer they alienate with their comments.  However, you (my friends, my readers) are in a position to know, or to ask, why the people in your life may choose, or not choose, to be the size that they are.  You are in the privileged position of being able to ask, listen, empathize and accept.  The idea that if you're not thin you're doing something wrong, is well…wrong.   And if you accept that idea, or the real-life consequences of that idea (like the exclusionary policies of companies like lululemon and A & F), then you are doing your friends of all sizes a disservice.

So, no, it's not the comments of people like Mike Jeffries and Chip Wilson that bother me.  I'm bothered by the friends I have who aren't bothered by them.   I'm bothered by the people who buy into one idea of beauty.  I'm bothered about how size-ist attitudes demonstrated by retailers get reflected in the media, and then get reflected in popular culture, so that people find it perfectly OK to judge or place value on someone because of size (or lack thereof).  I'm bothered that looks can limit anyone, in their career, in love, in life.  And I'm mostly bothered that my damn yoga pants are see-through. 

And to all the retailers out there - I like to shop, I have money to spend, and given that I do yoga every day, I need a lot of yoga pants.  Make me a pair that fit, that make me feel good, and that aren't see-through or full of holes within a month (like my last few pairs of lulus) and you'll have my money.  Simple as that.  

*I have also been wonderfully cast against type and given fantastic opportunities to play the ingenue or romantic lead by directors who value talent over conventional beauty.  I will never forget director Matthew Bissett gently admonishing me when I was lamenting about how I was not going to get a particular part because I wasn't thin and pretty, that perhaps I should leave the directing to directors who may, in fact, know better than me.  And in some cases, including Matthew's, they have, and shown confidence in me where I have not had confidence in myself.

UPDATE:  If you'd like to read my friend Dani Fecko's letter to lululemon and their response, you can click here

I Love Shoes and Things and I Am Unapologetic

So last night I had dinner at Granville Island with friends (and with alot of Kir Royale) and I wore my HOT SHOES. Yes, the silver metallic Kenneth Cole Reaction sandals which I have previously blogged about. So, anyways, my feet were looking hot so I thought Byron should admire then and helpfully stuck my foot in his lap to show them off. He was like, "Whooa. Nice shoes. Maybe you should, you know, BLOG about them."

I mean, OUCH. Whatever, it's MY blog, and if I want to wax poetic about shoes, or write a treatise that very badly tries to combine shoe shopping with Coleridge, well, dammit, I'm going to do it. And for someone who doesn't blog, Byron was awful scathing about my choice of topics.

Well, too bad. I'm gonna blog about my cool shoes and my cruiser bike. I might even blog about how much I love and picking cute little perfume samples at the checkout screen, and waiting for my black and white box to show up with all my bee-yoo-tiful makeup purchases, and yes, maybe I am a lip gloss whore but at least I shop online for the best deals. So there. I might even change the name of my blog to "Dani Likes Shopping for Girly Things and Occasionally Talking about Politics and the State of the World and Same-Sex Marriage and Environmentalism and Reviewing Theatre but Mostly She Likes to Talk About Shopping," I will.

Am I shallow?

Hell yes. With great shoes.