The Great American Apparel Diet

no buying for one year

About August 24, 2009

HangerThe Great American Apparel Diet, what is it?  We are a group of women who have decided to go on a diet of sorts.  A fast really.  We are completely eliminating  “new apparel” from our diets for one year.   Yes, the next time you see us sporting new togs it will be Sept. 2, 2010.  Sound easy?  Well think again.  This is going to be a stretch for most of us.  You see, like most women we are atttached to our wardrobes in some form or another.  In fact buying a new something-or-other is as natural as a dark choclate pick-me-up.  We all have our reasons for embarking on this project but it all gets down to this…who are we without something hip and new in our closets?  We shall see. 


summer 2009 011Sally Bjornsen, Seattle Washington.  Age: 46 (looks 45) Sally is first and foremost a child of retail (three generations), everything else springs from there.   When she’s not shopping online or assessing the latest trends she is a mother, stepmother, wife, author, blogger, social commentator, idea generator and business owner, not necessarily in that order.  Assessing the retail landscape (both online and brick and mortar) is sport for her—though parting with cash can ignite heart palpitations.  Born with the guilt of a Jewish mother Sally never feels completely “guilt-free,” when she closes the deal at the “cash wrap.”  After 25 years in the advertising and retail biz Bjornsen is finally ready to implement the “less is more” philosophy of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.   “I want to see what life is like when women just say no to the new apparel pick-me-up.  A lot of women in the “program” currently spend a fair amount of time planning, pondering and preparing their wardrobes (some more than others).  This preoccupation is usually motivated by what they want at that moment rather than what they actually need.  As a result a lot of us end up with a bunch of weird things in our closets.  All that time and energy could be re-focused toward other creative endeavors.  Who knows how much time, money and energy will be saved on the diet.  I can’t wait to see.   


stephanieStephanie Greco. Age: 49 (looks 40).  When you think of Stephanie Greco Daegatano you think fresh mozzarella cheese, a huge smile and very expressive hand motions.   Stephanie is all that and lots more.  She is a mom, wife, designer, business owner and yoga teacher.  She is also a physical inspiration.  Not only can she wrap her leg around her neck while in a headstand but she can also carry on a conversation and look attractive all at the same time.   When I asked her why she was interested in the TGAAD she said, “Here’s my story…I’m married, I have two daughters and I have enough clothes to last a lifetime.  I’ve realized with age that I will always have enough and I will always feel like I never have enough. And I need to learn to live with what I have. Period,”  I’m scared and excited and definitely need a phone sponsor!!! I WANT TO REALLY DO THIS! ‘nuf said.


s560353638_1403314_16431Laura Zielinski, Seattle Washington. Age: 42.  Laura is a mother (2 boys aged 5 and 7), wife, technology executive and skilled online shopping aficionado, replete with competitive price analysis.  She always looks great and sports the latest “in” item of the season.  Her favorite fashion sites are;;;;;;;;;;;;;   When asked why she wanted to partake in the Great American Apparel Diet she said “I spend too much time thinking and talking with people about clothes. I want to dedicate brain space to other things. Given my preoccupation, I think this will provide a good exercise in discipline: using what I have to create new outfits and looks.  Finally, I look forward to tracking my insights and struggles on the blog.  Laura anticipates boredom with her closet as a potential diet killer.  “Seeing some of my Mommy friends in the latest trend just might make me hot under the collar and jonesin’ for something hip and new. I get a lot of my ideas through careful observation.” Laura is also anticipating more free time to dedicate to her other passions such as cooking, reading and gardening (but most of all: trying to figure out my next career).

IMG_0269Aubrey Rosenkranz is a 32 yr old, loving wife, and mother of three youngsters…all under 4. Her son was born at the end of June and she’s still trying to catch up on sleep. She stays home with her kids and works on graphic design projects when time allows, as a self-professed Designer Mom. She loves making art and eating. But, what she really really loves is buying clothes. 

“I love to express my individuality with the clothes I wear and I love the rush of getting something new and different. It is surely an addiction,” says Aubrey. ” The hardest part of the diet for me will simply be finding clothes in my closet that are comfortable and fit while I’m still a couple of sizes larger than usual, after having the baby. I hope to be able to wear non-maternity jeans again by October. Although, I haven’t done anything yet to make that goal a reality.  I like to find things that are unusual and special. I like to change character depending on my mood and how I’m dressed. My closet makes it hard to mix and match. I don’t have one, distinct style. So, I like to buy new clothes to represent the way I’m feeling at the moment.”


 YogaSunrise_120308-5479Mary Lyn Jenkins, Ponte Vedra Florida. Age: 37.  ML is a wife of one, mother of two, ( aged 2 and 5years) and kick ass Baptiste yoga instructor (yes she has been known to wrap her leg around her neck while smiling).  When she’s not chasing her kids or standing on her head, she freelances as an interior designer and photo art director. When asked why she wanted to embark on the diet she said, “I don’t know if I really want to but I’m pretty worn out from having friends who say ‘no’ to my ideas, so I wanted to say ‘yes’ and do something I was asked to do by a good friend.”  In regard to wardrobes ML is pretty o.k. with a classic t-shirt and jeans, flip flops and shorts, yoga tank and lulu lemon yoga pants.  (Yeah, if I was Christie Brinkley’s twin I would do the same thing).  But if in a bind and faced with a looming event she is as likely as any of us to go out and splurge on something new and fab-o that she will only wear once.  ML doesn’t anticipate falling off the wagon anytime soon but is wary to say “it’s going to be easy.”  ML is looking forward to seeing if she will actually save some money.  She hopes to uncover how little she needs in the wardrobe arena.

photo_kristin_09Kristin Hawes, Age: 36, Seattle Wasington.  Kristin is a wife and mom of three (an older son who is 6 and three year old boy-girl twins).  She is also 6’3” tall, (6’4” when she stands up straight).  Along with being a mom and wife she is a lawyer in a boutique law firm in Seattle. 

Why embark on the diet?  Because of her height, Kristin has always had trouble finding clothes that fit well.  She also reports that she had an extremely protracted goofy period, which resulted in some residual self-consciousness.  More often than she would like to admit, she has gone to work and realized she absolutely hated what she was wearing, and headed out (over lunch or sometimes sooner) to buy a new outfit.  In addition to being impulsive, this activity has left her with an abundance of ill fitting clothes that upon further inspection, are not even her style (what was she thinking?). 

In the last couple of years, Kristin has been working to break herself of the drop-and-shop habit.  She is also working to purge her closet of the offending items.  “I’ve gradually developed a wardrobe that I generally like, that fits well, and that meets my needs.  My goal over the next year is to get over my impulsivity – and my self-consciousness- and like the clothes I’m in.  If in the process I save a bit of money, all the better.  I hope that’s not too much information.”

When I asked Kristin what she is most fearful of while on the diet she said, “The “oh-my-god how did I leave the house in this?” moment.”  She is also fearful that her friend Liza, who is the best and most persuasive shopper, may tempt her to fall off the way.  “I know Liza will think I have lost my mind when she hears about the “diet.”   On a side note, Kristin is also planning to go cold turkey on the accessories angle, but is thrilled about the shoe loophole.

Rebecca Kotch (bio to come)

Jacquelyn Bjornsen-Stevenson (bio to come)

Diana Naramore (bio to come)

Tamara Gellert (bio to come)

Nancy Lea (bio to come)

Kim Clements (bio to come)

Jeannine (j9marie) is a good shopper.  She has a penchant for all thing Barney’s and anything expensive.  She has a busy career at Microsoft  which requires her to travel and meet with clients.  It is imperative that she look good for “clients,”  which is often her impetus for buying something “new.”  “When Sally came up with her plan I decided to do something a little different and focus my shopping only at consignemnt and used clothing shops.  I cannot wait to check them out and blog about my experiences.”  Jeanine will still get her “high” when shopping at consignment stores but she is trying her best to sustain in her own way.   jeanine lives in Redmond Washington  with her  husband Ron,  stepdaughter Haley, and  Sasha the black labrador.


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