Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Don't? Shop Till You Drop

How did two self-proclaimed shopaholics stop being slaves to fashion and finally set themselves free? Two words, Fashion. Rehab.

One year, twelve months, fifty-two weeks, three hundred and sixty Five Days. Could you go that long without shopping? Not purchasing even one little frivolous item? Banishing that rush that comes with buying a new summer dress or the thrill of finding that perfect designer bag you’ve been lusting after, on sale?! To the majority of us who love fashion it sounds like the premise for a horror movie, or a terrible dream you can’t wait to wake up from, but for Perdita Andrews and Alison Dunn (referred to as A and P) it is all very, very real. These two gals are the force behind 365 fashion rehab, a blog, and what some people have called a “movement” that is putting a new spin on fashion blogging. Instead of discussing their latest and greatest acquisitions, they have embarked on a challenge, sharing with the world their quest to find inspiration in their already overflowing closets, one day at a time in rehab.

Bonded by a strong friendship of twenty years and a love of shopping, A and P decided to take the plunge ten months ago and not shop for an entire year. One night, over a pre-birthday dinner for P in San Francisco, we were talking about how at this point in our lives we thought we would have been more "grown-up". We thought we would own a house, have fancy furniture, or even a considerable sum of money tucked away for retirement. At that point we realized that most of our hard earned dollars could be found hanging our closets and shopping was definitely the culprit! We joked about the idea of giving up our favourite hobby for a year, which seemed utterly insane, but one thing led to another and here we are!”

Blog challenges are gaining momentum these days as an increasing number of people use cyberspace as an online diary. Not only are people producing the content, we are all tuning in now more than ever, fascinated by the lives of strangers. But what sets apart one blog from another? What is it that makes the reader come back day after day? While there may be no guaranteed success formula, P stresses that “you have to give your readers something they can take away…or they will quickly tune out”. With an information cocktail of vlogs (video blogs), daily blogging, picture posts and their long list of “lust-haves” P and A have clearly got their readers dialled in. Oh, and don’t forget about the big pink clock at the top of the page, counting down by the second, to the day fashion rehab is over. As every good challenge must have boundaries, the ladies have assembled a very precise and what some may call torturous list of rules and regulations that are the grounds for fashion rehab. And no, it does not stop at clothing and accessories; rehab encompasses all related purchases including make-up, undergarments and household knickknacks. In light of that revelation I felt compelled to ask A and P what they regretted not purchasing before rehab began. “Knee socks”, replied P. Not quite the answer I was expecting, and then A weighed in “A really great push-up bra. A great bra can make you feel good no matter what you are wearing on the outside!”

Push-up bras and knee socks aside, I was curious to find out more about their experiences in the last ten months and how rehab has changed their lives. On top of curbing their shopping addiction, A and P have had to learn the ins and outs of running a successful blog. “We had to teach ourselves to become multi-media experts. Expanding your audience can be very difficult and it really is a big commitment. Sometimes we just don't feel like putting up a blog post but you have to just put your head down and do it.” So how do A and P find the motivation to keep pushing ahead? “You realize you are accountable. There have been so many emails and comments we have gotten from people saying they have always wanted to do something like this but didn't have the guts till they found us.” With 66 days remaining in fashion rehab A and P sure have a lot to show for their hard work. 365 Fashion rehab has been nominated in multiple categories for the Canadian Web Blog Awards, including Fashion & Style, Group Web blog and People’s Choice categories. They have connected with other bloggers, noting a correspondence with FB from Fashionably Broke in the City as one of their more rewarding experiences. Above all else, they have surpassed everyone’s expectations.

As rehab draws to a close and the end is in sight the ladies are finding themselves feeling “proud, anxious and excited”. They have mastered the art of self-dicipline, re-discovered lost loves in their closets, and channelled those pesky shopping urges in new creative ways. When asked if they had to do it all over again? , P responds “the experience has been unforgettable” but…“the make-up situation is getting worse by the day”!

Follow A and P and see if they succeed! www.365fashionrehab.com

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