January 30, 2015

5.16 q&a: emergency budgets, upgrading, and undergarments

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Happy Friday! Got any fun plans for the weekend?

A few weeks ago, I created a little form where you could send me a question you’d like to see answered on the blog. Let’s get down to a few of your questions.

Do you have an “emergency budget” for shopping in-between capsules in case one of your pieces were to be severely stained or ripped? –Sarah

Hi Sarah! I do keep an emergency budget — about $100. I think it’s a great practice because if I ever do have a wardrobe emergency, it won’t turn into a financial crunch.

So far though, I haven’t needed to use it. I’ve had a couple of pieces rip or stain mid-season, but the few times that’s happened, I decided that the lack of that particular piece wasn’t going to “slow down” the rest of my capsule wardrobe.

Now, the day my jeans rip, I’ll be singing a different tune. And I’ll be really grateful for that emergency fund. :)

I don’t have the finances to upgrade all the pieces I would like to, but I would really love to move from a wardrobe of clothes I bought in college because they were cheap to more appropriate attire for my life now. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to downsize while incrementally upgrading. –Rebecca

Hi Rebecca! This is such an important question. Every situation is different, so it’s hard to address it all in one tidy answer. But for now, I’ll try to answer your question the best I can in the fewest words:

1. Let go of all the “shoulds” —  the way you should build your wardrobe, the amount of pieces you should have, the places you should shop. Instead decide to play with possibility from here on out and go your own way.

2. Take the pressure off yourself and think of it as a long term project. Instead of trying to create an upgraded wardrobe in 3 or 6 months, reframe it to 12 or 24 months, or however long you need … and then relax for the ride.

3. Focus on buying just one or two quality pieces each season. It will feel painstakingly slow. It’s not sexy. But try not to diminish your progress. Small change over time equals big change. And if you need some encouragement to stick with it over the long haul, read The Compound Effect.

“Never give up on something just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ― Earl Nightingale

Do you take a minimalist approach with your undergarments too? I’m also curious about what other books that you read. I know that you have listed some books already, but I’d love to hear about more. –Lisa

Hi Lisa! I just recently decluttered my panty drawer and I can’t tell you how nice it is to open that drawer and know that everything fits comfortably + makes me feel my best.

That wasn’t the case about 4 months ago, but I finally decided I’d had enough of uncomfortable undergarments, so I started doing research + preparing to upgrade.

I ended up settling on these panties because of the amazingly comfortable fabric and the fact that I can wear them underneath anything.(Here’s a brief version if you’re interested.) I have 9 pairs and I’m happy with that number. I purchased 3 pairs every month over 3 months so I didn’t have to invest all at once.

Other stuff? I have about 12 pairs of “PJ” panties. I’m currently working on downsizing my bra collection. And I have a few pieces of pretty lingerie.

And, oh! I’m regularly adding to a Pinterest board of books I’ve read and loved. Have a look: Book Club Pinterest Board

Want to see one of your questions answered on the blog? Head to my contact page and click “Got a question for me?”



Jacket: old from Zara (similar here)

Tee: old from J.Crew (different but equally cool here)

Pants: old from Aritzia (similar here or similar for less here)

Shoes: old from Madewell (similar here)

Bag: Marc Jacobs (similar for less here)


January 29, 2015

guest blogger series: jaana’s downsizing process

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Cleaning out my closet for the capsule wardrobe was a lot harder than I anticipated.  I’m not generally a “saver”, but when I was ready to buckle down and start getting serious about what I wanted style-wise, letting go seemed scary.

It sounds so silly because, come on!  They are just clothes!

But I was also letting go of the old me.  The pre-mom years, the district manager years, the shopaholic years.  Basically my entire 20’s! 

I had to put that all behind me and look at what was realistic for my life right now.  In some ways, I could relate it to a grieving process.

The 7 Stages of Purging Grief

Stage 1 – Denial: I don’t have THAT many clothes.  Sure, I have all those boxes of clothes in storage and there’s not an ounce of room in my closet, but it’s not that bad.  I also have my goal pants.  But if I just eat lettuce for the rest of my life, I will totally rock them.  And the shoes?  Well, I haven’t worn any of these heels in about 8 years, but they are sooo cute.

Stage 2 – Guilt: Look at all this money down the drain.  Piles of clothes just waiting to be sent off.  How can I live with myself?  I worked so hard to buy all this stuff and here I go, just giving it away.  I’m a monster.  A fashion monster.

Stage 3 – Bargaining: Why am I doing this?! OK, maybe if I have a garage sale, then I can earn a little money.  And I’ll take my best stuff to the consignment stores.  Wait, I put this checkered shirt in the giveaway pile?  It doesn’t fit, but it’s totally in style right now!  Let me just wear it one more time to make sure…

Stage 4 – Depression: I didn’t make much money from the consignment stores.  My garage sale idea never panned out.  I just dropped off 15 bags of clothes at the thrift store.  What have I done?  I feel sick.  I can’t go on.

Stage 5 – Upward Turn: Well… at least now I get to go shopping for a few things?

Stage 6 – Reconstruction: OK, I have a plan!  I know what I need and what I want.  I’m building a functional, fashionable wardrobe for myself and making long-term goals.  This is good.  This is where I want to be.

Stage 7 – Acceptance: I can stand back and see the progress I’ve made.  I love everything in my closet.  I could totally get used to this capsule wardrobe thing!

So, my lovely friends – obviously this is just a lighthearted way of saying that I had my doubts.  (And that I might be a teeny bit melodramatic.)

It just wasn’t as simple as getting rid of clothes and then buying more.  The process sent me searching for something better.  It exposed my insecurities.  It sent me on a journey to simplify and try to be a better version of myself.

But they are just clothes!!

I know, right?  Who would’ve thought?

{Check my blog to see how I distressed these black jeans for a new look!}

Top: H&M sold out!  (similar
Bottoms: Gap
Shoes: old Nike Eclipse II (similar)
Jacket: Guess
Bag: old from Old Navy (similar)
Bracelet: old from Etsy (similar from the same designer)
Earrings: Target
Rings: Etsy



January 28, 2015

5.15 simply notice

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Last week was all kinds of drab, drizzly, and cold. So I promptly turned into a fantastically lazy + melancholy version of myself. I did all sorts of stuff, like:

  • avoid working out
  • avoid washing my hair
  • avoid putting on real clothes
  • avoid staying awake
  • avoid social interactions
  • avoid vegetables

After a few days of this, I wasn’t feeling too happy with my choices. And when I’m unhappy with my choices, something happens — I just wanna buy things!!

I’ve recognized this little pattern in my life, and over the past few months I’ve been watching it closely, trying to find the root.

And I saw something:

Over the course of my life, consumeristic culture has been quietly feeding my brain this idea:

You want to change your life? You need to buy something for that.

For example, last week:

I wished I was better about working out. So I wanted to buy cute workout clothes.

… Instead of just getting up right then and going for a jog around the neighborhood. Which would have been real progress — and free.

And I wished I was more outdoorsy and adventurous. So I wanted to buy a camper and renovate it with a modern, minimal, all white and wood interior.

… Instead of just getting up right then, bundling up, and hiking around a new park. Again, real progress — also free.

And I wished I was a better friend — AKA I wanted to be someone who brought people together and hosted fun gatherings. So I wanted buy a welcoming home out in the country.

… Instead of just inviting a few friends over to our apartment to watch Downton Abbey. Progress — free — you get the idea.

I had to ask myself: Am I actually living the life I want to live? Or am I just buying things that represent that life?

And I had to ask myself: Am I putting off a full life now because I’m waiting for the day I’ll be able to afford a certain thing?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, sometimes in order to start things, you do need to buy something. Or sometimes, you just want to make fun purchases. And that’s okay. We’re all on our own journey.

The important thing is to simply notice … with no judgement … when progress is attached to a purchase. Kind of like practicing meditation.

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each thought as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge experience as “good” or “bad” (“pleasant” or “unpleasant”). With practice, an inner balance develops. – via Gaiam LIfe’s “Meditation 101″

Once you’re aware, consumeristic culture isn’t in control anymore — you’re in control, and you can choose what’s right for you.

And that’s a pretty awesome feeling.

What do you think? Have you ever felt this way, too?

Coat: Shopbop (also similar for less here)

Sweater: Nordstrom Rack (similar here)

Pants: old from J.Crew Factory (similar here)

Shoes: J.Crew (also similar here)

Bag: old from Madewell (similar here)

January 27, 2015

guest blogger series: jacquelyn’s office style

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I can remember the first time I wore this outfit feeling so ridiculously put together. I felt confident, laid back, sophisticated, feminine, and masculine all at once. And I’m realizing more and more how much I enjoy that combination in an outfit.

Crazy thing is: there’s nothing crazy about this outfit at all. It’s a simple color palette: black, white, and tan. But there’s just something about that color combination that looks like you put some effort into your outfit without looking overdone.

Okay, since I am the office girl here let’s talk about where we can wear this outfit and how to make it work for your situation.

First, I can wear this outfit anywhere. I have worn it to work, to a Saturday night book club dinner, to grad school, and running errands. If this skirt is a little short for your office, no problem just swap it out with a pencil skirt or trousers. You could also layer this top under a black dress and top it all off with a tan cardigan.

To see how I wore this same color combination in a different outfit head on over to my blog!

Top: Express (portofino style shirt– similar)

Cardigan: old from the Limited (similar)

Skirt: JCrew Factory

Shoes: Bandolino (similar)

Necklace: old from Target (similar)

Earrings: old from Loft (similar)

Bracelet: Stella & Dot (one and two)


January 26, 2015

5.14 feeling old

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So here’s the story. Aaron and I have been poking fun at our own “oldness” lately. It manifests itself in different ways:

Like we’ll go out and be social and do dinner with our friends … but by 9:30 we’re headed home, and our friends are headed to the next bar. Or we’ll have big plans to go out, but then just stay in and watch Netflix because, sweatpants.

Anyway. So this weekend we were determined to break that streak. We made big plans to go see a show at The Elephant Room — an awesome jazz club in downtown Austin. Get this: the concert started at 9:30.


For reference, that’s when I’m usually washing my face for the night.

But not tonight! We were going to this show. We were going to break our streak as oldies and prove to the world that we were still fun and crazy. We paid for parking and all was going according to plan.

And then we saw the line. A long line of people waiting to get into the packed club.

It took all of 12 seconds for our oldness to come out again and admit defeat.

We gave it a valiant effort, and even tried to go get drinks + dessert at the restaurant next door, but they were closed.

In short we paid $5 for about 8 minutes of parking.

But it was fun and it was funny and we get to poke fun at our failed attempt at being wild.

And what does this story have to do with this outfit? Oh, nothing. Except I wore those shoes. How was your weekend? :)

Sweater: old from Zara (same one here — for reference, mine is a medium)

Shirt: old from Madewell (similar)

Necklace: Handmade (similar)

Jeans: Gap

Shoes: Charles David

Bag: Marc Jacobs (also similar for less)