Closet Tour: Shoes, Revisited

Let’s talk shoes again! I’ve come a long way from even a couple of years ago when I finally made it from 17 to 11 pairs of shoes. Now that I’m down to seven, I can’t imagine what 17 looked like.

However, I have moved to a much warmer climate where sandals are basically okay all year round so that makes a big difference.

So let’s dive in!

My most necessary shoes

For everyday shoes, I have one pair of Saltwater Sandals (I seriously can’t recommend these enough). I’ve worn them almost every day for the past year, and they’re holding up quite nicely.

I also have a pair of pink sparkle TOMS – I wore these for my wedding two years ago, and they’ve got some major toe holes. I’m going to keep wearing them until I decide what to spring for next. I’ve got my eye on Keep shoes, a conscious, vegan, local LA shoe brand.

For the rare dress occasion, I have three pairs of heels. I could probably get by with only one (or even zero) of these shoes, but I really like the option of heels. I have a sandal-ish pair, a black penny-loafer style, and a grey pointy pair. I’ve had all of these heels for over eight years.

And of course, my running shoes. The red pair is pretty run down and I don’t actually need those anymore, but I keep them on hand in case I somehow find mud in Los Angeles.

The benefits of paring down

What’s been really nice about this journey to pare down on my possessions is that I’ve learned what I really need – and what really makes me happy.

Turns out, shoes don’t make me happy. They might make you happy though! To just reiterate what I’ve said a million times: simplicity is subjective. Make it your own!

I haven’t felt a need (until now, with the hole-y TOMS) to add to my shoe closet in quite a while.

And another thing…

I know I’ve been quiet on this blog for a while, but I just wanted you to know I’m not gone! I’m working on a passion project that I’ll be sharing sometime this summer. 

Yes, it will be fun. No, it won’t cost you money.

Happy Friday!


Simplicity Helped Define My Style

If you asked me six years ago to define my style, I would have rattled off a long list: vintage, eclectic, bright, and probably experimental.

What that really meant was this: I don’t know.

But now, although I don’t feel like I have one word to describe my style, it’s a lot easier for me to decide what works for me and what doesn’t. Part of it comes with time, but part of it is thanks to my efforts at simplifying.

How a simple closet made shopping easier

I haven’t purchased a lot of clothing since I got rid of most of my wardrobe, but it’s been a lot easier (and more fun!) to shop since then.

I’ve been able to rule impulse purchases out more quickly based on whether or not it will work with my existing wardrobe: sure, it’s a great skirt but I don’t have shirts to go with it. Also, I don’t usually wear skirts.

Living with a reduced wardrobe has helped me see more clearly what pieces are missing, too. I’ve noticed a lack of patterns in my wardrobe that bothers me (I love multicolored pieces), so I know to keep my eye out for patterned dresses and shirts.


My whole closet. It used to be three times this large!

The blank slate

Simplifying my wardrobe created a blank slate for me, too. After my college wardrobe of weird “vintage” finds and my high school mashup of every shade of pink, I took a U-turn and only kept dark, basic pieces.

Which is great! But now I’m in a place where I feel like I can start adding in new pieces that really inspire me and that are way more intentional than any of my past purchases.

Even if you don’t identify as a minimalist, this can be a welcome exercise to remind yourself of what you really love and reset your mindset for future purchases.

It’s good to remove yourself from trends sometimes and just think about the pieces that make you feel good.

My style: present and future

So here we are. I made it past the pink wide-flare pants and the homemade dresses that fell apart while I was wearing them. I’m past the ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and sometimes stained “vintage” finds that I gravitated towards in college.

I’m sure you have had similar phases.

But now, I’m looking forward to adding pieces one at a time into my wardrobe (and typically with the one in/one out policy).

My new shopping guidelines are this: quality staples and joyful/versatile patterns. And more pink – I somehow got rid of most of my pink clothes.

But above all, I’m making a commitment to purchasing the majority of my clothing from ethically-made brands. The best part of that? Since there are fewer ethical brands available, my shopping will have to be well-researched and filled with intention.

So tell me about your wardrobe! What are your intentional style choices?

Closet Tour: Activewear

I’ve written about my bags, my jewelry and my dresses in the past, but now it’s time to dive in to my approach to activewear.

First, before we begin: there were no pink running spandex when I was in high school, or anything colorful or patterned. So that’s the great tragedy of this post.

Moving on.

minimalist activewear

How I use activewear

I’m going to be candid: I don’t work out every day, but when I do…it’s not that intense. I tend towards cardio and yoga, so my approach might not work for you if you’re constantly doing high-intensity exercise.

That being said, I still think it’s easy to keep things fairly simple.

I re-wear stuff, depending on the level of activity. Especially since I don’t go to a gym where I’m close to a lot of other people. Is that gross? Well, it works for me!

I like to imagine that I’ll just rinse stuff out in the shower when I’m done exercising and hang it in the bathroom for the next day’s use, but I usually don’t get to that step. But I figure that would be a nice solution for someone who exercises frequently and wants to keep laundry to a minimum.

I also have quite a few things that have several purposes, although it doesn’t always serve my best interests: I use my shorts and t-shirts as loungewear and sometimes PJs. Though there’s a big problem with that – when I put on the shorts, I relate that to curling up in bed with some tea instead of hitting the pavement for a run.

Someday I’ll have more of a defined line between my activewear and loungewear, but for now here’s what I have.

A minimalist’s activewear

I keep a lot more shirts on hand than any other things since those are often the sweatiest. I also love leggings because they got me through years of fall and winter runs in Indiana, and still are great for chilly days (hah) here in Los Angeles.

Plus, you look like you know what you’re doing fitness-wise when you wear them.

What I have:

  • 1 pair running shoes
  • 2 tank tops
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve
  • 5 sports bras
  • 3 leggings
  • 1 pair yoga pants
  • 4 soffe shorts

The shorts have puffy paint on them from high school (the oldest pair is eleven years old). My cross country coach called me “Floyd” because I liked pink so much, although at the time I had never heard a single Pink Floyd song. That’s why they all say Floyd.

The thing about workout clothes

Here’s something I love about this type of clothing – while the trendy stuff is really cute, at the end of the day it’s all about function. Does it provide your body the protection it needs while you are exercising?

I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that the average piece of activewear item that I own is seven years old. Some I got last year, and some (like those shorts and that yellow long sleeve shirt) are over ten years old.

Most are from when I was a cross country runner 8-12 years ago. Ugh, don’t remind me.

They still function like new! So when you are in the market for workout clothes, do some research and find quality items that will collect your sweat through thick and thin for the next decade.

The only thing I am sure to change out regularly are my running shoes – every year or two if I’m not running frequently, and every six months or so if I’m really on top of my running game.

What are your workout must-haves?

The 20-Item Traveler and Other Things

I just returned from ten days back in my hometown in Indiana. It was so lovely seeing my family and friends, but I am glad to be back into my routine. I think that’s how any trip goes.

I got to experience the familiar, inconsistent Indiana weather: a mix of hot, cold and perfectly pleasant days. So of course I packed appropriately, right?

Wrong. Why did I think a light sweater would serve as a coat on the 40 degree days? LA must be getting to me.

What I packed

I tried to keep it simple for the trip since my husband and I each only brought backpacks and then shared a checked bag. I actually managed to keep my clothes at under 20 items. I did have to borrow a jacket for the 40-degree day we had, but other than that I had everything I needed.

I packed:

  • 1 Sweater
  • 1 Scarf (the only one I own – it doubles as a blanket and travel pillow)
  • 1 Purse
  • 1 Running spandex capri
  • 2 Sofee shorts
  • 2 Running/pajama shirts
  • 2 Pairs of jeans
  • 4 Shirts
  • 2 Camisoles
  • 3 Dresses (including my Versalette)
  • Underwear and makeup, but I’ll spare you those details

I also brought my laptop, which was fortunate because the clarity of a different space allowed me to make a few breakthroughs in my work.

The most important pieces

Out of everything, there were two pieces that I couldn’t have done without.

My scarf – I adore this scarf. It’s big enough to cover most of my body as a blanket if I need it too, and it’s been my travel pillow every time I’m on a plane. When it’s not around my neck, it’s laid out on our bed at home since it has a beautiful, colorful butterfly design on it. My brother got it for me from Puerto Rico 7 or 8 years ago and it has a few holes in it, but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

The newest addition to my wardrobe is my Versalette, and this is the first time I was able to travel with it. The Versalette is a convertible piece of clothing that can take any shape – dresses, skirts, tops, scarves, even a bag. I got so many compliments on it, and it’s literally (and I mean really literally) the most comfortable piece of clothing I’ve ever owned.

Now that I’m back

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, but I am so happy to be back on the blog and back to work.

I have an announcement coming soon – probably in the next post or two – that LA-area folks will find interesting.

Until then though, what are your travel essentials?

Why I’ve Never Made a Capsule Wardrobe

I have too many clothes.

I remember thinking this over and over again as I walked down my rickety apartment stairs towards the car. I was carrying two 50-gallon trash bags filled with clothes – and that wasn’t even all of them.

I had another 50-gallon trash bag filled with shoes upstairs waiting to be packed into the car for the move from Bloomington to Indianapolis, Indiana. I even had a couple armfuls of hanging clothes already in the car.

I estimated that my clothes weighed at least two times what I weighed – I felt so encumbered and overstuffed. That’s when I started looking into how to simplify.

Capsule Wardrobes

My first exposure to a minimal blogger

A quick Google search led me to discover my first minimalist/simple living blogger: Courtney Carver.

I started to learn about Project 333 and started to realize all the things that weren’t necessary in my closet (I had a beaded evening gown thrift store find that I just couldn’t get rid of – but never wore).

I found out about capsule wardrobes and was really excited by the idea!

Learning about capsule wardrobes

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a capsule wardrobe is when you select a certain number of items (including jewelry, accessories, etc, but excluding essentials like underwear and workout clothes) and only wear those items for a set amount of time.

It’s an excellent practice to get into when you’re trying to live with less. Although I’ve never tried it, it sounds really fun and challenging!

Here’s why I never did it

I’ve never done it because I’m (a former) packrat. I’m the “just in case” type of mild hoarder – the person who keeps notebooks for years just because they have five pages of free space.

(I guess that should be “kept”, because I finally parted with all my old high school notebooks a couple years ago. They’d been unused for ten years.)

I felt like, for me, a capsule wardrobe might encourage me to keep the hundreds of pounds of clothes just out of sight. They’d still be there, like a safety blanket (which, ironically, my “blankie” is the one childhood thing that I will not get rid of).

And it was having too many clothes that drove me crazy in the first place.

What I’ve done instead

I have taken concepts from capsule wardrobes and applied them to my everyday wear. To keep a piece of clothing, it needs to meet one (or more!)

  • It reflects my personality
  • I find it beautiful
  • It fits well, looks good, and/or feels good
  • I love wearing it
  • It has high emotional value and I still wear it
  • It’s versatile (this one is essential for me)

Notice that these are not reasons to keep clothes:

  • I got a great deal on it
  • It was a gift or hand-me-down
  • It has emotional value, but I don’t wear it and I don’t think I will
  • I’ll fit into it again someday
  • It reflected my personality at a different time in my life
  • I’ve never worn it
  • I might need it for

I’ve gone from having a packed dresser and an oversized closet stuffed with clothes to only needing two drawers and about 2 feet of space on the clothes rod.

It’s not hard! And in fact, it’s amazing – I didn’t realize how little I cared about my clothes before. Now, I cherish each item and can’t wait to wear it. I love every piece.

A note on versatility and seasonal items

“But you need to change for the seasons.”

Yes and no. If style is important to you and having cute season-specific clothes fulfills you, then by all means, wear your fall scarves and Christmas sweaters.

But a basic dress looks great in all seasons – just add leggings and cardigans when it gets cold.

My non-expert advice: stay away from super-trendy colors unless they’re really colors you love. Pick pieces you can see yourself wearing to holiday parties and to summer cookouts. If you must, choose reversible or season-less scarves and stick to neutral jewelry.

Having a lot of clothes doesn’t make you stylish. Having few clothes doesn’t make you boring. It’s all in how you wear them.

Have you tried a capsule wardrobe? What did you think?

Downsizing: Dress Edition

In light of the recent weeks’ announcements, I’ve been on another (even more intense) downsizing mission. I was getting rid of a few dresses the other day and decided to snap some pictures to show you what I have in my closet, and how I go about deciding to get rid of something.

I had a lovely influx of clothing from my friend Madeline at an informal clothing swap, but soon realized that I needed to get rid of some dresses to make way for any incoming ones. (Luckily, she and some of my friends took some lingering random craft supplies off my hands as well).

I didn’t downsize much – just from 12 dresses to 9, but I figure since I’ll be living in Los Angeles soon, I’ll want to have a nice handful of dresses that I love to wear in weather that I’m about to totally love. While I don’t have an exact count, based on my previously packed closets, I’m going to guess that I used to own over two dozen dresses. I wore dresses less then than I do now, so there was really no need for that many. Let’s take a look at where I’m at now.

The Dresses

Dresses Round 1

Starting from the top left and moving through the rows like I’m reading a book:

The Little Black Dress: Oh this dress is so lovely. I wanted one badly, found my size at Express, and took to EBay to see if there were any available. The photo doesn’t even do this beauty justice – I snagged it for $15 and wear it for most formal events I attend (which, let’s be honest, are few and far between).

The Rabbit Dress: My go-to dress for anything fun, ever. I love the little rabbit print on it, and feel so much myself when I’m wearing it. Funky, fun, and a little bit ridiculous. This one’s a keeper.

The Stripe Dress: Like my little black casual dress, I could wear this dress every day. It’s slouchy, sleeved, and it has pockets. I’ve considered buying a bunch of fabric and recreating this Kohl’s find hundredfold and, wearing nothing else but replicas of it.

The Casual Black Dress: Okay, so I do have two black dresses. But this one is like wearing a giant, stylish t-shirt that you can dress up or dress down. I’ve been waiting for them to go on sale at H&M (because a price tag of $12.95 is too much, right?) because I’d wear nothing but this dress or the stripe dress if I could. Only one outfit like a cartoon character = awesome.

The Patriotic Dress: I try not to think too hard about this dress being red, white and blue. With the patterns and the black, though, it really can be used for more than just a Fourth of July picnic. Also, it’s one of those mullet dresses that’s longer in the back and shorter in the front. By all accounts, I shouldn’t even like this dress, but I do. The way it fits, the modest sleeves and the perfectly positioned waist, and the funkiness of the pattern really get me. I’m keeping this because it reminds me to be a bit daring with what I wear.

The Jumper: Is there an age limit for these things? Regardless, This one fits like a dream and the floral pattern is so sweet. No one ever knows that it’s not a dress, so I love the sneaky factor too. Keeping it until someone says that I really shouldn’t be wearing it….and even then, I’ll probably keep wearing it.

The Other Patriotic and Stripe Dress: I just got this from my friend Madeline, but I looked and saw that I have other dresses that cover the bases that this one does. Since it’s entirely see-through and I don’t own a proper slip, this one’s going.

The Bridesmaid’s Dress: It’s pink, lacy, delicate and I wore it for my best friend’s wedding a few months ago. Another one that can be dressed up or down to fit the occasion. So is it beautiful? Yes. Useful? Yes. Does it mean something to me? Yep. It stays.

The Sassy Black Dress: This one is a bit less formal than the other little black dress I have, but would be so perfect for a New Year’s-type party. It’s a little big on me, though, and I already have black dresses that serve the same purpose as this one. Sending it away!

The Vintage Dress: My mom found this at an antique store and it fits me so perfectly. Since this feels very one-of-a-kind, I want to keep it for a while longer. Could be an Etsy product someday, but for now it’s my favorite summertime getup. And again, pockets.

The Bright Dress: Again, another dress that I absolutely love (see a pattern here? Through all of my downsizing, I’m getting into the territory of really owning only things I feel strongly about) I’ve worn this for interviews, dinner dates, weddings and even just as casual officewear. Heels and something shiny make it fancy, sandals and a belt (I think I have three belts?) make it casual.

The Dress That Looks Good But Makes Me Feel Like I’m Eight: I love pink more than the average Jane, but this dress and I have had our issues. I like how it fits and looks, but there’s that ruched elastic around the waist that reminds me of outfits I had as a child. Verdict? Get rid of it!

What’s Left

Dresses Round 2

So here’s what’s left. I’ve been considering adding a Versalette to the mix, which would probably eliminate at least one or two of these dresses, but for now I’m happy with my closet.

Whether you have 2, 10 or 25 dresses, there are three important things to remember when downsizing or adding to your closet:

  1. Does it serve a unique purpose? Make sure it’s not redundant. I’ve been working on my “fear of wearing the same thing twice” and it’s actually nice to have fewer options that you know you look awesome in. No more last-minute shopping trips.
  2. Does it bring you joy? Does it make you feel like you can climb mountains? Then go for it, as long as it meets at least one of the other two criteria.
  3. Is it versatile? While this isn’t always a necessary trait, I find that it’s much easier to get by with a flexible wardrobe. There’s also nothing better than combining old clothes into an outfit that people think is new.

What is your favorite dress or piece of clothing?