Capsule Wardrobe, part 6: Winter Capsule

It’s done!

After months of planning, blogging, shopping, failing, deconstructing, and reconstructing, I have finalized my winter capsule wardrobe… Tadaa!

I am very excited to be done and to share the results with you. First some imaginary Q&A:

Do I feel like I’m at the peak of fashion? No.
Do I love every item of clothing I wear? Not really.
Am I comfortable in everything I wear? Yes.
Is everything in my capsule passable and appropriate for my life and style? Yes.
Do I feel like my capsule perfectly envelops my style? No, and I’m still figuring out what that is exactly.
Did everything in my capsule stay within my budget for clothing? Yes.
Did I own the vast majority of it already? Yes.
Am I super happy with the purchases I did make to complete the capsule? Yes.
Is it easier for me to get dressed in the morning than it ever has been in my adult life? Yes.

So let’s talk about math. I have 40 items of clothing in my capsule, which I decided does not include shoes, coats, pajamas, or workout clothes. The 40-item capsule consists of:
20 tops
6 outerwear/cardigans
5 top/bottom combo pieces
9 bottoms

Does 40 items feel like not enough clothes? No.
Does 40 items sometimes feel like too many options? Yes. I would say this is on the high end for the amount of items as far as capsules go, when not including shoes and coats. But when I counted up what I wanted to include and ended up with such a nice, round number, I couldn’t resist just leaving it at that. It seemed meant to be, and not a bad accomplishment for my first capsule.

Before we move forward, let me say that my apartment is half-underground, and by the time I get home the sun has mostly set, so there is hardly any daylight in which to photograph my clothes. And I don’t have a professional doing this for me. And yes, these are heavily edited, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Don’t judge lest ye be judged.

So here are my clothes:

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  1. Gray polka-dot sweater | already owned
  2. Mustard yellow sweater | purchased on sale after Christmas. It was in my color palette, fit right, very comfortable, and I felt like I needed a few more cold-weather items
  3. Silver-beaded gray long-sleeved shirt | already owned (gift)
  4. Olive green sweater | purchased after Christmas with the yellow sweater for the same reasons
  5. Charcoal and scarlet sweater | already owned (gift)
  6. Taupe knit sweater | This was a stupid online purchase from last fall, but I actually ended up wearing it three days in a row once it came in the mail, and I’ve loved it ever since.
  7. Gray sweatshirt | already owned
  8. Pink long sweater | I had decided I needed one super bright color for winter, for days when I felt the effects of dismal Ohio weather. My sisters and I went to the outlet mall last month, and this was $6, super cozy, and long enough to wear with leggings. I’m wearing it as I type this. It’s awesome.IMG_9054
  9. Flannel shirt | A friend and I went through each others’ giveaway bins, and I ended up with this cozy goodie.
  10. Gray and navy print tee | another outlet mall purchase post-Christmas. $4.
  11. “If not now then when” tank top | already owned
  12. Elephant tee | I bought this for my brother five years ago when I was in India. He has since outgrown it, so I took it back.
  13. Burgundy 3/4 sleeve top | already owned
  14. Long black tank top | already owned
  15. Chambray button-up | already ownedIMG_9056
  16. Tan sweater dress | already owned (gift)
  17. Green geo print dress | already owned
  18. Dusty blue dress | already owned
  19. Dark gray maxi skirt | already owned
  20. Light gray sweater skirt | purchased around Thanksgiving when I got to be a part of  Garment Collective‘s winter line launch. Garment Collective sells ethically-sourced clothing made by women redeemed from human trafficking in Nepal. This skirt is so cozy and you should get it! *Right now everything is 70% off!*
  21. Fuzzy rust cardigan | already owned (gift)
  22. Paisley purple shrug cardigan | already owned (gift)IMG_9057
  23. Black and gold print pants | already owned
  24. Floral sweater dress | already owned
  25. Black sparkle dot shirt | already owned
  26. Ivory long-sleeved blouse | already owned
  27. Olive green blouse | already owned (gift)FullSizeRender-6
  28. Black shirt with zipper | already owned
  29. Colorful geo print boxy shirt | First purchase when I first started this capsule process
  30. Cranberry long-sleeved button-up | already owned
  31. Emerald green tie-dye shirt | already owned
  32. Black dressy joggers | already ownedIMG_9059
  33. Black cotton leggings | already owned
  34. Shiny black leggings | already owned
  35. Dark wash jeans | already owned
  36. Black jeans | purchased as part of my birthday gift last month
  37. Gray corduroys | already owned
  38. Ivory chunky-knit cardigan | already owned
  39. Soft dark gray jumpsuit | purchased ($17 from Madewell!) as part of my birthday present. The most comfortable thing I own.
  40. Navy and ivory poncho/cardigan | already owned

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I feel like this proves that living with a capsule wardrobe and living with less doesn’t mean you’re depraved in any way. It’s a personal choice to limit yourself and be creative and comfortable within those healthy boundaries. It’s learning how to be an adult and make good choices for myself, I guess.

Through my choices, I’ve noticed that the value of the dollar still matters a lot to me. The proudness I feel after a thrifty buy has a lasting influence on how much I like that item of clothing. Most of the things I kept were not only at least a year old, but bought on sale or thrifted. I actually expected to feel the freedom to spend more money on clothes since I would have less clothing, but that didn’t really happen for me. Everything I’ve bought since starting this process has been on sale. BUT the sales don’t tempt me like they used to, because I have my color palette and style guidelines to keep me in check. No more buying cute dresses that I’ll only wear one time! I also noticed that a lot of the items I chose to include were gifts, so sentimental value means a lot to me (and my friend and family have good taste). With these things in mind, I have to conclude that not only is my wardrobe smaller, more stylized, and more comfortable that it’s ever been, it’s also very inexpensive. I wasn’t expecting that, but it makes sense for me.

In case you’re wondering, though I didn’t count shoes in my capsule, I did get rid of a lot. For winter, I’m rotating five pairs of different boots/booties, and so far that seems like the perfect amount. I’ve also gotten rid of probably half of my scarf collection, and have only been wearing about half of what’s left. Some of them I’m only holding onto because they have sentimental value, but changing them up helps me not to get bored with my clothes (though that hasn’t been a problem yet). I also have two winter coats that I rotate – one casual and one more dressy.

I’m hoping to do a post with some outfits soon, but first I need to get around my lighting problem (and my unwillingness to go outside in this weather) to give you some better photos. In the meantime, leave some thoughts! Does this make living with a capsule wardrobe seem feasible to you? If you’ve started one, where are you in the process? I would love to hear both success and failure stories (no judgement here).:)

If I can Whole30, you can Whole30

If you know me fairly well, or if you’ve read my blog recently, you probably know that cooking is not my favorite thing. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it when I do it… it’s just that when I get home from work it’s not very high on my list of things I want to do. Plus, my kitchen is hands-down my least favorite room in our apartment. It’s small, cramped, dark, and ugly. There’s not much I can do about it. The light above our sink flickers like in a horror movie (and when there’s a stack of dirty dishes in the sink, it basically is my version of a horror movie). I can put chevron contact paper on my walls all I want, but it’s like putting a band aid on… well, a super ugly room with ugly laminate floors and ugly old cabinets. I’ve been able to make almost every other room of my apartment feel cozy and homey, but not so much the kitchen. Anyway, I digress…

So cooking. Not my fave.

Luckily, I have a really attractive husband with a servant’s heart, who sees cooking as a challenge to master. He understands, unlike I do, that love of food and eating must naturally flow into an enjoyment of cooking. He also understands that when I come home with a certain look on my face (and if I’ve texted him many clues during the day about my current state of anxiety) that there’s no way I’m going to spend an hour or two in the kitchen in order to nourish myself. I would rather (literally) lay around hungrily until falling asleep and see how I feel about making food whenever I happen to wake up. Very much like a helpless baby and white teenage girls, there are days when I literally can’t even.

So you might be beginning to understand how the already challenging Whole30 might pose a unique challenge for our family. During this month of restricted eating, our marital roles were skewed yet further in my favor, as Brett did most of the work while I lay helpless and overwhelmed with anxiety on the couch. (I sound like I am exaggerating, and that is intentional because I can laugh at myself – but seriously, the anxiety struggle has been REAL.)

However, while Brett did most of the cooking, I was leading us into this whole endeavor. I did all the meal planning, and I knew that in order to make this doable for us, we had to keep things very simple. The easiest way to do the Whole30 is to limit yourself even further. For example, the Whole30 has some odd restrictions that, honestly, aren’t difficult, but just take some getting used to. Like not cooking with vegetable oil. Really, the other options of oils to use are very numerous – coconut oil, avocado oil, duck fat, evoo… And bacon is technically compliant… as long as you can find some without added sugar, which is nearly impossible. So, if you can’t afford to go to special stores for your groceries, it’s actually more complicated to find certain ingredients rather than cutting them out. In short, no compliant bacon for us. We stuck to coconut oil and olive oil and just left it at that. We weren’t afraid of substitutions, like water or chicken broth for beef broth. I have the ability to overcome my fears in the face of a chicken carcass, apparently, but adding beef bones to the mix was just not going to happen. And just because a recipe calls for an expensive ingredient doesn’t mean you can’t try it with something else (even if your dish will end up tasting faintly of coconut).

Also, we rarely prepared lunches. We just made sure we’d have leftovers from dinner, or I would make hard boiled eggs as I got ready in the morning and pack a few of those with some salad and other fruits or vegetables. When there weren’t leftovers, we could eat some chicken, a microwaved sweet potato, and some vegetables for lunch. No need to throw something together and make a “meal” out of it. Our goal was to get through the month without breaking the rules, not to try new and complicated things every day.

We spent about one night a week prepping a few things that would last the week or help us cook more meals. (i.e., twice Brett made a whole chicken, then made bone broth from the carcass in one night. Throughout the week we would use that chicken broth and the chicken in other recipes. I also spent one evening a week making us breakfasts.) The rest of the evenings, we would make simple meals. One of the most pleasantly surprising things about the Whole30 was how good everything we made was. There was only one recipe we made that I didn’t like, and the rest was delicious. This is why it was so easy not to be tempted by other foods when eating at home. The only times it was difficult to stay on plan was when we were in situations where we were reminded of all the things we couldn’t eat. Or when we were just sitting around, speaking one-word complains, like, “Poppppcoorrrrnnnnn…” “Piiizzzaaaaa…” “Choooocooollaaateeeee…”

Don’t do that. It’s not going to make you happy. But these meals will.

Here are three weeks’ worth of our meal plans (I don’t have pictures, because, like I said, our kitchen is dismal-looking. I could never be a food blogger). Whenever a recipe looked too complicated, we would simplify it. Feel free to do that and substitute as your heart desires! I also have a Pinterest board of all these meals and some others, if you wanna follow.

Week 1:

  • Breakfast sausage  – I used the recipe from the Whole30 cookbook, but this one is similar if not the same.
  • Egg breakfast muffins  – I would make these the same night as the sausage, and use the sausage in the recipe
  • Taco salad – This was adapted. We used salsa as the dressing and didn’t include the plantains or olives. For the “starch” we used tapioca powder, but you could probably use any compliant flour-like substance of your choice.
  • Chocolate chili – Found this on the @Whole30Recipes instagram, which is a great resource
  • Shepherds pie – Definitely one of my top 5 recipes we tried
  • Roasted curried root vegetables – from the Whole30 cookbook
  • Chicken tenders with homemade ketchup – Another top 5 fave

Week 2:

  • Sweet potato and scrambled egg breakfasts with salsa (I roasted a baking sheet full of sweet potatoes tossed with oilve oil, paprika, salt, and pepper; scrambled 9 eggs, and separated it all out into about 5 servings for breakfasts.)
  • Whole chicken – This recipe was from the Whole30 cookbook. It was So. Good. It would come out of the oven all crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and Brett and I would stand over it and just pick at it. I picked at a chicken carcass because it was delicious. I don’t even know myself anymore. But this was one of the most useful things to do, because we made bone broth from it and used the chicken in multiple recipes throughout the week.
  • bone broth – Whole30 cookbook recipe (but I’m sure you could find one just as good). Used in recipes such as tomato soup, chili, and spaghetti sauce.
  • Tandoori chicken – served over salad greens instead of rice, or in a lettuce wrap. This was one of a few recipes we had already been making before the Whole30 that we were pleased to find out was compliant when we made a few slight changes. Definitely a top 5 for both Brett and me.
  • Coconut curry with roasted cauliflower rice – the rice was another Whole30Recipes instagram recipe – basically you put cauliflower in a blender or food processor, sprinkle with some salt and roast it in the oven.
  • Tomato soup – our own recipe. Roast like, a sheet pan full of tomatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, with a little garlic. Blend it up, add some chicken or vegetable broth, maybe add some more spices. Voila!
  • Buffalo ranch chicken stuffed peppers with guacamole
  • Zoodle (zucchini noodle) spaghetti with homemade spaghetti sauce

Week 3:

  • Steak salad (a fancy night!) – Brett just made some steak, put it on salad, and we used a homemade compliant balsamic vinaigrette recipe from the Whole30 cookbook.
  • Almond crusted pork chops  – best way to cook pork chops EVER! We skipped making the fancy salad with this recipe and just served the pork chops on top of a bed of salad greens, with applesauce on the side.
  • Taco salad – same one as above
  • Greek meatballs with avocado tzatziki – we used beef instead of lamb, because we’re not rich.
  • “Lazy Sunday” casserole with the homemade breakfast sausage recipe – another top 5 fave.

What we always had in our fridge and pantry:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Salad greens
  • Eggs
  • our favorite/most useful vegetables – broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, avocados (guacamole was ESSENTIAL – turns out I will even eat raw cauliflower and broccoli as long as it’s dipped in guac), onions
  • almond meal flour – this was the only flour-type product we used all month
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Coconut milk (the full-fat Thai Kitchen brand was compliant)
  • Pecans and/or walnuts and/or almonds
  • Sweet potatoes and russet potatoes
  • Almond butter
  • Meat! I don’t know how vegetarians and vegans do the Whole30. I’m not a big meat person (except maybe I am now?) but I feel like meat was necessary to have with almost every meal in order to feel satiated.
  • Coconut flakes + dates – this was a snack-y thing that was probably at least a little better than a Lara bar. I put coconut flakes, a few dates, and some nuts in a snack-sized ziplock bag with some cinnamon and shook it up. It was delicious.
  • Seasonings – most of the food you buy will be plain. Having a variety of seasonings on-hand means your dishes will be so much tastier.
  • Tea – at night, while watching TV, it’s hard to not want a snack. Drinking a cup of tea took my mind off of what I could be eating.

    IMG_8725

    All our pantry items for the Whole30 fit on one shelf! It’s definitely simpler to not buy or use so many ingredients.

Things it was easy to find compliant versions of:

  • Anything without a label! (fresh produce and meat – what you’ll mostly be buying anyway)
  • Canned tomato products (diced, paste, crushed, etc.)
  • Salsa
  • Vinegars

Things I want to try next time:

  •  Making our own ghee! We went through the whole month without clarified butter for cooking, but I think it’s pretty simple to do
  • Making cashew butter. This is supposed to be a better peanut-butter substitute than almond butter
  • Even more meal prep. You’re supposed to eat three square meals a day on the Whole30, but there were days when what I ate couldn’t really be considered “breakfast.”
  • Going to bed on time. I tried to make myself go to bed at 10:30 every night, but I totally failed. I need nine hours of sleep to feel well rested. It’s a curse. But to get the full benefit for your body, the Whole30 program recommends a set bedtime every night.

Questions? Comments? Recipes? Tell me about your favorite meals from your Whole30!

Let’s talk about the Whole30

I’ve been sharing a lot about my relationship with clothes, exploring how that relates to body image, insecurities, and how I feel perceived by others. It’s time to tackle an (I’d say) even riskier topic: food.

I think women my age are given two options of socially acceptable ways to handle food. Option A is to do all we can to eat healthily. Buy organic, cut out carbs. Cut out dairy. Cut out grains and gluten. Cut out meat. Don’t eat the whole egg. Order the most pathetic thing on the menu. Be the picture of nature-nurtured wholesomeness. Be Women Laughing Alone With Salad.

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Option B is basically as far away from that as you can go. Option B is to be the Cool Girl. Don’t care what anyone thinks. Don’t care about calories, fat, preservatives, or cage-raised meat. Ain’t nobody got time for that. All the nays are a drag, and who can keep track of it all? And YOLO! We want pizza. Our idol is Jennifer Lawrence, ordering McDonalds from the red carpet.

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On one hand, we’re supposed to care so much that food runs our lives, and on the other hand we’re supposed to seem to care so little and pay so little attention that we don’t notice how often food becomes a crutch.

Since graduating college, getting married, and putting on a few pounds, I have wavered somewhere in the middle between Options A and B. I want to be healthy – mainly in the way of knowing where my food comes from and that there’s nothing in it that’s going to give me cancer. But it all felt like so much work. There’s so much information out there, and a lot of it is conflicting about what is okay to eat and what isn’t. Paying close attention felt like something I just didn’t have the capacity to do. There was too much on my plate to pay attention to what was literally going on my plate.

However, in the past year I’ve been experiencing new and exciting health phenomena (a bit of sarcasm there) happening in my digestive system, and began to get the sneaking suspicion that I’ve had a problem for a while that started out very subtly but had increased to show more serious symptoms. I had been considering since college that there was a reason I often feel fatigued, experience abdominal pain (and other health phenomena!), bloat for no apparent reason, and have increasingly worse breakouts, occasional anxiety, and charming mood swings. I know these all sound like #PMSproblems, but they are more random than cyclical. I decided to do a Whole30 to see if I could pin point an allergy or sensitivity to a food without getting expensive blood tests done.  Plus, even if my problems are hormonal, hormones are influenced by what we eat.

The Whole30 cuts out added sugar, alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, and a lot of little things added to food, like certain preservatives, MSG, and sulfites. Cutting these out for 30 days is supposed to give your gut time to heal if you experience systemic inflammation due to diet, which I suspect I have. Added bonuses were that most people who do a Whole30 report having higher energy levels that remain consistent throughout the day, clearer heads, clearer skin, higher feelings of happiness and optimism, and weight loss. I “warmed up” to the Whole30 challenge by trying recipes here and there, practicing reading labels, and eventually doing a 5-day trial run, which was a big success. I woke up on day 5 feeling well-rested and, for lack of a better way to  put it, loose. My joints and muscles felt well-oiled instead of achy or sore. All week long, I didn’t experience my normal 3 o’clock slump of energy. Part of me wanted to keep going, but the holidays were right around the corner, and I knew it would not be a good time to start such a strict program.

Brett decided to join me the first week of January for our first Whole30. Without him, I would not have been able to do it at all. Not only would I not have had the stamina to resist eating All The Things, but I would have literally had nothing to eat, because I am lousy at cooking consistently. Additionally, the week we started the program, things at work took a turn and I was blasted with a great big ball of stress, which didn’t die down until this week. Also, my anxiety came back like it hadn’t since the good ol’ days when I was a panic-stricken college student. Who knows if my results would have been completely different if it wasn’t for these outside factors, but here is what I experienced:

Negatives

  • The bouts of fatigue still happened as much as they ever have.
  • I actually went home from work sick from anxiety one day – literally shaking and unable to get my heart to stop pounding. So the feeling happy and optimistic report you will not hear from me (though I’m not blaming the Whole30).
  • Everything in the digestive area did not get all worked out. There were still some kinks – though not a terrible month.
  • I’m not a sweets person, but I thought about cake and/or donuts and/or chocolate every day. I had the impression that these cravings were supposed to die down after a couple weeks, but they didn’t.
  • It was really hard to be in social settings at all. At home, as long as I was full, I wasn’t tempted to eat something off-plan. But while I was out with family or friends, it was really difficult.
  • I felt too… normal. Mentally, there were more positives than physically. I finished the month not really knowing if cutting out any of those things really helped my gut at all.

Positives

  • Brett and I learned to enjoy sharing the kitchen and cooking together! He still did more of the cooking than I did, but I did more than I have in a long time.
  • Speaking of Brett, I think he would say he experienced more of the positive effects of having more energy, sleeping well, etc. than I did. Although I don’t know if he would consider the trade off of no-pizza or Chick-Fil-A worth it.
  • I don’t know how much weight I’ve technically lost (my weight always fluctuates in a wide range – I could be as much as 8 pounds lighter or heavier from one day to the next), but I feel like I’m back to my “normal” weight. The body I see when I look in the mirror feels more “me” than the body with some extra pounds that I’ve had the past two-ish years.
  • There is the possibility that my face cleared up a bit. However, I also started using some new skin-care products, so I don’t know which was most beneficial. And it’s not all gone.
  • I was aware of and happy with the fact that I was eating healthily. I felt like I was making good choices. Even though I had plenty of days where I felt so overwhelmed that all I could do was crash on the couch when I got home, feeling like I was in the process of accomplishing a huge feat that would have a positive impact on my health made me feel like I had a good excuse to drop a few other responsibilities here and there. Brett and I were prioritizing ourselves and our health, and there is a good feeling that comes with that.
  • Brett and I are both more aware of what a healthy choice looks like. I don’t think we even noticed how often we ate out or ordered pizza until we completely cut it out as an option. Or I would eat toast with peanut butter for breakfast, toast with avocado for lunch, and a carb-based dinner. I thought I was eating vegetables because I was eating like, one vegetable a day. I didn’t realize how much it took to actually get all the servings of what’s healthy, and that when you choose to have all the servings of the healthiest stuff, there’s less room in your body for the less-healthy stuff.
  • I actually loved the simplicity of having fewer choices. It made cooking and grocery shopping less stressful. There were so many sections of the store that I didn’t even need to go to! Favorite dinners were repeated, and we didn’t choose meals that looked too complicated or required crazy ingredients. We never felt like our variety of food was too limited, and we never got sick of eating the same thing several times.
  • It gave me lots of practice with meal planning, which I had gotten out of the habit of and was never great at. I would plan only three meals a week or something, banking on having leftovers, which happens much more rarely than I hope it will. For the Whole30, I was planning at least seven meals a week, including ones that were breakfasts for the entire week, and sometimes purposefully doubling some recipes in order to have leftovers. I understand much better now how much food it actually takes to feed us without ever going out to eat.
  • If I hadn’t had 30 days of quitting diary, grains, and sugar cold-turkey, I don’t think I ever could get to where I am now in my relationship with food, which is…
    • Feeling like I have more say in what I choose to eat. I am a compulsive eater. If something good is there in front of me, I will eat it, and it’s hard to stop. Parties where there’s a table of food and no one’s paying attention are kind of my downfall. Brett thinks I have a complex from growing up in a house full of brothers, where we didn’t have treats like Pop Tarts or donuts around all the time. If you didn’t eat a HUGE bowl of the good cereal (and maybe go back for seconds) it would be gone before breakfast the next day, and who knows when Mom would let us buy it again. During the Whole30, that kind of compulsive eating and snacking was not an option, so hopefully I’ve kicked the habit.
    • Not even wanting the things I was craving that much. I’ve had both wine and cake – the two things I wanted to eat the most – since our Whole30 ended. And not just any wine or cake: “Bentgate,” my absolute favorite Cabernet Sauvignon from Traveling Vineyards (holla, Coralie!) and the most delicious white chocolate raspberry cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. They were both amazing, but I found that a smaller quantity was much more satisfying than the large portions I thought I would want. I feel like I have a better understanding of what it means to listen to my body and know want it wants, so it’s easier to say no sometimes, even to my favorite things.
    • A positive new perspective on social gatherings. I waited through 30 days that included a handful of group get-togethers, my own birthday, and family dinners, and guess what – there are more coming up just around the corner. There will always be something to celebrate, and there will always be good food to go with it. Cheers to that!

Reintroduction of foods after a Whole30 is supposed to be a process, but I haven’t necessarily been taking it slow. Brett and I realized with our first post-Whole30 meal that we had consumed dairy, grains, gluten, added sugar, sulfites, and alcohol just from one roll of sushi and a glass of wine. The next day, I had cake for breakfast because it was my boss’s birthday. But today I was hungry and wanted to eat half a bell pepper instead of tortilla chips. So we’ll see if the pounds lost stay off and if the lessons learned will stick. In a few months, when other things in life have settled down, I’ll probably do another Whole30 and see if I’ll get to experience all the positive effects that anxiety might have kept me from this time around. In the meantime, I think I’ll be living in a happy medium between Options A and B, instead of a stressed-out, guilt-laden medium.

Have you ever done a Whole30? What was your experience like? And if you’ve done more than one, did you notice a difference in how you felt from one to the other?

2016 Golden Globes best dressed picks

Ladies only, of course. I’m not about to judge a line up of strikingly similar suits. When men start branching out on colors and textures, I’ll be there for it. But as of right now, it’s 2016, and men’s fashion is still basically no fun.

Oh how I love that my birthday week and the Golden Globes so often overlap! I’m doing a Whole30 (restrictive paleo diet meant to restart your system if you suffer from any autoimmune diseases or systemic inflation, among other things), so my “birthday week” hasn’t felt very celebratory. No donuts. No Starbucks. No CAKE. NO ALCOHOL. Thinking about these things can really bum me out, but remembering that Brett and I have made delicious homemade dinners every night for ten days is happiness. We’re like, living in the 50s or something.

Anyway. I put my hope in the red carpet for a pick-me-up, and the ladies did not disappoint. 2016 looks like it could be the year of bold, bright colors – people might finally be moving away from neutrals and Marsala! Neutrals and Marsala are still my fave, but let’s keep the red carpet exciting, shall we? I look at my top ten picks (along with some that didn’t make the cut – I’m looking at you Jada Pinket Smith and Lilliana Vazquez) and see a line up of delicious colors. It’s as if my eyes could eat and they’re a bowl of jellybeans.

…and on that note:

10. Kate Bosworth

10 Kate Bosworth 1

She really brought it with the sparkles. You know how much I appreciate that.

9. Jennifer Lawrence

The slits on the sides are a little too gaping and a little too much. If not for those, she probably would have been higher on the list. I think this is one of her favorite colors to wear, because it isn’t the first time she’s stepped out in this bright orangey-red hue. I love her matching lip and the choker necklace this simple dress needed.

8. Gina Rodriguez

Ok, don’t be mad at me that she’s only number 8. It’s okay! This ranking thing is really hard sometimes! It’s only because it’s navy. It’s navy and it’s beautiful, but everyone else showed up sparkly or bright, so there you go. You look very nice, Gina.

7. Helen Mirren

People bow down to Meryl Streep, and for good reason, but I want to draw your attention to the wonderful elegant fairy queen that is Helen Mirren. Just. Look at her doing her little twirly thing. She IS poise. Look at her holding her neck up with all those diamonds hanging on it! How?

6. Zendaya

Okay, so this one is Marsala, but what was I to do in the face of Zendaya? She slays. Every time.

 

5. Taraji P. Henson

I haven’t watched Empire yet, but after last night I’m even more excited to, because Taraji P. Henson seems like my kind of person. Her acceptance speech was one part normal acceptance speech, two parts adorable, and three parts sass. Her dress is great, but I really like the whole thing put together. Her earrings topped it all off, and that awkward picture of her with her mouth open is the best one I could find of them. They were all emerald and glinting in the lights, set off against her white dress. It was lovely.

4. Melissa Benoist

When Melissa stepped out to present, I immediately loved this simpler dress. The high slit was so nice and drapey when she moved (as opposed to whoaa-watch-your-step-or-you’re-gonna-flash-someone). Her makeup, hair, and soft-colored accessories go with the girl-next-door ambiance that’s been working for her since Glee.

3. Jennifer Lopez

6 Jennifer Lopez 1

Speaking of slits and accessories, J-Lo is the va-va-Voom version of Benoist’s ensemble. Bling and bright, with a cape AND a train. How does this all work for you, J-Lo? How did you do it? You’re so calm about it! If I was on the red carpet pulling off this whole deal, I’d be grinning like a doofus. Look at her nails! Who wears mustard yellow and still looks that fierce?!

2. Alicia Vikander

It’s perfect. Look how it moves! It’s girly and youthful and beautiful and it twirls.

 

 

 

1. Viola Davis

Viola Davis looked like my dream version of Cinderella’s fairy godmother. I’ll just leave it at that so you don’t have to read more words and can spend more time looking at these pictures of her. Better yet, go find a video of her from Sunday night – it’s better “in person”. You have to watch it sparkle.

Who was your best dressed pick? Would love to hear your opinions on fashion, especially if you’re as oblivious to high fashion as me!

Capsule Wardrobe, part 5

My wardrobe (and blog posts) have fallen by the wayside during the holidays. I’m also in a season of feeling easily overwhelmed, so if you are a praying person, any petitions for grace on my behalf would be so much appreciated.

Despite not being fully complete, I would say that in between my last post and now, I have been living the (hashtag) capsule life. I’ve sectioned off a portion of my closet for the 30-40 items that make up my winter (read: weird Ohio fall/winter/spring hybrid) capsule, not counting shoes, underthings, socks, pajamas, athletic wear, and coats. It’s been very easy to go into my closet and choose what to wear, with naught a thought nor a worry about it. I can even think of one or two items I’ve only worn once since November, so sometimes it still feels like too much clothing. So what’s still left to do is: finalize my list, count all my clothes, lay them out in piles, and sort them into seasonal capsules. Luckily, nearly all my laundry is done at the moment, so I have a rare opportunity to do this if I get it done soon!

In the meantime, I want to tell you about another great experience that has come out of this process. The natural byproduct of narrowing down my wardrobe (and Brett’s!) amounted to three large canvas grocery bags, one garbage bag, one large box, and one laundry basket of clothing and shoes to give away. Gross, I know. I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had and how much space it was taking up. We learned from our apartment complex managers that they used to have a community garage sale here every year, so we eagerly signed up for the next one. But, when the time came around, they didn’t have enough people signed up to make it worth their while.

In the 7 group study, Jen Hatmaker encourages all experimenters to donate their unwanted possessions in a way that means something to them. Dumping bags at Goodwill can be as impersonal as leaving a Bible tract on a doorstep. The message isn’t received like it would be with face-to-face or heart-to-heart contact. So, without the garage sale, and with a desire to do more than just facelessly donate, our stuff sat around in our second bedroom for months.

We live in a neighborhood of apartments that are clearly a living space for low-income people. Many of our neighbors that we see out and about are foreigners, there are tons of kids around always riding their bikes and playing games outside, I’ve met a few with clear mental and physical disadvantages. And, of course, we’re not wealthy, and most of our money goes to student loans, so we know the rent is cheap, and our neighbors must have reasons of their own for living here.

For the months our stuff sat there, I wanted to have a “garage sale” of my own. But would I have permission to do that? Would I get in trouble for posting signs on the buildings? What if the people who put a bullet hole through a window of the apartment across the parking lot showed up? What would I have to give them if they came and didn’t find what they needed? …What if they didn’t like me?

Thanksgiving rolled around, and I heard of Giving Tuesday for the first time. Give thanks on Thursday, stampede the stores on Friday, buy local on Saturday, order online on Monday, and give on Tuesday. It seems the world has it all worked out how we should spend our money and our holidays, and giving comes last. It did for me, too. Giving time came, at last, when on Monday I had had enough waiting, made posters, and put them up at the entrances on the apartment buildings here. They said come on Tuesday night for hot chocolate and free stuff. Here’s the sizes we have – take anything you want for free.

Sidenote: Before you go and commend me for actually doing this, I want you to remember how I sat on this idea for nearly a year. Since we moved here in August of 2013, I’ve had a sense that God has Brett and I living here for only a season, but for a reason and a purpose. Meanwhile, I still waste my time. There are other things I’ve been talking about doing here to serve my neighbors, and whenever I put that out into the universe, some form of encouragement comes along. God’s been pretty clear that I’m holding all the cards to start something He’s going to honor here, and I just need to take action. So, again, if you’re a praying person, I think maybe the reason I’ve been feeling easily overwhelmed by a lot of other things in life may be a distraction from this, and I could use some prayers!

The results? They came.

Actually, we got a knock on the door the night we put up the posters. A young woman came to say that she worked the next night, so could she look through things tonight? We told her to come back in thirty minutes so we could set it all out, and she gave me her phone number. As she was pulling out clothes to look at, she said she’s tried to be neighborly by giving people cookies, asking for a cup of sugar, proverbially, but nothing was reciprocated, so she gave up. She’s lived her for three years.

After that, I was pumped for the next night. Oh my gosh, you guys. I just fell in love with everyone who came through our open door.

A Muslim man from Morocco looked for things for his wife and two daughters. Brett got his phone number. A senior in high school with a mental disability looked through all my dresses and lit up at a pair of glittery red shoes. They were the last piece she needed for her Dorothy costume for this Halloween. Her dad opened up to us about some of his recent medical setbacks, which are part of why he hasn’t been able to pursue a job in his field of study – tourism! Two tall, beautiful young girls came in very quietly. A man was standing in the doorway, keeping an eye on them, and I asked him how long they’ve lived here. He said, with a heavy accent, “Oh, they have just arrived from Africa eight days ago!” He had been here for eight years without them.

I kind of want to just leave that there and let it sink in, but I want you to think about this – what can God do with your possessions? Everything we have is an asset, and everything we have is God’s. If God can use a long-regretted, $13.99 purchase of a pair of too-small ruby red slippers to love a struggling high school senior with size 6 feet, what can He do with your unwanted possessions? Your home? Your pot of chili? There’s a lot of folks to love out there, and as possessors of the knowledge of Christ, we have an unending supply of love to give.

I hope this story was encouraging to you! If you have stories of how God’s blessed others through your giving/simplifying/taking a step, please share!

Capsule Wardrobe, part 4

Things I’ve learned recently:
– getting rid of things so I can have a capsule wardrobe was not the hard part
– the hard part is standing in a dressing room…
– trying to figure out why you don’t love the adorable olive green cozy sweater
– that honestly fits you perfectly
– and you know you would love on anyone else
– and realizing what you don’t love about it is the body inside it
– and that maybe your body image issues are what’s holding you back from having the style you want.

I went shopping with Daniella, my beautiful friend who is helping me build a capsule (she is well qualified – see for yourself on her blog, Fox and Bloom). Poor, poor Daniella, who walked with me through five stores, picked out things for me to try on (after studying my Pinterest boards and the worksheet I did through her website), and gave excellent advice. Who grabbed different sizes and colors for me while I was in the dressing room, who was honest with me, and who told me I was pretty. Poor Daniella, who watched me unravel over a buy-one-get-one-50% off sale on sweaters. After two hours, I couldn’t make a decision on anything, and we thankfully called it quits. Mall: 1, Hanna: 0.

As I stood in front of the mirror wearing an item of clothing that I a) had on my shopping list, b) fit perfectly and was even flattering,  and c) met all my color, comfort, and other requirements, I knew that what I really didn’t like about what I was seeing wasn’t the sweater – it was the curves underneath.

That’s all it took for me to want to give up on my capsule altogether. I was feeling doubts about whether what I want to wear is what will look good on my body. (Or at least what I apparently think looks good on my body. Daniella liked it, and she’s usually right. Do I really have such a poor perspective on how I look?) When I was creating my Pinterest board, was I pinning because I wanted to wear what that girl was wearing, or because I wanted to look like the girl wearing it? And if I can’t look like that, who cares what I wear? Why even try? Why even put myself through this shopping experience? What could be more reasonable, ethical, and cost-saving than deciding to just wear what I already own until it falls apart?

Feeling low, I hugged Daniella goodbye and started walking to my car… or so I led her to believe. I actually entered into some sort of dazed dream sequence, blacked out, and came to in the check out line at Forever 21. Funny how that works. For about a year I’ve been struggling to climb up to the high ground where I can stand and truthfully say that I never, never, shop at Forever 21. In fact, one of the reasons a capsule wardrobe appealed to me in the first place was because fewer clothes = fewer purchases = I can shop ethically. Jen Hatmaker talks a lot about that in her 7 Experiment Bible study. Sure, I love the two shirts I bought (one of which I wore three days in a row last weekend – shhhh), and I found the scarf of my dreams, but I left with the guilt of knowing that my clothes were probably made by people who are paid next to nothing.

So that’s where I was after my first capsule shopping trip: guilty of putting my dollars where my heart doesn’t belong, and body-shaming myself. Not ideal.

It’s times like that when I’ve had to remind myself why I’m doing this in the first place. I was shopping so I would have things that I love to wear, so I don’t have to put on clothes that make me feel bad about myself, and so I don’t have stress while getting dressed in the morning. It might sound silly, but that’s the reality of my relationship with clothes. They dictate how I feel, take up my thoughts, suck away my money, and feed my insecurity. I don’t know what your relationship with clothing is like, but we all have one. Women have to deal with judgement from others regarding our clothing, feeling like nothing is made for our bodies, worrying about modesty or being sexualized, carrying emotional baggage from when we were “uncool” in our younger years, wondering what we are saying through what we wear… and I have never said this with more honesty: the struggle is real.

Deciding to never shop again and just wear the clothes I have until they fall apart was kind of a serious consideration, but one that would never work. It would only give me a false sense of not caring how I look. Never updating my wardrobe, while ethical and cost-saving, would just end with me internalizing and bottling up my hate-how-I-look feelings, and when a few of those feelings leaked out, I would impulse-buy something, just like I’ve been doing for years. But, with my capsule, I am aiming for the same kind of peace of mind I would have if I could happily wear the same sweats every day. Once it’s done, I won’t have so many worries about how I look, I won’t do needless shopping, and I won’t own so much.

I reminded myself of these things as I drove home, hoping that I wouldn’t regret my purchases the next day. It was a good thing, I told myself, that I was building a capsule. Less stress, fewer possessions, less money spent in the long run… all good. It was even a good thing that I was facing these feelings and fighting them, but since when have good things been all easy? I have had a lot of fun building my capsule so far, but it wouldn’t be honest of me to glaze over the difficult part. You can start this capsule wardrobe process with all the gusto in the world, but eventually you will hit an emotional wall and have to face yourself and fight the bad thoughts. But it’s okay! We’re here for you! Cheering you on! You can do it, you beautiful thing, you!

Journey to a Capsule Wardrobe, Part 3

This post is about the things you need to practically think about and do when trying to create a capsule wardrobe.

The past month, I’ve been intensely getting rid of clothes. I now have probably 30-40% of what I used to have in my closet – 80-90 items, excluding shoes, accessories, underthings, coats, and pjs/workout clothes (which means I previously had more than 200 items of clothing). The bittersweet thing is that I don’t miss anything I’ve gotten rid of. Many pieces I decided to part with are things that I bought within the past year, and now I feel foolish for spending money on them. But the monetary loss is worth it to me if I can feel less burdened by possessions. If I can not have a bi-monthly panic attack about what to wear to church. If I can make sure that I won’t feel insecure in my clothes. If I can crush this idol and time-waster and stress-starter to the ground once and for all.

Because when your closet is stuffed with over 200 pieces of clothing for one person, who really owns who?

Here are the steps I took to get where I am now:

  • I read a lot of the blog Unfancy, to get inspired and learn about how she made her minimalist capsule wardrobe(s). I copied a lot of her “rules,” so if you’re wanting to get a start somewhere, I highly suggest taking a look at her blog! This and this were really helpful.
  • I made a list of all my clothes without looking in my closet. This was really helpful, because the items that I forgot about while making the list were the easiest to get rid of.
  • I made a separate but similar list of my absolute favorite pieces of clothing (things I always reach for, as long as they’re clean)
  • I went through every item of clothing I had, and tossed things out left and right. This starts out hard, but gets easier. Easy things to throw out: what doesn’t fit, what’s damaged, what you only seem to wear once a year, what you don’t like anymore, what’s clearly not your style. *This was an ongoing step. It’s taken weeks, letting go of things bit by bit.*
  • I got rid of my unwanted clothes. I gave some to friends, donated some, and sold some at Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor. Tip: Bag up what you’ve decided to donate or sell, and say goodbye as soon as possible. You don’t want to be tempted into putting anything back in your closet! If you want, you can wait a week, and if you really miss something you can pull it back out. But chances are you’ll forget what’s in there because there was a reason you put it in the toss pile anyway.
  • I put things that I really loved that weren’t in season in storage. I kept the “maybes” out so I could decide yes or no before putting them away. I don’t want to have to go through this all again in the summer!
  • I started a Pinterest board just for my capsule wardrobe. I pinned only things I absolutely loved, and in the description wrote what I really liked about it. I even pinned pictures that just had colors I liked. I tried to keep the number of pins as minimal as possible.
  • I did the “How to Define Your Style” worksheet on Fox and Bloom (super helpful!)
  • A friend (Daniella) came over to help me go through my “maybes” and discuss what items (if any) I should put on a shopping list. After throwing out most of the maybes and putting seasonal yeses in storage, I had probably 100 pieces. I narrowed it down a little further to end up with the 80-90 pieces I have now.
  • Armed with my shopping list, Daniella and I went shopping for just a few items. (There’s a post or two coming about that later.)

For those of you who are wondering why I would make a shopping list if the goal is to have less clothing, here’s the reasoning: buying one sweater that I love could replace two or three sweaters that I’ve kept, but don’t love to wear. At this point, I’m getting down to the “defining my style” part. I have way fewer clothes, but most of what I still have showed the way I used to shop; much of it doesn’t reflect what I have on my Pinterest boards or what I wrote on my worksheet. It would be so easy if I could get rid of all my clothes, start from scratch, and go buy 30-40 pieces of clothing with an unlimited budget. But that’s just not my reality, and I’m betting it’s not yours either. So doing a little shopping along the way will help me define my style more, and help me get rid of items that don’t really fit cohesively in my wardrobe (wrong style or wrong color).

Your reality may be totally different from mine in other ways. I happen to have a job where I only have to dress business casual every once in a while. Sometimes it’s most appropriate to wear a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. But most of the time, I just have to dress “nice” and “appropriate.” No ripped jeans. No spaghetti straps. No miniskirts. You might have a job where you need to dress business casual all the time, and sometimes even nicer than that. And to that I say: don’t let it stop you from simplifying your closet and defining your style. You could create a separate capsule for work clothes, just stick to the “rules” of only buying things you love and are interchangeable with one another.

Right now, I’m working on dividing up my 80+ items into four seasonal capsules (plenty of items will overlap). I actually have more than 80 items, because I didn’t count some summer things that I already put in storage. But I’m not buying anything else until this job is finished.

If you’re working on building a capsule wardrobe too, I’d love to know where you are in the process and if you have any tips!

Journey to a capsule wardrobe, Part 2

[If you missed my first post about doing a capsule wardrobe, and my heart behind it, you can find it here.]

Last weekend, I got to sit down with my pal Daniella, of Fox and Bloom, to talk about my wardrobe. Daniella has been teaching me about style and dressing myself properly since I met her, when she interviewed me in college for a student-run magazine for an article called “Modest is Hottest” (NO JOKE). She described me as “slender,” and I’ve been in love with her ever since. Daniella has gone on to make me proud in so many ways. She joined my Bible study and rededicated her life to Jesus. She traveled overseas to be a missionary for a summer. Now, she is using her skills as a writer, style coach, and content strategist, and her passion for showing others the light of Christ, to inspire women to dress their best, from the heart. You should really check out her blog. It perfectly seams together how to project inward and outward beauty.
(I mean, if I was proud of her for I Hate Sweatpants, her previous blog that is “down for maintenance,” of course I’m proud of her now. Getting a little teary.)

When Daniella got engaged earlier this year (to the most lovable curmudgeon/my husband’s kindred spirit, Jon), she approached me about doing her wedding flowers, and I proposed a trade. You help me create a capsule wardrobe, and I’ll throw in my time and expertise fo’ free. I even got to be interviewed by her again, for a post on Fox and Bloom about how to plan your wedding flowers. Check it out!

Before we got together to go through my closet, Daniella sent me to her blog to do some worksheets, which I was happy to do (filling out forms is the TIME OF MY LIFE). Before I did that, I had already been tossing out clothes left and right. I had already experienced that liberating feeling, AND the high of taking clothes to Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor and getting cold hard cash for them. So I was ready. To. Go. We went through the worksheets, which were honestly so helpful! Especially on her “How to Define Your Style” worksheet, where she asks you to “Define your ‘why.’” Why do I want to minimize my wardrobe, and why do I want to dress the way I want to dress? It really made me explore my heart further and go deeper into some of what I talked about in my last post.

Then, D told me I had to throw out my most comfortable, The-OC-era-bright-yellow-American-Eagle-drop-waist-skirt and I was somehow not ready for it. Then, Daniella hand the nerve to say the words, “You have a lot of clothes,” and I was inwardly furious (I had a little Mindy-Lahiri-“First of all, HOW DARE YOU” moment). How could she say that after I had already gotten rid of so much?! This is where I was really happy that I already knew and trusted Daniella. I told her about some of my struggles with clothing, and I think that helped her understand how to help me out. Weeding through my “maybe” pile with Daniella – and getting rid of most of it – was harder than I thought, but this week I’ve realized she was right. I still do have quite enough clothing. Halfway through this week, I have not re-worn anything, not even jeans. So, while there does seem to be a lot of space in my closet, and I can (practically) grab the first thing I see, put it on, and be happy with it, I have a way to go yet before my wardrobe reaches capsule status.

The second thing I discovered, that I think I’ve been slowly realizing for a long time, is that I almost never buy anything that I feel is “me.” I buy things because they’re cute and on sale. But I need to be able to objectively say I like something and take a pass because it’s not my style. As soon as I told Daniella about how I’ve approached clothing (only shop clearance, make it work, too many statement pieces), she knew better how to help me narrow things down. “Hanna, are you keeping that because it fits you and you got it on sale, or because you really want to be a person who wears bright red corduroy pants?” The next second, they were in the toss pile.

So, if you’re struggling to turn your “maybe” pile of clothing into definite keeps and definite no’s, ask yourself the important questions. “Is this article of clothing projecting who I want to be to the world?” “Do I love this piece of clothing and how I feel in it?” And it totally helps to have a friend with you whom you trust and know will be honest. Some of my items were so easy to give up when Daniella was there, because nothing ruins your love of a red velvet skirt like embarrassment.

Of course, there are some practical things to think about too, like budgeting and seasons and not ending up with nothing in your closet. Trust me, getting rid of stuff is such a good feeling that it can get hard to stop! Right now, I’m at the point where I want to get rid of every sweater I own, but I have to remind myself that I don’t have the money to replace them now, and winter is coming. I’ll talk about these kinds of things in my next post.

If any of you has a capsule wardrobe, would you mind sharing some tips? I’m especially curious to know how many items you have in your closet!

Journey to a Capsule Wardrobe, Part 1

Once upon a time, I signed up for a 7 Experiment Bible study and was never the same. If you haven’t heard of 7, you should a) continue reading b) go look up Jen Hatmaker immediately c) purchase the book and/or Bible study d) brace yourself for life change. Such good, good life change…

The 7 Experiment is a book/Bible study by Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author and speaker with a sparkling personality. She calls the 7 Experiment her “mutiny against excess.” The book chronicles her journey through seven monthly fasts from seven different things that can quickly take up too much space our hearts and minds: food, clothing, media, possessions, waste, spending, and stress. The study invites us to do the same fasts, but in seven weeks instead of months. I would highly recommend checking this out, if only for the first two weeks. They completely changed how I think and feel about food and clothing.

…Which, eight months later, has led me to begin to build a capsule wardrobe.

First, let me share with you about my relationship with clothes, so you understand where I’m coming from. For one thing, I watched my “style” become popular before my eyes when hipsters started happening, and Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” is satirically my life. All through middle school and high school, I never felt like my clothes were “cool” or that they ever elevated my social status in any way. The compliment I most often receive even today is that I can “pull off anything.” That’s because I literally had to, because my clothes came from the thrift store, were someone’s grandad’s clothes, or were scraps from the clearance section (anything less than 50% off isn’t clearance – it’s reduced).

I’m not upset about my childhood or about the clothes I wore. Honestly. And it’s not like I never had anything new, but mall shopping was foreign to me until I became an adult. If my clothes were new from a store, they were clearance, or from outlet malls…  you get the idea. I was never on top of trends because my family couldn’t afford it. There are so many more good things about that than bad. I liked that I got to be creative and resourceful with my clothes. I knew my appearance wasn’t a huge factor in the fact that I had friends. And if this kind of upbringing and shopping this way led to some bad habits, at least those habits weren’t credit card debt.

Here are some bad habits I pick up regarding clothing:

  • I find it hard to let things go. I will milk a trend for all its worth. I will make one skirt go with everything. There is no such thing as seasonal clothes (yes there is).
  • I find it hard to spend money on simple items of clothing, because I think that if I’m going to drop more than $20 on something, it better make a statement. So I’m left with a closet full of jumbled styles of statement pieces.
  • I feel less guilty spending money online, thinking I can take back whatever I don’t want, than buying something in a store. It’s less stressful to buy online. But the thing is, even if you don’t love something, you might wear it one time. So I’d buy something online, wear it and take the tags off, and three months later it’s stuck in my closet, even though I hardly wear it. You can always make something work one time, but to buy it you need to love it. And if you don’t love it in a dressing room, you never will. As opposed to loving it on a model’s body on a website.
  • Most importantly, I never developed my own personal style, because I had my eye out for deals more than anything else.

The result of all this was a closet stuffed with stuff I wasn’t very enthusiastic about wearing. Which, in turn, led to moments of “I have nothing to wear.” This would usually happen on a Sunday morning, making us late for church, but more importantly, my attitude was not ready for church. My heart was at the mall, getting to buy a whole new wardrobe full of things I loved and looked great in (I was also 15 pounds skinnier in this fantasy). I was 95.5% discontent with my wardrobe, though I didn’t want to admit it outwardly because I could clearly see how much I had. Then I would feel guilty and ashamed for wanting more. Then feelings of guilt and shame would make me feel bad about myself. Which means I felt bad in my clothes. Which means I didn’t like my clothes. And on and on. If you’re a woman, I hope you’re feelin’ me right now. If you’re a man, well… you can only imagine.

Everything I just said was realized as a result of doing the clothing fast of the 7 Experiment. For the fast, I chose 7 items of clothing to wear for a week (not counting underwear. I know you were wondering). It took some thinking and planning (which, let’s be honest, I LIVE for), but it turned out to be the easiest and most enjoyable of the seven fasts. I was amazed by how much room was left in my brain to think of things other than what I was going to wear. Plus, I chose clothes that would all go together, and chose some of my favorite things to wear because I knew I wouldn’t get tired of them. Not only was so much time saved, so much stress relieved, and so much space opened up in my brain, but I felt good in everything I was wearing. I enjoyed my outfit every day of the week. I was amazed that it was exponentially more freeing than I imagined it could be. When the week was over, going back to my stuffed-full closet felt daunting.

Jen Hatmaker pairs her fasts with action steps. The clothing fast wasn’t just about limiting your clothing options, it was also about getting rid of stuff for good. Only wearing seven items opened up space in my brain, and donating clothing opened up space in my closet. I got rid of probably 25% of my clothes, and I can’t even remember most of the items I’ve sold, given away, and donated. I haven’t thought twice about them. If you have any ideas of good places to donate or ways to get rid of clothing that are beneficial in some way, hit me up! A good 50% of my wardrobe is in bags and boxes and shoved behind my bedroom door.

My goal is eventually to have a capsule wardrobe of 30-40 pieces (tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, outerwear) for every season (things will overlap). I can’t wait to tell you more about it in future posts! If you have any questions about the 7 Experiment, capsule wardrobes, or more about what this process has been like for me, drop me a line in the comments section. There’s so much more I could say because I’m so excited. This is going to be so good.

Read with me: One Thousand Gifts

I was a total bookworm as a kid. Homeschooling was kind of bad for me, because I spent most of my time reading library books in my room and didn’t start my school work until 8 o’clock at night sometimes. But during and after college, I stopped enjoying reading. Textbooks and Christian self-help books did me in. Reading became about learning and being told how to live my life instead of for enjoyment. I went through periods of starting handfuls of books at a time and never finishing them, or reading Harry Potter over and over again (not saying there’s anything wrong with that). So two summers ago, I started a book club, and it was so much fun. We read only novels and fun memoirs, and I began to love reading again. And there was an added bonus of bringing together women from all different parts of my life – church friends, high school friends, college friends… It was really me-centric, but I think everyone involved enjoyed it. After a brief hiatus, our book club is coming together again to read One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I am very excited to announce that this blog is launching and expanding that book club to you!

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We will be reading One Thousand Gifts from October 23-November 24. If you live in the Columbus, OH area, we’ll be meeting at the Easton Barnes & Noble cafe three times throughout the month (details below), and would love for you to join us! Look up the book on Amazon or Goodreads to see if you might be interested. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I know it’s about counting your blessings (though Ann seems very real – she’s not going to sugar coat anything). I’ll also be posting about the book weekly as I read, and we can swap stories in the comments section. I’m so excited to tune into thankfulness this fall. Many Thursday Thankfulness parties to come!
*Book discussions will be at the Easton Barnes & Noble cafe:

Tuesday, November 3rd at 7pm (chapters 1-4)

Sunday, November 8 at 4pm (chapters 5-7)

Tuesday, November 24 at 7pm (chapters 8-11)

Tell me if you are able to make it so I can grab enough chairs!

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