should a minimalist personal stylist get free stuff?

should a minimalist personal stylist get free stuff?

When sponsored content, affiliate linking, and gifted products first started becoming common in the world of blogging, I made a conscious decision not to engage. Blogging isn’t my actual business, minimalist personal styling is, and with very little childcare, I didn’t have the extra time to devote to it. 

Even more than that, I had a philosophical objection. There’s a big difference between having a “minimalist” style and actually *being* minimalist. If someone is constantly receiving new items from brands to review, can they really be maintaining a minimalist wardrobe?

I also don’t want to perpetrate the societal norm of always needing new things. It may be boring to wear the same things all the time, but it is the most ethical, frugal, and environmentally friendly way to dress. 

Disclaimer: this does *not* mean that I don’t think people should get paid for blogging. I think of blogs as akin to magazines. Bloggers give us great content to read and enjoy, and they make money for their time by selling products in different ways. That’s just not what *my* business is, and it doesn’t align with the message of my business (basically: less is more). 

Now that I’m expanding my business, I wanted to explore that avenue of revenue (hey that rhymes), but in a minimalist way. I also recommend products to my clients all the time, and having the ability to try things serves my clients’ needs. 

When creating my fall capsule wardrobe, I made a list of things I could use for fall. One of the items on my wishlist was a pair of not-so-skinny jeans. 

I tried the 90’s Cheeky jean from Everlane, the Mom jean from Mott & Bow, and with my own money, I purchased the Classic Straight from Madewell (via Nordstrom). These items were “gifted”, which means they were given to me free of charge, but I was not paid to write this post (that would be “sponsored” content). I am now an affiliate for Everlane and Mott & Bow, which means that I have specific links to products I share about, and I get paid a commission if a purchase is made. If you’re curious about the official designations, it’s all here.

minimalist personal stylist everlane cheeky jeans review.jpg

On to the honest review! (Note on sizing: never go by size, go by measurements! My measurements are 31” at my natural waist, 33” at my belly button, and 39” at my hips)

First up, I honestly don’t think I’m cool enough for the Everlane Cheeky jean. The cut is really unique, but a little too close to the SNL mom jeans skit on me. I’m wearing a size 28 in Medium Blue here, and it’s possible I could have gone down a size. I always recommend squeezing into the smallest size of denim you can, since they’re always give a little after wearing. Another deal breaker is the button fly. Thanks to two pregnancies, I don’t have time to spare when getting to the bathroom ;)

minimalist personal stylist mott bow jeans review.jpg

The Mom jean from Mott & Bow in Ridge, Medium/Dark blue was my second favorite. The fit was great and they’re super comfortable. The 26” inseam length is right where I like my hem to hit, above the boot shaft. I’m wearing a size 27. Ultimately, I just wanted a slightly lighter wash. Mott & Bow also sent me the fitted v-neck Marcy t-shirt to try, which I’m wearing in all these photos. This is possibly the softest tee I’ve ever touched. The fit is incredible, a little slouchy, but not baggy. I’m wearing a size medium. My only wish is that it was slightly thicker fabric. It’s fine with a nude bra, and is definitely not as sheer as most tees seem to be these days, but it’s not completely opaque either. I highly recommend it, and am adding it to my minimalist wardrobe.

minimalist personal stylist jeans review.jpg

For me, the Classic Straight from Madewell is the best option. Often, you find a denim brand that works for you, and Madewell has for me. They’re the right mix of mom jean and wearable, and the wash is what I was looking for. Often the more relaxed styles from Madewell run really big, and that’s true for these, I’m wearing a 26 (I wear a 28 in the High Rise Skinny).

Since I only need one pair of jeans to fill this need in my wardrobe, and even though they were free to me, I returned the other two pairs. I kept the pair that was best, even though it cost me money. However, they may still work for you, and you can still support me as an affiliate of Everlane and Mott & Bow by shopping through the links in this post. The great thing about both of these retailers is that their products are ethically made (Madewell’s are not). In addition, even though the Madewell jeans weren’t gifted, the link to the jeans is an affiliate link, so I get a few cents when you click through to that one too. 

What do you think? How do you feel about sponsored content and gifted items? Is it possible to do it in a minimalist way? In addition to the Mott & Bow tee, I also kept a pair of boots from Everlane, so stay tuned for that review!

Want to work together? For the month of October 2019, I’m offering 20% the price of my virtual personal styling packages. Get in touch!

how to buy clothes when your weight fluctuates

how to buy clothes when your weight fluctuates

I think it’s a pretty rare human woman whose weight doesn’t fluctuate. If not over the course of a month, certainly over the course of a life. It would be unnatural for it not to. A question I get a lot is how we we can choose and purchase clothes knowing that these fluctuations will occur. I’ve had my share of physical changes over the last 6 years and I’ve found a few pieces along the way that, while not good for the whole 50-pound swing I’ve experienced, are certainly good for a 5-10 pound fluctuation.

clothes for weight fluctuations

Madewell Danny jeans

These jeans apparently have “magic pockets” and while I question the validity of that claim, there’s definitely something special going on here. These are the only pair of jeans I’ve owned since March. It’s possible to only own ONE pair of jeans!

mindful closet blog: what to wear when your weight fluctuates

AG Farrah High Rise

Speaking of magic, I call these my magic jeans because they have fit me at multiple different sizes. Case in point, this photo was taken at least four years ago.

mindful closet: virtual personal stylist

Elastic waists have come a long way since my granny wore them in her nursing home.  I’ve loved this Madewell pair that look polished yet are so comfy (similar option here, ethical version here). While technically not an ethically made clothing item, these pants are an example of an article of clothing that has been used enough to have justified its purchase.

mindful closet: virtual stylist

A more recent elastic waist purchase, these from Me & Arrow, via St. Louis store Shop Descendent.

If you click through some of these links and are turned off by the prices, remember that there are always ways to do designer or ethical fashion on a budget. All of the Madewell jeans I’ve purchased over the last couple of years have been secondhand through Poshmark.

Do you have any pieces that have stayed in your wardrobe throughout wardrobe fluctuations?

P.S. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which may generate income for mindful closet. To see even more of my picks for flexible clothing, go here.

virtual styling services

virtual styling services

virtual styling

I love working with people in my town. There’s nothing like the face-to-face, living, breathing interaction when you’re dealing with a personal topic like what we wear. However, I know that there are others in the world who are ready to make a shift, ready to let go of the stuff they’re not wearing, ready to move to a more minimalist wardrobe and they’re not all within driving distance. I want to work with those people too. In my mind, I’ve offered virtual personal styling for a while, but I’ve never made a big deal out of it and it occurred to me that maybe it’s not clear that it’s something I offer. I just added a big new virtual styling section on my website and wanted to share more about it here.

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “virtual styling”? For many people, it brings up images of subscription boxes like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club. These services have their place. They can be great for those who know themselves and their style well and appreciate the efficiency of having options sent to them, without the time commitment of shopping. However, for anyone who wants to define their style and figure out what does and doesn’t work for them, a little more help might be required.

Here's what a box can't do: a box can't help you clean out your closet. A box can't tell you how to deal with the well-meaning gifts of mother-in-laws. A box can't tell you that you need to let go of limiting beliefs about your body and what you should or should not be wearing. A box can't suggest something to wear from your closet for a specific event (a quick example: I had a client text me that she got invited to a cocktail event last minute. She thought she should make a run to Nordstrom Rack. I calmed her down and sent a few new looks I created from her digital lookbook. She didn't have to buy anything and felt great at the event.) And btw, Stitch Fix stylists are allotted a maximum of 15 minutes per styling client to choose items for them.

What can we do via virtual styling?


The mindful closet package descriptions are the same for virtual clients, with minor modifications. For the mindful beginnings session, we’ll have one extended video session (up to 3 hours). We'll chat for a while first (the consultation) and then I'll ask you to show me your closet and we'll edit it piece by piece (the closet cleanse). After our session, I’ll email you your mindful style notes and your customized shopping list. If you select the mindful shopping package, I’ll do the shopping from your customized list for you and send you the links for you to purchase online. Once your items have arrived, we’ll do another 2 hour video session for you to try on your items and for me to help you make your selections.


But seriously, HOW do we do a virtual personal styling session remotely? We can use Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom (a video conferencing platform), whichever you’re most comfortable with. The only special thing you need to do is have a way you can show me clothes without holding a phone in your hand. You'll want to have a stationary setup for your laptop or iPad where your closet is located so that you can be moving around and holding up items to show me. I’ll also send you specific directions on how to prep for our session. Even though we might be thousands of miles apart, you’d be surprised how quickly we forget that we’re not actually in the same room!


Virtual personal styling works best if you're comfortable with lots of communication over email as well as by FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. You need to either have a Pinterest style board or be willing to create one. Since we’ll be bringing the dressing room to you (via ordering many options online), you’ll need to be able to manage the online orders and returns.

Interested in setting up a virtual personal styling session?

Get in touch here.

konmari your digital usage

konmari your digital usage

(Or how the internet is like an overstuffed closet.)

In January, my husband and I decided to stop using the internet for a month. There were a lot of reasons for it, but basically our brains felt cluttered. Also, after lots of experimentation, we had stopped allowing our four-year-old to use screens because we can see first hand the negative effects they have on his brain. We needed to apply the same logic to ourselves. Here’s how it went:

mindful closet virtual personal stylist: konmari your digital usage

The first week, I was really strict about it (except for email - as soon as I missed a time-sensitive email, I dropped my only-check-email-once-a-day rule). Over the next few weeks, I relaxed the restrictions a bit (I’m no good at all or nothing scenarios). I posted a question in a Facebook parenting group when I needed help. I looked up how long to cook a pork tenderloin. I continued to use accounting software and shop online for work. However, the baseline remained “I don’t use the internet”. In fact, aside from these aforementioned practical uses, I couldn’t really figure out why I needed the internet at all. This was not at all what I expected would happen. I was so scared that I was going to miss out on so much and as it turns out, I didn’t miss much of anything.

This is a good time to talk about my unhealthy relationship with social media. I love it and yet it makes me feel bad. I knew that staying off of social media would be hard for me. It seems counter-intuitive, but I learned that the more I check social media, the more I want to check it. The less I check it, the less compelling all the minutiae of other people’s days are. During our month away, I checked in on social media about once a week, and since it ended, I check in about every 4 or 5 days.

Have you ever traveled and realized that you managed just fine with the small amount of clothing you packed and wondered why you needed all that extra stuff at home anyway? A closet full of clothes can be overwhelming. There are so many decisions to make. A lot of the things make you feel bad but you hold onto them anyway. When shopping, you get distracted and you buy things you never intended to buy.

That’s basically how I felt about the internet.

In Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering, or tidying up, you take everything out and only put back what “sparks joy”. When I work with clients, we start by pulling out their absolute favorite items to wear, so that we can set a standard for the rest of the wardrobe to measure up to. When you build a capsule wardrobe, you intentionally choose a small number of items to make life easier.

When I took everything on the internet away, and added back only what I really needed and used, I felt clearer and happier. The constant feeling floating in the back of my mind that I was forgetting to do something important gradually went away.

After our month was over, I stumbled across this interview with Cal Newport, in which he also advocates managing your internet usage by starting with a month long digital cleanse. Read the article - it articulates much more clearly than I can how I feel about the whole thing.

In the end, I found I could regulate my use by asking and answering honestly this question: why am I going on the internet? Is there a valid reason (“I’m bored” doesn’t count)? If I can’t articulate one, I’m guaranteed to take in some meaningless content that will not improve my outlook on life. Even though our month of no internet was over a month ago, I’m still operating from this place.

I’d love to hear from all of you - what questions do you have about how it worked? Could/would you do this? My friend Kourtney and her husband are starting Monday!

sometimes things fail

sometimes things fail

I haven’t been shy about sharing when things get hard in this business/motherhood thing. About a year ago, I launched the Making Space online course. I had worked on it for a year prior to that in the limited time I had during 3-day-a-week preschool (naps were long gone by that time). The idea was that I would make something that people anywhere could access, at a lower cost than my one-on-one fees and I would be able to work fewer hours and still earn money (in business terms, this is called scaling. Usually people want to scale to make a ton more money, but generally time is worth more to me. But hey, money’s good too). I knew it was really good and I dreamed of the millions (ok, thousands) I was going to make. 

(not a failure: my amazing family) photo: Celeste Boyer

(not a failure: my amazing family) photo: Celeste Boyer

The first round of the course was great. There were about 20 people in the group (sure, I would have wanted more, but this was just the beginning, right?), everyone made huge progress in their closets, we bonded as a group supporting each other in the private Facebook group, they all loved it (seriously, read the reviews). I was super psyched. 

I did a second round of the course in the spring. Six people signed up. Whomp whomp. At this point, I was going through a tiring pregnancy and decided, with the help of a business coach, to make the course “evergreen”. For those not well-versed in internet business lingo, this means that anyone can sign up and buy the course at any time, instead of “launching” it at specific times only.

Over the summer, I spent several thousand dollars hiring experts to promote the course on Facebook and Pinterest. Guess how many people bought the course during that time? Zero. In addition, it costs about $1500 a year just to have the course hosted online (not to mention the 100+ hours and several thousand dollars it took to create it in the first place). If you’re keeping track, I haven’t made any money off of my “passive income”. 

Basically, I did all the things and invested a lot, and it wasn’t successful. Meanwhile, a steady stream of people in St. Louis continue to hire me for one-on-one, in-person closet cleanses and personal shopping. So maybe it’s just the universe telling me to stop trying to change directions and go with the flow of what’s working. 

But here’s the thing, I still think it’s a really good course. And I spent a lot of time and energy creating it. So I’m going to relaunch it as a live course again in January. A nice cleansing after the holiday season. Maybe two people will buy it, maybe forty will. I don’t really have a lesson to teach here but just a sharing of a different experience than the success stories we usually see. And if you need help cleaning out your closet and are interested in taking the course with a supportive group of people, you can get on the presale list here

P.S. I wrote this in the notes app on my phone after nursing the four month old that’s currently sleeping in my bed and praying the light wouldn’t wake him up because I really need him to sleep. 

P.P.S. Please don’t comment with business advice! I’ve had the advice of some of the people I respect most on the internet and I’m good with that. 

10 piece maternity capsule wardrobe

10 piece maternity capsule wardrobe

A fun challenge that goes around Instagram periodically is the 10x10 challenge, created by Lee from the Style Bee blog. Essentially you choose 10 pieces to mix and match for 10 days. I've done it a few times, but wasn't sure if I was up to it late in my pregnancy. I'm glad I decided to go for it, because I came up with some fun new outfits and hopefully a little maternity style inspiration. 

10x10 challenge.JPG

Here are the 9 pieces of clothing I chose: 2 tank tops, 2 tops, 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of jeans, and 2 dresses. I also chose two pairs of shoes, so technically I had 11 official pieces instead of 10. That's cool, I always say do what works for you. By doing some creative layering, it was easy to come up with 10 outfits. 

maternity 10x10 challenge
maternity capsule wardrobe
maternity capsule wardrobe
maternity capsule wardrobe
maternity capsule wardrobe
maternity capsule wardrobe
maternity 10x10 challenge
maternity 10x10 challenge
maternity 10x10 challenge
maternity 10x10 challenge

What do you think? Doable? I found it to be just a fun exercise when you've gotten a little bored with your wardrobe. Try it! 


maternity 10x10 challenge-2.jpg

maternity style for hot weather

maternity style for hot weather

I'm such a proponent of mindful consumption that it's been hard to admit to myself that I needed a fair amount of new clothes to get me through the last trimester of this pregnancy. However, I often get asked what people should do during body transitions (of any kind) and my answer is always buy clothes that fit!! Your sense of self is changing enough that the last thing you need is to feel uncomfortable and unattractive in clothes that are too small or too big. I needed to take my own advice. 

maternity style for hot weather

Above: sunglasses, dress, shoes* - No. 6 not currently available

During my first pregnancy, I was able to do a lot more layering because I was pregnant during the winter and spring. This time around, since I'm due in late August, and because summers in St. Louis are brutal, I needed more lightweight, stand-alone items. Jeans will not be working for me this summer. 

Here's most of what I've purchased. 

TOP ROW jumpsuit: Asos, jumpsuit: Urban Outfitters, dress: Target via Poshmark*

SECOND ROW kimono dress: Not Perfect Linen* (actually still haven't received since it's made to order), shorts: Asos, dress: Asos

BOTTOM ROW  tee: Asos, striped top: Nordstrom Rack, cargo pants: Liz Lange secondhand* (same)

I tried to find as much as I could secondhand (all of my jeans and leggings have been secondhand) or from ethical retailers (marked with an *), but it's tough for maternity. Storq is one of the only ethical maternity brands I'm aware of, and none of the pieces were right for me (a reader just reminded me of Boob Design, but they're in Australia and shipping and returning is pretty pricy). It's a very weird feeling to buy this many items of clothing so quickly when this is usually about what I'd buy in an entire year, but again, you have to have clothes that fit! I'm hoping this will get me through to the end, but if it doesn't, it doesn't. 

P.S. The comfy bras I'm wearing now that my others don't fit (go here to get 20% off this  - I'll get a credit too) and the affordable maternity swimsuit I'm loving. 

P.P.S. Follow me on Instagram to see my maternity outfits in real time. 

This post contains affiliate links, which may earn a few cents when clicked on.