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dos and don'ts for packing light

dos and don'ts for packing light

I know it can be hard to figure out what you’ll actually wear on a trip and I know what it’s like to feel that you need extra stuff “just in case”, so here are a few tips to help you minimize what clothing you bring on your next trip.

Don’t get complicated. The simpler the look, the fewer pieces you’ll need to bring. For the most part, everything you bring should go together. All the tops should go with any bottom. The outer layers should match all the pieces they’ll go over. The more minimal the color palette, the more easily everything with go with everything else. Stick to neutrals with one or two colors as accents and choose one color (usually brown or black) for all of your accessories.

Do remember that it’s all about accessories. Those simple pieces you’re bringing can go from day to night with a shoe change and the addition of some jewelry. A white top and slim jeans or a lbd can go with a cute sneaker during the day for seeing the sights and you can throw on a cute flat or sandal with a heel for dinner.  

Don’t take new clothes. I’ve heard from many clients that they feel an urge to go shopping for new things just before a trip. They feel like they don’t have what they need or that what they have isn’t good enough. However, a trip is not the time to try out new looks. Even though you may feel a bit boring by keeping it simple and tried-and-true, it's better than feeling self conscious about something you’re not sure really works.

Do remember that you can rewear your clothes. In fact, I generally assume that I’ll wear everything I bring at least twice. If everything goes together, that means there are lots of possible combinations. A loose rule I use is to bring as many clothing items (not shoes, accessories, or outerwear) as there are days in my trip, plus or minus a layer or two. Four days? Four items: two tops, two bottoms. Six days? Six items - maybe 3 tops, 2 bottoms, and a dress. Ten days? You get the idea….

Don’t pack last minute. I know no one really means to pack at the last minute, but somehow it just happens. When at all possible, plan ahead. Count the number of days you’ll be gone, check the weather, look at what activities are scheduled, and note how many outfits you’ll need for dressy occasions. I’ve created a quick little worksheet for you to download that will help you get organized, see end of post.

Do keep a toiletry bag packed at all times. Even if you just travel a few times a year, this is worth it. It’s many less things to worry about forgetting and you can just grab it and go.

Here’s what I brought on a recent 4 day trip to visit my sister in Atlanta: two tops, a cardigan, leggings, jeans, sandals, boots, and a scarf (pictured are similar items, not my exact pieces).

mindful closet: how to pack light

Since I wore leggings, the black tunic, the cardigan and boots while traveling, I had hardly anything in my suitcase and was able to fit all of Matteo's stuff in with mine. I had plenty of combinations available to me for travel days, going out to dinner, and walking around town. 


minimalist travel packing


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this blog post is not about clothes

this blog post is not about clothes

Do you ever have the sense that you’re swimming upstream and you just can’t get into the flow? April was like that for me. It started out with the St. Louis Symphony Four Seasons of Fashion events which were as fun as I expected and also as time consuming as I had expected. You know how you push through something intense and then get sick as soon as it’s over? That happened. Then my husband got a stomach virus. Then my son got it. Then I got sick again (with a cold), and my son and I both got pinkeye. I went to the doctor for my cold and got visually diagnosed with strep. That would have been great, because antibiotics would have cleared it up quickly, but since my illness didn't respond to the antibiotics, we deduced it wasn't strep and I just had to wait it out. I had to reschedule clients, some of them twice.

I’m someone who lives and dies by my to-do list. Not in a good way (is there a good way?). I generally feel most worthy on days that I’ve accomplished a number of tasks and feel productive. When I’m driving, I’m planning what my next task should be. While I’m playing with my son, I’m thinking about what task I could be doing at the same time. I don’t like this about myself. While being sick, not only did I feel bad physically, but I felt bad because I wasn’t accomplishing anything on my to-do list.

Since my son was born, I’ve been cobbling together work hours by trading off with my husband and hiring babysitters when needed. He goes to a Mother’s Day Out program three days a week for two and a half hours at a time, which I quickly realized was only enough time to fit in my pelvic floor physical therapy appointments (thanks, pregnancy) and other random errands. I have so many ways I’d like to develop mindful closet, but there has just only been time to actually see clients, no time to work on the business (or blog for that matter!). Neither my husband or I have any personal time to ourselves, only work or childcare. Any work email, research, or accounting happens in random spurts here and there, usually while Sesame Street is on (which is how I’m writing this blog post). On top of being sick for most of the month, we’d also been trying to find a preschool for our son to solve some of our childcare issues.  Like most things with raising kids, choosing a preschool is more stressful and confusing (and expensive!) than it should be.

Last week I started to feel better and booked a babysitter so I could take a day for myself: go to a yoga class, get a pedicure, and go thrifting (odd, but relaxing for me). If you know me, you know this is a huge deal - spending money to get time to myself causes all sorts of guilt. I get out of the yoga class, totally blissed out and ready to head to the nail place. I opened my phone to find frantic messages from my husband that the babysitter hadn’t shown and he was going to be late for work. So much for that day to myself. Then my husband got sick again. This is not a joke.

So I’ve been overwhelmed. At the same time, I beat myself up for being overwhelmed because in reality I am so lucky. I have a true partner who shares childcare and household duties with me equally. I have the ability to reschedule work when I’m sick. Losing some income isn’t going to make or break us. How can I possibly be overwhelmed?

I remembered hearing an interview with Brigid Schulte on NPR a few years ago about her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. I checked it out of the library. I was worried that it would be another book about how I really do have the time for everything if I just wake up earlier and stay up later. The Fringe Hours and I Know How She Does It are two of those books and they just stressed me out. I started my own business to create the life that I want, and the life I want does not involve “hustle” or sleeping four hours a night. It involves having time to spend with friends and family, eat and prepare real food, exercise, and take care of myself emotionally, things that haven’t been happening lately. And yes, I feel guilty about wanting to have all those things. Indulgent, maybe, but that’s the goal.

Luckily, Overwhelmed was helpful. It turns out there are reasons that I feel as overloaded as I do, even with as much help as I have. Turns out a lot of other people feel the same way. Other people have that constant to-do list looping in their head. Schulte says, “it’s so common among women it even has a name. Time-use researchers call it ‘contaminated time.’ ” If you do happen upon some free time, it’s common not to know what to do with it. It’s common to feel guilty for not being productive in these small windows of time. I’m lucky to be able to technically work part-time, but this can overload our brains even more. We’re constantly switching roles and tasks, one minute answering email as a business owner, the next cleaning yogurt off the wall. A big part of not being able to switch off either part of the brain is our addiction to technology, which leads to mental exhaustion. I check email constantly on my phone, and when I receive an email that requires a response, I’m anxious until I get the time to deal with it. I also check social media way too much. Somehow, just having it validated in print that these things can be stressful (I'm not crazy!) was soothing to me.

There were a few helpful tips that I’m going to try to implement: attempt to check email when I actually have time to reply, maybe only two or three times a day. Realize that in this season of my life, sleep, food, and family have to come before working on my business. Try to set realistic expectations for what I can accomplish in a given day. Most of all, try to be present in whichever role I’m in at the moment.

Does any of this resonate with you? How do you handle it?

P.S. If you want to reward a stressed out momma, head over to the the mindful closet Facebook page to vote for one of the giveaway finalists. Read their stories and "like" the photo of the mom you want to vote for!

P.P.S. One of my masterminders wrote an awesome article with collected advice for mompreneurs. 

P.P.P.S. The quote above is from Francine Jay, who writes the blog miss minimalist.


a few outfits...

a few outfits...

from the first few weeks of my Project 333:

mindful closet capsule wardrobe
st louis personal stylist capsule wardrobe

Putting the capsule together also inspired mr. mindful closet and I to set aside an entire day (with babysitter) to do a big basement cleaning as well. We donated two car loads of things to the Goodwill, took an old laptop to be recycled, took a bag of baby stuff to the consignment store, and listed a few things on craigslist and eBay. It felt so good!

project 333 - it's happening

project 333 - it's happening

I've resisted doing a capsule wardrobe for a long time. It felt like "everyone" was doing one and I didn't want to follow the crowd. But that's a stupid and egotistical reason to NOT do something that you're interested in and know you'll learn from. The next "official" round of Project 333 begins on October 1st and here's my capsule - I'm doing it.


In case you're not familiar with Project 333, it was started by Courtney Carver, the blogger behind  Be More with Less. She started simplifying her life when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and realized the stress that excess stuff was placing on her health. It's a great story, and you should definitely check her out. She started Project 333 in 2010, and the basic premise is that you wear only 33 items for 3 months. Here are the rules:

shoes, accessories, and outerwear are included

lounge wear or clothes you only wear at home are NOT included

jewelry you never take off, sleepwear, exercise wear (only if not used for other purposes) are also not included

after your items are chosen, store the rest of your wardrobe

you can adapt the project to fit your needs. As Courtney says, "this is not a project in suffering"!

I'll go into more detail about what I chose, how, and why in the coming weeks. Spoiler alert: I have more than 33 items! No matter what, whether I stick to the rules or or fail spectacularly, this is already proving to be a great tool for wardrobe planning and management. I'll be perfectly honest, I'm feeling restricted and anxious and excited at the same time!

Who's in? 


wish list: elizabeth suzann

Every so often, a designer keeps popping up in blogs I read and Pinterest feeds I follow - Elizabeth Suzann is the latest. I quickly fell in love with the easy silhouettes, made-in-Nashville production, and company philosophy (in a nutshell, less is more).

Above, a few pieces currently on my wish list. 

(Images courtesy of Elizabeth Suzann)

closet case study: sara's fall capsule wardrobe

closet case study: sara's fall capsule wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now. First there was Kendi's 30x30, then Project 333, and now the Unfancy blog has added a whole new level of coolness to the capsule. For a very thoughtful and methodical approach, I love the Into Mind website. For me, capsule wardrobes aren't necessarily about finding crazy ways to wear things ("I'm going to wear my shirt as a skirt!"), but about wearing only things that you love and that all work interchangeably with each other.

Last spring, I started working with Sara, a mostly-stay-at-home-mom. We first worked on a post-baby transitional wardrobe (she'd just had her second son). Recently, she was ready to solidify her fall wardrobe. She'd started out with some basics and bought some great pieces on her own, but then wanted my help finding the last few pieces to pull it all together and creating multiple outfits. Since we'd worked together before, she knew I wanted to see some styles that inspired her, so she started a Pinterest board for her fall wardrobe. Here are a few of the looks she loved:

(Images: Atlantic Pacific, Karla Reed, Celebrity Street Style)

After we added a few new items, here's what we had:

Six tops, one sweater, two jackets, four pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes, and a scarf (see sources for exact or similar items at end of post). Seventeen pieces.

Here's a little of what you can do with seventeen pieces
(click on any image to start a slideshow):

Granted, Sara's activities are mostly casual in nature. Attire for rare occasions like weddings isn't included here, but there are plenty of options for date nights and other social events. If you are someone who works in an office, you could easily add a pair of trousers, a skirt, and a dress or two into the mix to multiply your options.

Capsule collections are a trend, but in reality, it's how I believe all wardrobes should work. In Sara's words: "When I open my closet now, I only see pieces that fit, that I actually wear and that are in season."
How many pieces would you be left with if your closet fit those parameters?


P.S. A few more sweet comments from Sara about our work together:

"You've changed my perspective on how I view my wardrobe and how I approach shopping. You really showed me how simple it is to mix and match items to create multiple outfits. Now I see what I need to make my wardrobe more complete and functional. When I go shopping now, I know exactly what items to look for rather than buying random pieces that simply appeal to me. I really appreciated your objectivity. You never tried to change my personal style. Rather you helped me identify it and showed me what pieces I currently have that fit that style. It was also helpful that you took the time to make a board on Pinterest and Polyvore. I ended up buying some of the items you suggested because they were perfect! All in all you really helped to boost my self-confidence. So thank you!"

Want your own capsule wardrobe? Go here to sign up for my 5 day capsule creation challenge! You'll get my capsule planner and emails leading you through the process of setting up your capsule! 

best moment of fashion month

best moment of fashion month

While there's a lot going on in life and at Saint Louis Fashion Week, I'm still trying to keep up on what's going on around the world, since Fashion "Month" is still going on. The most amazing thing happened a few days ago at Paris Fashion Week. 

credit: AP Photo/Zacharie Scheurer

Rick Owens presented his Spring 2014 collection with the help of four American step teams. It was the most amazing piece of performance art and an innovative way to show the clothes, but as you might have heard, high fashion is not always the most inclusive of different skin and body types. To show his clothes on so-called "real" women, a diverse group of women, is pretty much completely unheard of. There have been designers here and there who've showed one look during a show on a plus-sized model, but a gorgeous, tall, size 10 model still isn't too representative of the real world. This was beyond. Plus, it was just so f'ing cool. 

I have always been a fan of Owens' dark, edgy, minimalist, drapy clothes (I'd die to own one of his leather jackets). Other designers should learn from the lesson that showing them on these women takes nothing away from the look. A few favorites: 

images via

To get more of the story behind the show, read Vogue's review here, and if you have 11 minutes, you should really watch the video. Check out the person in the audience at the end of the video on the left side of the screen who's jumping up and down and pumping their fists. That's how I felt too. 



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