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wardrobe advice

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

 

(this post contains affiliate links)

 

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sometimes i feel guilty about ethical fashion

sometimes i feel guilty about ethical fashion

This week is Fashion Revolution Week, which was created to commemorate the Rana Plaza factory collapse, where 1,138 people were killed, and encourages millions of people to demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.

I’ve been so fully immersed in the online community that’s dedicated to ethical fashion that I feel guilty when I consider a purchase that’s not from an ethical brand. Maybe you do too. It’s hard. We really can do good in the world just by choosing where we buy our clothes, but at the same time, it’s not easy.

Ethical clothing is often more expensive. It’s not easily available at the shopping center nearby. Ethical retailers may not have size or style options that fit our needs. Even expensive designer brands may not be made ethically. You might feel that sustainable fashion is only for certain styles. 

Even if you can’t buy directly from ethical fashion retailers, there are still three important things you can do to make purchases more ethically:

  1. Reconsider a purchase and make use of what you already own. Maybe this is where part of my guilt is coming from. I do have plenty of things to clothe my body. I don’t need anything new. However, style and fashion are my creative outlet and I do like evolving my style, which often means adding new pieces now and then.

  2. Buy secondhand. This is always my first method of buying something. If something’s on my shopping list, I first check on ebay, Poshmark, and in consignment and thrift stores. Sustainable and affordable. 

  3. Make a mindful purchase and plan to get as much use out of the item as possible. The least ethical purchases are those that are made and then barely used. The more you wear an item, whatever its production origins, you're slowing down the fast fashion cycle of buy, discard, repeat. 

It’s all about baby steps. Do what you can. Awareness is the first step.

elizabeth suzann ethical fashion

(This ethically made top from Elizabeth Suzann is on my wish list)

More:
What I wrote about ethical fashion more than three years ago. 

A few of my favorite blogger resources on sustainable fashion: Grechen, Andrea, Lee.

Amour Vert is a pretty reasonably priced clothing company with a wide range of styles made in the USA. 

I'm partnering with Route, a St. Louis based ethical retailer, on an upcoming event. Sign up below to get details!

spring wardrobe inventory

spring wardrobe inventory

It may be premature, but I went ahead and switched out my winter wardrobe with my spring one. While doing so, I took inventory. I had SIX black dresses, so I will take one to the consignment shop. I have 4 short sleeve black tops, so will avoid buying any more. I've worn my Eileen Fisher silk shell so much that it's in need of a replacement. I admitted to myself that there were a few pieces that I wasn't excited to wear even though I felt like I had spent too much on them. Luckily, they're quality pieces that I'll be able to sell. All in all, I got rid of about 8 or 9 things, which is a pretty big percentage when you have a small wardrobe!

I'm feeling the urge to add new pieces just for the sake of new, but will try to work with what I have for a while to see whether that urge is necessary or not. Things I WANT, but am not sure I need yet are: this Everlane top or this Mango one, these Everlane pants, this crop top, and maaybe even these shoes in blush (!!!) since everything else I own is black, white or denim. 

What are you planning to add for spring?

Photo by Celeste Boyer.

This post contains affiliate links, which generate a few cents of income per click. 

winter wardrobe assessment

winter wardrobe assessment

Before you get excited about all your spring stuff, now's a good time to look at your winter wardrobe and access what worked and what didn't. If there are things that didn't get worn this season - reflect on why. If something has gone through two winter seasons without getting worn (and you're not pregnant or otherwise transitioning in weight), I'd say it's time to let go. Taking photos of your outfits (whether you share them with the world or not) is a great way to track what you've worn and judge which were your favorites - here are a few of mine:

mindful closet: winter wardrobe assessment

If there are things you wore and loved and could use a replacement for, this is a great time to take advantage of winter clearance sales. For example, I really enjoyed wearing my black pointy-toed boots, but wouldn't mind a pair with a little bit of a heel. I had tried these on earlier and liked them, so I ordered them when I saw them on sale recently. They come in wide width and fit my orthotics. I also saw another pair of my beloved Blondo boots on eBay for 1/3 the price and snapped those up too. 

Other bloggers have written much better, detailed posts about the process of assessing your past season's clothing, so I'll direct you to Seasons and Salt and Style Bee for those. 

What did you love wearing this winter? 

 

This blog post contains affiliate links. 

a 10 piece eileen fisher capsule wardrobe

a 10 piece eileen fisher capsule wardrobe

There are always different capsule wardrobe challenges going around the internet. In recent memory, there were 30x30 (30 pieces for 30 days), then Project 333 (33 pieces for 3 months), then the Unfancy capsule (37 pieces for 3 months). Currently, 10x10 (10 items for 10 days) is popular. Since I wanted to introduce you all to how versatile, practical, and useful Eileen Fisher clothing is, I thought I’d take it a little further and see how many outfits I could get with only 10 pieces of clothing.

As when I have chosen my own capsules (to see all my capsule wardrobe blog posts, go here), I started with more and edited it down to 10 items. I made sure to have basic tops (white tee, striped tee, and dressy shell) and bottoms (dark wash jeans and black pants). I wanted to have a versatile dress and lots of top layers that would go with every foundational piece for lots of combinations.

10 piece eileen fisher capsule wardrobe

Here are the 10 Eileen Fisher pieces: Sleeveless Silk Long Shell, Dolman Sleeved Linen TunicLong Sleeve Jersey Top, Long Draped Open Cardigan, Fisher Project Wool Poncho Top, Fine Merino Birdseye Angle Front Jacket, Wool Blend Twill Graph Serape, Slim Ponte Pant, Washable Silk Dress, and Soft Stretch Skinny Jean

You may have noticed that the prices on these items are higher than some I might usually post. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this is an amazing company. When you pay a higher price for an Eileen Fisher item, you're paying for the fact that these are classic pieces made with quality fabrics that won't be out of style in six months. You're paying for the fact that the items are made with textiles that are produced with less waste and fewer chemicals. You're paying for the fact that this company actually tracks the supply chain of what its products are made of to ensure that when they say it's organic cotton, it's actually organic cotton.  You're paying for the fact that this company is committed to human rights and not only monitors its factories for violations but is beginning to do cell phone surveys of workers to allow them a voice.

There are also many ways to get discounted Eileen Fisher pieces. I've found pieces on eBay, at consignment stores, Nordstrom Rack and on sale at the Eileen Fisher store. If you can shift your buying from 4 fast fashion pieces to 1 discounted ethically-made piece, you'll be doing good at the same time as you reduce your overwhelm from excess in your closet. 

But back to the outfits! All in all, I came up with 24, a good month's worth of looks for both casual and dressy work and play occasions. 

 

To see a 10 piece capsule in person and get tips on how to style Eileen Fisher pieces, come to our special event at the Plaza Frontenac Eileen Fisher store THIS Saturday, December 17th from noon-3pm. We’ll have light refreshments and lots of good people and clothes. See you there!

P.S. Just in case you were wondering, Eileen Fisher isn't paying me for this post or this event, I just really believe in the company. P.P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them, I get a few cents, but it costs you nothing. I'm raking it in - in four years of blogging, I've made a total of $246.36 - that's $5.13 per month!  ;) 

i'm not perfect

i'm not perfect

As if anyone was in doubt… So, right about the time I put up that last blog post (about, ahem, not buying if it’s not on your list), I started feeling bored with all my black. Maybe I jinxed myself, maybe I was bored, maybe I should have-I don’t know-taken a nap instead. But I found myself between appointments killing time by stopping by Avalon. I saw this cool vintage sweater, and although I did give quite a bit of thought to the purchase, it was NOT on my list. But I bought it, and it was secondhand, and it was $18, and I really like it. Everything else I'm wearing were super mindful, wear-all-the-time purchases. It's not the end of the world.

saint louis personal stylist

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the fact that there's no black in this outfit ;) 

(Sweater: vintage, tank: Eileen Fisher, jeans: Banana Republic, boots: Blondo)

P.S. This tank I'm wearing from Eileen Fisher gets worn about twice a week. Pricy, but so worth it. Check it out at the Plaza Frontenac Eileen Fisher store on December 17th from 12-3pm and get my take on how to style it. 

avoid impulse buys - shop from a list

avoid impulse buys - shop from a list

To curb impulse buys, the best thing you can do is shop from a list. Think about it - what happens when you go to the grocery store without a list? You end up with random things that sounded good in the moment but don’t necessarily fit together to make a whole meal. When you meal plan and shop with a list, you actually buy the things you need to make a recipe. It’s the same with clothes. Many people wonder why they have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, but it’s this - it’s like having a pantry full of ingredients but no plan. If you buy clothes without thought to how they fit into the rest of your wardrobe, you’re going to end up with a bunch of random stuff.

how to avoid impulse buys

Here’s what to do instead: define your style (pick a recipe), declutter (throw away that rotting head of broccoli), take stock of what's left (what’s in your pantry),  and make a list of what’s missing. You might get rid of all the pants that don’t fit and find that you have plenty of jeans, but you’re only left with one pair of pants that’s appropriate for work. Put it on the list. Maybe every time you try to wear a dress in the winter, you don’t have the appropriate tights. Put them on the list. The next time you end up in front of a clearance rack, you’ll have a plan. If you find well-fitting work pants on sale, go for it. They’re on the list, you must need them! If they're not on the list, you can be pretty sure that you're being swayed by the bargain and that item will end up in the purge pile the next time around. 

Do you use a list when shopping - grocery or otherwise? Do you think it helps?

P.S. My other tip to avoid impulse buys.