In 2003, the local government in Kamikatsu, Japan decided to require that all residents comply with a new, rigorous recycling program - perhaps the most rigorous in the world.
Since then, the town composts, recycles, or reuses 80% of its garbage. It may not technically be 100% zero waste, as the remaining 20% goes into the landfill, but it’s a remarkable achievement for an entire community, in such a short amount of time. The impacts have been positive - cutting costs for the community drastically, as well as improving the conditions of the lush and beautiful environment that surrounds the town in Southeast Japan.
Residents must wash and sort virtually anything that is non-compostable in their household before bringing it to the recycling sorting center. Shampoo bottles, caps, cans, razors, styrofoam meat trays, water bottles…the list goes on and on (literally) into 34 categories. At the sorting center, labels on each bin indicate the recycling process for that specific item - how it will be recycled, what it will become, and how much that process can cost (or even earn). It’s an education process for the consumer.
All kitchen scraps must be composted at home, as the town has no garbage trucks or collectors.
And as for other items, reuse is heavily encouraged. According to Akira Sakano, Deputy Chief Officer at Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu, the town has a kuru-kuru shop where residents can bring in used items and take things home for free. There is also a kuru-kuru factory, where local women make bags and clothes out of discarded items.
At first, it was difficult to be come accustomed to the new rules. “It can be a pain, and at first we were opposed to the idea,” says resident, Hatsue Katayama. “If you get used to it, it becomes normal.”
Now, it’s even being noticed within Kamikatsu’s businesses. The first zero-waste brewery has opened in Kamikatsu, called Rise and Win Brewery. The brewery itself is constructed of reused materials and environmentally friendly finishes. By 2020, Kamikatsu hopes to be 100% zero waste, with no use of landfills, and to forge connections with other like-minded communities in the world, spreading the practice of zero-waste.
I always see these beautiful home interiors. I love their intricate rugs and mid-century furnishings and gorgeous light. Then I think about my own apartment life, spending 75%+ of my monthly income on rent, cyclically selling belongings to make each move easier than the next. And I think: I want to own a home.
I want to settle in. I want to paint a mural in the living room. I want to drill holes in the walls. I want to build a kitchen island that isn’t on wheels. I want to put my initials in the wet cement of my front walkway. …Or do I?
I have spent exactly 6 days in Durham, North Carolina, a place I spent the same amount of time in just over 11 years ago, and loved it. Before I got here, my friend and I have spent 6 months researching the housing market in the hopes to buy here, to live in or to rent out. But since arriving, brimming with hope and possibility, ready for a fresh start, I have felt overwhelmed by the confronting truth of how utterly unfulfilling it is to live in a beautiful home in a dull town.
I have lived in cities all my life, but because I so love camping and hiking and the beach, for a day or three at a time, and because I so hate pollution and noise and the frantic pace of bustling streets and non-stop traffic, I somehow concluded that I was *not* a “city girl.” But I also have never had a license, or a car, and thus travel 100% of the time via bicycle, or if I must, via walking.
At present we are 1.2 miles from the closest business. Double that to reach downtown.
Downtown Durham is not like the downtowns I know. It is widespread, and even after 20 minutes of biking the grid, hadn’t seen it all. The roads were wide and multi-laned. The buildings were homogenous, and businesses covered all the basic necessities: food, shelter, alcohol, laundromat, bike shop. But where was the warehouse for aerial silks classes? Where was the PaintNite? Where was the club after club after club of nonstop live music? Where was the little theatres with museums of bad art? The “little free libraries”? The culture? The history???
Bikeability has always been important to me, but I hadn’t really placed value on convenience until now. But I’m glad to have this realization, because it allows me to let go of idealizing home interiors by remembering the importance of exterior placement.
Here’s the exterior of the home shown above, found in Joshua Tree:
If I lived there, I’d have my beautiful home with my beautiful things just the way I liked them - and just ready to be photographed for Instagram - but I’d be stuck in the middle of the desert, with no neighbor to speak of.
A is for alternatives to hygiene and cleaning products
Here is a selection of humorous and simple videos of how to make everyday products yourself. Hygiene products such as skin care (oats+milk+honey in bath), mouthwash (cinnamon), insect repellent (orange peel), burn relief (honey) and sunburn relief (cucumber) as well as cleaning products such as bath cleaner (grapefruit and salt), glass cleaner (lemon+water), toilet cleaner (vinegar+baking soda), scented laundry boost (baking soda+basil), shoe polish (banana), furniture polish (lemon juice+olive oil) and metal polish (flour+vinegar+salt) can all be easily replaced with products you are likely to already have in your pantry.
just* is a WWF initiative created to show that there
are often simple and natural alternatives to many of the wastefully packaged products we use
I have been in a funky place style-wise. Which is shocking to anyone who knows me: as a relatively fashion-forward, clothes-obsessed woman. I love shopping, I’ve worked in retail, and can literally spend an entire day just “trying things on.”
But about a year ago I started feeling nostalgic for my time abroad. I planned a trip for “next summer” (now this summer) to sate my wanderlust. Fast forward a year and now I’m thinking about studying abroad for a few years(!), which would require some serious changes to make my closet fit in my suitcase.
Thus began my 5-Stage Breakup With My Wardrobe:
Stage 1: Limited Space Breeds Careful Decision-Making
When I last went to Europe, I lived there for 6 months out of a carry-on. My wardrobe was uneventful, I picked up a few accessories at local shops, and on the whole, no one cared. I look back on photos of my time there and see myself looking rather normal (jeans and tees) with a few exceptions, but I remember feeling amazing—because I was on a mega adventure in Europe!
Of course it’s important to always feel good in the clothes we wear, but I began to wonder if the actual style piece mattered less than I thought.
Stage 2: All Clothes Begin to Look The Same
I used to read hella fashion magazines as a kid. I’d rip out my favorite outfits, and collect them into folders. Now that the world has evolved to electronic everything, I do the same: pinning all my favorite IG posts to a Pinterest board for “capsule: winter” and “70s vibe.” 20 years later I still keep up with the trends, especially in the minimalist fashion world.
But I am so bored of so-called “fashion” right now.Especially in the minimalist and slow fashion communities. Fuck me if everyone on Instagram isn’t wearing some shade of camel or burnt sienna, high rise jeans, low-profile booties or slides/mules, curling their hair in long waves with some kind of “wand”—and calling it their “fall uniform.”
Don’t believe me? Here are the closets of three prominent slow-fashion bloggers. See any similarities?
I live currently in New Orleans, city of color and self-expression! And I work in the entertainment industry! I am a soft-summer, so finding colorful statement outfits that don’t wash me out is no picnic. But even though I know what I like, I still feel stuck in a societal pressure to wear shades of brown, black, white, chambray… and look like every other Instagrammer.
And in response to that pressure, my brain would rather me look like nothing. To not stand out in clothes, but to stand out as me. Let me explain:
Stage 3: Am I My Clothes?!
Has anyone ever told you,
“That Outfit Is So You!”
What they mean is, the idea that they have of you is reflected in the clothes that you are wearing. Your clothes have become you. You are now your clothes.
While years of watching What Not To Wear have engrained that clothes do matter, and that people will gather a perception of you based on your look: how you choose to act to confirm or counteract those perceptions matters more.
My focus now, instead of clothing, is how I carry myself. It’s a lot harder to present well when your outfit isn’t doing the heavy lifting for you. You actually have to let yourself be seen… ::shudder::
Stage 4: Everything Wears Out Anyway
My online friend Ariana of Paris To Go, a zero-waste blog, has long since detailed her extremely tiny wardrobe of all high-quality designer pieces, which she lived in while she was living a high-fashion/high-function life in Paris. On a recent travel, her beautiful camel (lol) coat got ruined and is unable to be repaired. So she had to say goodbye to it. Her only coat!
I wrote to her immediately because I feel our community is missing the exposure to the flipside of minimalism, how when you have less, you feel each loss so much more.
I had one pair of sandals, shown at the top of this post. When they finally wore out, I was devastated because I had no “perfect” footwear for summer. Plus, because I buy so much secondhand, I knew I’d have to spend the most valuable resource of all, time, to find something comparable.
But as I prepare to embark on an overseas adventure, time feels precious to me! So I wonder if I shouldn’t just prepare my mind for loss, and let go early.
Stage 5: Letting Go Early, Or, Lessening Initial Attachment
Since I started to feel this push-pull, I haven’t been shopping much. But yesterday I went to the GoodWill, and as I browsed the aisles, I thought about all the usual screening questions:
is it a lasting fabric?
is it a color that matches other things I own?
is it a style I feel at home in?
is it soft/comfortable?
is it machine-washable?
But then I asked one more:
If this item got ruined tomorrow, would I feel ok?
I’m tired of feeling let down by the inevitable wearing of clothes, or loss of them.
If I had kids, maybe I would’ve written this post long ago, what with the finger painting and vomit and spills children as so prone to. But I’m single and child-free, so I’ve been in “perfection-culling mode” for ages. Too long, really. I’m ready to start feeling ok with things that are bound to happen sometime, even if they happen before I expect them to.
I want to teach myself to be flexible. And I think step 1 is to pre-breakup with clothes. Before I grow to love them. Before I come to miss them. <<Cue Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants”: “They say if you love something let it go, and if it comes back that’s how you know it’s for keeps…”>>
If my clothes are meant to be in my life for a long time, they will be. And if they’re meant to leave my life, they will. When they’re ready. Which may not be when I am ready! So I want to get myself ready, in advance.
Recently I reposted an amazing quote:
Look around. All that clutter used to be money. All that money used to be time.
BOOM! I want my money back. I want my time back. And I want to spend those things a different way. Do you? Because if you do, that’s the only thing you have to remember when you think about making a new purchase, or even venturing out of your house to maybe make a new purchase: What else could you spend your time/money on? And if your brain is doing circles at the thought of letting go of your precious closetful of goodies, think about that thing, or experience, or place, or person—and decide if they’re worth more than your closet…
One of the most minimalist things you can do, is to make something you want, from something you have. I had an old lampshade that I hated, and a bunch of paint stirrers, and I wanted a more earthy-looking lamp. With a little bit of primer and stain, I got everything I asked for!
Y’all. Not so long ago my face looked a wreck. I had hormonal acne. I had stress acne. I had cystic acne. I had on my back, shoulders, my thighs sometimes. I even had acne up my nose (see above).
I had dry skin, oily skin, red skin, rosacea. Worst fo all: I was horribly depressed, and I thought I was ugly. Because even when I used makeup, all the acne scars showed through :(
Truth? I had sensitive skin and my diet was terrible because it included milk products. BLEH.
1. Stop eating cow milk. Ideally, stop eating all milk. I got a cow milk allergy from overconsumption, so could only have goat and sheet milk products. So no more butter, cream, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
2. Stop using a million products. I bought all the Batty’s Bath stuff (scroll way down to one of my earliest posts and you’ll see). I bought a cleanser, a toner, a mask, a scrub, a moisturizer, a cream…. the list went on and on. Now there is all this hype for serums! I can’t take it. Use less. This is what I use to wash my face, every day:
You can buy it for $5 at any Marshall’s/TJMaxx. It also lasts for like 6-10 months.
3. Moisturize, even if you have oily skin. This was a hard one for me to get over. But I am now a convert. These are my favorite non-comodegenic moisturizers, made for my sensitive skin:
4. Use a retinol cream sometimes. I occasionally put tretenoin cream (a prescription retinoid) on overnight. It helps with scarring, but doesn’t prevent new acne or clear up what you’ve got. But the texture of my skin looks better when I use something repairative like this.
But mostly: don’t eat meat or dairy or sugar, and your skin will look better than someone who is still eating meat and dairy and sugar. So many alternative sweeteners and vegan meats out there - there’s just no need, y’all!
So in sum, the things I use on my face are the following:
a bar of charcoal soap (1-2x/day)
fragrance-free moisturizer (1-2x/day)
tretenoin retinol cream (1-2x/week)
BareMinerals original powder foundation (5x/week)
THAT’S IT. Stop using a thousand products. Stop paying for a thousand products. Stop confusing your face. Use the minimum!
Sorry for the radio silence! My roommate decided to move out a week ago, and I have been busy preparing for his departure, and for my new life in minimalism with a new subtenant.
The bottom picture is the “before.” We had a TV (yuck), an end table, a coffee table, an ottoman, a four-chair dining set, a kitchen bar, two barstools, and 3 more bicycles.
The top picture is now. Instead of those things above, I have a lot of space. And plants. I have a rug but no vacuum so I’m not even gonna lay it out yet, and a piano and some ugly wifi boxes will be forthcoming.
I think now is as good a time as any to share some of the minimalist homes I’ve inhabited in my past lives, and how they worked for me.
This was my first settled apartment in Boston. The living room was a decent size but there was no dining room, so we made the kitchen eat-in. We had aloe plants, and a bookcase (which I would really love to have here):
Here’s another view of it after my roommate moved his piano to his room, and I acquired another more giant schleffera plant:
My next settled spot in Boston was this living room, which was a similar size, and kitchen was also eat-in, no dining room. This time I hung up my guitars, we had a TV we never used, and I acquired an alocasia plant to keep my schleffera company:
People on the Minimalist Life Facebook Group have been chattering about minimalist living rooms that don’t use a couch. After my two roommates moved out and took their couch, I had about a month to myself, during which time I converted the living room into this pillow palace. I had that gorgeous vintage rattan bookshelf (which a later roommate THREW AWAY, ugh), a cozy rug, still had the armchair, and the trunk coffee table became a truck bench with some pillows atop it. NO REGRETS on this setup. I loved being on the floor, and loved having room to move and spread out and laze about. Would do again 100%.
Anyone else live minimally? What’s your favorite thing about your spaces?
Today I checked Facebook for the first time in months to see that my Aunt is selling all of her dining room furniture. In the comments someone asked why, and if she was moving. “No, just getting some new stuff!” my Aunt replied excitedly. Presumably she’s getting rid of her old dining room set because it didn’t “spark joy,” and getting another in the hopes that the new one will. Which got me thinking:
How can we keep receiving “joy sparks” from old things we’ve grown tired of?
Because I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford a new dining set every year when my style changes.
Lots of minimalist bloggers, particularly style bloggers, talk about “investing in a high-quality wardrobe of staples you’ll wear for years to come.” I think about this statement a lot too. By high-quality, they mean “expensive,” (usually resulting from ethical textile production - which of course I support) but no amount of investment can change the simple fact that:
Style E V O L V E S. Tastes C H A N G E.
Quickly, sometimes. For me, I’ve been wearing the same pseudo 1940s/1950s look in different variations since high school, right down to the flower in my hair, and my room has always had a vibe of natural serenity. But I’ve always liked to dabble - no one likes to be trapped in one box! So, knowing that tastes will change, and style will evolve, how can we do our best to not actively support capitalism?
That’s my number one tip for anyone approaching minimalism, because it does four things at once:
Cuts down on environmental impact - it gets clothes out of landfills, and gives them a new life with open-minded consumers.
Slows the cycle of consumerism - you’re not supporting big box stores like Walmart or sites like Amazon, that are tracking your spending and catering their ads to fuel more useless purchases. These stores just want to eliminate the excess, and you’re doing them that favor.
Increases emotional flexibility - the same things will never be available on each trip - you have to open your mind to the idea that once your “perfect” white shirt wears out, the parameters for “perfect” might have to adapt to fit the stock availability on a Tuesday at Salvation Army.
Cultivates gratitude - everything you buy—from anywhere—will have a limited lifespan, but because of the aforementioned “limited supply,” you learn to appreciate the items you *are* able to find, and to enjoy them while you can.
Can we ever really make joy spark from an item? Probably not. That ugly kitten sweater grandma knit you may never spark anything but shudders of embarrassment. BUT, as we get rid of unwanted items and refill our lives with new things, consider that they may not need to be new as much as new to us. It’s the novelty of purchasing that our brain is craving, not the fresh-out-of-the-box-ness of it.
What’s your favorite new-to-you item you’ve found, and where did you find it?
For most of my young adult life, I considered myself a nomad. I grew up in a split family household with parents across state lines, and by the time I was 19, had lived in 5 states and visited 10 foreign nations. I lived for roadtrips, weekend getaways, airport people-watching, and my favorite movie was Up In The Air. I wanted to be a flight attendant - my foggy child’s brain transfixed on the glamor of the Pan Am stewardesses of the 60s, a la Catch Me If You Can.
These days, the only trips I’ve taken of-late have been back and forth from old hometown to the new one, moving boxes and tying up loose ends. But even this new city has begun to feel… stagnant.
I feel ready for something new.
Or something old, as it were. For the past six months or so I’ve been yearning for my time spent in Italy. I lived there for half a year some 10-odd years ago, and still look back on that time fondly: the architecture, the weather, the culture, the way siesta life actually made the rest of my day more productive. I miss it.
What does all of this have to do with minimalism?
In thinking about the prospect of going back overseas, potentially to live, I have to look around me and think about the life I’ve cultivated—or more specifically, the things I’ve acquired—and consider if they are worth bringing with me into a new life, or if I would rather make space for two things:
Something new and potentially better to fill its space, or
The prospect that I may never find something quite as good, and being content with “making due.”
It puts things into perspective.
So in turn I’ve already begun to cull my wardrobe. My spring/summer pieces are <40, and my winter wardrobe is significantly less than that. I own less than 10 pairs of shoes. I’m tossing papers right and left, have begun to dig into my digital backlog, and have given away most of my books. I have a load of things in storage but honestly… I think I want to toss those too. It feels very heavy to own so much.
That movie I mentioned before, Up In The Air, has a great metaphor about this:
Imagine (…) that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers (…) Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes (…) appliances (…) The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. (…) I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. (…) Now, I’m gonna set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it?
What would you take out of your backpack?
If you need some inspiration, see our friends over at The Burning House. They’ve been thinking about this long and hard.
In my next post, I’ll tell you what I’d take out, and what I hope to bring with me to my next adventure spot. :)
I know I’m supposed to be deep in the #fall10x10. My name is Aspiring Minimalist for Pete’s sake! But for me, minimalism has never been about as-little-as-possible; it’s been about “just enough,” and giving yourself what you need, but not to excess.
On Wednesday, I will have been in non-stop travel nomad mode for six months. S I X. That means six months of restricting my wardrobe to fit into a backpack, six months of having to trek to a storage unit in order to swap out seasonal garb, six months of foregoing a few outfits so that I can pack a pillow or a towel or my toiletries, because they have to come with me too.
I don’t want 10 more days of restrictions: I want 365 days of freedom. I want to be able to shop my entire closet, so I don’t have to buy clothes upon landing because Spirit Airlines only allows a purse. That’s where the real challenge lies anyhow: in having the world at your fingertips, but being keen enough to choose wisely.
My most favorite quote, told to my by my brother-in-law, is:
“Happiness is wanting what you have.”
Well, I must be off the charts happy because I want what I have so badly, but I have limited access to it. Or perhaps I want it that much more because I can’t have it.
Either way, I’m ready to have it all with me, in a stable locale, Enter The Slow Life, and settle down.
Did you 10x10 this time around? What were your intentions surrounding the challenge?
A few months ago, someone on a subReddit I follow asked for a yearly capsule. I promised her I’d eventually get to it, and that day is today!
She sent me a link to her Pinterest account to get a sense of her style. I would describe what I saw there are “ladylike, vintage/retro-inspired, and practical.” So I’ve put together my very first…
Pinup Capsule Wardrobe!
This wardrobe, save for a corresponding yellow polka dot bikini and some woolen outerwear (hat, gloves, scarf), should help any diva through all 365 days in all weather.
The patterns and styles that I’ve used to create this retro effect are:
Peter Pan collars
The pinup clothing silhouettes are meant to imitate an hourglass, either with a fitted top and fitted bottoms (like a halter and pencil skirt or skinny jeans), a loose top and flowing bottoms (secretary shirt and wide pants) with a tight and/or belted waist, or a combo of loose and tight.
As well, I’ve kept the color palette to three colors (white, black, yellow) but I think with a predominantly black & white wardrobe, any other three corresponding colors can be used. The retro gals love strong tones, either saturated and pure—like primary colors, and hot pink—or saturated pastels, like mint, lavender, periwinkle, and blush pink.
bardot or boatneck top
peter pan collar top
button front tank
pencil or fishtail skirt
coveralls or overalls
little black dress
jewel neck dress
espadrilles or wedges
mary jane or ballet flats
huaraches or fisherman sandals
Sourcing Great Pinup Clothes
Most of these amazing finds are from Miss Candyfloss, Top Vintage, Unique Vintage, Pinup Girl Clothing, Bait Footwear, or an amazing Etsy seller named Violets In May.
I made sure that there was enough great combinations to go the full-year round. Here’s some examples of outfit combos I love for warm weather:
And for colder climes:
I also know that for many of you, work-appropriate outfits are a big concern. So I’ve also gone ahead and create a capsule-within-a-capsule. Here are the pieces that would work in a more conservative office setting:
What do you think? Is there anything else you’d need for a year? Any items here you could do without?
From July 17-29th, I participated in a special wardrobe challenge created by Lee of StyleBee called a “10x10,” and in this case, a #Summer10x10. The rules of the challenge are to wear only 10 items for 10 days, with no repeat outfits. These limitations tend to bring forth increased style creativity, mixing items you would’ve never thought to match together before. It’s fun, and it gets your fashion brain wheels turning. Also, summer is my fav season for dressing, so, easy sell!
If you do the math on those dates, you’ll count 13 days, so it was really my #Summer13x13. I knew I had a back-to-back trip planned when this season’s challenge was due to begin so I packed my suitcase accordingly. I know the temperature would vary between 65°-90°, and that I would be mostly doing “city life” activities (concerts, museums, theatre, dining out). Commonly, the 10x10 includes shoes and outerwear; I did not count these items. I used 3 pairs of shoes and a jean jacket in addition to the following 13 items:
black collared tank
striped collared shirt
solid collared tank
striped crop top
leopard crop top
floral kimono dress
floral maxi skirt
black silk dress
lasercut eyelet leather skirt
high waist jeans
high waist brocade shorts
I actually ended up changing clothes on two occasions to go from day to night activities, so these 13 pieces actually yielded 15 outfits! I’ve outlined them below, along with my rating of how comfortable/stylish/utilitarian they felt:
Day 1: 3+12 (+1, as needed) The first day was a travel day, so I knew I needed to be comfortable, limited accessories for the metal detectors. So I chose a shirt with a pattern, unbuttoned the bottom of the blouse and tied it up crop-style, which worked great with my high-waist jeans. I wore my knockoff “Crocs” sandals for easy-off for airport security. Rating: 7/10
Day 2: 2+11 I spent my first day in town just walking around. I tied up this black shirt in front like the other, because the skirt is high-waisted as well. I wore this with my black Bernie Mev wedges and felt high-style, but still ultra comfortable. Rating: 9/10
Day 3: 6+9 (+1 as needed) Movie theatres are cold! But girls nights call for floral, so I went all out. Wore my tan fisherman sandals, and a tan belt to tie it all together. Rating: 8/10
Day 4: 4+12 A chill house party called for a chill outfit. I wore that blouse knotted at the front like the others, and put a matching bandana in my hair, vintage-style. Shoes were my fisherman sandals, which were perfect for my long walk home. Knocked off a point only because I wish I would’ve brought #1, my sweater! Rating: 7/10
Day 5 (day): 8 I found a secret beach in a middle of a park, complete with a lifeguard and everything. I wore my itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini underneath this dress, and it was the perfect easy-on, easy-off outfit, especially with my Crocs. Rating: 10/10
Day 5 (night): 2+12 After the beach I went to co-work with my friend at a rock gym, so I needed to be a bit less dressy than my fab kimono. Wore a hair turban to up the style game, and my Crocs, to stay cajz. Rating: 6/10
Day 6: 1+5+12 This was my debut singing at a jazz club in a new city. I had a matching blue flower in my hair, and Ramsey Lewis’s drummer told me I sounded just like Billie Holiday–and that I was the only one “doing her right.” I only wish I would’ve worn the white skirt, as it would’ve photographed better, and my Bernie Mevs instead of my sandals, to give me some height! Rating: 9/10
Day 7: 7+13 I was surprised that it took my a whole week to wear either of these items, because I really default to them at home. But I’d never worn them together, so this was a new combo for me! For short-shorts mixed with leopard, I wore my fisherman sandals as not to look like a streetwalker (especially as I was walking the streets in a pretty shady part of town so as to find the best Asian food!). Wore my hair in a black turban to cover my rollers. Rating: 7/10
Day 8: 10 Another plane night to another new city, and wanted to be comfortable, but also not be krinkled when I arrived because we were going straight to the theatre. I wore this dress with my jean jacket, and my Crocs (damn security checkpoints!). Tied my hair up in a leopard turban to keep the pincurls in check, and took it off and set the curls free for the show! Rating: 10/10
Day 9 (day): 4+13 It rained this day :( We had planned to go to the beach but it wasn’t in the cards, so before it got too wet, we went to the park, did cartwheels, and then hung around the house all day. I tied the blouse up in a crop-knot as before. Fisherman sandals were king on a slippery day like that, and I matched them with some natural wood jewelry to pull in the brown tones. Rating: 6/10
Day 9 (night): 1+3+13 Went to an intimate music venue to see my two favorite artists play some jazz, and this outfit was perfection with my fisherman sandals and matching tan vintage Coach purse. Rating: 9/10
Day 10, or The Day I Saw Hillary Clinton: 1+5+11 I ended up with free tickets to Hello Dolly on Broadway with theoneandonly Bette Midler, and Hillary Clinton sat in my row, a few seats away. The entire theatre was enraptured, standing ovations for both Hill and Bette… but I digress: I loved this outfit. Wore the skirt and wedges I wished I’d worn to the jazz club, but this time the combo of legs showing + higher heels made me feel too exposed, so my new rule is one or the other! Rating: 8/10
Day 11: 3+9 Stripes and florals are a match made in heaven. On July 4th I wore 5+9, and I loved it, so I tried with a subtler, fatter stripe, #3, and loved it. I was also having dinner with a friend who long hence told me never to wear black because my soul was too colorful to be clothed in such a dark color. He was right then, and I still try to adhere to his wish to this day! Crocs sandals because much more rain. Rating: 9/10
Day 12: 2+12 I was supposed to go a barbeque, but actually ended up at a long-lost-family dinner. This was professional enough (once I tucked the shirt in) for that. Fisherman sandals and wooden jewelry and leopard turban to add color. Rating: 7/10
Day 13: 6+12 Comfort was key because I spent 6 unanticipated hours on a bus. Thank you, stretch jeans, thank you breezy tunic, thank you Crocs sandals. Rating: 6/10
Things I Learned:
I love mixing patterns and textures - stripes + florals, floral print + floral brocade, small floral + big floral, lasercut + stripes. The trick is to do 2 patterns, not 3. 3 is possible, but really hard to pull off.
I gravitate towards dresses, and I will feel underdressed in anything else, even skirts.
I’m into the crop top + high-waisted bottoms trend. If the top isn’t cropped, I will “cropify” it by tying it up somehow.
Holdover lesson from last 10x10: Accessories are everything. Do not misunderstand; if I were to wear Day 12’s outfit again with no wooden accessories, or black shoes, or no leopard turban, it would have gotten a 3/10… maybe. Accessories can transform. Don’t forget them!
Definite tie between my two dress days (Day 5 and Day 8). I didn’t think that silk dress would be on the map at all, but with that leopard turban, anything can become my favorite outfit… ;)
My jeans were definitely my most used item. Had they not been high-waisted, however, I would’ve assuredly worn them half as much, because I was really into the crop tops this time.
Could’ve Left At Home:
It was nice to have the variety of multiple colors and patterns, because I tend to get bored really easily, but since I had more access to laundry/drying spaces than I anticipated, I think I could’ve left two items at home and yielded similar (or more interesting!) results: my leopard crop top (#7) and my solid blue collared tank (#4). The leopard turban gave me the animal print I crave in my life, and the blue striped crop top and the solid one seemed redundant since I was cropping the latter as well.
You can see all of my outfits under the Instagram hashtag “#summer13x13″ and see everyone’s items under #summer10x10 or #10x10friends.
Did you do the #Summer10x10? What were your favorite outfits? What did you learn? Are you going to participate in the 10x10 fall edition?
Back in the day, Unfancy used to write about minimalism. I want to get back to caring about curating an intentional “life of less” again, so I offer you some inspiration for that reignition, one of my fav Unfancy posts:
Over the course of my life, consumeristic culture has been quietly feeding my brain this idea:
You want to change your life? You need to buy something for that.
For example, last week:
I wished I was better about working out. So I wanted to buy cute workout clothes.
… Instead of just getting up right then and going for a jog around the neighborhood. Which would have been real progress — and free.
And I wished I was more outdoorsy and adventurous. So I wanted to buy a camper and renovate it with a modern, minimal, all white and wood interior.
… Instead of just getting up right then, bundling up, and hiking around a new park. Again, real progress — also free.
And I wished I was a better friend — AKA I wanted to be someone who brought people together and hosted fun gatherings. So I wanted buy a welcoming home out in the country.
… Instead of just inviting a few friends over to our apartment to watch Downton Abbey. Progress — free — you get the idea.
I had to ask myself: Am I actually living the life I want to live? Or am I just buying things that represent that life?
And I had to ask myself: Am I putting off a full life now because I’m waiting for the day I’ll be able to afford a certain thing?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, sometimes in order to start things, you do need to buy something. Or sometimes, you just want to make fun purchases. And that’s okay. We’re all on our own journey.
The important thing is to simply notice … with no judgement … when progress is attached to a purchase.
I’ve spent probably a hundred dollars and countless DIY hours try to keep myself dry and well-smelling, to little avail. And when I finally found a deodorant I liked, I had developed some weird armpit infection from my friend’s dog (yep) and couldn’t wear anything, or shave, doctor’s orders.
Dealing with an itchy rash in a sweaty pit was hell until last week, when I realized I could use my face primer on my pits without issue since it’s a non-chafing gel made for sensitive areas (and diaper rash…), along with a non citrus essential oil, to make a simple, functional antiperspirant AND deodorant!
* ½ dime-sized squirt of Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel
* 3 drops of rosemary essential oil
Rub together and apply to pit!
Serving size: 1 pit. Double recipe for full coverage. ;)
I pinch pennies like it’s going out of style. Most of the time it’s to the point of “accidental minimalism”: I’ll deny myself something I want on the rationale that I don’t *need* it, when really, the rationale is cost.
This is bananas in part because I work constantly and save every nickel, and in part because sometimes I conflate wants and needs and end up in dreadful predicaments, particularly in regards to housing.
But today I want keep it light and talk about two essentials in any minimalist’s wardrobe:
well-fitting lingerie that makes you feel beautiful, and
comfortable shoes you can take on the world in.
As it turns out I barely have either!
Every time I encountered a chance to get great lingerie for my narrow-chested well-breasted self, I denied it on the rationale of “not needing” it, because I had 11 bras. That’s more than one per day of the week!
But I tried them all on recently and you know how many fit? 2. Because the rest I’ve had for 4-7 years! So while before I thought of bra shopping as “treating myself” (at a size 28G, a single lingerie set runs about $90-250), it has come to the point where what once seemed like dessert is actually a main dish—because I’m starving!
On the footwear front, I am so sad to admit that my miserly self has resulted in footwear that falls into two categories:
uncomfortable to the point of my toes recently going numb for days at a time, but fashion forward, and
comfortable, but ugly as sin, and not supportive to my wide, high-arched feet.
This, I will admit, was not for lack of trying. It’s hard out there for a wide-footed fashionista! Even harder when she’s capping her budget at $40…
But recently I discovered two brands that I pray will fit me (fingers crossed, Amazon!):
Cobb Hill, by Rockport, maker of walking shoes, and
Earth, who I wrote off as a “crunchy granola” brand, but in recent years has apparently mastered the vintage aesthetic I’ve come to love.
I’m excited to try and review these two conscious, well-meaning brands and let you know how they feel on my dogs. :)
I’m writing this to say that Minimalism is NOT about having the least items, or spending the least money, or buying the least frequently: for me it’s about conscientious spending, and supporting yourself without supporting a rampant culture of unconscious spending. THAT’S a minimalist. That’s who I want to be. And having sagging breasts and painful feet won’t help to get me there so… it’s time for a change!
“The best thing to do with the best things in life is give them up.”
I’m moving, at least temporarily, to New Orleans. Which means that all the furniture and housewares I’ve been saving for a rainy day… they need to go somewhere, beautify something other than the bottom of a Rubbermaid bin.
It’s been a huge emotional upheaval to know that I’ll come back to having nothing to brighten up my own space, but it’s a system of checks and balances, the weight of that burden tempered by the extreme lift brought from the absence of “stuff.”
And so I let it sail away. Mostly to friends who will love it, so that I can still see it’s doing well. That’s my trick, actually: if you let bear to watch things go far away, let them go closeby. ;)
Let’s talk first about clothes. Everyone wears them, eventually. Some you have to own out of necessity, and some you want to own to make you feel beautiful, or cozy, or sexy, or to fit in.
Sometimes, when you go shopping, you see something great. Maybe you need it or maybe you want it, but you impulse buy it nevertheless. Maybe you like the way it hangs, but you don’t really think about whether the vibe jives. Or maybe you love its color, but it’s really poorly constructed, so you know it’s just going to fall apart sooner than the rest.
Now go back and read the prior two paragraphs replacing all references to “clothes” with the word “relationships.”
See the similarities?
When we’re thinking about picking out a dress, or a partner, we need to decide what we want, what our lifestyle looks like, and determine from there what “fits” us. Only then can we even broach the idea of putting our money where our mouth is.
Because thinking of all the times you’ve bought something you’ve later regretted, what happened to that item?:
it was neglected; it sat in the background of your life and scarcely got use/attention
it was poorly taken care of; you realized it wasn’t good quality, and treated it accordingly
it was donated, or worse, thrown out like it ain’t-no-thang
Is that what we want for our partnerships? HELL NO.
True Admiration, Or, “How To Make Better Choices In The First Place”
In addition to determining our desires, values, lifestyle, and fit, we also need to teach ourselves to admire better. To acknowledge the beauty, sexiness, allure, charm, novelty, color, pattern, or style of something… and recognize that it’s not for you. Maybe it’s gorgeous but it’s not your vibe (too proper) or up to your standards (poorly constructed) or too delicate to handle your gogogo lifestyle (wrinkles easily). Maybe it’s a bad shape/style for you (makes you feel fat, or slutty, or is too comfortable that you just want to be lazy all the time in it). Or maybe you just can’t afford it at this place in your life, whatever that may mean. Whatever the reason, once you acknowledge “that thing would be so much better going home with someone else,” the guilt of not making it yours? Evaporates. Even though you won’t have some shiny new thing to be excited about, you find a special kind of solace in knowing that your “sacrifice” is furthering someone else’s pleasure.
Because we deserve to feel as happy about our partnerships as we do about our favorite clothes.
We should feel beautiful and confident as soon as we imagine them being on our bodies.
We should want to wear them all the time, and not care if that makes us redundant.
We should want to sleep in them they make us feel so comfortable.
We should accept them as they are; not alter them to fit us, or alter ourselves to fit them.
We should want to take care of them; and when we find some dirt on them, we should want to get it out, but gently, because we don’t want to hurt or damage them.*
*This is really important. Respecting our gifts is paramount—in life, but especially in love.
You deserve happiness. We all do. So hopefully now you can go out with wider eyes and a clearer mind, and stave off a few counts of buyer’s remorse… ;)
Was cleaning out my photos this morning (great wakeup ritual!) and found this one from late August last year, right before I moved. Most of this stuff I struggled with tossing, so I ended up packing/moving it… and the clutter has haunted me for months.
But six consignment trips, a clothing swap, and a meetup with my yoga mom friend later, everything in this photo has now been sold, repaired, gifted, or tossed.
How does it feel? Like a million bucks. Like ten trillion bucks. To have a closet full of only what you love, is a gift. One that you gave yourself, and that you have full control over maintaining.
I think that’s part of what holds us back from decluttering, actually: the fear of accountability.
We want Instagram-famous homes and Pinterest-worthy wardrobes, but we are scared to admit that the only reason we don’t have them yet, the only person standing between us and our dreams… is ourselves.
The only way I was able to get to where I am today, where instead of 20 Rubbermaid bins I have 6, was to acknowledge that I was the source of the problem—and accept that without judging/guilting myself—and vow to move forward with a new perspective. One that frames my relationship to “things” as one of complete freedom and the power to change, instead of one of responsibility and burden.
The only way to break the shackles, is to realize you’re the one who put them on, and that you’re actually…completely free.
I want to point everyone’s attention to the first half of this blog’s name: aspiring. I feel that I should de-bunk the notion that “I have arrived” in any way. I am in process. I am trying, and sometimes achieving. But the “road to less” is paved in, well, in a bunch of stuff you want to buy but probably shouldn’t. I don’t want to diminish the struggle that exists when trying to disband from a consumeristic society. There are temptations every day. So how do we stay the course?
1. Remember Your Values
I have long thought that “what we believe is all we have that is truly our own.” Turn off the TV, close the computer, and think about what is important to you… and what isn’t. For me it’s important that my life is beautiful, easy, filled with people I love/believe in, and kind to the environment.
environmental kindness: when it comes to disposable products (cleaning, beauty, TP) I try to choose ones without harmful ingredients, so that our water supply stays a-ok. I recycle, reuse, upcycle, regift, swap, and borrow as much as I can, to keep waste out of landfills. I would also love to compost, but I live in an apartment, and our landlord won’t allow it; plus, until I’m in a different living situation, it conflicts with my other value:
ease: my desire for less clothes, is because I hate doing laundry and want to do less of it. My desire for less kitchenware is because I despise dishwashing (and using our dishwasher conflicts with the value above). I don’t have a car because the idea of spending weeks or months learning to drive, spending hours in the DMV for licensure, and all the pollutants I’d be putting out with a motor vehicle, can’t hold a candle to the 5 seconds it takes to unlock my bike and ride away.
good community: in order to keep friends in your life, you have to be not-crazy. Having too many things to deal with, or not enough money to go around, makes me stressed, and kind of crazy. So choosing a simpler route means a better state of mind for me, and thus stronger relationships around me. I also shop local because I love having a fabric store, a natural food store, a dope vintage/consignment store, and a reasonably-priced cobbler within 1.5 mi. of my home. When it comes to building the community you want, you have to put your money where your mouth is.
beauty: this is where I struggle most; my desire for aesthetics often comes in conflict with a desire to buybuybuy. I have instead been both practicing patience (and consequently finding lots of stuff streetside to inspire me aesthetically!), and planting/picking flowers, to brighten and color my home-space. Plants are absolutely medicine.
2. Set Your Goals
For me, this journey is about small triumphs, not one big sweeping purse and one-day life overhaul. I didn’t want to throw anything away that could still be used, so I’ve been slowing using up all the things I don’t believe in (example: Windex) and replacing them with things I do (in this case: plain ole’ white vinegar). I also acquired an inordinate amount of junk from former tenants in our basement, but because one of my values is ease, I didn’t spend days on end listing items on eBay and 10 other platforms; I sold what I could when I had time+energy to do so, and vowed that when May hit, anything not sold would go to the curb. It’s May 2 today but I’ve been busy, so I’ll bring it to the curb when I can… but I’m not gonna stop my life to pursue minimalism—and you shouldn’t either.
3. Find Your Community
For most of my life, I wished I lived in another decade. The 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s… anything but today. Now I feel so thankful to be living in 2017, because we have evolved to make products, and company promises, that are better for people, for Mother Earth, and for society. We’ve invented fabrics from abundant resources instead of scarce ones, we’ve placed new (rightful) value on human labor, and bloggers are making money by encouraging people to be better global citizens. Holy crap our world is amazing right now, amiright? I feel especially thankful to have discovered the following resources early, and rabbit-holed into discovering an even wider world of “conscious figureheads” to inspire me. In no particular order:
Today’s #aspiringminimalist message: Elegance doesn’t have to come at a high cost. 🕶 I hosted a clothing swap this weekend and nabbed this dolman sleeve top, belted with a 100% leather waistbelt from my fav local consignment shop @cambridgeraspberryberet wrapped with a scarf from Goodwill, blinged out with a gold necklace from local thrift shop @shopboomerangs which donates all proceeds to AIDS research ♥️ and a wide brim hat from @marshalls @tjmaxx and my @girlfriendcollective leggings you can’t see cost me only shipping. 🤞🏽If you cultivate PATIENCE and DEDICATION to a life of REUSE and RECYCLING, delicious fashion will come to you. 👗👠👛
#cambridgeraspberryberet #raspberryberetfinds #goodwill #thriftshop #reducereuserecycle #reusebeforerecycle #fabfind #fabfinds #maxxinista #clothingswap #girlpower #fashion #clothing #fashionblogger #minimalism #minimalist #thejoyofless (at Union Square (Somerville))
I want to start doing some product reviews, because while I don’t care much about many things, the few things I do care about, I care a lot about, and want to help promote companies doing good things… for people, for the earth.
Up first is Desert Essence Toothpaste in Cool Mint. I love this toothpaste. It’s flavored naturally, with essential oils of wintergreen and tea tree. It tastes mintier and freshier than any other toothpaste I’ve tried. It isn’t gritty like all those baking soda-based pastes, and is the only toothpaste in the DE line that contains whitening properties.
More importantly, here’s what it doesn’t have:
sodium lauryl sulfate, i.e. The Devil. This common but harmful foaming agent is in 90% of toothpastes, yet here’s what it’s also known for: killing marine life (it’s a registered insecticide), carcinogenic effects, giving canker sores, not to mention interfering with the functionality of your taste buds. (Seriously)
artificial sweeteners, i.e. The (Other) Devil. Most other toothpastes contain xylitol or aspartame, which converts to methanol (indigestible) and then formaldehyde (causing tissue damage) in the body. DE Toothpaste is sweetened with stevia. From plants.
But the #1 reason why I love it? It never ever leaves me with morning breath.
Then there’s my toothbrush addiction. I just loveBrushing with Bamboo. Something about the feeling of wood in my mouth (o.O) just feels good to me. Like I’m one with nature. But here’s why these are cool:
The handles are made from bamboo, a renewable resource.
The bristles are made from vegetable oil (say wha?!).
The packaging is also made from plant sources.
So literally, you use this toothbrush til it’s dead, then you compost it, or bury it in your garden, and no harm done. I love it.