a functional wardrobe: fewer items, more outfits

If you follow my Out the Door series on my Facebook page, you’ll know that I wear many of my clothes frequently, especially basics like jeans, tees, and jackets. This is intentional. When shopping (at least 90% of the time new-to-me), I choose pieces that are classic in design and well constructed, so they go with many things and are long-lasting in terms of both style and wear.

more with less

As a wardrobe consultant whose niche is to practice sustainable consumerism, I follow three steps with my own wardrobe and model them when working with clients:

  1. Make your existing wardrobe as functional as it can be
  2. Shop new-to-you whenever possible
  3. Shop ethically when shopping new

It’s a personal choice whether your wardrobe is large or small, although studies show that most people wear only 20% of the clothing in their closets. Often the other 80% languishes because the clothes either don’t work anymore (don’t fit well, outdated, damaged/worn out) or you don’t know how to wear them. Making your wardrobe more functional by purging the ones that don’t work and creating multiple outfits with what does allows you to have more choices with less clothing.

define your personal style

I have a classic personal style with preppy and French-influenced overtones. Think gingham, plaids, loafers, and tailored fitted cuts. My signature style is a polished jeans outfit – you’ll find me in that most days of the year. It works really well for my personal style, my body type, and my life/work style. In the hot summer months I switch to dresses, shorts, cropped pants and jeans, and some skirts.

Having a defined personal style helps you to be intentional both in shopping and in putting together outfits, which ultimately makes daily dressing easier. When you are clear about the clothes that suit you – both physically and in reflecting your authentic self – you inherently become more selective. This eliminates those impulse purchases that end up as unworn regrets hanging in your closet. The clothes that you are holding onto for whatever reason but aren’t wearing can be purged without guilt. Knowing your personal style frees you.

feeling current

I choose trends carefully. It’s important to feel contemporary – wearing something that’s on trend can help you feel current and confident – but choose only trends that resonate with you and your personal style. Wearing something you don’t really like won’t bring you joy, even if it is trendy!

Trends that are more enduring, like colors of the season (they really are all just variations on a theme), classic prints like polka dots and plaids, and timeless pieces like trench coats and silk scarves, are worth the investment. They won’t be “out” next year and end up a regret in the long run. Not only will they last, they also help you feel like you are being intentional (that word again – can you tell how important I think it is?) with how you dress. And that makes all the difference.

capsule wardrobe

Many people are embracing the idea of a minimalist wardrobe, like Courtney Carver’s Project 333 (wear only 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months), to have a smaller wardrobe and less stress. The idea is to put together a wardrobe where everything goes together, so that you can mix and match to create multiple outfits with fewer clothes. One caveat is that wearing the same items so frequently will cause them to wear out faster and you may tire of them more quickly.

I have more than 33 pieces per season, but there is value in thinking about the capsule approach. Determining that you can make at least 3 outfits with an item before you purchase it, with the added commitment that you will wear it at least 30 times before discarding it will lessen those impulse buys and the guilt that often comes with them. It also is easier on the environment, reduces the demand for poor-quality fast fashion that relies on unethical labor practices, and is more economically sound for you in the long run.

function fosters confidence

Having a wardrobe that meets the needs of your life and that represents who you are helps you to feel good about yourself. And feeling good about yourself conveys confidence, which not only impacts how others see you, but also impacts how you move through the world. It’s a cycle – what you are wearing impacts how you feel, and how you feel impacts how you live.

A functional wardrobe allows you to dress intentionally,  which makes that cycle positive rather than negative. You don’t need a lot of clothes to achieve that – only clothes that serve you well.

 

 

what the HYGGE?! [VIDEO]

Hyg-hey what now? Hige? Hig? How do you even say it, much less what is it? It’s awesome is what it is!

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Pronounced “heuoo-guh,” it is a Danish concept of coziness – spending time with friends and family, drinking hot drinks and sharing treats, and snuggling up in front a warm fire. It’s the perfect way to beat the winter blues, so no surprise that it is an integral part of Danish culture. Scandinavia is very dark and cold in the winter!

I practice hygge with a small group of neighbors – we gather monthly for a glass of wine or cup of tea or hot buttered rum, treats, knitting, and good conversation. It really does help the winter in Minnesota feel not so dreary and long.

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what the hygge-wear?

When the weather is cold and snowy (as I write this, we’ve gotten 8 inches of snow in the past 5 hours today, and it’s still coming down hard), it’s tempting to put on your old sweatshirt and sweatpants and park on the couch until May.

I hear you. I have to fight this urge all winter long.

Being intentional about what you are wearing, even if it is to binge-watch your favorite TV show, helps you feel better. So does hygge! Choose some comfy, cute lounge wear intentionally – it makes all the difference. You don’t have to be fancy, just intentional. Then grab a friend or loved one and settle in.

Watch this video I made with Missy at Elite Repeat for some ideas for intentional fun, comfy hygge-wear. Cozy up and enjoy!

ndwc_ER what the hygge

WATCH: [VIDEO] What the HYGGE?

 

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new year, same you – with intention

Happy 2018, everyone! Here’s to a new year – we need one.

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new year, new same you

Every New Year’s, the phrase “New Year, New You” gets thrown around. I know that it’s the perfect time for fresh starts, new beginnings, and resolutions – although I prefer goals, because humans so rarely keep resolutions. But the phrase “New Year, New You” bugs me, because here’s the thing – you aren’t going to be a new you. You are still the same person.

And that’s ok. Better than ok, even – because embracing yourself as you are is awesome! That doesn’t mean you can’t do things to improve and to feel better, but you will always be you. Why not love that person?

the ponytail

Which brings me to the ponytail. What do ponytails have to do with New Year’s? Glad you asked.

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been grappling with my hair going grey for a while. This past year, I bit the bullet and stopped coloring my hair at all – no highlights, no lowlights, no nuthin’. Fortunately (?), I have so much grey/silver/white now that it blended fairly well with the blond highlights my fabulous stylist put in to ease the transition. So it grew, and I had about 5 inches of natural color at the top, and 5 inches of very, very blond hair at the bottom. Hmmm. Pretty.

Enter the ponytail. Here’s a little sample – I looked back at pictures of me the past few months – ponytail, ponytail, ponytail.

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50th Birthday Celebration ponytail (Outlander fans will understand this awesome cross-stitch made by my friend Kami!)

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Voting ponytail (It’s important to vote, no matter how bad your hair looks!)

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Elite Repeat Holiday Event ponytail (See how fancy it is?)

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Christmas Eve ponytail (Love my girl!)

It was time for a change – new year, new me, right? Nope.

same me, new hairstyle

I’m still grappling with going grey. I’m still not interested in a hairstyle that requires an enormous amount of styling. I’m still doing the work of maintaining positive body image and resisting the ugly messages sent to women in particular about how we look.

I am also being intentional about taking care of myself. Getting a new hairstyle helps me to feel better, because I’m being intentional about what’s going on with my hair. The ponytail just wasn’t doing that – it was hiding my hair and making me feel blah.

My fabulous stylist cut off almost all of the old color – what’s left is the GREY. And I love it!

Being intentional with my hair helped me feel more free. I’m free of the tangible reminder of the old color. I’m free of the blah old hairstyle. I’m free to feel good.

same you, new look

I’m kind of a broken record about dressing intentionally, because I feel so strongly about it. I know the powerful impact it can have on your life – to dress to represent your authentic, awesome self, to dress to feel good, to dress to show up for the world. When I began dressing intentionally, my life changed. For me, it was a demonstrative showing of true self-acceptance, self-love, and self-worth.

The January signup window for my signature service A Year of Style is open right now! It’s an amazing way to find or redefine your personal style, create the wardrobe that meets your needs, and feel great about how you look. A Year of Style allows you a whole year to work together with me to meet your needs with your wardrobe.

Ready to feel free of the clothes that bring you down? Ready to feel good? Learn more about A Year of Style, watch a video about client Roberta’s experience in her A Year of Style, and sign up for a free Initial Consult here.

2018, let’s get started!

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signature style…or stuck in a rut?

#outthedoor

A couple of months ago I started a weekly series on my Facebook page called Out the Door – check it out. (And like my page while you’re there, if you haven’t already!) A sampling follows.ndwc_#outthedoor_boyfriend jeans gingham shirt fitted jacketIt’s a fun way to show folks what I’m wearing for outfit inspiration, how I put into practice what I talk about with my clients, and that you really can find fun things new-to-you at consignment stores (almost everything I wear is new-to-me).

ndwc_#outthedoor_boyfriend jeans long cardigan stripes and polka dots

Unexpectedly, it has also become a good exercise for me, because I have visual documentation of my patterns of dressing. Taking pictures of what I put on – or choosing not to – tells me a lot about my personal style, what outfits help me feel great, and ones that don’t really do that for me. It’s a great practice, and one I’m going to incorporate into my A Year of Style service to help clients hone their personal style and dress intentionally.

signature style

Something that has become really clear in Out the Door – I already knew this, but hadn’t thought about it in a broader way – is that wearing polished jeans outfits is my signature style. I wear jeans A LOT. I’m lucky that way – when you do wardrobe consulting, you can wear what you want.

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And what I want to wear is jeans. When I do wardrobe consults and personal shopping sessions, I’m moving constantly, managing clothing for my clients, sometimes down on the floor looking at hem length or shoe fit, and generally active for the entire session. So it’s important that I’m comfortable and can move quickly and with ease. No high heels, no super-narrow skirts, no fussy pieces that will get in the way.

ndwc_#outthedoor_white denim long duster black tee I do mix it up with collared shirts, tees, jackets, and sweaters. And I change out scarves, belts, jewelry, and shoes. That said, wearing the same outfit formula most days can feel at times more like being stuck in a rut than a signature style. Case in point – through taking photos for Out the Door, I realized just how much mileage my black tee got during the transition weather this fall!

I don’t intend to leave jeans outfits behind by any means – they indeed are my signature style. But let’s mix it up a little, shall we?

no more rut

This is what dressing intentionally is all about. Not being consumed by what you are wearing, but actually putting thought into it, so that your clothing reflects who you are and works for you rather than against you.

Huh? Yes, what you are wearing affects how you feel. Dressing with intention helps you to feel better, more confident, and ready to share your awesome self with the world.

So I went rummaging in my closet to intentionally create some non-jeans outfit ideas for the Fall. Here’s what I came up with:

ndwc_suede skirt turtleneck flatlay

I love this faux-suede skirt – it’s super comfortable, has an A-line cut so I can move easily, and will be fun with a fine-gauge fitted turtleneck and other sweaters. I mixed browns and charcoal gray here for a contemporary look.

ndwc_plaid pants leather jacket flatlay

Plaid is super on trend this Fall. And it’s a timeless classic, so you can’t go wrong. I paired these dress pants with a black cashmere sweater and oxblood leather jacket for a little edge. The caramel boots are comfortable, even with the higher heel. I am toying with getting the pants hemmed to go with lower heels so that I wear them more often – I like the idea of wearing them with loafers and low-heeled boots…

ndwc_plaid skirt denim shirt flatlay

Americana (think western-influenced clothing) is on trend this Fall as well, so I paired a denim shirt and cowboy boots with a plaid skirt for a little mash-up. It’s good to have a little fun, and my cowboy boots make me feel bad-ass!

ndwc_neutrals_culottes long sweater flatlay

Mixing neutrals is contemporary and elegant. Here I paired an oatmeal long belted sweater vest and culottes with the charcoal merino turtleneck and the brown booties. I added a geometric patterned silk scarf for polish.

ndwc_navy and black_dress denim jacket scarf flatlay

I love wearing navy and black together – like this knee-length knit black dress and navy bold-print scarf with a denim jacket. I hardly wore my tall black boots last fall and winter; instead I found myself choosing booties. I’m looking forward to bringing these classic boots back into rotation this year.

What you are wearing affects how you feel. Dressing with intention helps you to feel better, more confident, and ready to share your awesome self with the world.

what’s your fancy?

How will you stay out of a rut this season? What outfit ideas resonate with you most? Share your thoughts and other outfit ideas (pics too!) in the comments. We can inspire each other!

 

5 trends for spring 2017 (and a couple of ‘no way!’s)

Minnesota is finally (FINALLY!) starting to feel like spring. Here are some trends for the season to help you dress intentionally to feel contemporary and confident. Choose trends that resonate with you to express your personal style and authentic, awesome self!

spring 2017

1. black and white polka dots

Black and white polka dots are classic and so fresh for spring! Gorgeous for both work and play. Add a pop of spring color like the fabulous Pink Yarrow belt and purse above for polish and style.

2. bold stripes

As y’all know, I love my stripes! Bold, geometric, and multi-colored stripes are hot for this spring and summer. Have fun with statement pieces and color to brighten your day and boost your confidence.

3. garden party floral prints

Feminine florals – a spring mainstay – in all styles of dresses are an easy way to look put together for work or going out. Choose the sheath or shift cut for work and the maxi-dress or full-skirt for play. Add an ankle-strap sandal (low block or high heel) and you are all set!

4. striped oxford cloth shirt dresses

A more subtle look is the menswear-riffing shirt dress in classic oxford stripes. Pair it with cropped skinny- or straight-leg jeans for spring and wear it on its own in the hotter summer months. Belt it with a matching belt like above, or use a leather belt in a bright color to add structure and definition. If it’s really hot out, skip the belt for a breezy-cool stylish look. Mules, low-heeled slingbacks, flat sandals, and classic white sneakers all work well with the shirt dress.

5. classic trench coats

The trench coat is the quintessential spring jacket – it goes with everything and is timelessly stylish. Go classic with khaki, or have fun with a bright color or print. When cinching the belt, skip the buckle and tie a knot – easier and fabulous! Add a silk scarf for polished style.

just can’t do it

80s revival

Sigh. Oversized power shoulders – think massive shoulder pads and “puffball” shoulders from the 80s – are back. I was all over them then; not so much now. If it speaks to you, go for it!

underwear as outerwear

Bras, bustiers, and corsets worn on their own, on the outside of your shirt, or showing through a transparent blouse. Again – you do you – but it’s not for me!

what do you think?

Which trends resonate with you? Or don’t? Most importantly, wear clothes that make you feel great! Dressing intentionally will help that happen.

Happy Spring!

 

wear well, feel well

Many people feel that 2016 was a train wreck of year. I have both a lot to be grateful for this past year and a lot I’d like to leave behind. I am trying to begin the next one with hope and purpose.

Leadership and life coach (and friend) Hanna Cooper has a great exercise with a little twist for beginning the new year that I find to be really useful:

Make a list of the “challenges, losses, or failures” of your past year.
Make a list of the “successes, accomplishments, or wins” on a separate piece of paper.
Make a list of the things you have learned on another.
Once you have acknowledged both your successes and challenges, tear them up. (!!)
Using the list of what you’ve learned, make goals for the new year.

It is surprisingly liberating to tear up your successes along with the challenges. It equalizes the importance of the two, which I need to remind myself of often. And, really, it’s what you’ve learned, from both successes and challenges, that informs you when moving forward.

One of the things I have had to work at again this past year is to embrace – and love – who I am. This includes both the physical and emotional me. They are connected after all, in the obvious way and in that how you feel about your physical self affects how you feel emotionally overall.

I have a continuing journey with positive body image, and when you start to feel unhappy with your body – be it related to weight, aging, its limitations, or something else – those negative feelings can worm their way into everything else.

For women and men alike, the clothing you wear is a significant factor in how you feel about your physical self. It both reflects and impacts your emotional well-being.

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The psychology term for this is “enclothed cognition.” I’ve also seen the more layperson term “ensemble empowerment” to describe it. The bottom line is this: what you wear affects how you feel. It can change your mood, determine your level of confidence, and impact how successful you feel. It can alter, positively and negatively, your body image and your feelings of self-worth.

What you wear affects how you feel. It can change your mood, determine your level of confidence, and impact how successful you feel. It can alter, positively and negatively, your body image and your feelings of self-worth.

It’s true. I know firsthand that when I don’t really dress for the day, even one where I have no appointments – meaning I’m wearing whatever I threw on to take my daughter to school or go to the gym and then start working at home without getting “dressed” – I feel worse. I feel less confident; I’m less productive; I have less energy and feel all around icky and irritable. Dressing intentionally, even when it’s very casual, changes my whole outlook on the day and on myself.

The same goes for when you are wearing something for the wrong reasons. I used to wear very oversized clothing in an effort to hide my body. I also would pretend I didn’t care about how I looked, trying to mask my negative body image. It was a pretty miserable place to be, and that is what was really showing.

Wearing clothes that suit you – meaning they fit your body well (no matter your body type) and reflect who you are in your life right now – feels good. They help you to feel confident about your appearance and that confidence shows. It sends a message to you (and, bonus, to others as well) that you care about yourself – that you are being intentional in showing up in the world as your best, true self.

We have to get dressed every day. Wearing clothing that is very worn or old, holding onto clothes that no longer fit because you hope they will fit again, or ignoring that your clothing doesn’t reflect your current life or personal style brings a cycle of negativity to your life every single day.

Wearing clothing that is very worn or old, holding onto clothes that no longer fit because you hope they will fit again, or ignoring that your clothing doesn’t reflect your current life or personal style brings a cycle of negativity to your life every single day.

Dressing intentionally breaks the cycle of negativity. It disrupts your old habits, bringing mindfulness and even joy to the process. When you wear something that you genuinely like, feel confident about, and know reflects the real you, that spreads to the rest of your life. You can feel the difference in yourself, and other people notice it too. It can actually change how you interact in the world.

Give it a try. Put more thought than usual into what you wear tomorrow. Pay attention to good fit, color, and expressing your personal style with how you pair things, accessories, or fabulous shoes. Notice how it makes you feel to wear something intentionally. Wear well, feel well.

If you’d like a hand in making being intentional with your wardrobe a goal this year, let me know. I’m here to help you feel your best in your clothes, which, in turn, helps you to be your best, authentic self. And that’s what we all hope for, isn’t it?

 

3 easy ways to fight winter doldrums

Is it just me, or have the winter doldrums mounded up like those massive piles left by snow plows for you too? If you live in Minnesota, you know exactly what I’m talking about – 15+ feet high mountains of dirty snow that will be here…forever. At least until May. May!

This time is always difficult for me. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s gray. I feel like the character Sadness from the movie Inside Out (If you haven’t, SEE IT).

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Image: Pixar

Self-care is essential right about now. And what you are wearing is part of that self-care. How you look affects how you feel. Feeling good about how you look boosts mood, confidence, and how you interact with the world.

When temps dip below zero regularly, sweaters aren’t optional, nor are big, puffy coats. It’s easy to end up wearing the same things day after day.

It’s so easy for me to throw in the towel when it’s cold. I put on my boots and big mitts, pull up my hood, and do the ice shuffle.

the Minnesota Uniform:

  1. Down coat – I call mine my sleeping bag coat because it goes down to my knees
  2. Bulky sweater – often ends up being shapeless in addition to being bulky
  3. Winter boots

Again, these things aren’t really optional, unless you don’t mind hypothermia. Folks who love winter sports relish the snow and cold. I used to be one of them, but 23 years in to living in Minnesota, not so much anymore. Sports – yay! Cold – meh. It can be a struggle. Here are three easy ways to mix it up a little to fight off the winter doldrums. And I mean easy.

get outside

Every. Day. No, walking to the car doesn’t count!

I take walks with our dog, even when it’s really cold. Well, if it’s really, really cold, I sometimes wimp out, and my husband gets the honors. I try to walk in the daylight – to pretend I’m getting just a smidge of Vitamin D – to get fresh air and to help fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder. Getting light from the sun, however weak, helps.

To add interest to your winter armor, I mean ensemble, change out your scarf and hat. I know, duh. But it’s so easy to fall into a rut with the same scarf for outerwear everyday, when you have many beautiful scarves languishing in your closet.

A big, cozy scarf (or two) like the popular blanket scarf is warm AND adds a pop of color that can feel cheerful. A shawl-style scarf works well too.

Drape the blanket scarf loosely around your neck on the outside of your coat on its own or wear it long with a contrasting scarf around your neck for double warmth.

 

Kerchief-tie a lighter-weight print scarf you may typically wear as part of your outfit – they are surprisingly warm!

be a style star: Change up the coat too. Most of us have more than one (it’s darn cold here!), but it’s easy to grab the same coat every time. A new-to-you statement coat in a bright color or print is a great way to fight off winter blahs. Being intentional in our choices shows, and it exudes confidence and personal style.

get crafty

The pull to put on your biggest, bulkiest sweater, plop on the couch, wrap up with your fleece blanket (mine has owls on it) and binge-watch Netflix is strong. This I know. The Great British Baking Show, anyone?

Following the inspiration of those British bakers, fire up your own oven. I’ve had a tab open on my browser for this recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars for days. Time to give it a try. (Update: I did this weekend – SO TASTY.)

Knit or crochet something (added bonus: the result is something WARM). Boot cuffs are a simple, fast project – perfect for beginners – and spice up the ubiquitous winter boots. Wear them tucked in or over tall boots with skinny jeans. Peeking out of furry-rimmed boots is fun too.

My daughter and I have been teaching ourselves how to sew. So far she has whipped up a couple of colorful pillows and a case for her iPod.

Whatever gets your groove on, embrace your creativity! Draw a picture, make a collage with found items, take photographs on your walks. It doesn’t have to be fancy, complicated, or perfect – just fun.

style star: Scarves and hats make excellent first projects too! There are hundreds of free patterns online.

get together

Be deliberate about seeing friends. It’s easy to just stay in (the fleecy owl blanket is beckoning), but spending time with your people can be the difference between feeling right with the world and abject misery. And since you have plans, forgo the biggest, bulkiest sweater and dress up a bit. It does a body – and mind – good.

style star: A client recently purchased a lovely new-to-you sweater during a personal shopping session that is embellished with a whimsical feather neckline. It’s perfect paired with dark wash or white jeans and heeled boots to funk it up for a winter night out or dinner party. Be bold – and feel beautiful!

See – super easy. Being intentional with self-care makes all the difference. Comment below with your ways of staying sane in the winter months!

You likely noticed I tried something new in this post by including photos of yours truly demonstrating style fun. What do you think? More photos like this? Feature other real folks, rather than professional model pics? Comments (constructive, please) and ideas welcome. This blog is for you, after all. What would you like to see?