Eat like a minimalist

cc67a1b52f3416952e3a9682abc2c5be46bcd2d51455c2cd6ed7c5bfac7ad78c

I remember the days when 90 calorie packs, Light & Fit yogurt, and Special K cereal were considered my “healthy” eating.  Why have 2000+ calories when you can have 1200 or less without sacrificing taste??

NOT. Even. Close.

Ugh.  Few things frustrate me more than the hypocrisy of healthy (sh*t) eating in America.  I bought into the craze for years thinking I was the boss-hoss at picking lighter foods and preparing easy, “diet” meals.  The ironic thing is I was 3 sizes bigger (pre-baby) than I am today and full of “food-like” chemicals.

Last year, my husband and I joined a very INTENSE nutrition challenge through our gym that required us to eat clean, 100% Paleo (minus natural sugars).  Holy f-ing cow.  I didn’t think I was going to make it a whole hour, but I ended up making it for 21 days straight without one slip-up.  I was incredibly proud.

While I couldn’t sustain that level of commitment to Paleo (we still consume dairy and are gluten-reduced), I did decide that my family and I needed to eat clean.  It became a non-negotiable in our budget and in our general life priorities.  The key is quite minimalist in nature.  I look for products with fewer ingredients that I recognize/can pronounce, free of processed sugars, and are the highest quality I can afford.  Since clean eating often requires more prep, I try to select recipes that have fewer ingredients to balance the time.  I like recipes that focus on the natural flavors of the food as much as possible any way.  (I made a roast last night that only required onion, garlic, a bay leaf, salt & pepper.  It was SO damn good.)

food11

I’m not perfect (80% of the time I do it, every time), but who wants to be perfect when there’s a Dairy Queen across the street?  (I’ll get my soft serve with crunch-coat and eat it with a smile.)  I used to scoff at bacon and eggs while I mowed through my boxed cereal.  Now bacon and eggs are a staple in our house in addition to full-fat dairy products.  I don’t portion my food and for the most part, eat guilt (and chemical) free.  Boom.

eces-landing-header

1378462_10151813687103673_1151791022_n

Deceiving spaces

This summer, my husband and I watched the documentary, TINY:  A Story About Living Small. While I couldn’t wrap my brain around that level of downsizing, it did inspire us to want our own version of a “tiny” home someday.  I follow Small House Swoon and have definitely fallen in love over and over again with these little slices of cozy, minimalist heaven.

Today I stumbled upon this video and was completely mesmerized.

While 86 sq ft of space certainly wouldn’t work for 3 people, it got me wondering if this whole “room space in drawers” concept could be used to maximize the space in individual rooms of a tiny home.  Beautiful.  Simple  Functional.

As long as I have enough room for a family-friendly table, plenty of natural light and a view, our small house would most certainly fill my heart.  Anything else we need could fit into a well-planned drawer.

Dem chucks doe

In my pursuits to establish a minimalist wardrobe, timeless pieces are key.  I want my wardrobe to be a personified fountain of youth.  This leads me to highlight my recent birthday gift – a sweet pair of Chuck Taylors.

Not only have chucks transcended time (seriously…they have been around since 1917), but they hold sentimental value in our family.  I did not have the opportunity to meet my late father-in-law, but I have met his most beloved fashion staple.  I enjoy hearing stories about his chucks and how he considered them all-occasion shoes.  His shoe legacy lived on in his children and their milestones.  We all wore chucks to my sister-in-law’s wedding reception as tribute and my daughter received her first pair of chucks when I was just 5 months pregnant.

Eleanor and Grandpa's chucks

Eleanor and Grandpa’s chucks

Our family love also extends to our refrigerator.

A delightful set of chuck-magnets from my mother-in-law

A delightful set of chuck magnets from my mother-in-law

I didn’t understand how my father-in-law could have worn his chucks with everything.  But now I do…

IMG_0740

…because no matter what’s above, I can smile and know dem chucks doe…

Wardrobe roadmap

We have a starting point, now we need a destination.  While I try to steer clear of  labels as a general life practice, I do feel that finding words to generalize what I’m looking for in my wardrobe remix will give me a tangible goal.  This is where Pinterest becomes  the therapist.  I have been hesitant for years to lay on its couch and spill my loves, interests, and aspirations for fear of feeling inadequate.  Pinterest is a slippery slope and not for the faint of heart.  I find myself  smiling, getting butterflies, jumping-up-and-down with excitement only to crash and burn in a pile of procrastination and envy.  Who are these people who have all this time to make a bajillion boards and pin and repin and then have the nerve to actually follow through with any of it?  I wasn’t about to get tangled in the “keeping up with the Joneses” web, but then again I certainly can’t do this alone.  With all of its hang-ups, Pinterest is actually really good at its job.

Letting go of my fears, I jumped into the heaping pile of fashion pins and discovered that, in addition to being a  fashion minimalist, I really enjoy Parisian-chic with a hipster flair.

I’m a visual learner which is what makes a Pinterest fashion-therapy session so productive.  Here is a sampling of what I chose to “love” button:

0b73e26571046db45dd3f4d2754cceea

If I had to choose a single photo to encapsulate my wardrobe-vision, this would be it.

fcc0fd9a4f0cfc2f5cd1d33361abd190

These leggings offend me with their cuteness.

6dfd0f6e7be3f3554951f61167c756d8

I need more flannel in my life.

aeddf2d535bd1319d1c60f4c6441c3ff

Moto and classic beauty make a baby.

ec1e9709f5bd9421dca8b5a27dafda54

Love me a denim shirt!

Neutral colors, lots of black, scarves and functional (but adorable) shoes, jackets, minimal jewelry, comfortable but sleek, and purposeful.

Now that I have a general destination, my wardrobe and I have to accept that there are certain items that may need to be purchased along the way. My goal is not to craft an entirely new wardrobe out of an old one, but to utilize what I have as much as possible.  While I may not be able to recreate the above items, I can steer my current items to recreate the style.  I may aspire to be a minimalist-hipster-Parisian,  but I also just want to wear what I like.  That means I’m willing to change course and add in items that don’t fit the style if it presents itself.

That takes us to the next step in this process…the repurposing sessions.

Our story

Before starting any new venture it is crucial to reflect on where you have been that got you to the place where you are now. I don’t know if I ever really had a defined style for the majority of my life. I took a Fashion & Clothing class in high school, loved it, and went on to an independent study.  As college approached, I considered Fashion Merchandising as a major, but opted for Elementary Education instead. Fashion wasn’t really in the forefront of my mind as I meandered my way through college in tshirts, jeans, and partying essentials from Deb Shop.

Adulthood soon enveloped me and I traded in my pleather pants for kahkis and my puffy coats for cardigans as I began my first few years of teaching. A major life change occurred for me at 25 and, along with it, a newly budding relationship with my inner and outer definition. I ditched my teacher-y duds for heels and trendier career pants. I flirted a bit with accessories, color blocking, and unique pairings. One day at work I happened to have on a particularly against-the-teacher-grain outfit and a parent called me the “Sarah Jessica Parker” of the school. While I wouldn’t attempt most of SJP’s fashion choices, I have to admit…I kind of liked it.

Marriage and a baby later, my style interest began to shift into minimalism and functionality. I wanted higher fashion without clutter and looking like I was trying too hard. I absolutely loved Lauren Conrad and used her Style book as a guide. Shortly thereafter, the “Great Purge” began and I said good-bye to 90% of my wardrobe.

I decided to leave teaching this past June after nearly 10 good years to be a stay-at-home-mama to my two-year-old daughter and focus on entrepreneurial endeavors. I started a tutoring business to help supplement our family income which has been a beautiful thing, but I realized something was missing in my life (along with my closet). Enthusiasm. There was a brief period years ago where I kept a personal blog.  I remember losing myself in writing and thinking about it all day and racing home to work on a new post.  That feeling did wonders for my soul.  I almost forgot that feeling between my career, family, and mommyhood.  I have been telling my sister for years that she should go into fashion.  I talked up how much fun it sounded and how I had thought about it at one point.  And then I thought, why not me?  Why not now?  I may not be 22, but 32 isn’t exactly ancient (unless you are asking a 5 year old…even though most often they thought I was 17…which was a major bonus to my profession).

My wardrobe reflects how I have been feeling about myself – just okay and slightly boring at times. I’m a true advocate for finding happiness and beauty in who you are and what you have, so that’s what I’m doing for my wardrobe and for me. It is the perfect platform to help me resurface an old passion while exploring new interests.  I’m ready.

We can’t go on like this

So there’s this closet just above where I’m sitting right now. I can picture the white, plastic, chunky hangers  with awkwardly hanging clothes semi-attached. They are next door neighbors to the hanging organizer full of random articles either balled up or neatly folded and neglected.

It’s not much to look at on its best day. Over a year ago, I traded in my stuffed drawers and closet for a minimalist wardrobe. Letting go of my 20-something items and pieces that I knew would never see the light of day again was truly refreshing. I vowed to do the whole “one-item-in, one-item-out” thing. I was going to take pictures of everything I had and keep tabs on outfit rotations. I would buy basic and embellish with accessories. It was a stellar plan.

Except the only thing that become truly minimalist-fashion about my wardrobe was the fact that I had “minimal” items. I gave it all away, purchased a few items here or there, and failed to do anything else. It’s up there right now, my faux-minimalist wardrobe. It’s there, but I can’t see it. It has been in my life for quite some time, but yet I don’t really know who it is anymore. It certainly isn’t me.

Admitting it is the first step. I need a safe space to openly proclaim that the only thing stopping me from buying everything new is my wallet. I guess I need to realize that, as in any relationship, those new items will get old someday too. It’s time to make the commitment, invest in my future with my wardrobe and start practicing what I preach in the form of true minimalist fashion.

Why buy everything new when I have many perfectly good options to work with? It’s almost time for the second step in repairing my relationship with my wardrobe: Reflection.