unfancy + into mind

unfancy blog

So, I’ve found two really great blogs that I have to share with you: Unfancy and Into Mind.

Since my little 30-piece wardrobe experiment, I’ve been paring back my wardrobe and remixing what I’ve got. I’m not usually a huge fan of fashion blogs because they can be so unrealistic and only spur on the ‘I need more!’ mindset. But as always, there’s an exception –  I’ve been a long time follower of Kendi Everyday because a) she’s hilarious b) she styles outfits you actually want to wear and c) her 30×30 remix first inspired my 30-piece experiment.

But back to Unfancy and Into Mind. Both combine style + minimalism in gorgeously presented blogs, and both talk a lot about the capsule wardrobe idea. A capsule wardrobe is basically a minimalist wardrobe made up of great pieces you love to wear.

into mind blog

Into Mind is full of great tips to refine your personal style and build a minimalist wardrobe that works for you. There is so much useful content on this blog and I especially like the 20 Pieces 20 Outfits series that author Anushcka Lees pulls together.

Unfancy is a blog by Carolina, who lives by a 37-piece capsule wardrobe each season. She shares the content of each season’s wardrobe, and then blogs daily outfits she’s put together from her 37 pieces. I really like her approach to style and it’s always helpful to see a concept brought to life by someone real. Her FAQ page is a great intro to her approach.

Check them both out, I think you’ll really like them (:

P.S. – Since we’re talking blogs, what are your favourites?

I love Emily Henderson on design, Mr and Mrs Globetrot on travel, Wronging Rights on human rights and dark humour, Shauna Niequest on faith, and A Cup of Jo on just about everything.

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simplicity and obscurity

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“So for now I’ll continue to reduce and simplify, fight and engage until I know what else to do. What I know now is this: less. I don’t need to have the most, be the best, or reach the top. It is okay to pursue a life marked by obscurity and simplicity. It doesn’t matter what I own or how I’m perceived. Whether I succeed in the market or land hopelessly in the middle is irrelevant, although this used to keep me up at night.

I’m just beginning to embrace the liberation that only exists at the bottom, where I have nothing to defend, nothing to protect. Where it doesn’t matter if I’m right or esteemed or positioned well. I wonder if that’s the freedom Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). In order for Jesus’ Kingdom to come, my kingdom will have to go, and for the first time I think I’m okay with that.”

Jen Hatmaker, in 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I keep coming back to this passage. I read it a couple of months ago and, given my focus this year on simplicity, that one line ‘it’s okay to pursue a life marked by obscurity and simplicity‘ really caught my attention.

What kind of life am I pursuing?

More often that not, it’s marked by busyness and striving and trying to keep up with some unrealistic standard of who I should be, what I should be doing, where I should be heading. It felt like a long exhale, a cool summer breeze, a heavy load lifted, to realise it. is. okay. to pursue a life marked by different standards and measured by different parameters.

It is okay to pursue a life marked by ___________. How would you fill in the blank?

I started this year with simplicity, but I like the idea of obscurity too. (In fact, my little blog hiatus has been, in part, a practice in melting into the background for awhile, digging deep into a hidden life lived wholly and happily offline.)

I’d also like to add meaning and joy to that list, oh and service, and grace.

How about you? What do you want to pursue?

I’m gingerly testing the waters as to how I’d like to continue this blog. I blogged very regularly for the last few months because I was very unemployed. And very bored. Now I am very busy interning and very unsure if keeping a blog will add to my quest for simplicity, or detract from it. But I love the outlet that this space can be, so let’s just see how this goes!

the 30-piece wardrobe experiment

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Do you remember awhile ago when I shared a little about the five piece French wardrobe?

I was actually really struck by the concept. I loved the idea of a wardrobe that is functional, yet more minimalist – and full of high-quality pieces. I started thinking of how my current closet could reduce in size.

Also, I’m obsessing over the idea of simplicity this year. It’s my ‘one word’ for 2014. And, well, I love personal experiments, like Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project or Jen Hatmaker’s 7.

So, in a moment of sudden inspiration, I took all my clothes out of my wardrobe for my own personal experiment. I picked out 30 pieces and returned them to my closet. And that’s all I let myself wear for 30 days.

On one hand, 30 pieces feels like a lot. I picked out three pairs of jeans, three skirts, nine tees/tops, seven cardigans/jackets, two pairs of shoes, one pair of yoga tights, one pair of shorts, one pair of stocking tights, one dress, one belt and one scarf.

On the other hand, I packed away an entire suitcase of clothes that didn’t make the cut. I was a little surprised actually to realise just how many clothes I own, especially after I did a fairly serious purge when we first moved abroad.

Here’s something that struck me though. The ‘average’ Australian woman buys 56 garment per year, and up to double that if she’s under 30 (Source: Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia). And yet, I’m sure I’m not alone in the experience of opening one’s wardrobe and lamenting that I have nothing to wear.

So here’s how it went.

Firstly, I realised again that I am not a shoe person. I could live the rest of my life with a pair of boots and a pair of ballet flats and I would be perfectly content. Especially if the flats are nude and go with everything!

About a week into my little experiment, the weather took a sudden turn to the cooler end of the thermometer. I’m a stickler for rules though, so I did not allow myself to swap out a cute silk singlet for my big wooly cardigan. No I did not. As a result, I did get a lot of wear out of my blazer and trench.

Though, apparently I’m not always a stickler for rules, because I did sneak in a pair of heels one night for a fancier dinner.. and I only felt a little guilty.

I had a couple of pieces I didn’t wear at all – namely that cute silk singlet, a light jacket that really didn’t hold up to Nairobi’s cool days, and a dressier skirt that I didn’t need all month.

But overall, I actually loved it. I felt like I always had something great to wear. You can do surprisingly a lot with 30 pieces, especially if they are all favourite items.

The biggest life lesson I’m learning this year is that life is better with less. Less junk, less clutter, and yes, even less clothes. Once my needs are met, all the extra stuff seems to weigh me down more than it makes me happy.

So now I’m really rethinking what I own and wear. I have more than enough clothes… and yet there’s always that nagging feeling that I need more. How can I find contentment in having enough when I hardly appreciate my overflowing wardrobe?

I don’t think 30 is some magical number. But my inability to define enough is not a healthy thing, and I’m eager to change that. I think something like 35-45 items might be a good number to aim for right now.

Now this month is over, I’ve been adding back a handful items. I’m figuring out what I really wear and what I don’t… and purging myself of the rest. Well, trying to. Why is it so hard to say goodbye to something I haven’t worn in months anyway?! (:

the social media sabbatical

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And I’m back!

Two weeks off social media has been so refreshing. Everything seemed to slow down a bit, in a good way, and I felt like the background noise really cleared up. The silence is a little surprising at first, but then I really liked it (:

And I found time for all the things that often get squeezed out of the schedule. I baked cookies and took Rum for some long walks and read five books (five!) and did some little art projects. I loved it! And I highly recommend a little sabbatical for any facebook-wearied soul.

Do I want to give up my social media forever?

Well, I definitely don’t want to go back to daily mindless use. And while we’re living overseas, I’ve realised how easy it is to just stalk friends back home rather than send a proper email or, goodness, even organise a Skype chat.

On the other hand, I use it to organise the yoga class I host, to catch sweet photos of my friends’ babies and to share blog posts. It can be a fantastic tool.

So I’m going to try for more limited use. Let’s see how it goes! I have certainly realised that when my life is drawing to an end, and I’m lying on my death bed, I will not be lamenting that I wish I spent more time on social media.

How about you? Have you tried a social media fast?

P.S. – How to quit facebook for good.

a little break up

Do you ever get the urge to delete all your online accounts and get rid of your phone/computer/tablet forever?

I ditched all my social media accounts over the weekend while we were exploring Amboseli and it was glorious! So much so, that I’ve decided to extend the break and spend the next few weeks decidedly disconnected from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. I’ll be back blogging sometime after that and if you need to get in touch, I will still be using email / skype / whatsapp / phone etc (:

I’m fascinated to see how much/if I miss it… and what I end up spending all my extra time on!

the best day planner

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I’m a major to-do list junky. There are lists scattered all over our house, on scraps of paper, in notebooks, on post it notes, in my phone, on napkins etc. I like to make a plan and work to it and I go a little crazy without some things written down.

By far the best day planner I’ve ever used is the Storyline Productivity Schedule, from Don Miller and the Storyline team. It’s free, you can download it here, and then print it out as you please.

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The thing that’s a little different about this planner is rather than managing your time, you plan how to use your mental energy. There are six sections to fill out in this order: 1. Today’s date, 2. If I could do today over again I’d…, 3. Things I get to enjoy today, 4. Appointments, 5. My life theme, 6. Project One and so on. There’s a great explanation for each section and why it’s important, and the actual planner is very easy to use.

It’s a great tool for those who have a lot of control over their time (uni students, self-employed, managers) and perhaps struggle with procrastination or distraction. But really I think it’s useful for anyone – I really recommend giving it a try!