Let’s Talk Clothes, Part 2: Optimizing

You can check out Part 1: Minimizing of my “Let’s Talk Clothes” series here. In this post I’ll share the process I’ve been through to optimize my wardrobe.

I’ve minimized… now what!?

I wish I made a note of how many pieces of clothing I donated/sold… I think I’d surprise myself! After getting rid of the clothing that was no longer serving its purpose, I didn’t have much left. My body (and life) has changed so much postpartum that many of my clothes didn’t fit well or didn’t suit my new lifestyle. I was left with around 30 pieces of clothing in my closet that fit well and that I love.

I took them all out of my closet and spread them out on my bed in categories (dresses, pants, tops, etc.) I set aside any items that I wouldn’t need for the spring/summer season. I tried everything else on in “oufits” to see which items went well with one another. Throughout this process I made a list of clothing items that I would need to compliment what I already had, or fill in any gaps of particular items I needed.

I was VERY specific. This was the list I came up with:

  • white/brown/beige tank top x2
  • brown button-up cropped sweater
  • long beige/neutral tee x2
  • lounge pants
  • dress with sleeves
  • brown oxford-style shoes

I was intentional in choosing items and colours that would fit with what I already had and be used to make multiple outfits. They’re also items of clothing that can be layered and dressed up/down, so they will work for many occasions and seasons.


The Search

Anytime I need something, I always check for secondhand options first: thrift shops, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, etc. Why? Because it’s better to buy something that has already been produced than to buy something new—better for your wallet AND the planet. (Read more about the benefits of buying secondhand here)

I was able to find two items secondhand: a brown button-up cropped sweater and a dress with sleeves. That left me in need of a few staple pieces that I was having a hard time finding secondhand.

This is where my major dilemma came in, and I am going to be 100% honest with you…

I am ALL FOR supporting sustainable, ethical brands. We vote with our dollars, and I want mine to support great companies! However, I am a stay-at-home mom and we are scraping by on one income. We have a very small amount of disposable income. I had been saving up for a few more expensive items: a swimsuit from Jessica Rey, shoes from Adelisa & Co., and a dress from Not Perfect Linen. I searched for all of the items I needed from ethical brands, but because I needed quite a few items to create a functional wardrobe, I simply could not afford to spend double or triple. Do I feel good about it? Absolutely not. I felt so guilty purchasing some items from fast fashion companies, but I also couldn’t justify credit card debt that I wouldn’t be able to pay off in the near future in order to purchase similar items.

Now that I have a basic capsule wardrobe that I can add items to seasonally, my goal is to plan for specific items I’ll need, so I have time to save money to purchase higher quality items from more sustainable and ethical fashion brands, and also more time to search for specific items secondhand.

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

Here is my summer capsule wardrobe:

  1. Linen Mama dress in small checks (sleeves)
  2. White/black patterned cotton dress (sleeveless)
  3. Cream cotton ruffle dress (sleeves)
  4. Grey/pale lavender cotton button-up dress (sleeveless)
  5. Linen sleeveless jumpsuit
  6. Sage cotton maxi skirt
  7. Grey tights
  8. Black leggings
  9. Brown skinny stretch pants
  10. Rust wide-leg linen pants
  11. Beige tapered-leg linen pants
  12. Long taupe hoodie
  13. Beige linen shorts
  14. Brown cropped button-up sweater
  15. White ribbed sweater
  16. Beige/Brown sweater
  17. Long Rust button-up sweater
  18. Oversized beige/taupe tee
  19. Ribbed beige tee
  20. Wine tank top
  21. Rust tank top
  22. Beige knit tank top
  23. White/Taupe tank top with buttons
  24. Brown sol shoes
  25. Brown sandals
  26. Brown flats
  27. Brown boots
  28. Black flip-flops
  29. Grey rain jacket
  30. Dark green cotton jacket
  31. Bracelet/Watch (gifted)
  32. NPL Sydney dress in amber yellow (birthday gift that is still on its way, but I’m counting it)
  33. NPL volume dress in creamy brown (birthday gift that is still on its way, but I’m counting it)

Excluded from the list: pajamas & loungewear, bathing suit, clothes used exclusively for workouts/hikes.

Of my 33 items, 19 were already in my wardrobe before I minimized it.

I’m interested to see how I fare with this wardrobe from June-August. I know there will be SO many occasions where I am tempted to buy new clothes, but I will try to stay strong and keep to my capsule (let’s hope I’ve selected it well…)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of clothes, so feel free to leave a comment below, or chat with me over on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing my outfits, thoughts, etc.

I’ve also started a group chat for anyone who wants to participate in the Project 333 challenge with us! Anyone is welcome, whether you are planning to try it, are giving it a try, or have already had some experience with it and/or capsule wardrobes.

Thanks for reading!

Let’s Talk Clothes, Part 1: Minimizing

I’m working my way through a few personal goals related to slow living, minimalism, and more sustainable living.

It has been, and will continue to be, an ongoing process. I’m constantly learning, growing, and changing. Though there are many ways I can do better, I am embracing my imperfect journey and trying my best.

An important aspect of this for me is clothing, which I’m going to chat about today! It also happens to be Fashion Revolution week—perfect timing to start this series of posts.

Where I started

I had a closet stuffed to the brim with clothes, but only a few pieces that I truly loved, that fit well, and that I wore regularly.

I spent way too long staring at my clothes thinking, hmmm what should I wear….

I usually bought clothing on a whim, or when there were sales on — buying whatever I liked the look of with no regard to whether I actually needed that item of clothing.

I gave NO thought to what the clothes I bought were made of, where they were made, who made them, etc.

I had:

  • clothes that I’d never worn with tags still on them
  • clothes that didn’t fit quite right (or at all)
  • clothes that didn’t look flattering on me
  • clothes that I didn’t feel comfortable in but liked the look of
  • clothes that didn’t go with anything else in my closet (no pants to match a top, a dress that needed a different kind of bra, etc.)
  • clothes that I was saving for a specific time or event
  • clothes that I hadn’t worn in ages
  • + just TOO MANY clothes

My process:

First, I took every single item from my closet and made three piles, trying items on as needed:

The “yes” pile: fits well, wear regularly and LOVE — would not want to live without it

The “maybe” pile: fits but don’t wear often, not the most flattering, like it but don’t LOVE it, saving for a time when…

The “no” pile: doesn’t fit well/not flattering, haven’t worn in ages.

Next, I went through my “maybe” pile, tried items on, and either put them into the “no” pile or put them back in my closet for a “trial” period.

The majority of my maybe pile ended up in my no pile, OR I kept it for a few weeks, noticed that I really had no desire to wear it, and either donated or sold it. I still have a few pieces “on trial” right now.

My advice: be ruthless! At the beginning it is HARD to let go of things, especially clothes. We often buy clothes that we *wish* would fit us well, look nice on us, or that we hope to have an occasion to wear one day…

If you don’t wear it often, if it doesn’t fit well, and if you don’t LOVE it, toss it in the no pile. You should feel happy to wear the clothes you own.

For me, one of the hardest parts was getting rid of clothes that I hadn’t worn in awhile and was “saving” for the future.

I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, and will be for at least another year and a few months. I had a lot of clothing that I used to wear for work but hadn’t touched since late pregnancy.

Why was I holding on to them?

Because one day I’ll have the need for them again!

But who knows WHEN that will be, whether they’ll fit, or if I’ll even like them whenever that time comes.


Instead of taking up valuable space in my closet, I can either sell them and make money to put towards pieces of clothing that I need right NOW, or donate them so someone else can enjoy them.

Paring Down

Yup… I pared my closet down even further after this!

Again, I took every item out of my closet, but this time I sorted them into piles based on type: sweaters, pants, camisoles, dresses, etc.

I went through each pile and took out any items of clothing that were similar. For example: somehow I had FOUR beige sweater/cardigans. I had absolutely no need for four pieces of clothing so similar, so I chose my favourite one to keep and said farewell to the rest of them.

I also tried everything on again to make sure I absolutely loved it, felt comfortable wearing it, and had corresponding pieces to make complete outfits.

At this point, I realized there were a few key items that I was missing from my wardrobe that would complete certain outfits or compliment other pieces I absolutely loved. So, I made a very specific list of items I needed to add to my wardrobe, with the spring and summer seasons in mind.

The Results

I’ve repeated this process above about 3-4 times since January (it’s now mid-April). I definitely needed to do it several times to become more comfortable in embracing my evolving personal style and understanding the clothes that I love and that serve a purpose in my life right now.

I now have 30 items of clothing in my closet (including activewear, but excluding pajamas and footwear). I’m guessing is about 1/4 of what I had before??? I wish I’d have kept track, because it would be so interesting to know!

What I CAN tell you is that:

  • I don’t feel stressed out or weighed down when I look in my closet for something to wear.
  • It takes a lot less time to get dressed.
  • Everything fits well and goes well together.
  • I love all the clothes I wear.
  • I have soooo much more closet space.
  • I feel more confident.

Stay tuned for my next post, where we move from chatting about minimizing to optimizing. We’ll chat intentional purchasing, capsule wardrobes, and more! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of clothes, so feel free to leave a comment below, or chat with me over on Instagram.

Maybe the clothes I no longer need will be new favourites for you! You can shop my closet on Poshmark. If you’re outside of Canada and see something you love, feel free to contact me and I can get a shipping quote for you.

Simple & Sustainable Personal Care

As part of my “simple and sustainable” posts, I’m going to start with “me” by delving in to personal care and cosmetics. I’ve been making an effort to simplify personal care for quite a few years now—before I had a household, child, or even partner to consider. When I first started learning about all of the chemicals and toxins in cosmetics and personal care products, I was horrified. Read more here. I set out to ensure that I was avoiding harmful ingredients.

My Goals:

  • Use fewer products
  • Use simple, natural, sustainable products free of harmful chemicals and toxins
  • Decrease waste (especially plastic)
  • Save money
  • Support eco-conscious businesses

Over the past few years I’ve been great at using fewer and more natural and sustainable products. The next challenge I’m giving myself is to move to products with less/no waste. Even though we recycle all of the packaging we currently use, it’s still better to not use it in the first place.

Natural Skin Care

I’ve always had ridiculously sensitive skin, and I’ve struggled to find skin care products that don’t cause my face to break out. I’ve finally discovered an easy, inexpensive, and natural skin care routine that works well for me.

In the morning and evening I cleanse my face by using a Norwex body cloth, followed by raw honey. After removing any makeup with oil (jojoba/coconut/olive) I love using the exfoliating side of the cloth to cleanse and gently exfoliate. I slather and massage my face (still wet) with raw honey. I soak a regular facecloth in hot water, wring it out so it’s just damp, and place it over my face until it cools—this part feels ohhhh so good! Then I wash off the remaining honey. Why honey? It’s naturally antibacterial and also helps to regulate our skin’s natural oils and pH. You can also eat it… so that’s cool too.

After cleansing, I apply my homemade “toner” (witch hazel & lavender essential oil) with a reusable makeup round. I just buy a bottle of witch hazel (make sure to get a pure version without any alcohol added) and add a few drops of lavender oil.

I moisturize with a small amount of jojoba oil or my homemade aloe moisturizer, depending on how dry my skin is. I’ll typically use jojoba oil at night and the aloe moisturizer in the morning.

For a nice deep cleanse, once per week I apply a Calcium Bentonite Clay mask. I buy the “Indian Healing Clay” brand and mix it with Apple Cider Vinegar (I find that it works better than water). I especially love applying this mask and popping my head in to the room to terrify Ryan… hehe.

Hair

I have long and incredibly thick hair. I stopped dying it and went au natural about 7 years ago, mainly because it was expensive and inconvenient to maintain while traveling. I’m so happy I stopped, because my hair has been much healthier since—plus I don’t have to spend a fortune on it.

I tend to switch up my shampoo and conditioner regularly, and I’ve tried countless natural, toxin-free products. My current favourite is the Attitude brand shampoo and conditioner. They are EWG verified, and I love how soft, shiny, and healthy they keep my hair. They’ve also started selling their products in bulk, recyclable packaging to decrease plastic, which is awesome!

I’d like to switch to a natural “bar” shampoo and conditioner to cut plastic packaging altogether, but I’ve yet to experiment with any (aside from LUSH products I used while traveling). Right now I have my eye on these two from Boreal Folk and Life UNpacked

…but I just got some of the Attitude shampoo in bulk, so I’ll have to wait until that’s almost gone!

Body

Cleansing & Moisturizing

To cleanse, I buy natural soaps (most made locally), and I use a soap exfoliating bag. I also make my own body lotion (the aloe moisturizer recipe above) and oil. When I was pregnant I made my own “belly oil,” which I also use to moisturize if my skin needs some extra TLC. I mixed the following oils (in who knows what for quantity…): jojoba, avocado, vitamin e, and argan. I also love my bamboo dry brush!

Deodorant

For deodorant, I used to use Saje spray deodorant, which worked well throughout the winter, but it did NOT suffice when I was pregnant last summer. For me, Native deodorant seems to work the best. I’d still like to explore deodorant options with more minimal packaging…

Shaving

I have yet to try out more sustainable plastic-free razors. I have my eye on a few, but haven’t committed yet. I have a few more razor cartridges to go before I need to make my decision. These are two I’m considering:

I’m afraid I’ll end up cutting myself with these though! Haha… I’ll keep you updated on this one.

Makeup

Ugh – this is the area that I really struggle with. I’ve had a hard time finding a more natural makeup that I really love and that isn’t ridiculously expensive. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that if I want to buy and wear makeup, I will have to pay more for a quality product. I’m currently using mostly Mineral Fusion, with a few products from BareMinerals. If you have any natural makeup recommendations I am all ears!


I’ll definitely keep you up to date with my goals and I’ll share any awesome new products or ideas with you in regards to simple, natural, and sustainable personal care. I’d love to know YOURS as well! Drop a comment below, or DM me on Instagram to chat.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts that will focus on simple and sustainable for household and baby!

Living Slowly, Simply & Sustainably

Having a child changes you in so many ways. It has certainly prompted me to examine my life and see everything in a new light. Every day we’re making choices that impact her life and the world she’s growing up in. I feel a tremendous obligation to be informed and to make the best choices I can, for us.

“Minimalism” is a buzz word right now. People are pushing back against consumer culture and are opting for a simpler life. “Slow living” has also emerged as a movement—challenging society’s “norm” of living a busy, fast-paced, stressful life. In line with these two movements is sustainability: living our lives in a way that conserves resources and lessens our impact on the natural world.

After examining what I value and the dreams I have for Ellie and for our family, I’m making an conscious effort to live more slowly, simply, and sustainably. Many aspects of our lives already reflect these concepts, while others need some work. I’ll share my thoughts, experiences, and tips along the way, and I’d love to hear about yours as well!

Living Slowly

Time.

Some days it seems to crawl at a snail’s pace, while others flies by in the blink of an eye. For me, living slowly is about taking time to be present in the moment, focusing on what brings me joy, and dedicating more time to what makes my heart full.

I’ve always gravitated towards a “slower” life. I’m an introvert and a “homebody.” I enjoy my quiet time at home—reading a book, crafting, playing board games, or cooking and enjoying a meal together. We’re also lucky to live in a rural area, removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, and surrounded by nature—a constant reminder to slow down and appreciate life.

Even though we live a fairly calm and “slow” life, I am a dreamer with a busy mind. I constantly find my mind wandering—reliving memories, making a mental to-do list, worrying, or planning for the future. If there’s anything we can learn from children, it is to be present in the moment. Countless times throughout the day, Ellie will reach her chubby, dimpled little hands up to my face. She loves to feel every part of it and just stare into my eyes. In these moments—as she’s pulling my cheeks, scratching my eyelid, or grabbing my nose—I am fully present. I’m not thinking of anything; I’m in that moment with her. I live for those little moments, and they remind me that whatever I had on my “to do” list really isn’t that important. We are her world, and the most important thing we can do is be fully present with her as she learns, develops, and explores her world.


Living Simply

Stuff.

Most of our homes are filled to the brim with it—hidden away in drawers, stuffed in overflowing closets. Even though we make an effort every few months to have a good “clear-out,” I know we still have too much stuff. I might need to re-watch some Tidying up with Marie Kondo for inspiration on this one.

One of my current reads is Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne. As I read, I find myself constantly nodding my head thinking: yes, this makes so much sense! His premise is that our busy, fast-paced and stressful lives, filled with “too much stuff, to many choices, and too little time,” are interfering with the space and freedom children need to explore the world and develop.

His ideas about simplifying our lives certainly extend beyond just simplifying and de-cluttering our spaces; He also discusses things like slow living, creating rhythm in our daily lives, and limiting exposure to media. I’ve only read about half of the book so far, but I’m loving it. When I’m finished, I’ll definitely be discussing it more in depth on here.

Living Sustainably

Impact.

There’s so much overlap between living slowly, simply, and sustainably. Embracing slow and simple living steers us away from simply relying on what is fastest, cheapest, or most convenient, and urges us to reflect on the impact of our choices.

This is an area I definitely need to work on. There are so many things we already do well (cooking healthy meals, eliminating chemicals, using cloth bags, using natural products, etc.), but I am definitely still working on a mindset shift—Amazon Prime is just way too convenient for me.


I’m looking forward to diving deeper into these topics as we try to apply them to our lives.

I’d love to hear from you: what are some ideas and tips you have for living more slowly, simply, and sustainably? Are there particular areas you do well/struggle with?