Tiny Closet: wintry outerwear

 

I have never owned a big, down parka.

Developing a minimalist wardrobe means being cautious with what comes into my closet and how it can be used and stored. A big, bulky parka only used for two to three months of the year hasn’t made the cut yet, but after spending December 2018 to March 2019 frozen in NYC’s winter I knew that I needed to step it up this season.

High-quality options are notoriously expensive and for several years my college-self couldn’t even begin to fathom how I would spend several hundred on a coat when I could barely afford rent. Now that the investment is an option for me (thank you 2019 bonus check!) I’m looking for a coat that will last and last.

Obviously, it needs to be warm in weather as cold as 10 degrees (about as cold as NYC gets), but it should also be resistant to wind and water. Personally, I’d also like it to be filled with Primaloft or another synthetic insulate. While I’m interested in the look of Canada Goose I’m not a fan of their sourcing (particularly how they trap wild coyotes), goose down fill, or their price tag. I’ll be on the lookout for something with similar lines, a slight military feel, but made with more sustainable practices.

A parka should also be classic. It’s the purchase once product so classic flattering lines are essential. There’s no space for a trendy parka in my closet, style and color. I may deviate from my classic black coat to a camel color, but that’s a big maybe.

 

 

This one has beautiful lines and flattering stitching.

I’m very drawn to the hood on this military-style coat and its chestnut color.

Made with recycled nylon and available in a range of sizes, XXS-XL, women, petite, and plus, this one is the most inclusive.

It’s impossible to walk two blocks in Mid-town without seeing several of this coat, made of 60 water bottles. 

There are so many to choose from!

 

***

 

Update: I chose this beauty from Everlane for both is sustainability and classic silhouette.

Living Small: responsible decluttering

 

As previously mentioned my closet is bursting.  It’s filled to the brim and holds more clothes than I remember purchasing. When deciding to slim down my closet there are two main reasons for it: one, there’s the simplicity of maintaining and utilizing a lighter closet and two, it’s more environmentally sustainable to adopt good practices within your shopping habits.

Part of this simplification will require getting rid of a lot of older or underused pieces. I’m slowly making several passes over my closet and each time removing the things that I barely wear, that don’t match other things in my closet, that no longer fit properly, or that I simply don’t feel a strong attachment too. I tried to Konmari method, but if I’m being honest, a lot of my closet sparks joy, but I’m working on it. I’m slowly removing more and more and have a feeling that if I keep this up I’ll have the closet I want in a few short weeks.

Once I’ve decided what to remove it gets into the topic of how to remove. While the simplest way of doing this is a few trips to my trash chute, I would rather my old pieces be recycled or reused. Only 20% of discarded clothing items are reused (only around 1% are recycled). That’s staggering when you consider that in the US alone we send 21 billion pounds of textiles to landfills each year. A few of the options I’m exercising.

 

Resell

For a few of my more expensive pieces I’ve opted to sell them on Poshmark as a way to recoup some expense of purchasing them in the first place. This is also a get way to ensure that they are getting a second life with someone.

 

Donate

Specific to NYC there are several groups to donate clothes to. For all my professional attire that I don’t wear anymore, I’m donating to Dress for Success, an “international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life”.

 

Thrift

This is similar to donating as I’m being very selective about where I donate my clothes to. I want to avoid the trendy spots as a lot of those places have high turnover and will toss any clothes that haven’t sold in their first few weeks on the shelf. Thrift stores like Housing Works and Cure Thrift Shop sell clothes, not for profit, but to fund lifesaving services for low-income people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and to fund Type 1 diabetes research and advocacy, respectively.

 

“Dump”

Not into a landfill, but into one of the large recycle bins located around the city. Using this map I’m finding one in my neighborhood. This is the last resort as personally I find it to be the laziest and before reaching this stage I’d like to dole out clothes as responsibly as possible (ex: giving professional attire to Dress for Success).

On My Mind: releasing past patterns

 

I’ve always been a things person. I like things, I surround myself with them and growing up in a large home in the country facilitated this. I grew up on over 10 acres of land, consistently surrounded by both nature and things. There’s a comfortability in it. I’m used to seeing a full basement of bits and bobs that my dad could use to solve any problem around the house. Or a full closet of treasures and memories that my mom could assemble into a last-minute Halloween costume, fix a busted seam, or turn into a new game.

At some point, I began to equate things with capability and comfortability. Things became a toolbox that I could use to solve my little problems here and there. Getting rid of them meant that I may need to repurchase in the future.

Moving to NYC a year ago begged me to reconsider this collecting mentality. I simply don’t have space. I cut my closet in half and was still bursting. I take up 2/3 of the closet shared with a partner (his patience with me continues to have limits I’ve yet to find) and have drawers stuffed with tees, tanks, bits and bobs. I’ve tried to move things here and there, reorganize, to no avail. I Marie Kondo’ed my home and still see the dreaded things everywhere. There’s only so much organizing can do for you when your home is bursting at the seams. I’ve decided that a sincere slim-down is in order. My closet, my home, the entire ASH is on a little diet.

This isn’t intended to be a New Year’s Resolution (as I truly don’t believe in them, which you can read about here) but there’s something about the end of a year — end of a decade — that begs us to reconsider decisions or lack thereof. I’ve managed to justify my consumerist behavior with the fact that I resell and donate my old bits, or hidden it underlayers of support for other global issues. “Maybe I over-shop, but I don’t use single-use plastic.” As if one can balance the other?

It can feel like living ethically is walking a tightrope, always someone to offend or some small action you’ve done incorrectly. I’ve watched people online be ripped apart in posts supporting a marginalized group with comments like “what about this group?” or “if you really believe that you wouldn’t have done X”. People make mistakes, grow, and learn, but the internet doesn’t like us to do that. We are constantly recorded and past actions held up like exhibits in a courtroom, by armchair social justice advocates. Even if you are looking to do the right thing, and move forward.

That being said, the fear of failure has never been something to hold me back from being boldly audacious in my goals. So a closet slim-down, swapping quantity for quality, is a movement I’m happy to take part in. There are a few things I have at the top of my to-do list.

 

take my grandfather’s old coat to a tailor to make it wearable for me.

investigate my tee shirt collection and aim to donate anything unworn in the past year.

take inventory of the storage closet & shelves.

slim down the storage unit, move the bikes into the apartment, and close the lease.

 

One by one I plan to cross them off and create a very different situation at ASH.

Grungy, Rock, Vintage.

It’s the end of July … too early to be thinking about dressing for the Fall? I didn’t think so either.

My favorite season is still several weeks away, but that hasn’t stopped me from aggressively planning the vibe. Over the past year, I’ve dipped my toes into several styles trying to find what feels most natural to me. We’ve had phases of very girly glam, very minimalist, but I’ve never felt more “me” than in my current style which I would describe as easy, vintage, chic. Each season I tend to cultivate a uniform that I religiously stick to. Summer 2019 was all about cut-offs, band tees, Theory tanks, and sneaks. In the past 6-8 months, I’ve inadvertently become a collector of vintage Levis, band tees, and various vintage bits. Mixed in with lots of black for a bit of a rocker edge and I feel very “me”. Even got a modern take on Stevie Nicks’s ’70s shag (mixed with a little late ’60s Bardot).

Unfortunately, my go-to Levi cut-offs won’t sustain me throughout the Fall which has caused a little rethinking on my part. I’m stepping back into my college go-to black skinnies this Fall, keeping the band tees, and expanding my collection of leather jackets (can you ever really have enough?). I’m also building out my collection of booties, always a favorite for my 5’2 self. They are the perfect combination of easy to walk in, adds a little height, elongates my leg, and looks so damn good. Put on some skinnies and booties and trust me you will be feeling yourself.

Help yourself to the vibe below:

 

On Reflection: What a Structured Morning Has Done for My Well-being

 

One month ago I attended a wellness weekend here in NYC that was put on by Mejuri. Post-event I was so motivated I sat down and quickly penned a few promises to myself about what my new goals were and how I wanted to implement changes in my life. My overall goal was fairly simple: introduce a few new rituals into my life and use them to amplify a radical, powerful, feminine beauty in me.

I started with cold showers and quickly integrated other aspects into my day to help myself find a stronger, calmer centerline. I now have a list of nine rituals that I do each morning to wake up my body, mind, and settle myself for the day.

In the past two weeks, my body has been waking me up sometime between 5:30-5:45 each morning. No alarm, no groggy-tired eyes, I just snap awake. I wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and launch into my morning that looks a little something like this:

  • 5:40 Wake up, take my basal temperate, and do 3 minutes of cat-cow postures in bed. I do these before I get out of bed to wake up my breath, body, and circulation.
  • 5:45 30 minutes of yoga, typically Ashtanga Primary Series, but occasionally I just flow.
  • 6:15 Take a cold shower. I start with the water a little cooler than lukewarm and finish with a 2 minute, ice-water cold rinse. During this time I furiously rub my arms, legs, and body to boost circulation and practice long deep breathing techniques to keep my mind as calm as possible.
  • 6:30 Oil pulling for 10 minutes as I do my skincare routine. Then I floss & brush my teeth. I keep my skincare routine very basic in the morning, but always include Herbivore’s Lapis Facial oil, jade roller/gua sha, moisturizer & sunscreen.
  • 6:45 Meditate for 10-15 minutes (however long I feel I need that day). I have been using the Kundalini yoga 4 part breath: 4 counts in/4 counts hold/4 counts out/4 counts hold out. For me, it’s helpful to have a breathing technique to focus on to keep my mind still. I also tend to pick one of my crystals, set an intention, and hold it closely throughout the mediation.
  • 7:00 Eat a small breakfast – typically a banana – and take my vitamins & supplements.
  • 7:30 Get dressed, do my make up, and pick out a fragrance for the day.
  • 8:00 Feed the cats a little snack.
  • 8:30 Wake up the cats & start our day together.

 

 

Of course, those times are approximate as I don’t actually count the minutes of each ritual. I do it until I feel full and prepared to move into the next one. Starting the day well-rested and centered is incredibly new for me. Even in 2015 when I was starting each day with a 70-minute Ashtanga practice I still wasn’t feeling the calm that I feel each morning stepping through this routine.

My energy is up, my anxiety is down, I’ve been motivated to eat better, and I’ve been more emotionally still. I’ve always run a little hot-tempered and have a very passionate, fiery streak. In arguments I can be quick to say the most hurtful thing, regretting it immediately. This past month I have been incredibly even-tempered. Even when I get frustrated, get the blues, get thrown a curve ball, I’m able to quickly bring it back, calm myself down, and reflect on the situation. Maybe it’s just part of getting older, but as an Aries Moon & Aries Rising a lot of my ferocity is innate to who I am (regardless of age). I credit my new ability to press pause on these emotions to my morning routine.

 

The purpose of introducing these rituals was to amplify my inner and outer beauty. After one month I can confirm that I feel the effects on the inside and outside. I’ve been better able to handle the squalls of everyday life. I’ve felt more confident and strong as I walk down the street, as if my aura is growing day by day, inch by inch. I’ve had numerous people comment over Instagram and IRL that I look “different” or “really good today”. I can feel it on the inside and it radiates on the outside.

Maybe you don’t need a 2 hour morning routine, maybe you just need one thing, but what I encourage you to do is examine your morning and question if it sets you up for a successful day. Maybe five minutes of mediation will be the game changer for you. Maybe add an extra few minutes into something you already do each morning, like walking your dog, to pause, get still, and appreciate where you are.

Taking an extra few moments for you in the morning can help prevent you from feeling like you are being pulled in a million directions throughout the day.

In My Home: Smudging, Saging, and Cleansing

My First Time

Sage is all the rage. In the world of holistic and internal wellness, burning sage is quite literally in Vogue. I purchased my first bundle over two years ago and trust me, it was 90% sticks. Knowing absolutely nothing about the practice of smudging, I lit my twig bundle, ran around my house, and *surprise* felt no effects. To be honest, my apartment was feeling more ashy than spiritually cleansed.

 

* Click here for my how-to guide on smudging *

 

 

Fast forward several months and I decided to give it go one more time. I was at a fairly low place and looking for an experience of rebirth. Something to reinvigorate my home and spark my internal fire. To me your home is everything, it’s where you spend so much of your waking and sleeping hours. It should bring you joy, comfort, and relaxation. You should love every nook and cranny. As I started taking steps to reinvigorate my life I knew that I would need to reinvigorate my home as well, or else I would end up marinating in the same negative energy I had been putting out for weeks.

I did a little more research and ended up with a genuine bundle of dried white sage this time! Even before burning the smell was beautifully overwhelming. I wanted to make this time more ritualistic so I googled several “how-tos” lit my sage and started.

That was the first time I felt the effects of smudging. I walked around my apartment in a near-meditative state, mumbling through my mantra, and watching the curls of sage wrap around the air. I cleansed myself and the cats felt an incredible lift. After smudging every corner and crease I opened the windows and let the wind carry out all the smoke and bring in new clean air and energy.

 

 

The Ripple Effects

Immediately after smudging I felt radically calm. Like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I struggle with dust allergies and living with two cats can make it a struggle to keep the air clear of all the little bits that aggravate my symptoms. Even with an abundance of plants and an air purifier I never feel that the air is as clean as it is after I sage the apartment.

One potential explanation for why the apartment feels cleaner after sage-ing is because of ions. Burning sage emits negative ions (in the same way the running water or a salt lamp do) that can grab onto positive ions (dander, dust, allergens) and neutralize them. As you move around your home or apartment you’ll see the smoke turn from white to grey to black and back again. It’s believed that the smoke knows where to go, using positive ions like a road map to find the negative energy in the room and neutralize it. When the smoke turns black it means that it has come in contact with negative energy. There is one particular space, in my previous apartment, where the smoke would always turn black. The same corner where numerous time I would see cabinets fly open on their own.

For me, the effects of burning sage come in the form of anxiety relief. I have always struggled with anxiety and found that I prefer to treat it through modifying my environment and using coping techniques (please note that this, of course, this is not going to work for everyone’s anxiety and there is no shame in utilizing medication). One of the most intriguing things for me, in regards to burning sage, is that in some cultures white sage is used as a traditional remedy for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

Burning sage is definitely something that a lot of people put in the “hippy dippy” (as my dad would say) category. However, it is so much more than it initially seems to our Western minds. There is a deep spiritual and psychological benefit to introducing the practice into your daily rituals. Smudging is something I fall back on when I am overwhelmed with anxiety or when I am feeling clouded. It’s a ritual that brings me back to center and keeps me feeling whole and connected to my space.

The world moves incredibly fast and we are constantly looking for the next quick fix. Instead of working with our environments we work against them. Burning sage is a way to make the here and now a place you’ll want to be. It prevents us from reaching for the “grass is greener” mentality, and allows us to release negative energy and focus on all the good that’s in the present.

In My Home: Organizing a Small Space

 

Organizing your home is a dreaded task. Sometimes you come in from work and just throw clothes on the floor, bags on your desk and keys all over the place. It’s easy to do. Your desk might be organization heaven, but your home may suffer because you’re putting it off.

 

Luckily there are a few organization tips you’ll want to start right now…

 

 

Get Strategic

First thing’s first: Come up with a step by step list of what you want to organize. Bathroom vanity? Kitchen cabinet? Having this list will not only show you what needs to be done, but also helps convert a huge project into approachable tasks. This way you aren’t actually doing any tidying, just planning to tidy. Which is different.

 

Move Smallest To Largest

I find the bathroom to be the easiest place to organize because it typically is the smallest room in the house. So here’s what to do, set aside a block of 30 minutes and tackle the smallest task first. Pick up those clothes and fold them, stack your notebooks, put your pens back into the pot, fold your towels. Ta da. Then stop, do something else. You’ve already made progress.

 

Purchase Organizational Pieces

What motivates me to organize? Looking at photos of other beautifully organized homes, of course. But also, you should examine which organizational pieces you already have. Do you buy a new pair of shoes every week? Consider picking up a shoe rack. Having organizational pieces doesn’t keep you organized unless they are working for you so do some sleuthing, find what pieces you need and customize a shopping list for yourself.

 

Categorize and Start From Scratch

When I’m organizing I love to start with a blank slate. I remove every single thing in an area (bookcase, closet, etc) and divide items up into three categories: Keep, Move, Toss. “Keep” is everything that belongs in that space. “Move” is items that belong in a different area. And “Toss” is for everything that it’s time to let go of.

 

Let Go

We accumulate a lot of stuff in our lifetimes, from those gifts you meant to return to participation trophies from sixth grade, it’s easy to get bogged down year after year. When you make moves to organize consider minimizing your life a little. Sift through items carefully, ask yourself “When was the last time I really used this? Do I really need it?”

 

Organization is all about finding what works for you! Some people like to work a few minutes every day while other people, like me, are down for the three-hour organizing gauntlet. Find your rhythm and stick with it!

 

*This article was originally written for and published on Career Girl Daily. Visit the original post here.*

Skincare Meets Makeup {Glossier}

I haven’t always been very skincare conscious, but a trip to Paris in the spring of 2016 changed all of that. Since then my skincare has become a high finessed routine with each product undergoing an extreme vetting process. It makes me months to fall in love with a product and it’s tough to break into the list of my favorites (explore my favorite face masks here!).

Glossier has been a company that I kept my eye on, but regarded as a hyped-up, not much substance, trendy brand. Through an affiliate link I was offer 15% off my first order and figured that if there was a time to test the brand this was it.

Six months later and the only regret I have about placing that first order is a financial one. I have yet to be disappointed with a product I’ve tried. There are a few that weren’t my style, but none that didn’t live up to their promises. I’m also a huge fan of any company that stands behind their product and has excellent customer service. I can vouch for Glossier’s amazing customer support, but online and in store.

Here are a few of my favorite products:

Milky Jelly Cleanser | $18

I’m currently on my third bottle of this stuff and I cannot get enough. After years of using face washes and cleansers that had salicylic acid and other acne fighters in them I was nervous for the switch. I absolutely love this stuff and have not looked back.

I love to use one pump on a dry face to loosen up and remove make up, rinse with water, and then use 1-2 pumps on my wet skin to really cleanse my skin. It has definitely helped with my skin’s all over texture & tone without drying it out after every use – it’s almost hydrating itself!

*It smells amazing too.

 

Lip Gloss | $14

’90s babies rejoice! It’s the same high gloss you begged your mom to buy you from Claire’s without the chunky glitter and hair attracting stickiness. I cannot say enough good things about this little tube of gloss, I use it non-stop and it lasts and lasts and lasts. If you are on the fence I hope this review pushes you over the edge because trust me you will not regret it.

*I also love using this over Cherry Balm Dotcom or just a lip pencil.

 

Cloud Paint | $18

I am not ashamed to say I own every color of Glossier’s Cloud Paint. Each serves it’s own purpose and I highly suggest these, especially if you are a #makeupminimalist who wants the fastest possible ways to look 10/10. Here’s how I use each shade:

  • Puff is the perfect rosy pink for spring! I dot and blend this on both my cheeks and lips to make my face look alive without too much effort. Perfect for when I’m running late!
  • I use Haze on my cheeks and lips similar to Puff, but for me this is more of a Fall/Winter berry shade so I like to save it for chiller days. Occasionally I’ll mix a little in with Puff to deepen the color.
  • Beam is my go to when I have a tan and Puff’s cool-toned pinkness needs a little warming up.
  • Dusk is a little too deep for me to use on my cheeks, but I love it as both a contour shade and on my eyelids to add a little depth to my socket line.

 

Priming Moisturizer | $22

The claims that this can be used as a priming isn’t something that I agree with, but all over the moisturizer is exactly what you want for #summerskincare. It’s lightweight, melts quickly into your skin, and doesn’t leave a film. I also find that it leaves an almost velvety feel to my skin, similar to a primer but without the make up staying power.

*This does contain retinol so be sure to use sunscreen with it!

 

Super Pure | $28

This little vial packs a punch. Full disclaimer, I know several people who didn’t get any positive effects from this, but I felt it did wonders. Using Super Pure regularly kept my skin’s oily nature in check all day and prevented those dreaded PMS break outs.

 

Lash Slick | $16

Highly skeptical would be an understatement for how I felt trying lash slick for the first time. But within moments I was hooked. It is a fibrous mascara that adds gentle volume and amazing length to your lashes, while maintaining a very natural look. It’s flake proof, smudge proof, waterproof (even though they say it isn’t), and amazingly sweat/gym proof.

*If you’d like a little more glam from your lashes use Lash Slick as a base coat and top with either Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara or Lancôme Grandiôse Wide-Angle Fan Effect Mascara.

 

Cherry Balm Dotcom | $12

This guy could easily be placed under makeup as well as it’s tinted with a perfect “just bitten” shade of cherry. I could do without the scent, but otherwise this product is a slam dunk for me. I love how it makes my lips feel, not only immediately after application but also several hours down the line.

 

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF GLOSSIER.COM