Dressing the Minimalist Woman (and a clothing challenge!)

Monday, November 2, 2015

I have to thank you all for your honest and great feedback about my vlogs and my posts in general!  It is often hard to tell what people want to hear, and your comments really help direct what I do in this space.  I do a lot of things that I think are fun and tasty, but knowing what you are looking for in a blog helps me a lot, so THANK YOU!  If you have more helpful comments or suggestions, I would welcome them!  

One of the things that I have been wanting to do is post more about minimalist living!  I have been reluctant to share a full tour of our apartment and how we are making it a minimalist space, mostly because we are still in process of hanging some new art on the walls, and the whole space feels unfinished to me.  We bought a few maps in Europe, and we still haven't hung them up, so currently they are sitting up against the walls around our apartment, waiting for a Saturday when Adam and I have time to put them up. 

Until we can get the art up, I will hold off on a house tour.  Instead, we are going to talk about clothes.  I have always liked clothes, getting dressed, and trying to look my very best.  My style has changed quite a bit in the last few years,  particularly after we went to France.  If you have been here for a while, you know we went to France this summer and my perspective on clothes and makeup changed a lot (you can read more about my packing here, and my observations on French women here).  

Since returning home, I have thought a lot of about capsule wardrobes and smaller wardrobes.  I feel like many of my clothes don't fit quite right, or I love the idea of them, but don't actually love wearing them.  I have been trying to pare down my closet to the best of the best and replace some of the not-as-loved pieces with high quality pieces that I love wearing.  

It make so much sense to do this, but it is SO difficult.  How many times have I walked into Old Navy or Target (both of which, I love), and found something that will work, that is a dang good price, and I can be mildly happy with for a year, but then it falls apart super fast or it never fits quite the way I wanted it to, so I end up getting rid of it, when I could have spent a little more money for a much better, longer lasting product.  

First, a few thoughts about how to get better pieces and not spend a fortune:

1.  Get your clothing second hand.  There are a few ways to do this.  My preferred method is to have a clothing swap with your friends.  This is a great way to end up with some new options, and the best part is the clothes are free!  I have started being extremely selective about the clothing that I take home.  If I don't love it, I don't take it home.  Sometimes the word 'free' makes us do weird things that we wouldn't usually do. 

If your friends don't share your clothing aesthetic, or they don't like to get free clothes, you can always go to a thrift store like Plato's closet, where they have a decent selection of 'trendy' items, and their clothes are typically cuter and in better shape than Goodwill or Salvation Army. 

If you are an internet shopper, or like the convenience of shopping from your living room (I do), Thred Up is a great resource (this referral code gives you $20 off your first purchase and I also get $20, so you will make my day if you use this code when you shop!  A win for everyone!)! 

I am super impressed by their selection, the clothes are in pretty good shape, and they always list if there are any defects (pilling, fading, etc), which is helpful when you are shopping. I love how they let you sort it by color!  And, they have lots of great high-end brands that are so much cheaper because they are second hand.  I haven't actually purchased anything here yet, but I plan on buying a white blouse soon. They have loads of choices and some really nice choices.  Janssen has order a few things, and has been really happy with them, so I feel safe recommending them.  

I am not a huge advocate of high-end brands, but I do think that you almost always get a higher quality item if it is from a reputable brand. And if you buy it from somewhere like Thred Up, they have already checked for damage and stains, so you can pretty much guarantee that you will be getting an article of clothing that is in great shape, and you don't have to pay the premium for being the first owner.  

2.  Outlet's are your friend.  I love J. Crew.  They are certainly not a super high end retailer, but they do sell decent quality clothing, many of the items are lined, and some of them are beautiful and classic pieces that can last for years.  J Crew is typically a little out of my price range, so I love being able to go to the outlet and find great stuff for a fraction of the normal cost.  

3.  Shopping the after Christmas Sales.  One of the best times of the year to shop for clothing is when stores are trying to unload their previous seasons merchandise.  Typically they have a lot to get rid of after Christmas and I have found some terrific deals going to the outlets in late December or early January.  

I am sure there is more that I could add to this list, but I need to tell you about the Minimalist Challenge before the end of this post, and it is getting really long, so I will move on.  

I have decided I want to do a clothing challenge(!) to try my hand at reducing what I have in my closet, to find out what pieces I really love wearing, and to help me figure out where the holes in my closet are.  I am inviting all of you to join in!  I am doing a Minimalist Dressing challenge for the next 15 days, starting on Wednesday, November 4th - November 18th.  I have picked 15 pieces to wear for 15 days.  These pieces include shirts, jackets, pants, scarves, hats, and shoes. Jewelry, underwear and socks don't count. 

This gives you 2 days to pick out your 15 items, but be prepared to start on Wednesday. Below you can see the pieces that I have picked, and I will be showcasing a daily outfit on Instagram with the hashtag #mwminimalistchallenge.  I would be thrilled if you wanted to follow along, or join me and I would love to see what you pick! 

My Picks:  
1. Black Jeans (Old Navy via Plato's Closet)
2. Blue Jeans (Guess)
3. Blazer (J Crew - same style, different colors)
4.  Tan Sweater (Old Navy)
5. Chambray Button-Down (J Crew)
6. Polka-Dot Button-Down (JC Penney- Incredibly similar product here)
7.  Striped Sweater (Downeast Outfitters)
8. Chevron Sweater (JC Penney)
9. Black T-Shirt (Target (this link is very similar))
10. Pleated Skirt (Target via Clothing Swap) 
11. Scarf (Loft)
12. Black Flats (Target)
13. Fedora (made by me)
14. Belt (DSW)
15. Black boots (DSW) - Not pictured.  They were in the room with the baby during naptime when I took these photos... Sorry!  They are tall black boots with a small stacked heel.  

I hope you will join me!  Happy dressing!


  1. This is such a fun challenge. I've purged through a lot of my clothes over the last year. I now have a fairly solid closte full of casual clothes that i love to wear all the time, but when I was getting ready for church yesterday I realized that I actually hate basically all of my church clothes. I think that they're going to all be purged pretty soon and then I'm going to be really intentional about what skirts/dresses make their way back into my closet! I love this challenge and I'm definitely going to play along with you!

  2. I love Thredup. The pieces don't always work, but you can't beat the price and the free return shipping.

    1. Seriously, free returns and nice second hand clothes are the best!

  3. Hi Landen, I've been reading your blog (found you through Jansen and Merrick) for a while and it's been lovely to see it grow and change. I loved this post but am most intrigued by the fact you made your own fedora! I'd love to hear that story!

    1. Kelly, I kept trying to figure out a less awkward way to say that I made it, because who makes their own fedora? At any rate the story is a little less exciting than it sounds. In college, I took a hat making class, and we went to JW Hats in SLC where we each got to pick a hat base and the owner helped us use each of the very intense and large machinery to form our hats. We got to smooth the wool of the hat, steam it into the shape you wanted, shrink it to fit, etc. It was really cool, and it gave me a much greater appreciation for the art of hat-making. It was pretty intense. Thanks for reading!

  4. I'm still in the process of purging my closet and it's way more freeing (and easy) to get dressed. I've been WAY more conscious of how clothes fit and if there's something I don't like about it, I walk away from it, even if it has that tempting sale price. I can't wait to see the outfits from your challenge! Good Luck!

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