Solo in the Sunshine

…and there’s no place else I would rather be.

Yesterday was my phone-free day… and I must say, it was a success.  I have to admit that did have to be practical and carry it with me for directions, music, photos, and safety (hey, I was going to new territory), but not for browsing the web, texting, making calls, or killing time.

So, what did I do while I sat on the beach without my phone?

I enjoyed the beach.

Imagine that!

Rain was in the forecast so I headed down early- around 8:00AM- and arrived to an empty beach.  It was perfect, not to mention an easy ride on the Red Line.  I got on at Davis Square and off at JFK/UMass, which was just a short walk across a field, the street, and to the water.  😎

I had originally planned on M Street Beach, but this beach, Carson Beach, seemed like my cup of tea.  There was even a (recently updated) bathhouse and counter with snacks!

Whoever said city dwellers can’t enjoy the beach, or nature, are mistaken.  That is why I love Boston so much- I have the best of both worlds.

After taking a few photos, I put my phone on airplane mode, sprayed on some SPF 30, and sprawled out on my blanket.  Peace and quiet.

I looked down at groups of people playing volleyball, taking kids out on floaties, and playing catch with their dogs.

However, I was exactly where I wanted to be… with my favorite company in the world: myself. 💜

Traveling Light- Collecting Sentiments, Not Stuff

It just occurred to me that this is one of my first “minimalist” trips.  In the past I used to always check a bag or two, pack enough shoes for three weeks, and prepare for any occasion.

Not anymore.

As I packed for a week in Colorado, I was realistic- I knew I’d be lounging around during the day, working away on my laptop, and bundling up to go out and explore.  This has been a bit of a “working vacation;” while my friend is at his office during the day, I’ve been drinking endless amounts of coffee in his luxury apartment lobby, working away, and catching up on TV shows (since, you know, I normally watch shows from my laptop).

I brought one carry-on- my packable Henri Bendel overnight bag (which comes in Bendel stripe or black), making it easy to store after getting back from a getaway.  Since Henri is my favorite for all the things, I had my plaid purse and monogram cross-body bag along for the trip.  I was glad airport security didn’t have anything to say about me having three personal items, not two- but my cross-body is small enough to get away with.

So, far, so good.  Packing was a success.

Yesterday we took a road trip to Boulder and checked out the lovely Pearl Street shopping area after exploring Flagstaff Mountain.  Shopping used to be one of my favorite activities of all time.  My friend Brett just so happens to be the best shopping partner, too.  Over the years he’s accompanied me on many excursions- from shoe shopping in San Francisco to Macy’s with my mom and me in NYC, he’s a really great sport.  Not this time, though- he didn’t have any bags to help carry and didn’t spend hours waiting for me outside a fitting room.  Since the beginning of our friendship (when my fashion blog was in full-force) my priorities have taken a major shift- what used to be one of my favorite pastimes now gives me a ping of anxiety, with a “where will I put this?” running in the back of my mind.

My colorful wardrobe of items I never wore has since been replaced by classic blacks, staple pieces, and favorites- no duplicates, no “because it was on sale” excuses, no space fillers.  Just things I actually wear and love.

Sure, I’m on a budget and don’t have space in my carry-on- I packed as much as I possibly could into that Bendel bag- but I also realized I don’t need anything new.  Just a couple of weeks ago I did a major deep-cleaning in my apartment, doing two huge loads of laundry and gutting my entire closet to re-organize.  Even though I didn’t think I had much, it was entirely overwhelming.  Step by step, I organized socks, shirts, skirts, leggings, loungewear, etc.  After all was said and done, I felt AMAZING.  I knew where everything was, ditched the things I no longer use or wear, and created a method to the madness.  “Stuff” can get overwhelming even when you’re a minimalist- there’s just less of it!

This trip has inspired me to consign and donate even more of the clothes I have.  It’s made me take a closer look at the things I really need- and things I haven’t missed in my six days in Denver.  So, what did I bring, you ask?

Seven days in Denver: Packing List

  • Hairdryer
  • Straightener
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Face lotion
  • Nail polish (Essie “Merino Cool”)
  • 2 black tanks (H&M, 2 for $10)
  • 3 black leggings
  • 3 sweatshirts (two black, one grey)
  • 1 black dress (in case it got nice- it hasn’t)
  • 1 pair of tights
  • 1 black cardigan sweater
  • 1 SF Giants t-shirt
  • 1 SF Giants hat
  • Workout clothes- yoga pants, sports bra, running shoes
  • 1 quilted black coat
  • Bras, underwear, socks
  • Suede ankle boots
  • Black ballet flats
  • Laptop

This is all I brought.

My plane wardrobe consisted of a black tank, black wrap sweater, leggings, booties (that were easy to slide on and off at security), black scarf, and my long(er) quilted black coat.  The beauty of each and every item I packed is that everything goes with everything.  That’s the key to packing- having an interchangeable capsule wardrobe.

Although my love for clothes will never die, I’ve learned to prioritize and focus on quality over quantity.  Even though I didn’t do any damage on Pearl Street, I experienced something even better- mindful moments with a good friend, enjoying the beauty of nature, and some relaxing time away from home.  I did get a sticker from Trident Books, an iconic Boulder bookstore.  Coincidentally, the sticker (which came from a machine) is of a woman meditating in the forest with a baby deer on her lap.  We had just seen deer running through the mountain, too!  I put the sticker on my laptop as a reminder of this fabulous trip, and to stay mindful in every moment.

I leave Denver tomorrow afternoon and am so grateful for this re-set.  I start a new job on Thursday and I’m thrilled about the opportunity- and to be able to recharge before I begin a new chapter.

If this trip has taught me anything, it has confirmed the importance of collecting sentiments, not stuff.  There truly is a freedom to living more with less- so get outside, take a deep breath, and remember what really matters- this moment.

How A Fashion Girl Went Minimalist

I used to be one of those people who saw something on sale and bought it in every color. When I found a dress, pair of pants or top I loved, I would do the same- the more, the better!  I would mindlessly shop on a Saturday and search the sale racks for things I didn’t need, but were “too good to pass up.”

My closet was full, my dresser drawers were breaking, and I couldn’t even account for most of my shoes.  I forgot about things I owned, left the tags on multiple items and constantly took things to consignment stores- only to buy more.

It was insanity.

I vividly remember packing up my childhood house prior to my mother putting it on the market.  I was on my way to start a new life in New York City, blindly moving into an Upper West Side apartment with one closet.  Obviously, I thought it was necessary to pack everything I owned and send it on over.  Endless boxes and several luggages later, I had an overflowing closet full of everything I could possibly need- yet only stuck to a few pieces.

I had purses in every color, shape and size. I had shoes I never wore.  Don’t even get me started on the “seasonal” items that barely saw the light of day.

During my time in New York, I moved twice and got rid of a lot.  Some of the pieces I sold broke my heart, but I needed the money more than I needed the fashion statement.  I started by selling the old pieces I didn’t feel great in and the navy items that clashed with my everyday blacks.  I started to realize that over the years my style has remained the same: classic, minimal, and grey scale.

Yes, there are many ways to dress up a basic ensemble.  I also learned that the costume jewelry, uncomfortable heels and impractical handbags only took up space and weren’t necessary for me to complete “the look.”

It was time to embrace minimalism.

Now, I’m not one of those people who counts the number of pieces I own or commits to getting rid of two items when I bring in one- no.  I believe life is all about balance.  However, I stick to a look yet have only a few items that are outliers (a green dress, a bright bag, or a chunky necklace).

Thinking about decluttering and discovering your signature look?  Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to get started.

What do I feel best in?

I have a lot of black tank tops and leggings.  They’re versatile and practical, whether dressing up or down.  I believe in quality over quantity, so I find a brand I like and toss them when they start getting old.

Whether going out with friends or running errands, I love a basic black dress.  I have many.  Sundresses, work dresses, everyday dresses.  People often ask me why I get dressed up, and my response is simple: “I’m only throwing on one thing.  It’s easy.”  No effort, yet I feel chic and polished.  It doesn’t get much better than that (oh yes- and my favorite black dress was $8 and from H&M.  No one would ever guess).

What do I really wear?

Going back to leggings, this brings me to jeans.  I can’t stand them.  I stand at a petite 5’3, so it’s a challenge finding jeans that both fit and feel comfortable.  I would much rather wear an oversized shirt or throw a long tank over my leggings instead of feeling restricted in jeans.  I only own two pairs as of today.

Jewelry was a big thing for me, too. Most of my jewelry is simple or sentimental, and all of the other boxes and bags of statement pieces gathered dust.  I stopped buying cheap, and started thinking practical.

What colors do I gravitate toward?

It’s clear I prefer blacks, whites and greys, but I also like pops of color.  My favorites are red and green.  I don’t restrict myself to these colors, but the majority of my wardrobe can be worn interchangeably with all of my pieces.  It’s like a game of mix and match.

I remember how proud of myself I was when I packed for a trip home for the holidays.  Everything I wore worked together.  Boots, flats, leggings, skirts, tops, dresses.  This was when I had my “a-ha” moment- I realized I didn’t really need as much as I owned.

What brands suit my style and budget?

I got on a Henri Bendel handbag and jewelry kick while living in New York.  They always have amazing sales, so I enjoy getting a new handbag or monogrammed tote every season or two.  I also have stayed true to budget brands such as H&M, Old Navy and ASOS, who year after year come out with little black dresses and basic pieces that fit me.  Gap is one of the only brands that consistently has “short” jeans that fit me- I just pick up the number, hit the register and go- I don’t have to waste any time, and I know that they’ll fit.

It’s great to discover new brands, but also important to know your body and your style- whatever your budget may be.

I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothing items (I’d rather splurge and buy nice shoes or a bag), as I have a tendency to spill coffee or sit on something that may stain- yet another reason I wear a lot of black.  City life can also do a number on your clothing, so I try to avoid getting myself into a situation where I ruin a $200 top that I couldn’t afford in the first place.

As I reflect on my path from excessive spending and hoarding to getting a rush from cleaning out my closet, I am grateful to lose fashion FOMO.  I used to constantly compare myself to fashion magazines, women around me and the latest trends, but now I wouldn’t trade my signature style for any other.

Being happy within yourself, and your outfit, is one of the greatest gifts of all- minimalist or not. ❤️