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Weekend Photo Challenge (and Day 97 of The Closet Countdown!)

It’s a combo post, folks! I celebrate the 97th day of The Closet Countdown (a 100 day long, self-imposed experiment in clothing minimalism) by participating in Esther’s Weekly Weekend Photo Challenge. She is a doll. A sweet, fun mommy who happens to be drop dead gorgeous. Please go to her website to learn more about this fun challenge. (Thank you, Eszter for inviting me to join!)

This week’s challenge: Love Those Outfits

After living with only 55 Items of clothing, you’d think I’d love the outfits less. Not true. While I do miss some articles, I’ve learned to love some of my chosen pieces even more. It is a good feeling to have a favorite dress (my Merrell Lily of course!) snuggle up even closer to your heart.

Here are a few of my outfits I love from the past 97 days. 🙂

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Please check out the other bloggers who are participating in The Weekend Photo Challenge:

Junette from http://mamassecret.blogspot.com/
Elle from http://an-ayla-a-day.com/
Tams from http://nakedbeautyblog.com/
Tisha from http://dailyeasyrecipes.wordpress.com/
Mary from http://contrarymom.wordpress.com/
Danielle from http://momseyeviewnyc.wordpress.com/
Katie from http://acuriouskatie.wordpress.com/
Fanni from http://theblackberryboys.wordpress.com/
Ginny from https://mysimplicityquest.wordpress.com/
Donna from http://thelondonmum.me/
Casey from http://veggiesandglitter.com/
Eszter from http://kukolina.wordpress.com

Last but not least, here is my outfit from today. My last Saturday of The Closet Countdown…

Day 97: Saturday, October 5

  • Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress
  • Merrell Black Luxe Strap Sandals
  • Black “Packable” Hat (Sun ‘n’ Sand Brand)

Thought I’d show you the front and back of this dress this time. I love the crisscross design. And the “hat” shot is for you, B!

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The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #11

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Greetings! This is my (oh my goodness!) eleventh weekly update on The Closet Countdown. I’m fully recovered from last week’s downer attitude toward this experiment. The end is near and as Autumn slowly approaches, I’m ready to open my boxes full of dark-colored clothes and put away my summery items (like my bright coral shorts and – sadly – my hot pink Lily dress). In twenty-three days, I will put on my brown leather boots (Merrell of course) just because I can. 🙂

Since I quit my corporate job in January, I’ve been lacking in motivation to “do my hair” or look presentable around the house (or even out and about…it happens). This silly/wonderful experiment has given me a reason to dress up a little. I dab on a little make up before I take the pics and I go throughout my day feeling like I care about what I look like. Changes my attitude. I’m diggin’ it.

20130916-070249.jpgThis was an intentional Merrell dress week featuring the Lily (of course!) and the Emery. I slack off on pictures on weekends so the ones featured in the collage are from Monday to Friday starting at the top left.

Here is the daily breakdown:

Sunday:
BCG black tank, BCG black leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes
Monday:
Merrell black Lily dress, Merrell brown San Remo sandals
Tuesday:
Merrell mulberry Lily dress, Merrell Luxe Strap Sandals  – experiment in shoe comfort
Shoe not comfy for working/running around the house. Changed to Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes
Wednesday:
Merrell black Lily dress, Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes, flower accent.
Flower didn’t last long… gets in my way.
Thursday:
Merrell black Emery dress, Merrell brown San Remo sandals
Friday:
Merrell black Emery dress, BCG black leggings, Merrell brown San Remo sandals
Saturday:
BCG black camisole tank top, BCG black leggings, sarong, Merrell brown San Remo sandals

Thank you, Sweet Reader for taking the time to read this. It warms my heart and makes me happy that you are here. I’m deeply grateful. May your week ahead be full of new and interesting lessons in your closet and in your life!

Cheers,

G

To see pictures from previous weeks, please got to The Closet Countdown Page.

Sarong Series: Long Vest

20130910-061413.jpgGreetings fellow life traveler! Welcome to another post in my Sarong Series. In my quest for simplicity, nothing beats the practical beauty of my sarong. I hope that you can sense my enthusiasm for this lightweight, fringed piece of material. I believe it is an essential piece to a minimalist closet (or to any closet!). Versatility is the key to a fabulous wardrobe…

20130912-055513.jpgThe Long Vest is one of my favorites. I wear it over my Lily Dress as an easy, colorful accent. It also works well as a swimsuit coverup or a kind of a “robe” for those moments when you just need to step down the hall for something but don’t want to get out of your pajamas. It also works as an interesting layering piece under a sweater or jacket. Add a belt if you are feeling adventurous. This fun style lends itself to many, creative options!

Let’s get started with the Sarong Series: Long Vest tutorial! It stands out as one of those syles that seems complicated but as you will see, it’s quite simple and fun!

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Average Sarong Size Measurements:
Width: Approx 46 inches (117 cm)
Length (including fringe): Approx 66 inches (168 cm)

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Step One:
Place sarong behind you while holding opposite corners on the longest side.

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Fold over body and hold by the top corners of the sarong, prepared to make your first tie.

20130910-050823.jpgStep Three:
Tie the two ends together in a very shallow first tie.

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Step Four:
Take the two ends and tie them again in the same place to secure position.

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Step Five:
Bring the knot up over your head toward your back…

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Step Five (continued):
…until it rests on the back of your neck. Flip out your hair (if you need to) and you are good to go! Not pictured is the feminine drape it creates in the back, covering the bum and exposing the back. Such a lovely look. 🙂

Here are some other posts in The Sarong Series:

If you’d like to see some other examples of how I wear my sarong, please check out The Closet Countdown Page.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you found the Sarong Series: Long Vest easy to follow. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I’m super happy to help!

Cheers,

G

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #10

20130909-060751.jpgHello and welcome to my tenth weekly update for The Closet Countdown. Only thirty days left. I used all my morning sunshine (and time) to take pictures for my Sarong Series (Tied Long Skirt, Tied Short Skirt, and Waist Tied Shawl) instead of taking pictures of my daily outfit.

That’s not entirely true.

I did take pictures for the Sarong Series (more coming up this week!) but the truth is that I’m just a little burned out on the whole Closet Countdown deal. The honeymoon is quite over. The magic of this experiment in minimalism has faded.

Strangely enough, this is where I get excited about the process. It means I’ve found that place where I want to quit. Not just make a few modifications. But just end this whole, silly experiment.

Words that have haunted me most of my life start to trickle into my thoughts…

That’s when I know it’s about to get really good. While this may be a silly experiment, it’s my silly experiment. When I’m not grumpy about it, I’m learning so much. I’ve been able to “get by” on the same 55 items of clothing for seventy days. That’s a big deal for me. I’m not going to quit.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I put on my leggings and my Lily dress, strapped on my ever-faithful (and sadly discontinued) Merrell Brown San Remo sandals, and decided to rock the next thirty days of The Closet Countdown.

(Pictures will resume next week.)

Thank you. Thank you so much for reading this. Though this part of my path is a little rough, the fact that you are here this makes it easier to bear.

Cheers,

G

To see pictures from previous weeks, please got to The Closet Countdown Page.

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #9

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The end of The Closet Countdown is a little over a month away. While I’m ready for it to be over, I’m also very grateful for what I’ve learned so far. Not just about minimalism or simplifying my life. But about me. About how I work and what I value.

The main thing I’m learning is to cut myself some slack. It’s okay that my overalls can only be worn for work and not to a variety of events (though I am quite proud that they can be worn for a variety of work projects – even in the summer). It’s okay that my wardrobe is basically black – because I’m getting better at using my accessories in creative ways. It’s okay that my closet might not ever be reduced to only 100 items (I miss having a drawer full of athletic socks). I didn’t think this way before this experiment…

Last week’s update was a bit of a marathon to read. It is what it is. This one will be much shorter. If you have any questions about any of my clothing choices, please ask in the comments below. 🙂

Just one note before I begin:

  • On Thursday, I wore my Merrell Mulberry Tiffin Cardigan and I could not find a link to add to it because they don’t make them anymore. I am a big Merrell fan but I’m getting a little frustrated that my favorites are so difficult to find. :((it’s available here in Lapis color only. Ugh.)

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Sunday (Day 56): Dickies Overalls, Mossimo Grey V Neck Short Sleeved Top (thrift store find), brown flip flops

Monday (Day 57):
All Day: Black Short Sleeved Shirt, Teal Skort, Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes

Tuesday (Day 58):
Morning Run: Black Short Sleeved Shirt, Columbia Teal Skort, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes
Rest of the Day: Black Short Sleeved Shirt, BCG Black Leggings, Sarong Tied As Over Skirt, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals.

Wednesday (Day 59):
BCG Black Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Thursday (Day 60):
Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Merrell Mulberry Tiffin Cardigan, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Friday (Day 61):
BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, Dickies Overalls, Black Rubber Boots

Saturday (Day 62):
BCG Black Cami, BCG Black Leggings, Blue Overdress (Thrift Store Find), Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #8

20130825-094429.jpgIt’s been 55 days since I started The Closet Countdown. That feels like a long time. It’s taught me more than I ever expected it would. Though I do “miss” a few items still, I don’t regret my decision to do this. What I learn about myself by reducing my options is a beautiful thing.

Each week, a little light of truth makes its way into my mind. And it’s through a wardrobe experiment. Wow. I’m surrounded by unexpected teachers…

The discipline of being committed to a weekly update post has been wonderful. Each week, I learn a little more about blogging, WordPress, and uploading media files. I’m also learning to relax a little behind the camera. I still notice things that make me cringe a little. And I still have a lot to learn about photography. But I’m having so much fun that I don’t mind as much as I did when I first started.

Plus, there are fabulous people out there who read last week’s update and took the time to leave a sweet comment. Encouraging words are like sunshine for my soul. Because of them, I give myself permission to grow and shine. If you left a comment last week, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my small but overflowing heart.

Now if you would please, dear reader, follow me through my weekly wardrobe recap…

We begin with random bits of weekly wardrobe trivia.

  • My Lily dress was the star. Again. I’ve heard that they can be a little difficult to find online. Next summer, they will be easier to purchase, I think/hope. Most of my Merrell links go to Zappos.com because that is my favorite place to shop. They do have the Lily there but are out of stock in some of their sizes.
  • My friend owns a music school in town and I spent a few days painting and cleaning the exterior in preparation for the upcoming school year. That is why you will see lots of pics of my beloved overalls and my over-sized plaid shirt. 🙂
  • My overalls are almost twenty years old. I somehow fancied myself as a budding gardener (sure wish I knew about my brown thumb at the time…) and decided that I needed some good work overalls. Even back then, I felt I had to dress the part. I had no idea they would last so long or be so useful in the years to come.
  • For fun, I added links to the items I could find online. Academy Sports is my favorite for inexpensive athletic clothing but it’s best to go to the store itself because I could not find my v neck sleeveless top or my leggings. (“BCG” is Academy’s in house brand. )
  • The link attached to my Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running shoes is for the newer version of this shoe. I have the original Arcs. When I bought mine a year ago, they did not have these fun colors.

20130825-093918.jpgSunday

Morning Run: BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Morning: BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, A. Byer Black Handkerchief Style Skirt (thrift store find), Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes.

Evening: Same as morning but added a scarf and changed shoes to my Merrell Luxe Strap Sandals (and I actually did something with my crazy hair).

Comments: I did housework and prepared for the week ahead and then we had a birthday to celebrate (not mine). I wanted to show how easy it is to dress up a simple ensemble. So I added the scarf and shoes and ba blam! Instant party attire. 🙂

20130825-093929.jpgMonday

Morning: Ann Taylor Grey Boat Neck Cotton Top, Danskin Black Basic Skort, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals (discontinued style 😦 )

Evening: Neiman Marcus Plaid Big Shirt (thrift store find), BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals, (later, I put on my rubber boots)

Comments: I love my over-sized plaid top. Until this little experiment, I had no idea how much I liked it. Thrift store find. It’s a vintage Neiman Marcus men’s shirt. I’m pretty sure I bought for some arts and crafts project to do with kiddos.

20130825-093942.jpgTuesday

Morning: Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Sarong, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Afternoon: Neiman Marcus Plaid Big Shirt (thrift store find), BCG Black Leggings, (Lily dress underneath)

Evening: Dickies Overalls, Mossimo Grey V Neck Short Sleeved Top (thrift store find), Brown Flip Flops

Comments: I had an appointment in Austin in the morning and went straight to the music school to help paint. It was certainly a lesson in being a better planner when it comes to work projects. I hated trying to be careful with white paint and black leggings. And I decided that my plaid shirt was cute. (Can’t get paint on a cute shirt.) So I went to my house, grabbed my overalls, and then I went to my stashed boxes of clothes and grabbed a work shirt. Work went much faster (and I was a happier worker) when I didn’t have to worry about my clothes.

20130825-093958.jpgWednesday

Morning Run: BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Most of the day: Dickies Overalls, Mossimo Grey V Neck Short Sleeved Top (thrift store find), Brown Flip Flops

Evening: Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Beaded Elastic Belt, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Comments: After a long day of painting, we went out to celebrate our hard work with Mexican food and margaritas. I experimented by adding the belt to the Lily and while I like it as a possible option in a pinch, it’s not my favorite variation. I like the style. I just don’t consider it very flattering with the empire waistline in place.

20130825-094042.jpgThursday

Morning: BCG Black Tank Top, Danskin Black Basic Skort, Grey Hoodie, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Afternoon Run: BCG Brown V Neck Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Evening: Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Merrell Luxe Strap Sandals.

Comments: Spent the morning catching up on stuff after painting for three days. I love to do housework in my running shoes. Makes me feel all athletic.Then we went to open mic night in the evening. You can read here about why my smile is so weak in the picture.

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All Day: BCG Black Tank Top, Travelsmith Black Voyager Knit Pants, Sarong (tied into a top, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Comments: I bought the Travelsmith pants in set with a top and a matching sweater. It’s a super light, wrinkle-free material. I kept them for The Closet Countdown as versatile lounge pants. I mainly sleep in them. But they sure came in handy as pants as I had to deal with another hangover allergies after a fun/inspiring night out with my man.

Saturday

All Day: Basic Black Short Sleeved Shirt, Travelsmith Black Voyager Knit Pants, Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes.

Comments: none.

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This is my bonus picture for Nancy at My Year of Sweat. It’s my Coconut Sarong Tie Thingy. Up close and personal. 🙂

It’s a long update. I know. I’m working on brevity. But that too, is part of the learning process.

Thank you, fellow traveler, for joining me on this path. I always appreciate the company (and the comments!). Cheers to you, wherever you are!

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #7

20130818-102655.jpgAlmost 50 days since The Closet Countdown began. About half way there…

The Closet Countdown experiment continues to teach me new things about myself. I wouldn’t say I love it at this point. I do miss a few items. But I’m not experiencing strange twitches. Just learning more about what I need from a wardrobe. Part of my goal in this project was to create some extra time to focus on my goals and what’s in my heart. Well…know what I found in my heart? Clothes! Go figure…

Here, for your reading pleasure are the blah blah blahs. 🙂

To Keep or Not to Keep TopI have a top that I’ve only worn once since I decided to keep it for The Closet Countdown. It’s so cute. To me, it is super cute. But it’s kind of a pain. It’s cotton. I do love cotton but I do not like to iron it. Sometimes, I can just hang dry cotton items and they are fine. But not this top. It looks pretty wrinkled. So I have to ask myself if I’m going to stick to my “Hell Yeah” way of life when it comes to my closet. How much of a Hell Yeah do I need something to be for me to keep it? How hard core am I going to be about it?

So here we meet again, minimalism. I have to think about what I want. I have to think about how much time I’m willing to invest in an item if I’m going to keep it. I have to decide if all the feel good I get from the compliments are worth the ironing. Damn.

Black Shoe SwapI swapped out a pair of shoes this week because I went out on Monday night. My practical, comfy, (kinda boring) black heels from my corporate job days were just not working with my favorite little black dress. The ones I kept are not as comfortable (my plan is to upgrade them soon) but I think they are rockin. And a little bit sexy if I do say so myself. 😛

Taking pictures of what I wore every day reminds me of when I kept a food journal while I tried to lose twenty pounds. I did not enjoy the process. It is a tedious project to take on. Have you tried to do it? Ugh.

As usual, the things I’ve decided I don’t like become my best teachers.

I had no idea that I changed outfits so often. I’m pretty sure I do it to avoid doing laundry every day. I live in Texas and a summer morning run ends in sweat. Though I’m a pretty “natural”, “rugged” gal, I don’t groove on spending my day in perspiration permeated apparel (like that one?). Workout clothes sometimes stay on for some housework but they don’t make it the whole day. Plus, I don’t know about anyone else out there but I don’t like to spend my day in a sports bra.

When the weather gets cooler, I can see myself wearing my clothes throughout the day. One of the main reasons I’m doing this whole experiment is to help me refine my adventure closet. I want what I own to take me through my day without any changes. Oh, and I want to feel good in what I wear and feel like I look good too. Not easy. Well, it’s easy if I just choose to wear yoga pants and an big t shirt (like I used to). But that’s the easy way out.

For the record, this project really stretches me on a personal level. With every picture, I’m aware of my wild woman hair, my belief that I’m not photogenic, my lack of photography basics, and that I have no idea how to pose for so many pictures (my current favorite is obviously the one leg behind the other and the hand(s) on hip look). I only kept six pairs of shoes – two of which are athletic – so I wear my sandals all the time.

I feel vulnerable as I put myself out there. I will feel it until I click “publish”. Then I will feel dread. Then I will feel awesome. Because I did something that took a little more courage than I thought I had. Next week, I promise to focus more on the positive. I’m just grooving on this honesty/transparency thing so I had to report what is going on inside as well as outside. (Thank you for your patience as I wade through my own, emotional crap.)

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Lake Day: Swim suit with sarong cover up, White cotton top
Zither Music Birthday Jam: Black tank top, Pink Cameleon Convertible Skirt/Dress, Brown sandals

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Monday

Housework: Lily dress, Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Mary Jane Shoes
Out with friends in Austin: Little Black Dress, Black high heels

Notes for Monday: 1. I added the little coconut sarong tie to my Lily Dress to make it easier to get housework done. 2. I’ve had that little black dress for nine years.

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Black Lily Dress

Note for Tuesday: No pictures of me today. Puffy eyes due to hangover allergies.

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday: Brown v neck tank, flowy black skirt, leggings, sandals
Thursday: Black tank, leggings, blue over dress, sandals

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Friday

Yard Work: Brown v-neck tank top, Overalls, Sandals/Black rubber work boots (not pictured)
Brunch: Emery Dress
Dinner (out and about): Emery Dress. Again!

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Saturday

Morning Chill Out: White cotton top, Pink shorts, brown sandals
Evening out: Emery Dress with coconut heart accent, Merrell shoes

Note for Saturday: Wasn’t planning on going out but had some friends invited me to hear them play at a local bar. Grabbed my previously worn (but not dirty) Emery dress to catch the show.

Confessions of a People Pleaser

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‘You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.’
– Vincent (Ethan Hawke’s Character) from Gattaca

Writing about minimalism has been quite an experience for me. It’s like my soul needed to get rid of all the physical crap covering my dreams. There were reasons I buried them. Deep, personal reasons. I didn’t know it until I started digging and purging and writing. The more I pull away the clutter of my life, the more I must deal with those reasons.

In keeping with my commitment to remain transparent in my writing, I have a confession: I have this constant, inner-nagging to start a money-making blog. “Do what you love” they scream from flashing banners and obtrusive adverts, “and you can be rich.” I constantly go back to my own post about Making Money Online to remind myself that it takes time…and money does not pour in from the sky as I write about my personal struggle with releasing boxes of junk from my attic.

Still my little brain continues to buzz with ideas and strategies.

Which brings me to my second confession: I’ve been holding back. I have ideas and topics I want to write about and decide to “save them for my someday blog.” (You know, the one I’ll create and from which I will instantly get millions of viewers and huge commission checks?) And here is where I argue with my teenage self (my self-righteous, know-it-all teenage self who thought I should always have a very “noble” job) and tell her that I want to write about clothes.

Yes, clothes.

Not saving children in third world countries or how to live without plastic. But clothes. And not just any clothes. Adventure clothes. Clothes that can go from home to work to play. Clothes that travel the world or to the grocery store and still look great. I believe that all of life is an adventure.

It’s one of those dreams I found while digging. Letting it lie dormant was an early lesson in impressing people. When I said I wanted a career in fashion, people often nodded and smiled. When I changed my answer to “lawyer” I got a lot more interest and encouragement. So from then on, I dedicated my little soul to making sure my answer impressed people. Even if my heart wasn’t in it…and I intentionally hid my desire to do anything with clothing as a way to make a living.

But here I am, surrounded by people who choose to read what I write. Encouraging, wonderful, beautiful people. People like you who love to write and explore and discover the dreams we left behind. You don’t seem to mind my strange hue of sunshine. It’s a new, beautiful place. I love it. I don’t have to impress you with my words. I just have to be sincere.

Clothes sincerely fascinate me. I love how lines, and fit, and color, and fabric can highlight our best (or worst) features. I love discovering new ways to wear a sarong. I love figuring out how to coordinate five items into twenty different outfits. Versatility. Quality. Comfort. Function. Style. I love all of this about clothes.

I’m tired of letting my old need to impress people keep it buried.

So from here on out, I’m not going to hold back. Clothes are a big part of my simplicity quest and I have much to share on the subject. I read other blogs (about clothes) that I want to share with you. I want to learn more about the science of style and the beautiful differences in our body shapes and tell you what I find. I will continue to praise the Lily Dress but I want to explore other items I might consider essential. I’m so excited. I’m smiling as I type.

I come full circle with another confession (and a bit of surprise to myself): I don’t care if I make a dime writing about it.

It feels so much better when I don’t hold back. And when I don’t apologize for who I am, what I love, and what I want to write about.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this. It is my heart and soul poured out into words…

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