After so much time away, so much off time, it can be tough for a recovering perfectionist (more on this in another post ;-) to start again. And we’ve not only had ‘time off’... but months of unprecedented stress and unfathomable human suffering.
Months of a normal we can’t even recognize.
I’m not sure there's an easy, correct, acceptable way to re-enter the world after so much upheaval. It seems almost foolish to even try. (Especially when you toss in the fact that my business is anything but essential and new journal posts are not likely to save lives.)
As a result, I've been doing what I should have been doing all along but was too ignorant to see it.
I have been reading and listening. Watching and unlearning. Donating and calling. Having tough conversations with family and friends. Pausing to consider how my thoughts and actions have been contributing to the problem. Educating myself. Recognizing my privilege.
I am learning to become not only an ally but an anti-racism accomplice. I feel so much, and yet my feelings aren’t what matters. Black Lives Matter. I will never forget this simple, crucial fact.
I will amplify, center and elevate BIPOC whenever possible, for the rest of my life.
I’ve been waiting for the ‘right time’ to return to sharing tips and tricks about style + simplicity. I’m honestly not sure how to show up here with the right tone and the correct words.
I want you and all women to feel welcome and included when you arrive here. As a white woman sharing my thoughts on style + simplicity, I don't yet know how I’ll create content that’s diverse and equitable. I will remain authentic. I promise not to be performative with what I share.
I know you’ve likely been bombarded with all the things recently, so I’ll share only a few favorites. If you’d like more info on what that I’ve been reading, watching, and loving, just ask.
Amy Laurent Studio
Amy Laurent Studio- I'm blessed to call this lovely lady my friend. She's super talented and has the most amazing laugh. Amy creates and sells incredible art and has awesome personal style. Oh, and her home is beautiful. Go follow her on Instagram.
Nicole Cardoza - Anti-Racism Daily Sign up for her daily emails! They are consise, human and informative. Nicole provides no-nonsense definitions and effective action steps for becoming an Anti-Racist. I learn something valuable every day.
Thérèse Cator- Spiritual Leadership Coach Selfishly, I'm thrilled that Thérèse is a member of the NINE Community because I'll have the pleasure of meeting her in person at the next NINE Retreat. I found her #becominghumanseries on Instagram incredibly valuable.
Candace Read - She's a stylist and influencer based in Columbus, Ohio. I've been enjoying the rabbit hole of her beautiful blog. And her posts on Instagram.
Frères Branchiaux Candles- I just ordered their Lavender Crush candle, which was sold out for a bit. Can't wait for it to arrive!
Jacaranda Restaurant- Delicious West African cuisine at Rosetta Hall in Boulder. Chef/owner Modou Jaiteh is orignially from Gambia. Matthew and I recently grabbed some takeout for our standing Saturday Picnic Date. The Po Ghana Boy was incredible!
That's all for now. It feels good to be back. I hope you join me on this journey to becoming more aware, awake and compassionate.
I’d love to know what’s been resonating and helping you navigate this bizarre, scary, overdue reset to humanity! Please share in the comments... More style and simplicity coming up. Thanks for being here with me. Stay healthy and well. xo Kristen
This is the first Journal post on my new revamped website!
As you may already know, The Together Act (website) and Excited Chills (blog) have merged. I recently refreshed my brand + business. This Journal is now part of the new site. (See below for more details on how to navigate the Journal.)
First off, THANK YOU for being here.
I know you have a huge pool of online content to choose from these days and I'm honored that you're choosing to spend time with me.
I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and well during this bizarre, frightening, unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic situation.
I feel overwhelming gratitude for my family’s health and wellbeing. At the same time, my heart hurts for all the people who are truly suffering. With the future so unclear, I’ve been trying to simply embrace + enjoy this unexpected time with my big kids who wouldn’t ordinarily be at home right now. Though there are definite downsides, I see the silver lining, for sure.
Sheltering in place has provided an interesting pause in everyone’s normal. For me, that pause included not posting about style... because by mid-March, that topic began to feel unnecessary, irrelevant and even insensitive.
But I’ve missed writing.
I've missed having a fun place to put my attention. I've missed offering what I hope are helpful style + simplicity + mindset tips.
And I’m actually ready to think about clothing again.
Mid-March 2020. I think this was the last time I wore a real outfit!
This unprecedented Stay-At-Home phase has offered so many unusual opportunities to see things in a different light. My own thoughts and choices when it's time to get dressed each day have proven to be an interesting 'style study'.
Here’s what I’ve learned about my personal style during the past 8+ weeks...
I crave inspiration.
I miss seeing other women dressed in real clothes! I now realize how inspired I am by the women I work with both in closets + at Anthropologie.
I miss seeing beautiful clothing displays in stores. I'm not a huge shopper, yet I really enjoy the change of seasons as presented in an apparel retail environment. I miss the ever-changing Anthro displays.
I have been seeking some online inspiration. If this pandemic lasts much longer or I ever find myself in a SAH situation again, I'm definitely going to rethink my WFH style.
These two women seem to be doing quarantine-style right...
I've learned that I absolutely cannot (will not) work from home in uncomfortable clothes. As a general rule, I only buy clothing that is super comfortable. However, I'm discovering that my requirements for 'super comfortable' in my pre-COVID life are somewhat different than in my constantlowgradepanic, stayathome247 life.
In addition to basic comfort, I want a feeling of luxury. Soft, beautiful, cozy fabrics that make me feel nurtured. I want flattering, easy shapes that make me forget that I've been eating + drinking a bit more than normal. Think: comfort food. I currently crave comfort clothing.
Nothing tight, especially around the waist. TBH, I get a stomachache from any waistband that’s even a touch too snug. Is it just me?
Nothing itchy or scratchy. Or stiff or heavy.
Nothing fussy or flouncy. Who wants wet sleeves when washing dishes?
Too hot, too cold... just right.
Temperature control matters. Especially since we're all inside while the seasons change. At first I was dressing for winter, now spring, next summer. I've been relying on multiple layers to ensure that I can find that 'just right' temperature in every room of my home.
Scarves have been super helpful to take the chill off. And there's the added bonus of making me feel a tiny bit chic while I sit at my computer. I keep a scarf on the back of my chair to use casually drape around my neck as needed. C'est la vie.
I now realize that I’m perfectly comfortable wearing the same clothing for several days in a row (like until it's completely stretched out or I spill something on it;-). There's zero shame in being an outfit repeater. In fact, I find this actually makes my life easier by eliminating decision fatique when getting dressed in the morning. And it helps keep the laundry pile down.
My quarantine clothes are feeling a bit like I remember my maternity clothes feeling after two straight months of wearing the same few combos. I’m almost at the point of ‘if I never see these sweat pants again it will be too soon!’
I've realized that I don’t need much to feel comfortable and put together. Right now, the unworn clothing hanging in my closet seems excessive, almost frivolous. Shopping still feels unsafe. And what’s the hurry? I’m not sure when I’ll be going out again regularly + I already have plenty.
What I miss. (Strictly with regards to clothing. Obviously, I miss HUGS and restaurants!)
I miss blazers. Oh, I do miss blazers. I haven’t worn one in months because they don't fall into the comfort clothes category.
I miss my shoes! I've only worn slippers and sneakers for months. My shoes are lonely.
What I need. Nothing, honestly. But the first thing I’m buying when the mall reopens? New bras and panties! Staying at home for so long has made me aware of the sad state of my lingerie collection. I really do feel better on the days when I wear my prettier underwear. Time to uplevel my undergarments.
What’s helping you feel beautiful during these strange times?
What are you tired of wearing on repeat?
Please share! I love hearing what's happening in your world.
If you'd like to uplevel your stay-at-home style, I'm offering special online sessions to do just that! We'll work together to solve your wardrobe struggles and create new outfits using what you already own.
P.S. Vintage Blog Posts: You can still access past blog posts with the search bar above. Simply type the subject you’re curious about into the search bar and you’ll find a list of blog posts containing that subject. Click on the preview to be taken to the full post. Having trouble locating a vintage post, email me and I’ll help. firstname.lastname@example.org
You're in for a treat! We have ourselves a guest blogger. For the first time, I've invited a talented and delightful online friend to contribute to my blog. Please allow me to introduce Tenaya Plowman Kolar, founder and CEO of TPK Feng Shui.
Tenaya and I met online last summer when she invited me to be part of her event, the Simplify Your Life Summit. We formed a quick bond and have been growing our online relationship ever since. I'm hoping one day we actually get to meet in person:-)
Pour your favorite beverage and settle in for a new voice, fresh wisdom and valuable insight...
How to simplify your closet & revolutionize your style
Now, I don’t know about you, but it took me a LONG time to find my own personal style. In fact, it took me so long, that I thought I was born without some sort of “style gene.”
Turns out… I just had way too much clothing in my closet.
Allow me to elaborate.
I am a Feng Shui & Design consultant. I help people create inspiring, rejuvenating spaces to live and work.
For 15 years I’ve studied Feng Shui (plus Interior Design, Space Planning, Architectural Drafting, Color and Space Psychology). At it’s core, Feng Shui is an ancient tradition that allows energy to flow into your space so that opportunity can come into your life. You can pinpoint an area of life where you struggle and shift your space in order to transform your life.
There are 3 ways your spaces can affect you:
First, the way your space was designed and built can be beneficial or detrimental to the life you live there.
Second, the way your space is set up--the larger furniture pieces--affect how effectively energy can flow through a space
And lastly, the rest of your stuff: how much of it there is, where it is placed, how long it goes without attention, can impact whether energy is able to flow into your life.
This last piece has a greater influence on your life than most people care to realize.
Clutter--the stuff that doesn’t have a home, the stuff you don’t love or have the capacity to appreciate--can clog energy like nothing else.
Having studied Feng Shui my entire adult life, I was well aware of this fact and thought my own personal space was relatively pared down. After all, I had been organizing and culling for over a decade.
At that point in my career, two things happened,
First, I began consulting full time and I found that the majority of my clients--though they had beautiful homes full of treasures from around the world--had to deal with the elephant in the room (CLUTTER) before they could see transformation in their spaces and lives.
Thing is, a lot of folks want that quick cure (place a crystal over the toilet to draw up your abundance, place your desk in command to be more productive in your work). And those things will have some impact, but not the life-changing, eye-opening, ease-inspiring transformation that I wanted for my clients… without first opening up space and clearing stagnation.
Deal with your clutter and the ancient wisdom of Feng Shui comes to life. It becomes easy to change your space, to change your life.
The second thing that happened: a friend introduced me to Marie Kondo’s book: the life-changing magic of tidying up. And man-o-man was that life changing. Her directives to surround yourself with only those things that make you happy, and to listen to your joy to determine what to keep, are incredibly powerful.
I had been studying organization and purging techniques for years, and yet there I was, still frustrated at the amount I had to pick up after my family, spending more time than I wanted to dealing with my stuff (organizing it, fixing it, cleaning it, finding a home for it, getting rid of it, etc).
I immediately began my ‘once in a lifetime decluttering event’--using the KonMari method--and it was astounding the way in which it unclogged the energetic pipes in my home (and in my body).
Over the next 6 months, I went from believing my belongings were relatively paired down, to happily releasing dozens of bags of possessions that weighed me down, that had made the experience in my home much less enjoyable.
The energy available to me expanded and a steady stream of new opportunities came into my life.
Turns out, when you surround yourself with what you love, your life mirrors this and you are able to focus on doing the things that make you happy with the people that you love.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, she walks you through a specific order of categories (easier to more difficult), so that you can practice listening to what brings you joy, before you get to the things that have real emotional attachments like Mementos and Photographs. That means that you begin with: clothing.
Now, I’ve told you, style and fashion were never my thing. I wore clothes, but they were utilitarian; I didn’t love them. I had a hard time picking out an outfit every morning. I was a Feng Shui & Design consultant, but felt like I didn’t fit into the Interior Design world because I didn’t have enough style.
Because I didn’t place much import on my clothing, I didn’t think I had that much of it.
Turns out, when I pulled all the tops out of my closet and laid them on my bed (the first step in the KonMari method), I had to take photographs to document the enormity of the pile.
How did I own so many tops? In that first round of going through my clothing, I found it hard to “hear” my joy, difficult to determine what to keep based solely on a feeling. My rational mind was on overdrive telling me all of the reasons it was wasteful to get rid of the clothing that didn’t make me feel good.
It’s funny thinking back to that time, because now, listening to my joy in order to determine whether something stays or goes, is second nature.
And let me tell you, my home has never been easier to maintain, more full of joy.
What is important in my life has never been so clear and easy to focus on.
The energy that comes into my life has never been so plentiful.
At the time, it was a struggle to get through the process with clothing. There was a lot of grey area--items I wasn’t ready to release even though they probably didn’t bring me joy.
But when I was through, my closet was like an entirely different room. I say “room” because all of a sudden there was actual space amid the clothing. I could see what remained and loved that each piece brought me joy.
Within a month, I was inspired to go through the process with my clothing again. This time it took me an hour rather than the many it had taken me the first time through. What brought me joy was so much clearer.
It was perfect timing. I had space in my closet and existing wardrobe to identify a) the items I loved and b) the holes that existed.
With that added foundation, all of a sudden, getting dressed every morning was fun. I found that I loved my clothing. I was beginning to identify my own personal style, rather than trying lots of different styles on for size.
Every day became an occasion, a perfect reason to wear something that made me feel great. Friends started to ask where I was going looking so put together.
Turns out, you don’t need an occasion to wear what you love. Not only did I now LOVE my clothing and my new-found style, but I found a consignment shop in town that was FUN to shop at.
Enjoying the process of filling in the gaps in my wardrobe was a new experience for me. Rather than buying things because I kinda liked them, I buy things that I love and because I know I have the need for that particular item.
Having this new found style sense of style not only made every morning more enjoyable, but it allowed me to feel more confident, more authentically me. Spaciousness in my closet--where only the clothing I loved remained--unlocked doors into greater awareness and ease within myself and my body.
I never undertook decluttering my closet as a way to revolutionize my style and build my confidence, but now that I’ve incorporated the KonMari technique into the work I do, I can say it has that effect on MANY.
Not only do I love my clothing (and own much less of it), but the space that opened in my closet allowed me to think about that space in a whole new light.
My closet went from fully utilitarian, to a space that I delight in opening up, that is an expression of me. I hang the artwork inside that my husband doesn’t enjoy, but that I love. It is a place that makes me smile. A bonus room.
I always encourage clients to find a place in their home that is just for them. This doesn’t have to be a full room; it can be an altar on a shelf, a wall in the kitchen, or the closet where you keep your clothing.
What can you do in your closet that will make you smile every morning? Listen to that intuition and make a change today!
Huge thanks to Tenaya for contributing today's post. I always love learning from others who are striving to simplify their lives and find more joy in the everyday. Interested in learning more about the work Tenaya does? Check out her free 3-day email course “Take Command of Your Space” to invite calm peace & order into your busy life TODAY!
Tenaya is the founder and CEO of TPK Feng Shui and Design. She is a Feng Shui & Design Consultant as well as a wife, mom, entrepreneur and space guru. With a background and training in Feng Shui, Interior Design, Architectural Drafting, Space Planning, Color & the Psychology of Space, she delights in discovering the design that unlocks the potential in your home. Visit her at www.tpkfengshui.com.
Weekly Updates are the best way to stay informed...lots of new stuff heading your way this spring!
Thank you for being here. Have a truly amazing week! xo Kristen
My first experience with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was in July of 2015. I read Marie Kondo’s book and immediately began purging and tidying every corner of our home. Her methods, clearly defined and simple to employ, made complete sense to me. She was definitely speaking my language (even though she really wasn’t since she speaks Japanese and I speak English:-). I enjoyed the process and loved the results.
Last weekend, my family and I decorated our home for the holidays. My oldest is a senior in high school, so we are all acutely aware that this might be our final holiday season with all five of us living under the same roof. My children requested that we go ‘all out’ with the decorating. Which for us is still fairly tame but, I felt the desire to oblige and make this December a little more special than years past.
So, we adopted an elfin spirit.
We carefully hung lights on the tree in our front yard...something we very rarely do.
We picked out a beautiful Fraser Fir tree, we dragged out all of the boxes marked 'Christmas' and began to decorate the tree and our home.
Then something interesting happened.
We realized that we have lots of ornaments and holiday stuff that we don’t really like. You're probably wondering... Didn't she KonMari her Christmas stuff?
Yes, I did go through our holiday boxes during my initial KonMari event. I purged quite a bit and the pieces I kept sparked joy at the time.
Yet, as we unwrapped the trinkets and treasures from our collection, each of us realized that some of the items don’t actually feel like us anymore.
Our family has changed and our aesthetic has changed. And that’s okay. We realized that we'd like to make some changes so that our holiday style feels more authentic.
I've decided to approach this holiday season with the KonMari principles in mind. Keeping the joy factor at the forefront as I shop and decorate.
How to apply the KonMari Method to decorating and gift-giving:
1. Does it spark joy?
Ask this vital question of everything in your holiday boxes. Take the time to really listen to the response you feel when you hold each piece. Holiday items are usually sentimental and only make an appearance once a year. We tend to settle for what we have because it’s a busy season and we just want to cross the decorating off of the list. This can result in a house full of decorations that don’t spark joy.
2. Create a vision.
Decide what you want your holiday decorating vibe to be. If all of your decorations are rustic country and you really like mid-century modern, it’s time to re-evaluate. Create a Pinterest board or tear images out of magazines. Find the look that represents your ideal holiday home. This helps to reveal what’s missing from your current collection. In doing this myself, I realized two things were missing from our home: the glow of candles and twinkly lights and a warm neutral color pallette. In my mind, the holidays are sparkly and warm but in our home, the only lights were on the tree. And our holiday decorations were very traditional with lots of red and green. Those pieces seemed out of place in our relatively modern, natural home.
3. Buy one or two items that you absolutely love!
Make sure you are over the moon for anything new. Don’t settle. You can begin to build an amazing collection slowly and deliberately. This year, I added this incredible tree. I smile every time I glance at it. And, a dear friend recently shared her love of these candles. They are so incredible! My birthday is in a few weeks and I’m hoping for one or two of these:-) If necessary, wait until the after-season sales when you can grab great holiday pieces at incredible prices.
Sometimes I think my kids would love to have this or that...but when I really ponder the item, I usually realize that it’s not really what they truly want or need...it's just more stuff to buy, wrap, open and then store in our home.
5. Stick to a list and a budget.
Make a list before you shop and adhere to the list. Remember, it’s the job of the retailers and marketers to make you want (and think you need) everything! You don’t. Tune it all out.
And...pay cash. Super tight budget? Give experiences and time together. Bake something simple. Write a letter or a poem. Print a special photo and pop it into a dollar store frame. You’ll love January with no credit card bills. Note: I’ve done Christmas on the smallest imaginable budget. I sold things and returned things in order to buy a few gifts for my children. It was the first year I spent only cash. What a relief to face January without the dread of credit card statements. It was a loooong time coming, but Christmas is a cash-only holiday for us now. If you'd like more info on how to make this happen, please email me directly:-)
4. All wrapped up
I love to wrap gifts. I love beautiful papers and ribbons and bows. In the past, I’ve been known to hoard all things gift wrap, but I’ve changed my ways. And I feel so much lighter without bins of unused gift wrap and gift boxes waiting for ‘someday’. I do keep a small shower caddy stocked with scissors, a few ribbons, a roll of tape and some white tissue paper. I buy wrapping paper as I need it and I request boxes when I make a gift purchase.
This season, only buy what you’ll use. In the KonMari Method, there's no storing what you might need ‘someday’. Start fresh each year.
I wish you a slow moving, joy-filled, wonderful month. Consider what matters most to you and schedule everything else around that:-)
I’m making an effort to spend more time with my family this season. I realize that next year will feel very different with my daughter away at university.
It’s incredibly true... The days are long, but the years are fast. So fast.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be devoting time to creating new content for the blog, YouTube channel and The Together Act Academy. I’m very excited for the new year! I have some fun fresh ideas that I can't wait to share with you.
Something on your mind? If you have a question, there's a good chance that someone else is wondering the same thing also. So, ask away!
Topics you'd like me to explore? Please email me at email@example.com or comment below. I'd love to include your ideas in future posts.
Finally, thank you for being here. I am humbled and honored that you allow me into your inbox each week.
Take time to really be present this holiday season. xo Kristen
Seven months ago, my family and I moved. In many ways, when compared to our last move in July 2013, this recent move was uneventful and insignificant. I mean, we barely moved 2 miles. Nothing really changed except our four walls...same schools, same friends, same grocery store. And this time around I was wiser. After all, I’d used the Konmari Method in my entire home. I was prepared and organized like never before. Right? Well, maybe not so much:-)
If you’ve ever moved, you know that regardless of the distance...moving is an enormous endeavor!
It’s truly like a fairy-tale giant lifts up your house and dumps the entire contents out inside your new digs.
It’s not pretty. It’s not easy, but sometimes, it’s necessary.
We currently rent and our lease was up. The right house appeared at just the right time and we were excited for it to become our next home. So, we began packing. And purging. And packing some more.
In the end, the packing was way easier than with our move across the country. We had much less stuff this time around. The things being packed were items we truly loved and used. At least most of them:-)
Since we moved, I've received many requests to do a House Tour video. I kept putting it off for various reasons...we weren't settled, we were so busy, it wasn't properly decorated, everything wasn't super clean...the list goes on and on.
For months, I've been working on something I'm really excited about. I'll share more info next week... but in order to work on the project, I needed more space on my phone. As I deleted photos and videos, I came across the moving clips and decided it's finally time to share them and a house video, too. Thanks for your patience.
As I walked though our home with my camera, I felt relieved that I own less stuff than I have in the past. I also became inspired to make some changes based on what I've learned over the past 7 months.
Here’s where I am today...
I still keep too much.
I can now see the areas where I continue to save things “for later” or “just in case”. There is such clarity in hindsight. When I watch the moving video below, I’m reminded how far I’ve come. And I also know I’m not finished yet.
My journey towards simplification and a more minimal lifestyle has been evolving for years. It’s only in looking back that I realize I’ve actually made great strides in paring down and eliminating.
Most importantly, I realize that I am truly happier when I have less stuff.
My life feels richer and more full when I have less clutter, less mess and less stuff.
I couldn’t find peace in the midst of all the junk!
Now my mind is more relaxed and I am finally able to feel real joy. All of this sounds trite and cliche even as I type it...but it is the absolute truth.
Note: I think these videos feel kind of long with no talking. Apologies. My top video guy wasn't available;-( and I was left to my own editing abilities...which are poor:-) Hoping you find some inspiration from them!
The light bulb is on!
I finally understand what all of the minimalism and simplicity pioneers were so excited about! There is an indescribable delight and a true peace that comes from intentionally surrounding yourself with fewer belongings.
Keeping up with your neighbors isn't easy... and it certainly isn't healthy or necessary!
I’m aware that it's early in my journey. I have lots to learn about living with less, but I am so ready.
I plan to explore the beauty of living with less right here. I really hope you’ll join me.
If you don’t already receive weekly updates...now’s the time! Don’t miss what’s next… Sign up here!
The season is officially about to change. Autumn is just around the corner. Is your wardrobe ready? I have a plan….stay tuned.
I’m going to be sharing some big newsin a few days. I’d love to hear how you create a simple life. I believe we can all learn from each other. Please share below…
It’s August. I’m realizing that my ‘month off’ is officially over! A slight panic is setting in as I look back on the past 31 days trying to recap what I’ve really accomplished. I understand that the goal of taking some time off should be actual time off, but I had high hopes of really making headway with some projects...and I’m not sure how well I did.
In case you missed my last post, I stepped away from my blog and YouTube channel in order to really explore the idea of bringing vacation home. After incredible trips in both May and June, I was feeling frustrated by how different real life feels in comparison to vacation life. I set out to better understand why...and carefully consider what I could do to capture even a touch of that vibe at home.
Let me just mention... I was incredibly foolish for thinking that this exploration was going to be finished in one month! (I guess I failed to think it through completely:) I now realize this work is going to require more of my time than just four weeks.
If I am truly going to create home life that incorporates all the feels of a getaway, then I’ve only just begun.
Honestly, this irritates me a bit because I prefer a one time fix for my issues:-)
Absurd, really. I know. I’m working on becoming a girl who just goes with the flow of the journey and embraces the lessons learned along the way. I’m not quite there yet.
So, over the past 31 days, I’ve started to dig deeper into the why’s and how to’s of a vacation life at home and I’ve begun to see some patterns. I’m currently creating a format to help me stay on track with easy living in my everyday life.
There are several categories that I'm exploring more fully with regards to bringing vacation home. I'll be sure to keep you posted on my findings...
But for now, my short, simple discovery is this...
I believe there are two main components of vacation days that make them feel really special. Better than most regular days... 1. Living in the now- The beauty of being away on a vacation is that we usually exist completely in the present moment. We have left our worries at home and are basking in the joy of now. We're more mindful of the little miracles and thrills that often are lost in the bustle of everyday life. We stay more focused on what's right in front of us.
2. Being thankful- Vacation usually comes with a sense of gratitude. We are thankful for the gift of time away. In tune with our good fortune for being able to set aside our regular tasks and enjoy a slower pace. It’s decadent and feels luxurious to relax our schedules and expectations...and spend time with people we love.
Lately, so many of the women I meet (virtually or face-to-face) share a deep desire to simplify their lives in order to live more joyfully. What’s incredible to me is that we all want this shift so badly and yet we struggle so much to obtain it.
It’s a universal yearning that continues to elude us. Ironically, the act of creating a simple life doesn’t seem so simple.
In the past, I’ve been asked to run seminars, teach courses, write articles and speak to women about how to create simple, beautiful, functional wardrobes. Instead of choosing to work with larger groups, I’ve mainly focused on helping women individually.
I’m beginning to realize that I’m a bit behind in my thinking. The modern world obtains information, solves problems and learns new skills...online.
And women want lives that are simple, beautiful and functional...beyond their closets.
So… I’ve been working on a project that will allow me to connect with more women than my one-on-one, in-person sessions. I’ve decided that I’d really like to work with women all over the world who may be struggling with the same issues I’m committed to fixing.
I'm in the process of creating The Together Act Academy- an online school- designed to help women get their act together… one manageable, realistic lesson at a time. I'm extremely excited to be taking this next step...
I will share more in the coming weeks:-)
If there are topics you'd like me to cover, please just ask. I'm happy to customize the courses to include exactly what you need.
I’m about to embark on a personal experiment. I’m optimistic that by doing so, I can truly change my life (and yours) in some important and meaningful ways. I just returned from a 15 day vacation. The only other time I’ve been away that long was on my honeymoon...20 years ago! 15 days is a long time to be out of my home and away from my regular life. Spending that time away really opened my eyes to the areas of my life that need some revision!
For the last five or six years, I’ve been paying closer attention to how I feel when I travel. And how I feel when I return home. Unsurprisingly, I’ve discovered that I like the simplified life that traveling creates.
I realize now that I really struggle upon re-entry because I crave that same simplicity in my regular life.
After a getaway, I’m super eager to make changes. I want to streamline and minimize in an attempt to capture that vacation feeling at home...but I quickly slip back into the daily grind and sadly, that vacation vibe fades into the background.
With my usual routine on pause for over two weeks... I really pondered the possibility of bringing vacation home.
I explored and considered... What are the real differences between my home life and my vacation life?
If I’m absolutely committed, can I bring some vacation practices home and make my regular life feel more like a getaway?!
I’ve felt a hint of this desire before...but embarrassingly, haven’t managed to actually make significant changes.
Maybe it’s the milestone birthday I had six months ago, but this time feels different. I have the anxious excitement that comes from knowing you’re on to something!
Ideally, at the end of this experiment, I’ll be ready to help you live a ‘vacation life’ at home also! I’ll be able to guide you in tweaking systems and implementing new routines that will allow you to experience that relaxed getaway vibe within your daily life.
I know some folks will say that vacations are meant to feel different...that they are special because they’re a complete shift from our normal, intense, hectic routines. I do agree...but I feel certain that a few changes could really reduce my stress level and create a more peaceful (vacation-like) life. And...I’m confident that I’ll still find traveling to be a fabulous diversion from my newly simplified, chilled-out home life:-)
My re-entry after travel used to be worse.
A little back story for anyone considering a move:
My husband and I spent years vacationing in places that fed our souls much more than our own town. We’d spend most of the year longing for a trip to a destination that provided a warmer climate and more sunshine.
When my kids were younger we traveled to California as a family several times. I love California and feel really, really good when I’m there. Back east at home, when we’d experience a day with abundant sunshine and temps in the 70s...I could feel my mood shift and my spirits lift. My kids would instantly notice the change and began calling me ‘California mom’ on those days.
Noticing our continued sense of wanderlust, my mother mentioned that we should consider finding a place to live that actually fed our souls. What a novel idea. This set in motion our family’s move across country three years ago.
I now live somewhere that I love. I’ve left behind the hazy, hot, humid summers and damp, cold, gray winters that made me so unhappy. I wake up to sunshine more than 300 days a year. I am in awe of my surroundings every time I leave my house.
So, my location feeds my soul, but I’m still yearning for that vacation feeling in my everyday life.
I find that I (and my family) like my ‘vacation self’ more than my home self. I need to find a way to let that girl shine more often!
The following ‘categories’ are part of our everyday lives. These are the areas where I notice the biggest difference between home and away…
Hair and beauty: My normal routines for hair and makeup are fairly simple, but vacation simplifies things even further. I pack only what’s essential for the destination and daily events. Despite streamlining my products, I’ve never wished I’d packed more stuff. I return home to my bathroom drawers and often wonder why I have so many products...and I really don’t have that many products:-)
Relationships: As I mentioned, my husband and kids like me better on vacation. This is probably fairly common...mom's more relaxed and therefore we all get along well! The little things aren't as bothersome. I'm a better listener. There are more hugs and kisses. I long for this same flow with the people I love once we're back home.
Food: Travel usually means exposure to different foods. In new locations, it could be a wealth of exotic flavors and ingredients. At a family reunion, it might be familiar dishes prepared in unfamiliar ways. Regardless, vacations often make me more adventuresome with my food choices.
Yes, I should mention that I sometimes eat a bit too much on trips:-) I must admit that it’s kind of nice to ease up on the healthy stuff and have an extra helping of dessert! At home, I’m sure I’d benefit from the occasional dose of decadence.
Exercise: Workouts are more fun on vacation. Maybe it’s the change of scenery or equipment...but I actually enjoy travel workouts. My home fitness routine can become tedious, making it hard to stay motivated.
Location: I’m throwing this one in for those of you who are considering a move. My advice? If at all possible...do it! Living in a place that you truly love is an incredible feeling. I didn’t know how much difference this would make in my life until we moved 1700 miles west three years ago. Best decision ever.
If you aren’t happy where you currently live...start to research your options. Making a move is a huge endeavor...but the result can truly change your life for the better!
Less worry/ relaxing: This is the golden ticket right here. Vacation allows us the opportunity to let go of the daily stress and recurring worries and just relax. I’m not exactly sure how this happens, but I know I want more of this feeling in my regular life.
The pace: Things move slower and the living becomes easier. I’m 'all in' for adopting this at home. I’ve known for years that slowing down would lead to a more fulfilling life...but I suck at implementing changes that would actually make it happen. It’s time. I’m done with the madness of feeling so busy all the time!
Shorter ‘to do’ list: The freedom of vacation can be seen in my to do list. I don't even have a list when I travel...unless it's a list of fun stuff to fit into my schedule!
More fun: This is what vacation is all about! Having fun. It’s easy for me to have fun on vacation. It’s practically a requirement, right? I’m admittedly terrible at letting fun into my daily life.
Simplified wardrobe: There’s nothing like living out of a suitcase (even for a weekend) to remind me that creating great outfits doesn’t require lots of clothing. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe at home, but when traveling...I’m a capsule wardrobe master! I love to pack clothing for a trip...making sure that all the pieces work together makes me giddy! The ease of dressing from a capsule is liberating.
As you can see, I have a lot of work to do!
I’m going to take the next several weeks off and ‘get my act together’. I look forward to returning to this space ready to share my successes and my slip-ups. Thank you for allowing me to be flawed and human...I’m so glad you’re on this journey with me.
My summer makeup routine is fairly simple. I am not a ‘product’ person. I'm not often compelled to try every new ‘it’ item that hits the shelves. I’m slow to add a product to my line-up and when I do, it’s usually already a cult favorite. I’m certainly not an early adopter when it comes to cosmetics. As a result, this post might be old news to you. If so, please feel free to comment below with your favorites. I love to learn about what I'm missing!
If you're still with me and wondering what’s in my bag...
Check out my current faves!
1. Nars -The Multiplein Portofino or Orgasm These blush sticks are incredible! This has been a constant in my bag for years! I’ve used several different shades, all are good. These two are my favorites! Blendable, long-lasting and so natural. Great for summer heat!
2. YSL- Touche Eclat highlighter (used as undereye concealer) This product has a cult following, for sure. And with good reason. It brightens and lightens without being heavy. No creasing or caking. Again, this is a staple in my bag. I use shade 2.5...have the sales team help you pick your perfect color.
3. Laura Mercier- Caviar Eye Shadow Pencil - in Rosegold I just tried this eye shadow for the first time on my recent trip to Mexico. It’s shimmery and glides on with ease. This stuff stays put forever...even without any lid prep product. All of the shades contain shimmer...they look very sparkly on the hand...much less so on the eyelid. I also tried Bobbi Brown’s version- Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick - thinking I wanted something more matte. In the end, I felt the shimmer of the Laura Mercier pencil was prettier on me...better for hiding lines and sagging:-)
4. L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara- in Black I’ve always preferred mascaras from the drugstore. I feel there are many good quality, inexpensive brands available. Spending less on mascara allows me to spend more on my other cosmetics.
5. Stila- Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner I’ve used this eyeliner for about a year. The color I wear is called Lionfish. It's dark brown with flecks of gold. I love it! It’s self-sharpening and stays put once it’s applied. Goes on in a clean line and can be worn as a liner or smudged for a softer look. Lots of incredible colors!
6. Laura Mercier- Tinted Moisturizer This is another product I’ve been using for years! It’s the perfect consistency for sheer coverage. The shade I use is Blush. It contains sunscreen and doesn’t ever irritate my skin. When it’s really hot, I often I skip this product and just apply sunscreen before using the other products. Cleaner skin just seem to feel cooler.
I actually use all of these products year round, but they are especially great in the summer when warmer weather makes it more of a challenge to keep makeup on my face:-)
I recently received an email from a reader. She openly and honestly shared that she feels she's being 'strangled by the clutter of the past'. At times in my life, I have felt the exact same way. I’ve been completely stuck in the clutter. Unable to move forward and utterly overwhelmed by all of my stuff! After a decade spent working in client’s homes and closets, I’ve come to realize that this is a very common issue...and an area where we could all use a bit of encouragement. I replied to the reader’s email privately, but wanted to share my thoughts here. I hope this post helps you let go of the stuff that might be holding you back.
The reader wrote about having 'strong sentimental attachments'. I understand! In the past, I struggled a lot with letting things go. I saved every ticket stub, dried any special flowers, held onto old favorite articles of clothing, clung to past issues of magazines. I kept anything that I felt sparked a memory that I feared I’d lose if I let go of the item.
Here's one of the most important things I've learned... It's the first real round of purging that's the hardest.
I can honestly say that once I started parting with things, letting go became much easier.
Every single client I’ve worked with has felt same way. I regularly receive emails after helping a client with a closet cleanse. Each and every email contains thoughts like this... ”Now I’m motivated to attack my entire house!”
“I find myself decluttering a little each day, all over my house”
“I feel like I can breath again...I’m on a roll to get rid of the stuff”.
Note: If you feel you have a serious problem with hoarding, I strongly suggest you seek professional help. There are people trained to help hoarders learn to let go safely and begin to heal.
Moving has usually been my best catalyst for getting rid of stuff. In the packing process I’d realize that some items had been in boxes in our basement for years...never used or even opened. I knew letting some of those things go would make the move easier. When we moved across the country, I was fairly ruthless. I knew I'd be paying to move things I really didn't need and wasn't using. I carefully sorted and discarded and saved.
I honestly have never missed any of the things I let go.
Are you at the breaking point? If you’ve had it with the clutter and you’re ready to begin a serious purge, I suggest purging like you're moving.
Donate or sell anything that still has use. Making a bit of cash from unused pieces is a nice trade-off for letting them go. I always use Craigslist for selling things. I've had only really great experiences.
Recycle or trash the rest.
Try to remember... The memory is in your mind, not in your stuff.
I know a couple whose home was damaged in the terrible flooding in Boulder, Colorado in September of 2013. They were in the process of renovating their home. During the reno they were staying in a small apartment nearby and most of their belongings were being stored in the basement of their house. The flood filled the basement with muddy water.
Literally, it filled the basement. The contents of that space was completely ruined. Everything they considered sentimental, important, or valuable was gone.
This truly opened my eyes to the fact that our stuff really doesn't define us. These friends have since finished their home and are slowly collecting new treasures that spark joy for them.
Imagine losing everything and still being okay...still holding your special memories inside.
Realize that it’s really just ‘stuff’.
In my own experience, the process and aftermath of letting go of things I don't use or love...is so freeing that it's worth the risk of not having those items in my possession any longer.
I have never regretted letting something go. Anything I've needed again in the future has been easy (and inexpensive) to replace. I no longer save things 'just in case'. That's big for me.
I've discovered that 'just in case' rarely ever happens...and holding on to all the stuff simply clutters our minds and our homes while we are waiting for 'that day' to arrive.
If a big purge is just too scary, then I suggest that you start small.
Tackle one area of your home first...an area that's not sentimental. The rush from purging is awesome!
The space you create in your home from letting things go will open up incredible space in your mind and in your life.
And it feels amazing!
Here are my tips for letting go of specific types of clutter and stuff….
Sentimental Pieces If you have several items that represent the same memory, save only one. Let the rest go.
I knew I was finished having babies, but the tiny clothing still made me happy and sentimental. I selected one favorite baby outfit for each of my three kids. The three outfits are hanging on small hangers in my laundry room. I smile every time I see them:-)
Take photos of items that you love. I had very fond memories of a few pieces of maternity clothing and some kid toys. I took photos of the items and then donated them...figuring someone else would love having them as much as I did.
Gifts Would you want someone to keep a gift they received from you if it didn’t bring them joy? Forget the guilt. Let it go. Give those gifts away...regift them or donate them. Someone else will enjoy having them...it doesn’t have to be you!
Old stuff One episode of Antique Roadshow will have you saving every old thing under your roof. Unless you buy and sell antiques, plan to attend the Roadshow in the next six months or are moving to a new house where you’ll actually use all of those ‘saved’ pieces…get rid of the old stuff.
Hand-me-downs Like many young couples, early in our marriage, my husband and I couldn’t really afford to buy all new furniture. During this time we gladly and gratefully accepted any and all donations that came our way. We made the most of the gently used pieces and remained thankful for each item.
Years later, we took a look around our home and realized that our style wasn’t being reflected authentically. We didn’t feel joy from the pieces that surrounded us. We decided to let some things go. I put my first post on Craigslist...a hutch and sideboard that had belonged to my parents. I had a very strong sentimental attachment to the pieces, but the style wasn’t really ‘me’. The couple who purchased the pieces was thrilled with their find! I was happy the furniture had found a new home.
We began to list and sell everything that didn’t feel like us. Slowly we started to purchase furniture that fit our lifestyle, our taste and our budget.
What a difference it makes to dwell with items we truly love!
Extras If one is good, more must be better! Not so. Decide how many of something you actually need. Build in a tiny cushion of ‘what if’ and let the rest go. For a while I had a very large collection of Ball mason jars that we used for drinking glasses. I envisioned hosting a huge party and all of the guests drinking out of these jars. Reality is...I’m not currently hosting big events and storing the jars was stressing me out. I saved enough for my family plus a few extras for company. Plenty.
Being 'strangled by the clutter of the past' is such a true (and sad) statement. It's probably time for you to let the excess go!
I really believe that you will feel much lighter and happier without all of the extra stuff! Clutter creates stress every single day!
Best of luck with the process. Be gentle with yourself. It took years to accumulate all of the stuff. Change takes time...
Please feel free to reach out with comments, questions or suggestions. Let's be sure to recognize that we all have our own issues, each journey is unique and being supportive of one another can really go a long way.
I think I’ve finally reached the end of an era. Over the past 11 months, something miraculous has happened at my house. I didn’t notice this interesting change until I stepped into the storage area in our basement recently. There I discovered an enormous pile of unused storage containers. This pile contains baskets and bin, boxes and tubs. They are made of plastic or wicker, metal or cardboard. These catch-alls are varied in size and in color...and what makes them so remarkable is that they are all EMPTY!
Now, let me backtrack a bit. I have always had a thing for containers. They have lured me and wooed me at all stages of my life.
College dorm room? How many milk crates can a girl have?
First house? I don’t even know where to start, I need every container I see!
Baby’s nursery? Oh, I can’t even! Those precious containers for all that sweet baby stuff!
Playrooms? Pantries? Need bins? Yes, please!
Just typing about containers is making me smile:-) I love to create systems and design storage plans. I can find a clever use for a container of any size or shape. I love building shelves and filling them with bins! I love my label maker.
In general, I'm a very organized person...but I fell into the extremely common trap of organizing my clutter instead of removing it from my life!
It took me way too long to realize this simple fact. Like decades too long. But, instead of beating myself up about it...I’m just thankful to have finally arrived in this new place. I am truly a new girl when it comes to containers and stuff.
I must give credit where credit is due…
All of my neglected containers would still be full of stuff and I probably would have purchased lots of new containers, as well...if not for Marie Kondo’s amazing little book- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
It’s been almost a year since I first read this book and implemented some major changes in the way I tidy and store things. More importantly, I’ve changed what I keep.
If you’ve read the book then you know that Ms. Kondo’s key message is ‘Does it spark joy?’. Last year, my kids and I spent a few weeks KonMari’ing our house. As a result of decluttering our home and getting rid of all things that don’t spark joy, I was left with a whole lot of empty containers. I didn’t really imagine that they would remain empty for an entire year!
I saved them because I was certain we would need them in the near future. I broke the rule and saved them ‘just in case’.
Don’t buy more containers as a way to organize your life.
Declutter first! Purge your stuff and you’ll definitely need fewer containers. It you have less stuff there won’t be as much to put somewhere. This step is where the magic happens. This is why Kondo’s tidying methods work so well. If you don’t have stuff...it can’t be cluttering your life. I have a post about letting go of things...coming next week!
Contain it To start, use things you already have on hand- shoe boxes and their lids, empty shipping containers, empty lettuce boxes. If you find that you really want an attractive container, wait until you are sure you need it...then buy only what you need for a specific purpose. Do not buy every size and color just because you like the way they look. Maybe I’ve done that:-)
Location, location, location Find a place for the stuff you keep- everything should have a home. Everything. Nothing in your house should be without a definite holding place. This might sound extreme, but I promise, it's beyond liberating to know where every single thing belongs. Super helpful for families...this plan removes the vague notion that a space is cleaned up...it’s cleaned up when everything is put away where it belongs. Maybe we've had an issue with this at my house:-)
I am planning to revisit the KonMari Method this summer. There are a few areas in my home that could use a tune-up...and some areas that I never really mastered. Quite possibly the Paper Category:-O
I look forward to sharing my struggles and triumphs surrounding clutter and organization with you.
It’s that time of year in the northern hemisphere…people are gearing up for summer vacations! I always find heading out of town to be super exciting! However, packing for a getaway is sometimes super stressful! I’m often asked how to make the task of packing less daunting. I’m happy to assist! I LOVE packing for a trip. Love it! I have been lucky enough to travel quite often in my adult life. As a result, I’ve fine-tuned my packing style to reduce stress and have me ready for ‘wheels up’ in no time!
Soon, I'll be heading out of town for two weeks. I’ll be in New York City, Pennsylvania and Virginia Beach. Want to follow along on my travels?
I'd love that! Find me @togetheract on Instagram and togetheract on Snapchat
Okay, here are my top tips to make packing easier and more efficient...
It all starts with the proper bag. If you have a great bag that fits your needs, that’s half the battle. I like a rolling, carry-on-sized, soft suitcase.
There are lots of other options; duffle bags, hard-shell suitcases, garment bags, larger check-only pieces...but I’ve learned that those don’t work best for me.
If you’d like to know more about the other choices, I’d suggest that you ask someone you know who travels often, talk to the salesperson in your local travel store and read travel blogs for ‘expert’ opinions.
I use a Travel Pro suitcase. I purchased it at a luggage store in Exton, Pennsylvania about 6 years ago. It cost around $130....probably the best money I've ever spent on travel supplies! It is light when empty, well-made, durable and holds what I need.
I’ve recently discovered that there’s a Travel Pro Outlet website. Also check your local travel store or even Home Goods, Marshalls and TJ Maxx, as I've seen the brand there.
A small detour in this post: I've been shopping for a new suitcase. Wow, they are expensive! My daughter is heading off to an internship and she'll need to transport more stuff than she takes for a typical vacation. I wanted to find a larger suitcase that she can check through to her destination. I didn't want to spend $15o+
Yesterday, I stopped at my local Salvation Army store after work to see if they had any decent suitcases.
The universe had my back...I scored a Delsey rolling garment bag for... $14.99. This bag looks brand new! No odor, no wear, no stains. It's perfect for our needs right now. Don't underestimate the treasures that can be found at resale shops:-)
Okay, back to the real post...
Here are my tips for selecting a carry-on suitcase-
1. Make sure it fits in overhead compartments - The correct size bag allowable as carry-on luggage is usually labeled as ‘suitable for carry-on’ and ‘FAA approved’.
2. Pick one with 'spinner' wheels - This might be my top tip! These bags have four wheels instead of two. They are much easier to manage and they don’t seem to tip over as easily. My back and neck tend to strain when I pull a suitcase behind me...spinner bags can be pushed upright at your side. Game-changer.
3. Bag Basics- Select a bag with some pockets and compartments, but not too many. I like a big, flat zippered pocket on the outside to hold magazines and flat shoes/sandals and a few compartments/pockets inside- I tuck jewelry pouches and a lint roller into these small pockets.
An expansion zipper to make the bag larger for when you return home with some extra items and need more room:-)
A sturdy, easily collapsible handle.
A bag that's lightweight when empty, so you aren't carrying any unnecessary weight.
And...I like a color other than black so my bag is easy for me to recognize.
Also...carrying your luggage onto the plane makes it last much longer because it isn't being bashed around with all the other bags.
What’s inside -
Divide and Conquer Use packing cubes! They are incredible and...if you happen to be a container junkie like me...they actually make packing fun. The ones I use are from Ikea. They are called Upptacka. A set of 4 different sizes is about $9. You can buy them other places, but for the price, Ikea's are the best quality I've seen. Marshall's and TJ Maxx also have cubes at a decent price. I’ve found that Target and travels stores tend to be a bit more expensive.
Packing cubes make it easy to organize your clothing. I use one for undergarments/swimwear/socks...one for t-shirts and tanks...one for scarves, sweaters, workout clothing, etc.
I often pack what I'll need the first night in one cube...that way, if I'm exhausted when I arrive at my destination, I have everything in one place.
Jewelry often comes in a soft pouch when purchased. Never turn down these little treasures! I love these pouches for packing jewelry for travel.
Travel wardrobe Create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. Keep in mind, in most cases you don't need to wear a completely different outfit every day. Plan to wear most pieces at least 2-3 times during your travels. I find that I rarely change my clothes as often as I think I will. Many days, I'm in the same basic outfit from breakfast through dinner.
Accessories- Scarves and inexpensive jewelry will make outfits more interesting.
Layers- Be sure to have proper coverage for visiting religious spots. A few extra layering pieces will make it easier to dress for sudden temperature changes.
Dark colors are more forgiving with drips and spills.
Quick dry fabrics- Pick socks and undies in fabrics that can be rinsed out in the sink, if necessary and will dry quickly.
Comfortable shoes! You shouldn't need more than three pairs of shoes. They take up a lot of room. Be sure all of the shoes you take are very comfortable for walking all day...even if they aren't the most stylish shoes you own:-) I pack my shoes in plastic grocery bags. I have flannel shoe bags, but I find they don’t slip into place as easily and they take up a bit more room.
My go-to summer travel shoes are white low-top Converse and a pair of simple, comfortable sandals in a neutral color. And...I always pack running shoes...a drag with a size 10 foot because running shoes take up a lot of room!
Space savers: Always fill your shoes- I stuff mine with socks, hair brushes, jewelry pouches. Place belts around the inside edge of your suitcase.
Coming soon! I'm going to give myself a KonMari Check-Up! It's been almost a year since we decluttered our home using Marie Kondo's methods...it's time to re-evaluate:-) Don't miss this... If you haven't already, sign up for weekly updates here.
Vacation time for you? Safe and happy travels! I’d love to know where you’re heading...and what tips make your trips easier. Please share!
Let me know if you have any questions- firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks so much for reading! xo Kristen
Do you feel inspired when you open the door to your closet? Not so much? If you don’t currently have the time or energy for a major overhaul, you can still do a few things to spruce it up right now. These 9 fixes are quick and simple. And maybe, these baby steps will motivate you to tackle a full-on closet cleanse very soon!
1. Go the right way- Put all hangers on the bar with the hooks going the same direction. This small step creates a more uniform look in just minutes.
2. Boutique it- Put all of your clothing on the hangers facing the same way. Think of your closet as your own stylish boutique. Streamlined and visually appealing. Fasten all buttons and zippers.
3. Like with like- Sort clothing into categories. Hang like items together...jackets, long-sleeved tops, short-sleeved tops, tank tops, pants, skirts, dresses, etc.
4. Color coordination- After you have like items together, arrange clothing within each categories from dark to light/heavy to delicate- Start at the left side of your first category (Let's say, tank tops) and put all dark colored clothing on that side…work through medium shades and end on the right with light hued pieces. Then move onto the next category (short-sleeved tops) and repeat. Working though each sleeve length and organizing by color will make getting dressed so much easier!
4. Texture trick- Dive deeper into each newly created color section and arrange clothing from heaviest to most delicate. Chunky pieces to the left of loosely knit cardigans. Flannel shirts before gauzy cotton blouses.
5. Straighten your shoes– So many times I see closets where the shoes are in a giant jumble on the floor. Struggling to find a ‘match’ is a daily chore that can be avoided. Arrange your shoes neatly, in pairs. Give some love to your seldom worn kicks…dust them off, even polish them, so they're ready to wear when it’s time.
6. Refold your sweaters and tees- Even in the best KonMari situations, your knits pile or bin will sometimes become a bit unkempt. Folding is an easy reset that brings order back instantly!
7. Lighten up- Install the brightest bulb your light fixture will take. If your closet has windows, wash them. Need more light? Add an extra lamp. More light makes the space feel larger and more appealing...and then creating outfits becomes possible because you can actually see what you own.
8. Clean up- Closets collect lots of dust and dust bunnies:-) Wipe off shelves, dressers and baseboards. Run the vacuum or broom sweep the floor. 9. Fresh air- Tuck an air freshener inside the space. I use perfume strips from magazines. No commitment to the fragrance and these provide just a hint of freshness. An unlit, scented candle will also offer a touch of fragrance.
Regardless of the size of your closet or wardrobe, tackling these steps will make your space more inviting.
Stand back and admire your efforts! SMILE and enjoy the process of selecting your next outfit. Well done!
Don't worry. No spoilers here, but House of Cards on Netflix? Wow! My husband and I recently finished the final episode of Season 4. We tried to stretch it out as far as possible...really, we did! Yet, we didn’t even make 30 days. This season was just too good! If you don’t already watch House of Cards…cross your fingers for a string of rainy days or a bad cold so you can curl up with Netflix and partake in our current culture’s mysterious pastime…binge watching! You won’t be sorry…but you also won’t accomplish much until you finish all four seasons. I warned you…
I have always enjoyed Robin Wright and her work. I faithfully watched the soap opera Santa Barbara in the 1980s and loved her as Kelly Capwell.
It seems Robin Wright continues to grow more graceful and beautiful with age.
She is cool and stylish.
Her character on House of Cards…Claire Underwood…is pure genius. Elegant, chic, poised, stunning, sharp and sexy.
Much like binge watching, another topic that's almost impossible to ignore is the constant buzz surrounding Marie Kondo’s guidelines for tidying up our lives.
Magazines, blogs, news stories, friends and family members are chiming in on the merits of putting the KonMari Method to work in all areas of our lives.
Episode 2 of my Q&A series is ready to roll! I’m super excited to share this one because it’s all about style…shoes, rules for dressing as we age, natural fibers and more. I hope you find the answers helpful.
It’s been an entire month since my last post?! How did that happen? I’ll tell you how…we moved! Moving is a giant chore! Thank you for your patience. My family and I are feeling fairly settled in our new space. No matter how organized, moving creates its own brand of chaos! I’m so thankful to have this move behind us.
Okay, on to the final recap. I've done it! I have officially made it through my entire wardrobe and I've worn ALL of my clothes.
Every. Single. Piece.
The experiment took a bit longer than I expected. Since I only work outside of the house part-time, I only wear real outfits a few times a week...as a result wearing everything I own took almost 2 months...even though my closet isn't packed.
I loved this challenge. I can’t believe I'd never tried this before now. It was incredibly eye-opening to see how much and what type of clothing I really own.
As I came to the final pieces of my wardrobe, it was increasingly difficult to create chic outfits without re-wearing tops and jackets. I was determined to resist duplication and managed to pull together unique looks with the remaining seldom-worn items.
I enjoyed how much this exercise stretched me and forced me to think outside my usual wardrobe box.
If you haven’t tried it already, I urge you to start today! The 'Wear Everything I Own Challenge' provides an unusual opportunity to really experience all of your clothing. If you want to redefine your style, clean out your closet, edit your wardrobe or simply shake up your outfits...try it! It costs nothing and is actually fun!
I've been asked to show full photos of each outfit. Below you'll find pictures of my final outfits. My apologies for the grainy images. Seems I was always rushing out the door and scrambling to get the shot. I'll work to improve the quality for future posts:-)
1. I have a lot of clothing! Some pieces, I like more than I'd thought and I'm excited to put them into regular rotation. Other items were just ‘okay' and it's time to let them go. I also realized that I have some really great basics; jeans, jackets, booties.
2. I had zero interest in shopping while I was doing this experiment. None. This actually felt very strange. I really didn’t want to buy anything. I was so determined to work through my closet that adding more clothing seemed crazy! I also wasn't sure what I really wanted...so shopping seemed foolish during the challenge.
3. There are a few holes in my wardrobe. I discovered which pieces could be added to help round out my wardrobe. For instance, I have good jackets, but would like a few interesting tops to wear under them. I love boyfriend jeans. I wear them all the time. I could use a new pair. Also, black shoes. I need a pair of black shoes that I can wear as an alternative to my black booties. And...date clothes! I’m missing pieces that make me feel sexy. I plan to find a few items to wear on dates with my husband. Pieces that feel luxurious and look great!
4. I am ready for a Capsule Wardrobe. There, I said it! This is the most shocking result of this project. I have never wanted to try a capsule wardrobe. Never even considered it. I always loved reading about other women’s success with capsules, but didn’t want one for myself. Now, I do. I haven’t begun putting together my capsule…I’m still working on hanging pictures:-) Next challenge? Create a functional, authentic, beginner's capsule that works for me. I promise I'll share the process here...
Week Two Recap...delayed by the chaos of moving! I had the crazy notion that moving would not interfere with my posting schedule. What was I thinking? Moving is an all-in, full-time, hands-on endeavor...one that requires more mental and physical effort than I originally recalled. Silly me.
While the tasks required for moving might temporarily interrupt my blogging schedule, I remain committed to wearing everything I own. I'm learning quite a bit about my wardrobe habits as I work through my closet. The second week was enlightening...I'm excited to share what I've learned. I apologize for keeping you waiting:-)
I promise to continue sharing what I discover along the way. Hopefully, we can all benefit from this little experiment.
The goal is to have a closet filled only with pieces you absolutely LOVE!
I ask for your patience over the next few weeks. I plan to resume a regular schedule again as quickly as possible! Right now, I'm off to pack some boxes...and remind myself to keep breathing;-)
Today's post includes two videos. The first one is Q&A Episode 1.5 and the second is just a quick update to keep you informed about some personal news. I created Episode 1.5 in response to a few non-style related questions that I missed the first time around.
If you're wondering..."Hey, Kristen, what about my style questions?"
Don't worry, in the next episode I promise to focus on style! I'll try to cover all of the style questions in one video. If it becomes too long and overwhelming, I'll break it up into separate categories.
Thanks for being patient as I work through the other questions first. There are lots of style questions and I want to be sure I give each one a thoughtful, helpful response!
Okay, so I tossed out a lot of information about visiting France. I find it hard to hold back when talking about this amazing destination:-)
Here are the links to the places I mentioned. Each one is a place I truly love!
Shopping Monoprix- lots of locations Galleries Lafayette- 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France Printemps- just across from Galleries Lafayette Bon Marche- 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, France Anthopologie- I haven't been yet, but can't wait to see it! Street vendors
Wow! I put it out there and you certainly delivered. What great questions you asked. Thank you so much for all of your responses. I enjoyed reading each and every question. I’m ready to answer the first round. To make this a bit easier, I’ve separated the queries into a few categories.
This first Q&A video addresses non-style related questions. I'll cover the style questions very soon.
Thanks for your patience. This is my very first Q&A video…and it shows:-) You'll note that I completely forgot to answer a question that I say I'm going to answer! I promise I'll include that one in a later video.
I probably wouldn’t have decided to make this type of video on my own. However, on a New Year’s Day hike, my family was talking about our plans for 2016. Some brainstorming about my business prompted my 12 year old son to mention how much people love Q&A videos. He assured me that I should make one for my viewers. So, I listened and here’s my first attempt. Be gentle with me, please.
Change is in the air...On January 1st, I decided it was time to fix the areas of my life that aren’t working very well. One such area is my closet. Yes, embarrassingly…my very own closet needs help! My current issue?
I have too much clothing that I’m not wearing. So...I challenged myself to wear it all.
The process is simple…commit to wearing every single piece of clothing in my entire wardrobe. Take photos and keep notes and at the end, decide what stays and what goes.
I must say, this is proving to be a rather interesting study.
Here's the video recap which includes the actual outfits worn this week.
What I’ve discovered so far:
1. The first week was easy. I could mainly just wear the clothing I already know I love. Though, I did force myself to choose a few pieces that haven’t seen the light of day in quite some time.
2. I have several pieces that I once really loved, but don’t anymore. I think they made it through the KonMari tidying process since they do spark joy when I hold them. That’s probably because I once loved them. I’m feeling that it might be time to thank those pieces and let them go.
3. I tend to ‘save’ favorite pieces for special days or occasions. These items aren’t dressy or fancy. Though they are often better quality, more luxurious or I just LOVE them more than the clothing I wear regularly. The problem with this method of ‘hoarding the good stuff' is that after a while, the pieces lose their shine…even if they've just hung in my closet. I’d be much better off to wear every piece immediately after purchasing…and make every day a special occasion!
4. I have more tops than I originally thought. I have lots of tops that are very similar. I didn’t realize how many tops I have compared to bottoms. I’m sure that several tops will be discarded/donated at the end of this experiment.
Big light bulb moment... 5. My whole wardrobe should take a lesson from my denim collection. I only own denim that I truly love. This item of clothing is easy for me to select. I only pick jeans that are comfortable and flattering. Interestingly, I'm more willing to invest money in denim than in any other clothing category. I tend to look for bargains in other areas, but I’m willing to spend more on great denim. Maybe it’s time to apply this method to tops, shoes and other clothing. Seems I’d probably end up with a wardrobe full of pieces that I really love wearing!
6. For the first time ever, I’m very intrigued by the thought of creating a true Capsule Wardrobe. Not ready yet…but I’m heading in that direction. I think I’ll know for sure at the end of this challenge:-)
A side note: I currently work with private clients at a distance, but many women have been asking how they can work with The Together Act remotely and affordably. I decided it’s time to offer an online workshop.
Next month, I'll be releasing my Wake-Up Your Wardrobe Workshop. For years, I've guided my one-on-one clients through the process taught in this workshop. It's simple and effective. It will change the way you look at your wardrobe! Getting dressed will be fun!
The 3-day online workshop will help you identify your authentic style and teach you how to create amazing outfits with what you already own. Outfits that support your lifestyle and reflect the image you want to present to the world. More info to come...
I’ve made a decision. It’s time to make some radical changes in a few areas of my life. I’ve recently celebrated a birthday (a BIG one) and it’s a new calendar year. I’m more determined than ever to fix what’s bugging me. Life is short and long at the same time. I want more peace and more joy. Watch out 2016, I plan to find both on your watch!
First things first. My closet needs work. Let’s remember that I'm a Personal Stylist. My job is to help women create fantastic wardrobes that fully support their lifestyles. I am very good at doing just that…for other women:-)
If I’m completely honest, I sometimes don’t follow my own advice. This always proves foolish because then I end up with...
we can say it together...
“A closet full of clothing and nothing to wear!”
So, I’m turning my attention to my own closet.
Note: As many of you know, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo about 6 months ago. I immediately proceeded to use the KonMari Method of decluttering in every room of my house. Half a year later, there are many areas/categories that still look amazing! I’m thrilled with how well we've managed to keep the flow going and the spaces orderly!
My closet has remained extremely organized. The KonMari folding method has been a game-changer and my wardrobe looks great. Here’s the problem…
I’ve noticed that I have lots of clothing that I don’t ever reach for when getting dressed. This shouldn’t be the case. I kept only what ‘sparks joy’ when I did my KonMari decluttering for clothing.
Why am I not wearing and loving everything in my closet?
I’m about to find out.
I am fulling committed to wearing every single garment in my closet.
I want to move through this experiment as quickly as possible, so I’ll focus on not wearing pieces more than once. However, I have a lot more tops than bottoms. As a result, I will have to wear jeans and pants repeatedly while I work though all of my tops. Same with shoes and accessories…those will be worn many times to make outfits with all of the tops.
The only two categories I will skip over are Formal Wear – really dressy dresses, shoes & accessories and Out of Season Clothing – I missed a few pieces when I packed up my summer clothes. If I can’t currently wear it, it shouldn't be in my closet. Here’s my plan: I will wear each piece of clothing!
Check out the video for the method I’m using to separate what’s been worn from the rest.
I’m not sure how long this project will take…probably four or five weeks.
Each week, I'll recap what I’ve worn and how I’m feeling about the pieces. I'll share what stays and what goes. And how I plan to avoid this problem in the future!
Once I’ve worked through my entire wardrobe…I plan to do some ruthless editing.
I’ve been resisting the concept of a capsule wardrobe, but this experiment might just change my mind…
Happy New Year! Here we are at the start of another trip around the sun. Are you ready? I sure am. I love the beginning of January. Such promise and opportunity waits in the next 52 weeks. A clean slate. Big change feels possible.
During the past few months, I’ve been asked many different questions by clients, readers and viewers. These questions pertain mostly to style, wardrobes, organizing and travel. There have also been some random queries on topics such as parenting, workouts and relationships.
Lots of these questions have gone unanswered. I'm so sorry! I promise I wasn’t ignoring your thoughtful, interesting inquiries... I've just been working on several other projects.
And to be honest... I've been a bit unsure about my ability to give each question a worthy reply. I’m certainly no expert. I just strive daily to live my very best, most authentic life…and I’m committed to helping other women do the same.
After several quiet, reflective days, I’m recharged and making plans for the year ahead. I’ve decided I'm ready to create a little Q & A video. I'm going in with the idea that if the questions and answers help even one person, then it will be worth it:-)
My first official Q & A session! If I’m going to do this…I want to do it right. So…I need your help. Please. I want to be sure to cover as many topics as possible.
Ask me anything.
I’ve saved the questions I've already received and I’ll answer them all this month in my first Q & A video.
I want to help you make 2016 your best year yet!
What solutions would allow your days to be easier?
Which of your struggles could possibly be solved by just asking?
Don’t be shy. No question is too small or silly. If I can offer a solution or a suggestion…I will!
Just pop your question in the comments below or beneath the video on YouTube. Want to ask me something privately? Email me at email@example.com
I look forward to learning what you’d like to know….and I’m hopeful I can provide replies that will be informative and helpful.
I must be the mother of teenage/pre-teen kids since family photos currently include a requisite "Sorority Squat" shot:-) My message for today's post is simple.
It's one of gratitude. I want to sincerely thank you for being here with me. I am deeply humbled by the many women around the world who read my words and watch my videos. The process of building an online community is amazing and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
I'm forever grateful to each of you. I created this space for you and it's a joy for me to be here. Thank you.
I'm writing this on the day I turn 50. I know that if you're already 50, you fully understand the magnitude of reaching the day that marks your half century on the planet. It's big.
Today, I am humbled. Blessed and beyond thankful for so much.
My husband secretly invited my nuclear/childhood family (mother, father and sister) to travel by air to surprise me on the eve of my 50th birthday.
Speechless and stunned. Crying and overwhelmed. I stood in my living room surrounded by the people I care about most.
Suddenly, 50 simply feels like an incredibly long time to be loved.
I'll be taking some time away from The Together Act to spend the holidays with my family. I will also be working on a few exciting projects...
The plan is for these challenging personal and professional endeavors to allow me to refresh my outlook and create a bunch of new content.
Thanks for your patience...I'll be back by mid-January to share what I've been up to during the break.
Okay...I know I've had a lot to say about my personal struggles surrounding what to wear at home. I apologize to those of you who are way ahead of me. If you've been enjoying a home clothes capsule wardrobe for years...you're my hero!
For the rest of us...I'm going to put this topic to bed today.
A while back I made the long-overdue decision to put more effort into looking put together when I’m at home. I decided that it was time to show up and be presentable even if I planned to be home for the entire day.
I must admit this change was more difficult for me than I’d imagined. It was a very slow start. I dragged my feet and procrastinated even though I was truly tired of looking sub-par at home.
I finally became accountable after sharing my thoughts in a blog post. I promised my readers that I’d create a Home Clothing Capsule Wardrobe. Putting it out there was just the push I needed.
Ultimately, shifting my mindset about looking nice at home was more difficult than actually creating a Home Clothing Capsule Wardrobe. I was in a rut and had grown very comfortable in my schlumpy, non-terrific everyday clothing.
I’d always struggled with investing any time or money in this unseen wardrobe. Yet, I was feeling like a bit of an impostor. I'm the Personal Stylist at my local Anthropologie and I own a closet/wardrobe consulting company.
Shouldn’t I step it up at home? Definitely!
Once I committed to finding the pieces for my collection, it was actually fun to build this little capsule. It came with no pressure since I usually only wear these clothes in my own house and anything would be an improvement over what I had been wearing.
I decided I am worth it! I deserve to look nice and feel good even when I’m not seeing anyone beyond my front door.
Does any of this sound familiar? Let me help.
Below I’ll share a bit of how to and show you my current Home Capsule.
Four Steps to Looking Better at Home:
1. Believe you are worth it! Regardless of what you do all day…you deserve to look nice. I spent 13 years as a full-time, stay-at-home mom. When my third child was born, my oldest was just three and a half. I was in the trenches with three kids. I was exhausted and stressed and stretched to the limit. Getting dressed and looking sharp was the farthest thing from my mind.
At some point, years into my mothering journey, my husband and I were in Anthropologie (long before I became a Personal Stylist for them). He sweetly convinced me to buy a few new things for myself. One of those pieces was a dark orange t-shirt with some lace and smocking. It cost $58. It was the most expensive t-shirt I’d ever owned. I loved that t-shirt. I felt like a million bucks every time I wore it. I rocked that precious top until it fell apart. The cost per wear must have been pennies by the time I let it go. Money well spent.
What’s my point? You are worth it. You'll feel 100% better if you have a few outfits that you feel great wearing.
2. Start in your own closet In the past, I was very guilty of ‘downgrading’ unworthy, old garments to wear as home, sleep and workout clothing. The problem with this method of creating a wardrobe is that you always feel like you’re wearing old, less-than-fabulous clothing.
I recently revisited this strategy. I knew there was some perfectly good clothing in my closet…clothing I actually liked but wasn’t wearing to work or events or out on dates.
Being forever frugal, I wanted to shift my thinking and see if I could utilize some of my existing pieces and create a Home Capsule that I loved wearing. Shopping my closet for pieces I could demote and still enjoy…made the most sense. It worked. My home collection now includes several pieces that I found in my own closet.
Search your closet for the items that are no longer the standouts of your main wardrobe, but could easily become the stars of your home wardrobe. Begin building from there…
3. Buy some new t-shirts A few new t-shirts can make a huge difference. This wardrobe staple tends to look great for a season or two. Some will even hold up well for a year. That’s usually the max. Even my beloved $58 t-shirt didn’t last forever.
As part of your Home Capsule, consider refreshing your t-shirt collection. This task is simple and doesn’t have to be expensive. I’m not talking $58 t-shirts, unless they fit nicely into your budget. I happen to love t-shirts from Old Navy. I’ve worn James Perse, Vince and other high-end brands…but I prefer Old Navy. They're soft, available in tons of colors and at under $10 each, I don’t stress about buying several each season.
This easy addition alone is enough to make me feel prettier and more put together.
4. Get dressed! Once you create a small capsule for wearing at home…you have to actually wear those clothes at home:-) It's simple. Force yourself if you must, but get dressed!
Full disclosure: I tend to hoard/save things I really like…note-cards, gift wrap, ribbon, magazines…and even favorite garments. I recently realized that this is a crazy habit and I’ve set out to change it. Now I strive to use the things I love instead of clinging to them. I find great joy in sending a treasured note-card to a special friend or wrapping a simple gift in incredible paper.
Do you 'save' your clothing for 'special occasions'? Shouldn’t every day be a special occasion? :-)
We only have one chance to roll through life…why not show up in every way. Including getting dressed even when there’s nothing on our schedule. Try it. I bet you’ll be more productive…you’ll feel more fabulous and more beautiful all day!
Sleep Clothes or Night Clothes…as I’ve confessed before, have always been a difficult wardrobe category for me. The thought of investing a lot of money on clothing that I'll never wear in the ‘real world’ always seemed excessive to me. So, instead I didn’t invest any money (or much thought) in what I wore at home. I was envious of movie characters who looked elegant and relaxed in their cozy robes and well-matched pajamas. I always felt like I could do better, but didn't.
The resulting outfits? Combinations of downgraded, demoted regular clothing that took on the role of ‘sleep clothes’.
How did I look? Like I was wearing old, past-it's-prime clothing. Not very attractive.
How did I feel? Frumpy and dumpy.
Now, please understand that I’ve been helping my clients create beautiful, functional sleepwear collections for years! I was fully aware how much better I'd look and feel if I would just break down and buy some decent pajamas! I was stuck...looking less than fabulous.
I’m proud to say that I’ve finally created a small wardrobe of sleep clothing that I feel great wearing. I now feel ‘put together’ when I’m chilling in the evening and early morning with my family.
In the video below, I'll walk you through how I created a sleep capsule and share what’s currently included in mine.
My advice? Don’t neglect your sleep wardrobe. It’s shocking how much better you'll feel when your pajamas and robe are coordinated, flattering and comfortable.
Well, it's day 31 of 31 Days -a writing challenge. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed Simple Style A-Z. I loved sharing this month with you.
Thank you so much for following along. I hope you found some useful tips for discovering and cultivating your own fabulous style.
Your style is uniquely your own. Use it to express yourself beautifully and authentically. Expect your style to change over the years. Accept that fact as a natural part of evolving and aging. Don't let give up. Don't settle.
Looking great is not hard. It doesn't have to be expensive. Finding your look and owning it will improve your confidence and make getting dressed a simple task. It takes a bit of effort to lay the groundwork but then effortless style becomes a part of your life. Forever.
If you don't love your look...change something.
Small steps will help you build the courage and confidence needed to rock your own unique style.
Always wear gold jewelry? Try silver Only own black shoes? Buy brown next time Forever in denim? Pull on some corduroys Sweaters every day? Sample a blouse
As I wrap up the final day of the challenge, please remember...
As important as it is to look great, we are only talking about clothing. Don't take it all too seriously. Don't spend all of your time shopping.
Make a style plan Create a budget and save Shop for the season Build a fantastically functional wardrobe
Go live your life!
The tiniest changes can lead to bold moves in your wardrobe... and in your life. Be brave. Be you. Better.