Paris To Go

30 Piece Year Round Wardrobe


I'm grateful for everyone who has followed my journey from tenuous grip on reality to brink of sanity, so it seems only fair to give you an update now that I've descended into complete madness. And thank you so much for your lovely messages of concern. I promise I'm ok. Yesterday I drank kombucha that I did not brew, so life is pretty good right now. As you know, I finally ended the Khloe Lamar relationship I had with cardigans, taking the advice of Genevieve Antoine Dariaux and wearing coats instead of a separate sweater or jacket, which Jane Birkin still does. I gave away my espadrilles because one of my French friends- actually, friend is a strong term- hated them, comparing them to ballerines. It seemed unreasonable to have so many pairs of shoes in such a small wardrobe, and white sneakers are just as breathable and summery, but more versatile, less cliche American girl pretending to be French anyway.

A little context: Now I work in an office at a Fortune 500 company with a business casual dress code (I still need formal business attire 2+ days a week), hike on lunch breaks, commute by car to work, take TRX classes (okay only one), swim, and in my spare time garden, shuck beans, build furniture, shovel snow, and can local produce. These secondhand clothes handle all of that, and since weather doesn't vary much from season to season, I don't need a separate capsule every few months. There's enough that my clothes and shoes rest between wears, and I don't think I've mended anything once this year (Paris was a lot rougher on clothes). I can wash everything in a single laundry load with castile soap and hang dry- even woolens dry overnight.

  1. Levi's Wedgie high rise, Coyote Desert
  2. Classic tint Levi's
  3. Levi's Wedgie cuff shorts
  4. Equipment cotton shirt (heavily tailored)
  5. L'ecole des Femmes Oui shirt
  6. Plaid Isabel Marant Etoile shirt
  7. Black H&M tank top
  8. Black American Apparel crop top
  9. Black H&M ribbed top
  10. Reformation Piper top
  11. Reformation Axel bodysuit
  12. American Apparel ponte foil dress
  13. Dior black dress
  14. Dior navy dress
  15. Dior gray dress
  16. Louis Vuitton black wool skirt
  17. American Apparel circle skirt
  18. Louis Vuitton raincoat
  19. Camel Dior coat
  20. A Wool Story socks, hat, and mittens
  21. Merino wool turtleneck
  22. Pact Organic socks and leggings
  23. Christian Louboutin simple pumps
  24. Ferragamo Vara
  25. Stuart Weitzman boots
  26. Nike Wedge Sky Hi's
  27. Nike Air Force 1's
  28. Longchamp Pliage
  29. American Apparel swimsuit
  30. Four bras, ten bottoms, four garter belts, one pair Swedish Stockings
That's it! I promise, I'm not demanding that everyone reduce their wardrobe to this point. Because I'm self-absorbed, I was under the impression these posts were about me, not you. Plus I have very little control over my own life right now, and what I wear is one of the few things I can control, so I'm taking these rigors to an extreme. But I don't think my life is very different from the average twenty something working person. I go to work and have fun and hang out with friends and travel with only these clothes, so it's definitely possible to exist in today's modern society without needing a different outfit for every single occasion. 

I detailed the costs in this post. I budgeted comparatively more for things like shoes because, at the time of purchase, my feet were my main mode of transportation. Along with lingerie, they form the basis for everything else, so it makes sense to spend a little. Coats are another important investment piece, at least if you live in the city, since everyone sees you in them most days of the year. I prefer lightweight, natural, temperature regulating fibers, like linen, camel, or merino wool, but wear a small percentage of synthetics. Anyway, even when my life and emotions are unstable, my wardrobe remains constant, enduring. Each garment has survived unspeakable abuse, and I cherish them more each day, probably because they don't constantly disappoint me like humans do.

Is Zero Waste More Expensive?

At my lowest point this year, I lived out of my car. I don't want to spend much time discussing it, especially in light of what's happening today, because I know I had it really good. Everybody helped me and was nice to me and in between nights in a national park (or sunflower field, on hot nights), I enjoyed free travel to amazing places for work. So, for the record, I know my life is privileged and ridiculous and not anywhere near the realm of reality for most, even when I was broke and sleeping in a car. Before reaching that point, I sold off most possessions flaunted on this blog- my wedding ring, computer, and flatware, surprisingly, were the hardest to part with, and I didn't even like my wedding ring at first. Turns out that even with like twelve secondhand things a person can be materialistic (I still worked more than 40 hours a week and needed business attire, so I kept some clothes, sold others. I didn't want people to realize I lived out of my car, and having few possessions made this easier. I could hide everything I owned in a suitcase in the trunk).  My mom used to joke that someday I'd live in a cardboard box but wear Versace. It's funny now that I look back on it. I'd never wear Versace!

The point of me mentioning this is, I know zero waste is not more expensive because I couldn't afford bottled water, chemical-laden personal products, or Kleenex, but I could refill a mason jar I found on the street at parks and libraries and use handkerchiefs I got for next to nothing at a thrift shop and washed in a waterfall with a multitasking bar of soap that was free from Whole Foods thanks to digital coupons. I can't eat gluten, so a lot of the packaged options most people rely on when they live in cars were impossible for me. Citrus and carrots and bulk nuts and other long-lasting fresh produce (including organic rescued produce) kept me healthy and satisfied instead. I still eat a lot of rescued and homegrown food even now, and a lot more raw foods without sauces or preservatives, since I couldn't cook in the car. This style of eating results in natural savings (note: this post is not directed at people who live in food deserts or who, because of environmental racism, do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables).

Anyway, now that, like a cockroach that keeps popping up after you think it's dead, I've bounced back with a nice job at a great company and a nice home, I'm back to my fantasy life of tufting my own organic mattresses and grinding my own organic nut flours. That means I can write entitled posts like this again. Note these cost comparisons are not intended to reflect the typical expenses of the average middle-class young professional, just my own personal ones (back when I had a 401k and savings- when I was selling off possessions, I was not buying makeup or nonessentials). These lists are partial, and do not include everything I bought in pre-zero waste days (it was too much... I got sick of typing). I got a lot of zero waste items for free or secondhand, but assumed highest possible costs, whereas for conventional items, I assumed lowest possible costs without coupons. Please remember: my version of zero waste does not have to be your version. If I have one sweater, I'm not saying you should have only one too. In fact, if I do something, that's a clue you should absolutely not do it! As Alden says, please take everything with a grain of Himalayan pink salt. 


Pre-Zero Waste

Zero waste

Makeup For Ever HD foundation

W3ll People mascara
Nars blush / bronzer

Elate cosmetics blush / bronzer and compacts (compacts are one time purchases)
Dior mascara

Ecotools brushes (one time purchase)
Mac pressed powder

Eyelash curler (purchased pre zero waste)
Smashbox eyeliner pen

Mac lipstick

Urb Apothecary lip balm (four per year)
Clinique toner

St. Ives Apricot Scrub

Coconut oil (enough to fill a pint jar)
Clean and Clear acne kit

Castile soap (12 bars a year, and that's for everything- dishwashing, laundry, etc.)
Neutrogena makeup remover wipes

Essential oils (I usually make or get these for free, so I only buy three a year)
Clinique makeup remover

Brush with Bamboo Toothbrush (4 pack) and Dental Lace dispenser + four refills
Cotton rounds

Baking soda (I spend $29 per year on this on average, for everything)
Toilet paper (assuming a 12 pack)

Safety razor and blades (one time purchase)
Philosophy body wash

Mooncup (one time purchase)
Jergens tanning lotion (which smells like garbage)

Sugaring (yearly estimated)
Shampoo and conditioner

Total yearly cost
Hair straightening serum

Hair straightening protectant

Tampons (three months worth)

Razor and blades

Total three month cost:

Total yearly cost:


Pre zero waste

Zero waste


Castile soap

Laundry detergent

Pine sol

Wood cleaner

Baking soda
Dryer sheets

Flour sack towels
Dishwashing liquid

Dishwashing brush and heads
Dishwasher detergent

Yearly total


Toilet cleaner

Paper towels

Yearly total


Navy dress

White camisole
Grey dress

Black dress

AA dresses (total)

Black tank top

Black ss shirt

Trench coat
Reformation top

Reformation bodysuit

Mittens and hat
Crop top

Black skirt

Wool skirt

White shirt

White t-shirt

White tank top




Other expenses

Snow brush

Cloth napkins (8)
Bamboo scraper

Linen bath towels

Cloth bags (6)
Mason jars (10)

Handkerchiefs (15)
Growlers / oil jars


I'm not going to buy a computer again, and I've been busy this week, so these charts aren't totally complete and accurate, only estimates based on what receipts I do have / purchases I remember. But I hope this is illustrative of things that can be simplified and reduced by going zero waste, even in small ways. I spend about $20 or less a week on groceries (which is average for Americans, but not for vegans or celiacs). Not eating meat and cheese saves money, as does packing lunches or cooking instead of eating takeout or convenience meals. It doesn't take much longer to wash or cut produce, and it's quicker for me to make my own cauliflower pizza at home than drive and wait in line for a vegan pizza at Pizzafire. A lot of items are more expensive in bulk, but it evens out with items like tea (bulk Mariage Freres was cheaper than Lipton or Monoprix bags in Paris), or in reusing one time purchases vs. rebuying disposables. For instance, the average person spends around $69 per year on Kleenex, but handkerchiefs are a one time purchase that might last a lifetime.

As for electronics, I have a gifted iPad and a secondhand iPhone with a secondhand bamboo case. I think the case was $2 and my solar charger was my only other expense, since I don't purchase other items and I saved the headphones that came with each (the solar panel was $49). I surprisingly saved a lot of time and money on snow brushes, windshield wiper fluid, and deicer with my homemade concoctions and wooden snow brush- before, I replaced them yearly, since they kept breaking. Perhaps the biggest areas people reduce are cleaning and clothing expenses. In 2011, the average American spent $504 on cleaning supplies annually. According to Alliance Data, the average American woman's closet is worth about $2000. Generally, secondhand costs less than fast fashion, yet yields a greater net worth. Buying less typically yields savings. My Zara trench coat in 2008 cost 120 euro and barely lasted a season, but my camel winter coat was $19 and survived Kanye West's Pablo period.

I think when some balk at the prices of durable goods, they don't take into consideration the embedded costs associated with disposables, which are subsidized by other people. I get that everyone can't afford $80 secondhand shoes. Some people are just struggling to afford dinner. I don't expect them to start buying organic or fair trade or anything. I don't expect anything from anybody. I present these because hopefully they give people ideas of what's possible within the realms of zero waste. You can make changes even if you don't sit at home all day and you have a real job or real problems. Not so long ago, I didn't think I could give up shampoo or weekly blowouts or clothes shopping or makeup (I don't wear makeup anymore). Then I thought, people survived for thousands of years without these things and were just fine. What makes me think I'm so special that I can't live without them either? Don't sell yourself short- you don't need a ton of stuff to be a productive, contributing member of society, or to be a good parent, or have an active social life, or whatever. Happy zero waste week. I hope everyone is okay.

Paris to Go