Samantha's Minimal Wardrobe



Samantha writes:

I turned 29 this year. As I shed the last few pounds of baby weight from my second pregnancy, I began to plot out what I wanted to wear by creating a Pinterest board. Without following through on the idea and really getting a grasp of what I envisioned, I stupidly bought a few things (which, go figure, I now regret). Back to the drawing board I went, and finally arrived where I am now.

I threw off the idea of buying new and reverted to my old thrifting habits. My wallet is much happier. I spent a few days off the computer and picked up a pen and paper. I wrote down the trivial, mundane things I did during the day, and everything in between, to get a good gauge of my activity levels. Here is just a snippet of my list: Laundry, dishes, gardening, going to the library, going hiking, visiting the zoo, grocery shopping…. In completing this list I realized, for the next few years at least, my dress-wearing days were over. I’m on the floor daily with my kids, and to me, this didn’t seem like a good match for dresses. In my ill-advised shopping panic, I bought a new pair of jeans. Now, not only were they were too big, but the last time I wore them, the metal buttons on the back pockets scratched one of our 100-year-old dining room chairs. Out go the jeans.

After a week of thought, I came up with the following concept. I don’t think this will last forever, but for now, I’m happy.

Concept for Spring/Summer 


Clean
Simple
Classic
Female Indiana Jones

Colors


Any shade of camel/brown/taupe
White
Navy
Purple
Olive green
Once I realized how I wanted to dress, the rest was simple. On my local thrift store's half off day, I showed up early and spent the day piling things in my cart to try on. Since I decided no dresses, I avoided that section. Instead, I wrote myself a list and determined to stick to it.



Dresses

I know, I just said I wasn’t wearing them. This is my one and only exception. My husband picked this out and brought it home for me. We don’t attend many fancy events, but I still feel happy that it’s in my closet. I have a pair of shoes I specifically wear with this, but forgot to grab them for this picture. It's my LBD, but purple- I love the color and I always feel classy wearing this (above, I wore it to a dear friend’s wedding).


Purses

This is an area where I recently upgraded, in my own opinion. Up until 10 months ago, I carried name brand bags. With a baby in the house again, I quickly got frustrated with lack of space, even with a “large” name brand bag. I’ll be selling my pile of them, and never look back. On the left is a tobacco leather tote- I’m pretty much loving it. I use this bag 85% of the time I leave the house. It fits 4 diapers (we use cloth, so they take up space), spare clothes for the baby, my wallet, my phone, my misc. bag of Band-Aids and oddities, a blanket, a cup, and a few toys with room to spare. It has thick wide straps that don’t dig into my shoulder (Coach flew off the edge to failure in this regard) and is very sturdy. I’m currently mulling around the idea of getting a zipper put on the bag to keep it from losing things when tipped over, but I won’t make a move on that until I’ve thought about it for at least six months. To the right is a chocolate brown cross body. This is my quick trip bag. It holds my wallet, 1 diaper, spare baby clothes, a blanket, a cup, a toy, and my phone. I’ve had this one longer, it’s worn in nicely and also a pleasure to carry. I can say that I'll probably never buy another purse again, and that’s ok with me.


Tops

Right now I’m semi-ok with this number. I’m looking for a nice purple blouse and maybe a denim chambray shirt, but I’m in no hurry.

  1. Open cardigan. I mostly wear this around the house. I get cold easily indoors during summer, especially at restaurants when they all crank the air up to 60°. 
  2. Striped shirt. Comfy and cute. I wasn’t big on stripes but I figured I’d give the classic b&w combo a chance. If this only lasts one season I won’t be too sad. 
  3. My absolutely favorite shirt. 100% cotton, sheer, I generally roll up the sleeves. I bought this in my panic phase and it’s the one piece that stuck. I’m seriously contemplating ordering a backup…. 
  4. Simple t-shirt. This gets a lot of wear too. 
  5. Thrifted silk wrap shirt. It’s so lovely and more of a cream color in person. I’m debating having it altered to sleeveless just because of the weather here. 
  6. Sheer long sleeve shirt. It hardly ever gets cold outside here, but when it does, layering is the best option, as it almost always hits 70° before the day is over. I wear this surprisingly often. 
  7. Navy t-shirt. Comfy and classic, blue looks pretty good on me. I picked it because otherwise I would have ended up with another white shirt. I figured I need some kind of variety. 
  8. This button up is approaching the donate category. Thankfully, I thrifted it, or I’d be more annoyed. I quite like the color (it’s actually olive green), but it’s a smidge short. (It’s taken me over 2 weeks to write this all out and I haven’t worn this once. Out it goes.) 

Bottoms

We are in a constant state of being hot. All the time. I knew I had to be careful in this category. Since I recently outgrew my new jeans, but was still too heavy for my old jeans, I decided to forgo jeans this summer and see how I felt.

  1. Linen pants. I love these. They’re a pretty camel color, and instead of slit pockets, they have cute, high cargo pockets. They are insanely comfortable.
  2. These are linen too. I’m not in love with the color, but I do love the fit and everything else about them so it’s balanced. If I can find a pair of semi-dark brown linen pants, I’ll either donate these, or move them to my "wear while gardening" pile. 
  3. Shorts. I actually don’t really care for shorts. Here in FL, shorts are almost a joke. Most of the time they barely cover the person’s butt, very unattractive (to me anyway…). However, we get outdoors frequently and so, shorts it is. They wear well, and I’m pretty pleased, despite my initial thoughts. 
  4. Grey skirt. This is a major iffy piece. It’s jersey material, and while it’s comfortable enough, it’s very thin… I don’t find myself wearing it often, and if that pattern continues by the time “Winter” arrives it will be donated. (Update: I’ve decided to donate this too; I haven’t worn it in over a month. No point in dragging out the inevitable.) 


Shoes 

Thankfully, I’ve never had a real shoe problem. In fact, when purging my closet this was the easiest part. Hardly anything changed.

  1. Hiking boots. Husband thrifted these two years ago for me. Nothing like $100+ shoes for $7. We went traipsing through the woods at a local state park a few weekends ago and I survived the giant trail puddles from the recent rain beautifully.
  2. Black slip on flats. These are replacements for the pair I wore all last year. I’m still breaking these in, but I’m not sure I like them as much as my old ones, due to slight changes in the pattern. 
  3. Wedges by Steve Madden. These I debated for 30 minutes at the thrift store last week. They go beautifully with my color scheme and in the end I’m glad I bought them. I see them on re-sale sites for $20-$150 so I’m pretty smug I got them for $3. 
  4. Simple black sandals. I just can’t seem to wear these out. I got them about five years ago and they’re still going. However, they have a fiddly ankle buckle. I’m considering replacing these with a purple sandal. 
  5. Clarks super low wedges in brown. These babies are perfect. They’re about three years old and fantastically comfy. I love, love, love them. 

Accessories


  1. Vintage 50’s straw hat. I have a whole collection of vintage ladies' hats I’ll be selling. I really, super love this one so I decided to hang onto it and try to wear it more. 
  2. Belts. These help my keep my pants up when I’m in between sizes. I feel like they help me look not sloppy when I wear layers. One belt is thick and worn in, and one is just a place holder. I’m on the hunt for a slim leather braided belt. 
  3. Scarves. Two blue, one printed, one ombré. One brown / neutral scarf. I wear these pretty frequently. I’m still without a good raincoat, and I used the brown one as a head cover in the drizzle just yesterday. 

Jewelry


Sadly, I have a bunch of jewelry I’ll probably never wear. These are the pieces I keep in my closet with my clothes. Everything else is buried in a drawer in my dresser…

  1. Vintage 30s/40s flowers and glass choker. This piece is inherited- my husband gave it to me, and previously it belonged to his grandmother. I’ve worn it with my purple dress, and with a plain t-shirt. It’s so happy and fun. 
  2. Amber and amethyst necklace. I made this for myself. I love it and always get compliments on it. 
  3. Rings. I wear my wedding band and a moonstone ring daily. I also wear a blue topaz ring I received from my grandmother several times a week. 
  4. Necklace. This was the first gift husband ever bought me. It’s a trio gold toned coin necklace that goes with everything. 
Phew. Typing all this out makes me think I still have more clothes than I need. I see another closet downsize in the future. All in all, I’m pretty content with my wardrobe. It rains a ton here in the spring/summer, so I’m currently hunting for a great raincoat but I’m trying to take my time and pick the right one. But really, that’s it. Eleven items of clothing, 29 things if you count everything (minus the two things I got rid of while writing this novel).

Thank you for sharing, Samantha! I love your approach and strategies for thrifting, and the necklace you made is so lovely :)

Paris to Go

27 comments:

  1. I love the concept description "Female Indiana Jones". It's incredibly practical, and I think you nailed it for the most part. I can see why you get compliments on the amber and amethyst necklace, it's quite pretty.

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    1. I know this is kind of old, so I am replying to your comment in the hopes you see it... Why not just dye the shorts that you don't like the color of? There are a lot of things you can use as natural dyes, apparently.

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  2. Samantha, no one would guess you are a mother of two. You are so tiny. I love that you don't carry a diaper bag but a cute, functional tote instead, it's so chic. This is off-topic, but would you mind what led you to choose cloth diapers over disposables? I just found out we're expecting our first child. We are on our way to transitioning to zero waste and this might be the thing that stops us. I like the idea of a zero waste baby but am a little overwhelmed at all the stuff we need already. I don't know if I'll be able to stop working and I imagine disposables might be easier since I will need to commute with the baby (my office offers on-site child care). Samantha, if you have any advice on reducing waste with kids (maybe a guest post?) I would love it. Ariana, I know you don't have children, but I gather from reading old posts that you have lots of brothers and sisters? Were you raised zero waste? If so, what did your mom do? Or do you have any friends who have a minimalist childcare routine? I'd love some inspiration!
    -Marissa

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    1. Hi Marisa! Congratulations on your baby! I will let Samantha and Ariana answer your question, but as a mom of two (4 and 1 years) I also wanted to weigh in! In my experience, babies really don't need a lot. Check out this post: http://www.theminimalistmom.com/2011/02/minimalist-guide-to-baby/
      I thrifted almost everything for my kids and still do, including cloth diapers! I work full-time and find cloth fairly easy. We bring a wet bag for changes when we're out and rinse at home. A lot of people (including my husband) like g-diapers, which have a cloth cover and either cloth or disposable inserts, but I hated rinsing the plastic liners. I prefer pocket diapers like fuzzi bunz. You can just buy several kinds second-hand and resell the ones you don't like. Our babysitter uses disposables, and that's just a compromise I make because it is a great situation, but at home we use cloth.
      Also, newborns don't need much: a few onesies and/or pajamas, a carseat if you have a car, we used a moses basket for sleeping. The hospital gave us a pacifier but neither of my kids liked them. Babies usually only need to be washed with water (including their hair), or I sometimes used a watered down castile soap. Check out Chagrin Valley for zero-waste diaper cream and soap if you want it (I reuse the metal tins). I loved my baby bjorn, but you can try on other carriers to see what's comfortable. They're always available on resale sites. When you find you need something, you can just buy it later! No need to stock up. I also received a lot of clothes, blankets, and toys as gifts (many of which I returned!).
      Samantha--loved this post! Thanks for sharing!
      Ariana--I love your blog and reread every post! Thank you!
      Rebecca

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    2. Samantha, thank you for sharing! What a wealth of information. I have three boys aged 5, 3, and 7 months and I'm always on the floor, in the grass, or wiping up crumbs under the table and coloring at their little desk so even though it pains me, dresses are sadly out of the question for me. You chose a great one though, love the fabric and that color. It looks fabulous on you. I especially appreciate that you share the contents of your bag and the thinking behind each item. Rebecca, thank you for the amazing advice. My boys didn't like their pacifiers either. All three of them refused it (which made me sad because babies look so adorable with the little pacifiers in their mouths). I washed my kids with water only too and they always smelled clean. I am considering switching to cloth for my youngest so thank you for sharing the tips.

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    3. Marrisa and Rebecca, thank you for the lovely compliments.

      Marissa- it takes me about a year to bounce back from birth, which is normal! I am very in love with my tote. It was semi painful to plonk down the $$ but I'll be giving it to my daughter when she's grown that's how sturdy it is.
      Congrats on your upcoming baby!

      IA with a lot of what Rebecca said. Babies don't "need" a lot. We did do disposable with our son in the beginning because he was smaller at birth and we chose to use one size cloth diapers instead of sized just from a monetary standpoint (I'm too lazy to deal with re-selling stuff). We chose cloth because I wanted to stay home (and husband agreed) and long term cloth saves money, and I'm not putting harsh chemicals next to my kids sensitive parts.

      Green Mountain Diapers (.com) is a great USA company with tons of info that explains how the different types of cloth diapers work. We use Flats and hemp/cotton liners along with cotton fitteds and PUL covers. I think in the 6 years I've been cloth diapering we've spent maybe $300....way cheaper than disposables. I will say the one thing I fell for was using "cloth diaper" detergent. Don't do it. Diapers are dirty and gross, they need a full cap of regular (safe for your machine) detergent. I throw mine in my front loading machine, do a quick rinse cycle, then a hot wash on the longest setting with full cap of Tide. (So far I can't break away from detergent.....oy)

      As for other baby stuff.....I had a TON of clothes with my daughter. She hardly wore half. With out son we really culled. He had 10 NB outfits, in 'sposies he had more blowouts but we expected that. Once he moved to cloth everything was pretty much cool. He's 1 year old and wears 24m size, a) tall runs in the family and b) he has room for his big diaper butt, ha! Cloth didn't hinder my kids from walking (a common concern), my girl walked at 13m and my boy at 10m (nope, not kidding.)

      My son's wardrobe is 4 pants, 7 onesies, he doesn't wear "pajamas" because I really can't stand pulling shirts down, he wears regular onesies and pants to bed and is just fine.

      My daughter has 5 bottoms, 5 tops, 2 jumpers and 2 dresses. She currently has 2 pairs of pj's. (She's 5.)

      I have an Ergo, a woven wrap and a Chicco umbrella stroller. We use all 3 items, it just depends on where we're going. My kids don't love to be worn usually, the Ergo we mainly use at the zoo, hiking/parks. Both would rather walk (aka run away haha), and touch everything.

      Rebecca- I've been meaning to order from Chagrin Valley. How is their stuff!??

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    4. Heather-
      thanks! Yes, kids make life much messier, but also pretty awesome!


      I too have two pacifier haters!

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    5. Rebecca and Samantha, thank you for the awesome information. If either of you are interested in a guest post on raising zero waste kids let me know :)

      Hi Marissa, I wasn't raised zero waste per se, but my mom made our food and used cloth diapers on us. She made a lot of our clothing and thrifted other stuff or used hand me downs- for instance, my brother wore cute little wool coats and other clothes my dad wore in the 70s, and we played with our parents' old toys. We slept in wood beds and bassinets and used blankets my grandmothers knitted or crocheted. I have five brothers and sisters (I'm the oldest). I keep hearing about Chagrin Valley, it sounds awesome!

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    6. We don't do zero waste (yet) but we do keep toys an such to a minimum and try to be mindful in purchasing local made, thrifted or making our own.

      Ariana, you already know my email so just let me know what direction you want the post to go/what info you'd like and I'd be happy to contribute.

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    7. I'm here to second the thrifting/craigslist/consignment shop way + cloth diapers. I'm also on a few local parenting email listservs and get hit daily with used things for sale - there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to buy ANYTHING new for baby (although it is fun to shop!). also for the listservs, you can also ask to borrow something before you buy so you know what you're getting. very useful! as was said, you really don't need much! I thought I did a pretty good editing job with my first but now that I'm pregnant with my second and looking over our stuff in preparation, I'm getting rid of at least half of it all! just not necessary!

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    8. Thank you for this helpful tip Emily! Could I quote you in their upcoming post about babies? Thanks Samantha and Rebecca :)

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  3. I love seeing all these minimalist wardrobe posts! Please keep them coming! It is inspiring me to get rid of old unworn clothes that are taking up space and mind clutter.

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    1. I'm so glad Elaine! I love reading about other people's wardrobes too. Samantha did a great job!

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    2. Go for it! Its freeing to walk into your closet and not feel overwhelmed!

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  4. I was wondering if Samantha would share her method for selling her vintage hats? I have a collection of about 100 that I inherited from my mom when she passed on, and while I'll keep one or two for heritage purposes, its taking up valuable real estate that I can't spare any longer!

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    1. Emily, I plan on selling through EBay which is where I got them originally.

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  5. Love the wardrobe posts too, keep them coming. I like things from the perspective of a mother who is on the floor all day with kids as I am also in that boat. But I don't want to devolve into nothing but sweats and baggy t-shirts, so the question is always, how to do that (maintain some style) without becoming uncomfortable or wearing things that are impractical. Thanks!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it and glad it helps. Thank you Samantha!

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    2. I'm guilty of wearing lounge clothes all day on occasion but I always have a better day when I get up and get dressed. Something about feeling like a normal semi fashionable human just helps me keep my sanity.

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  6. Loved the post Samantha

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  7. Great post! I would also love to read a post about raising zero waste kids. I have an 8 month old, and initially I was overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I thought I would have to get for him, but I soon realised that he didn't need very much. Now I just have to stop his over-zealous grandmother from buying him everything she sees, haha.

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    1. Aww Jane haha is this her first grandchild? There were six girls in my family and then finally when my mom found out she was having a boy, my paternal grandma went crazy and literally cleared out racks for him, from infant sleepers to Harley Davidson jackets. She bought enough to last him well into high school- he actually just stopped wearing some of the things she bought for him only a few years ago!

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    2. Yes, it's her first grandchild, so she's extremely excited! Before I even fell pregnant I discovered she had a secret drawer with baby stuff she had been buying over the past few years - just in case!
      That's so funny about your grandma! How cute!!

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  8. I love these posts! It´s great to see what inspires other people and how they structure their wardrobes. Really nice to see how you approached the whole process as well, thinking about colours and styles you want to wear. I do actually think that minimalist wardrobe is less about size or certain number of clothes than about thinking. I mean, I have listed all my clothes on a spreadsheet when I started my minimalist wardrobe... yep, obsessed with organisation. Anyways, Ariana I hope you keep these posts coming!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much for this sweet comment! I agree that quantity doesn't count as much as the attitude towards consumption and clothing. Sorry for my very late reply, I've been without computer access but I hope to write more posts soon :)

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