Will minimalism make me happy?

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I’ve been considering starting a capsule wardrobe for some time, and I thought I’d write about it to get advice from other capsule wardrobe bloggers and minimalists.

Before I begin this post, I’d love for you to read this article from The Toast (R.I.P.) about “How To Get Rid Of Clutter And Live Abundantly.”  If you read it, I hope you laughed as hard as I did.  If you didn’t, I’m going to share one of my favorite excerpts to get my point across:

“Have you ever owned anything? This is why you cannot forgive any of your former lovers. Things like ‘having chairs’ is preventing you from living your best life, and also you should throw away any item of clothing you’re not currently wearing. If it’s not on your skin, you don’t really love it, do you?”

This article speaks to me so much because it’s over-the-top but really not too far off from what a lot of minimalist, capsule-wardrobe-wearing, yoga-instructor hippies will tell you when you ask them why they are positively glowing with genuine happiness all the time (it’s really just an Instagram filter).  “You have too much stuff!  It’s weighing you down!  Get rid of everything you don’t need and surround yourself with the ocean and only people that you love and stop drinking coffee because caffeine is a drug!  Drink tea!  Then you’ll be really, truly happy.”

And I get it.  I really do.  When I’m stressed out, I can feel all of the clutter in my room looming over me, taunting me, so that I can’t do anything until it’s all cleaned and organized.  But that’s just an excuse, right? A slightly positive form of procrastination.  Someone who has an immaculate home down to their color-coded sock drawer, please tell me if you have reached maximum productivity.

I think there is danger in looking for happiness in material possessions—or lack of them—and that getting rid of my things is not going to magically cure the discontent in my life.  Getting organized does not solve the underlying issues that keep us from happiness.  I also think “minimalism” has evolved into something of an aesthetic movement, rather than a lifestyle.  Everything on your desk looks pretty for Instagram because you just swiped everything into the junk drawer, right?

But, as someone who has very little space and too many clothes, I am looking forward to embracing mindfulness when it comes to shopping and blogging.  When I was younger, I took a “more is more” approach to clothing and surrounded myself with trendy fast fashion so I could always try a new look and be a new person every day.  Now that I am starting to understand what style of clothing I like, feel confident in, and flatters my body, I feel that at least half of my clothes don’t “work” for me.  I wear them because I have had good times in them (“I can’t get rid of the skirt we wore on our first date!”) or because I think they might look good in the future (“when I lose ten pounds and have bulging biceps but still want to look feminine”).  It’s not doing me any good to lug these clothes around through countless moves where they are actually, literally, weighing me down.  I also feel bad about the waste that goes on in the fast fashion industry and would much rather buy fewer items of higher quality made by women and men that I would love to support.

So I am selling some clothing on Poshmark, putting out of season clothes and special occasion dresses in storage, and paring down my day-to-day wardrobe to include the essentials.  I’ll write a follow-up post on what my idea of a capsule wardrobe actually looks like when I am further along in the process, but for now I’d love your advice if you have a capsule wardrobe!

Xoxo

– Hannah

April Showers

After a two-week tease of weather in the 70’s and 80’s we’re now back to chilly winter weather in the Northeast, and I am writing this to you from the comfort of my bed and not outside in the 43° rain.

As ready as I am for warm weather, I realized I’m also completely unprepared.  I don’t mean my “beach body” isn’t ready or I’m too pale, although those are both true.  I just don’t really own many spring outfits.  I have a ton of bulky winter sweaters and flowy summer sundresses, but very few transition items for spring.  So I’m taking this time to shop for spring and slowly begin to transition my summer clothes out of storage.

Anyway, this week was cold, and this is what I wore.  My family came to pick me up at my apartment for Sunday lunch and they brought Molly, our family pup.  Molly has plenty of her own sweaters but she hates them, so I had to share my jacket with her so she didn’t freeze.

Sweatshirt: Forever 21 // Coat: Laundry // Flats: ASOS // Bag: Fossil

Xoxo,

– Hannah

Classic Combinations

  
Recently a fashion marketing company I’m working with emailed me and asked me to list some words that describe my style. It’s a simple question, but I wasn’t sure how to answer. That’s almost as bad as a new acquaintance asking “so tell me about yourself,” and forcing you to sum up your entire image in a few sentences. How do I want to present myself? I’m sophisticated sometimes but usually my priority is to be comfortable. I like trendy, new fashion but also vintage styles. How do I want to define myself, my blog, and my brand?

I sent a few of my closest friends a text and asked them to describe my style, and there was a lot of overlap in the words they used, which was reassuring. One word that stood out to me was “classic.” 

When I was younger I liked to take fashion risks and wear purple eyeshadow. It was a crucial part of discovering what “worked” for me and what didn’t. I started to understand what clothes and colors flattered my body, made me feel comfortable, and reflected how I felt. And now that I’ve experimented, I stick to what works. One of my favorite classic combinations is denim and black, whether it’s black jeans and a t-shirt or a dress. What is your favorite classic combination to wear? 

 
Dress: Old Navy / Jacket: H&M / Shoes: ASOS / Bag: Fossil / Necklace: Speakable 

Xoxo,

– Hannah 

2015 Recap

 
The Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France

The New Year always makes me nostalgic, and usually I try to keep my sentimental feelings off social media. But if you know me in person you know that communication is my number one core value and I love giving and receiving advice. I think that each of us has a little bit of wisdom inside of us and collectively we have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but too often we’re afraid to open up and share it.

Today I’m spending the day unpacking but mostly reflecting on everything that happened in 2015, and I feel God telling me “this is the year you faced your fears.” I’m really terrified of not having control over my life and opening myself up to criticism. So I lived in Paris where I barely understood the language and forced myself to speak kindergarten-level French. I took a class on public speaking and allowed myself to be criticized and come out better and stronger. Those two things ended up being the best experiences I had this year.


I graduated college. I was really paranoid that after all this time it wouldn’t happen. It didn’t seem real. I kept checking my grades, afraid that I had missed something and would fail a class and have to go to school for another semester and everyone would know. But my GPA was the highest this semester that it has ever been in college.

My three-year, living-in-the-same-city relationship turned into a 16-hour-time-difference, 24-hour-flight-away relationship, and I’m learning how to be together but apart, alone but not lonely.


Sparrow and Lace Photography

I’ve moved apartments and places four times. I left New York. I moved in with my best friend just an hour away from my little brother and sister, so I can watch them grow and love on them. I’m pursuing real happiness, not social media likes or the “coolness” that comes from living in the coolest city in the world. And I’m still scared. But also really, really excited for what’s next.

Xoxo,

– Hannah

You Fit Me Better Than My Favorite Sweater

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I have three final papers I should be writing now, but I’m taking a quick break to present you with something more important—my new favorite sweater.  Yes, these papers will determine whether or not I graduate and never have to take another class again after this Monday, but just look at the little clouds on this sweater.

If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Instagram, you know I really love clouds, and you may have heard me complain that most cloud print clothes are made for babies.  So when I saw this cloud print sweater from Press Fashions, I got really excited.  I ordered it immediately and tracked the package obsessively online.

When I put this outfit together, I prepared myself for all the compliments I’d get on the sweater, but everyone was really crazy for the boots.  I bought them a few years ago (I think at Marshall’s) and they’re still in pretty good shape considering they were like $30.   But hey, eyes up here on the sweater!

To anyone else suffering through finals and procrastinating on papers, I wish you the best of luck!  Get lots of sleep, take a warm bath, stay hydrated, and remember there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  Happy studying!

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Dress: Aeropostale // Sweater: Press Fashions // Boots: Restricted

xoxo,

– Hannah

The Instagram Exodus

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Photo Source: Essena O’Neill

Cyber celebrities are leaving Instagram at an alarming pace, and based on the magazine articles being written about them, it might as well be the online apocalypse.  Essena O’Neill, an Australian teen with 500,000 Instagram followers, announced that she was quitting Instagram and all other social media (her new website excluded) and the Internet went crazy.  O’Neill explains this decision on her website, Let’s Be Game Changers:

“I spent 12-16 wishing I could receive validation from numbers on a screen. I spent [the] majority of my teen years being self absorbed, trying desperately to please others and feel ‘enough’. . . I didn’t talk about topics and interests of me, nor did I pursue my childhood talent for writing. I didn’t find happiness in social approval, constantly edited and shooting my life.”

She also mentions that she felt like she was fooling people, and draws attention to the fact that popular Instagrammers are often paid hundreds of dollars for a single post promoting a brand.  In a video posted to her site she explained that, free from the bondage of social media, she is now simply enjoying her life, rather than obsessing over her image.  She has time for reading educational books, pursuing her passion for writing, and spreading awareness for causes that are important to her—conscious living, addiction to technology, transparency online, veganism, environmental awareness, and gender equality are a few of the many that she lists.

Despite her assertions that social media is totally fake, her fans don’t really know her, she’s been paid to advertise to them, and nothing about it is real, O’Neill’s Instagram shot up to almost 800,000 followers before she disabled her account, with fans applauding her for being so transparent.

But O’Neill has also received backlash from fans and even former friends, claiming that she is merely re-creating her online persona, and labeling herself anti-social-media is just a ploy to get attention and promote her website.  Whether that’s her intention or not, it’s clearly working.

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Photo Source: Eileen Kelly for W Magazine

Another Instagram star, Eileen Kelly, better known by her handle @KillerandaSweetThang, also opened up about the pressure that comes with being followed by over 130,000 fans.  Not only does she have to deal with the insecurity of posting perfect pictures that would garner more likes and followers, she also has to deal with the intrusive questions that come with fame.   She had a falling out with one of her best friends because of Instagram.  She even had an experience with a former fan who felt like she personally knew Kelly and began to stalk her and send her threatening messages.  Kelly deleted her Twitter and Snapchat and, like O’Neill, has shifted her focus back to what really matters.  In an interview with W Magazine, Kelly says that she is “really passionate about sex education,” and that she would like to go back to school for gender studies.

While I applaud these women for doing what is best for them, I can’t help but wonder if social media is really the problem here.  I mean, does anyone really think that a person’s social media account is an honest representation of their life?  Sure, we’ve all felt the sting of seeing our ex get a new significant other and become “Facebook Official,” or felt inferior when we see one exceptionally fit friend post pictures of herself, flawlessly made up, in impossible yoga poses.  But we know that we curate our pictures to fit our online persona and they do, too.  We post our highlights.  We let everyone on Facebook know about our new job.  We tweet the one funny thought we’ve had all month. We don’t post pictures of the nights when we sit in the bathtub and devour an entire bucket of fried chicken and then cry ourselves to sleep.

I think the root of the problem here is that we are expecting Instagram and other social media platforms to take the place of genuine connection and friendship, and they are simply not able to live up to the task.  Instagram stars but also normal social media users get caught up in getting people to “like” them but also like them.  We crave a real connection – “LET’S TALK ABOUT REAL STUFF AND REAL PEOPLE” O’Neill entreats on her website – but we won’t find that by posting a picture of our artfully crafted salad with a Valencia filter.  Social media is a fun way to express ourselves, to find artistic inspiration, and to connect with people we would never meet in “real life,” but it is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation.

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Photo Source: Socality Barbie

We are desperate for “authentic relationships,” to borrow a phrase from satire account @SocalityBarbie—who, coincidentally, is also quitting Instagram.  It’s a cruel juxtaposition; we want to put our best self out there so the most people will like us, but what we really need is people who like who we are, even without a filter and a Lana Del Rey lyric caption.

Social media isn’t the enemy, and taking a break from it won’t magically free you from insecurity, social anxiety, and isolation.  If you don’t have self-confidence, you’ll always look for validation from someone or something else.  You’ll only be content when you learn to like yourself, even if no one likes your selfie.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

Happy October!  Everyone bust out your pumpkin spice lattes, Anne of Green Gables quotes, and red lipstick!

Really though, October is a great month, and I’m enjoying the cool, crisp weather (and I’m enjoying saying the word “crisp” to describe everything) and dressing in so many snuggly layers.  I like to dress in all black so when I go home to visit my family everyone is tricked into thinking I lost weight in Paris and I’m now très chic, when really I’ve been eating an entire bag of caramel apple lollipops for breakfast every morning this month.

 Shirt: UNIQLO // Pants: Gap // Cape: Forever 21 // Shoes: Forever 21 // Lipstick: Nars

xoxo

– Hannah