a year without clothes

It's Time For Coffee: A Talk About Intentionality, Change and Not Shopping For a Year

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In May, my friend Jeanette emailed me to ask if I'd be a guest on her podcast, It's Time for Coffee, to talk about This is Thirty Four, and my year without clothes. At the time, I was only three months into blogging and one month into my year without clothes. I wasn't sure I was cut out for blogging. I didn't know if I'd be able to keep up this no buying clothes or shoes or accessories for a year thing; and I definitely didn't feel qualified to do a podcast interview. Still, I knew that nothing good ever comes from d 

Fast forward to today. I've been blogging for nearly half a year. I'm four months in to a year without clothes; and the podcast interview I did in June is LIVE TODAY. Listening to the podcast was almost an out of body experience for me. Jeanette is a gifted podcast host and editor, who somehow captured the essence of who I am, what I value and why I'm writing and not shopping and doing Simplify September (even though I had no idea when I recorded this interview that I would be doing Simplify September). 

My goal is to make (almost) everything I write, do and say be encouraging to those around me. It's my hope that in addition to hearing more of my heart on this podcast, you also come away encouraged to live the life YOU want to live and be a better steward of the relationships--and the things--you already have in your life. 

You can listen to the full interview here and you can also listen to it--and read the show notes--on Jeanette's website

Thank you for listening. Thank you for encouraging me in my writing and year without clothes and so many other things over the past few months. This community of people I'm surrounded by means more to me than I ever could have imagined. 

Simplify September: Capsule Wardrobe

Photo by  Alexandra Gorn  on  Unsplash

It’s now October 2nd. The capsule wardrobe experiment is over, and I could not be happier. I have included a few updates that I made to the Simplify September capsule wardrobe below. Here are my final thoughts on capsule wardrobes in general:

  • If you like fashion or variety, a capsule wardrobe is probably not for you.

  • If you have a well-edited closet already, no matter how many pieces you have in it, a capsule wardrobe is not for you.

  • If you live in a place without discernible seasons (ex: the Central Coast of California, where it could be 85 degrees one day and 65 degrees the next), a capsule wardrobe is not for you.

  • A capsule wardrobe is meant to simplify the “getting ready” process. If, at any point, doing a capsule wardrobe feels stressful then A CAPSULE WARDROBE IS NOT FOR YOU.

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Confession: Being a fashion blogger is top three on my list of dream jobs. You get free clothes, an excuse to take selfies and a rabid fan base that thinks you look good in just about anything. Count. Me. In. 

The problem with fashion blogging, is the materialistic world in which it exists. Having things and looking a certain way in those things have always been my achilles heel, and being a fashion blogger would only feed that beast. Ironically, I've come closer to my dream of fashion blogging in the last three and a half months of NOT buying clothes for an entire year. The beauty of posting outfit selfies while not buying clothes for a year is that it removes (most of) the materialistic aspect from the equation; and that's what I'm hoping the Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe will do too. 

In case you missed it, my Simplify September project kicks off September 1st. It's a month-long project to go from chaos to calm the last few months of 2018 (or at least the month of September). Because I'm not shopping for a year, I created the Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe (which I'm releasing today so you have time to create one of your own) with items I currently have in my closet. While I linked some similar items below (not affiliate links), the goal isn't to make you feel like you need to purchase something.

The goal of the Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe is to show you--and myself--that WHAT WE HAVE IS ENOUGH. No article of clothing, pair of shoes, handbag, NOTHING can truly make us feel more confident in who we are. Sure, material possessions can give us a temporary high, but until we understand that who we are RIGHT NOW, THIS MOMENT, FLAWS AND ALL, is enough, we'll keep trying to fill a hole that simply can't be filled with the things of this world.  

Ok. Enough soapboxing. Here's how the Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe works: 

1.) Pick 30 items, including shoes, handbags and accessories but excluding pajamas and workout clothes to wear for the month of September. (Sidenote: When I wear workout clothes, it's because I am headed to the gym. I shower and change almost immediately afterwards. If you are into the athleisure trend, then workout clothes will need to be included in your capsule wardrobe.)

2.) Wear those 30 items--and only those 30 items--during the month of September. 

3.) Post your outfits on Instagram using the hashtag #SSCapsuleWardrobe. 

Here's what my Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe looks like: 

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Here are the principles I used to create it:

1.) Pick items in the same color families. 

2.) Choose items that will transition easily from day to night or work to play. 

3.) Decide what items you love and what you can live without for a month. For instance, I can use the same tote bag and minimal accessories for 30 days, but I need a variety of shoes. 

Other things I considered when creating a capsule wardrobe: 

1.) The weather 

2.) Upcoming activities and events 

Finally, here are some of my favorite items from my personal Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe: 

1.) Longchamp Tote Bag (mine is gray)

2,) Leith Tank Dress (color: tan)

3.) Billabong Sea the Sun Kimono

4.) Backless mules

5.) BB Dakota Faux Leather Jacket Update 10/2/18- I swapped this for a basic black top to wear on girl’s nights out. More versatile, and the weather didn’t end up being as cold as I thought it was going to be at night last month.

6.) Loft Boyfriend Jeans

7.) Distressed Black Jeans

8.) Striped cardigan

9.) Black bodysuit tank top

10.) Black maxi skirt - **Update 10/2/18- I swapped this for another pair of jeans.

I'll admit, I'm a bit nervous about this whole experiment. September weather where I live can be anywhere from high 80's to low 60's, so figuring out what items to include in my personal capsule wardrobe was a bit of a stretch. Still, I'm committed to showing you guys--and proving to myself--that I can get by on less and still feel confident in who I am!

Comment below if you're joining the Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe challenge, and let me know one item you're planning to wear! 

***8/21/18 UPDATE***

Some of you asked about the rest of the items in my capsule wardrobe. Here they are: 

11.) Graphic tee (You can design your own here!!!!)- Update 10/2/18- I swapped this for a more versatile blue button down shirt.

12.) Black v-neck t-shirt

13.) White v-neck t-shirt

14.) Tan Peep Toe Booties (similar here

15.) Cole Haan Sandals (similar here

16.) Black Peep Toe Booties (similar here) - Update 10/2/18- I swapped this for my favorite green jumper. I wear it all the time and should have included it in my capsule wardrobe initially. 30 days without wearing it would have been a BIG MISTAKE.

17.) Gray tank top

18.) Denim jacket

19.) Statement belt

20.) Cropped dark wash skinny jeans 

21.) Striped bell sleeve shirt (similar here)

22.) Gold Statement Earrings (similar here

23.) Basic gold stud earrings (similar here

24.) Lightweight black blazer (similar here

25.) Denim shorts

26.) Off white cardigan

27.) Gray circle cardigan sweater (similar here

28.) Off white tank- Update 10/2/18- I swapped this for a pair of statement earrings. Turns out, I DO like wearing a variety of accessories.

29.) Knit pullover sweater (similar here

30.) Floral shell tank top (similar here

12 Ways To Live Intentionally Today

In 2008, I started a blog called The Style Geek where I wrote about the intersection of fashion and technology----years before Instagram and Pinterest launched and well before the term "brand influencer" was in our common vernacular. Women like Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere and Joy Cho of Oh Joy started blogging around the same time. They, along with so many others who hopped on the blogging bandwagon back them are now millionaires..and I'm, well, not. 

So what happened? Why did Emily and Joy succeed and I didn't?

First, they didn't give up. They consistently produced quality content, even when it felt hard or they weren't motivated. I, on the other hand, was often too tired from working a full time job and binge watched "How I Met Your Mother" on Netflix instead of pursuing my dream of being a successful author. 

Second, they remained confident in themselves. I'm sure they had days, weeks or even months of self-doubt, but they didn't let temporary discouragement or anxiety influence the course of their lives. I spent a lot of time looking at what THEY were doing, told myself "I could never be like them" and threw in the towel. 

Third, they managed the "everyday chaos" of life (their minds, schedules, relationships, money, etc) so that they could focus on what mattered most and reach their goals. Ten years ago, I was still getting control of the basics of life: managing my anxiety, learning how to be a good friend and wife and figuring out how to spend my time and money. Launching a blog and pursuing my dreams was pretty far down on my to-do list and seemed like something only people with money, intelligence or some sort of magic could do.

If I had known then what I know now, I might be farther along in my career than I am today. Emily and Joy weren't richer (at the time), smarter or more magical than me. They just kept going, remained confident and controlled their chaos a little better. And yet, I'm grateful for my journey--for the struggles and the self-doubt and even for the fact that I shuttered The Style Geek after a few months--because all of it brought me to today. To thirty four years old. To this blog and this post. 

My goal with (re)launching This Is Thirty Four is to create a space on the Internet where women can come to find encouragement and practical tips for how to find freedom from the "everyday chaos" of life, so that they can live more intentionally and spend time on what truly matters. To be honest, I'm still a work in progress myself. Most of what I write on here is just me, preaching to my own heart. By God's grace, I'm growing in new ways every day, and if something I write on here can make another woman's life a little easier, then I'll consider this whole thing a success. 

Now about those practical tips I just mentioned...

Since this blog is called This Is Thirty Four and since I'll be talking primarily about how to manage our minds, relationships, time and possessions, I created a list--a manifesto, if you will--of 34 things you can do RIGHT NOW to start living more intentionally in the aforementioned areas of life. I've listed 12 of my ideas for intentionality below, and you can join my newsletter list below to get the full list! The Monthly 34 email goes out on the 30th of every month, so you'll get this month's edition delivered to your inbox tonight! 

For now, here are 12 ways to start living more intentionally TODAY: 

Intentional minds:

  1. Start your day off centered- Meditate, pray or read your Bible. Then, write down three things that would make today great and three things you are thankful for. 
  2. Listen more than you watch- Queue up podcasts about topics you enjoy (I'm always sharing my favorites in my Instagram stories), and listen to those instead of watching TV. I quit watching TV (with the exception of a Monday night Bachelorette viewing party with friends and the occasional Netflix comedy special) earlier this year. I cannot believe how little I miss it or how much I've grown from listening to podcasts instead. 
  3. Realize that people think about you far less than you THINK they are thinking about you. That conversation you keep dwelling on or that thing you had stuck in your teeth or that time you ran into your boss while you were wearing a bikini at the beach. No one is thinking about it more than you are. Stop wasting mental energy on something that's not really that important after all. 

Intentional relationships: 

  1. Make a list of people who are important to you, but who you haven't talked to in a while then text them just to let them know you're thinking about them. I guarantee it will make their day! 
  2. Don't mix phones with food. If you're eating a meal with someone, put down the phone and engage in conversation with them instead. 
  3. Let your "yes" be "yes." If you told someone you would be there, be there. Keep your commitments to others and they'll keep showing up for you. 

Intentional time: 

  1. Put down your phone- Full disclosure: This is something I'm still working on. I'm TRYING to designate specific times of day to check social media and texts and then put my phone down the rest of the day. I think I'll be a lot more productive, and I know I'll be more present with my friends and family. 
  2. Prioritize your day- At the end of each day, take a look at the next day's schedule and to-do list and decide what MUST get done first and what can't be put off one more day. 
  3. Share a calendar with your significant other- Seeing what each of you has going on during the week helps avoid surprises--and conflict. If you haven't already listened, Rachel and Dave Hollis just did an entire RISE Together podcast on how to plan with your spouse

Intentional possessions: 

  1. Control what comes in- One of the main benefits of going A Year Without Clothes is that there's not a lot of new stuff coming into my house these days, and thus, it seems a little less cluttered. Be aware of the ways new "stuff" creeps into your home. It comes in through shopping and through things like party or wedding favors, hand-me-downs, artwork from preschool, mail, etc. When you figure out the source of the clutter, you can stop it before it starts. 
  2. Clean your kitchen every night- I know it sounds painful, and at 10 p.m. when you just want to go to bed and the dishes have piled up in the sink, it FEELS painful. But starting your day off with a clean kitchen will help you better manage the state of your entire household throughout the rest of the day. 
  3. Realize you need far less of everything than you think you do. 

If you like these suggestions and want more of them, don't forget to sign up for The Monthly 34 Newsletter. And, if you've got a tip of trick for living more intentionally, leave it in the comments below! 

***Updated 7/30/18 @ 9:00 PM***

I had high hopes of creating a beautiful PDF entitled "34 Ways To Live Intentionally RIGHT NOW" and send it out to everyone who subscribes to my email list. At 9 PM, after working on said PDF for two hours and then realizing I didn't actually know how to include it in my newsletter, I decided to pivot. I'm listing the additional 22 ways to live intentionally below. If you're still reading this post and you aren't subscribed to my newsletter, you win. If you are subscribed to my newsletter, I'm sorry; and I hope you know that I mean it when I say that "perfect is the enemy of the good." 

22 More Ways To Live Intentionally RIGHT NOW

1.) Plan your week- Every Sunday, sit down and look at what's coming up on your schedule and your to-do list. Mark down when you want to accomplish what and where you need be when. 

2.) Identify your time sucks- Determine the things that take more of your time than they should and figure out a way to stop doing those things. 

3.) Stop multi-tasking- Focus on one thing at a time. I guarantee that whatever you're doing will get done so much faster than if you were multi-tasking while doing it.

4.) Learn to say "no"- It's the most powerful word in your vocabulary when it comes to protecting your time. 

5.) Schedule seasonal purges- Especially of toys and clothes. (Pro tip: You can make a decent amount of money by selling toys your kids no longer play with right around late October or November. Market them as Christmas presents. People will go nuts. 

6.) Hang wash and line dry your (nicer) clothes. It's a pain, but they will last longer. 

7.) Focus on quality- It's better to buy one pair of shoes that cost more but lasted longer than six pairs of shoes that only last a week. 

8.) Read before bed- Get out your Kindle...or a headlamp..and read a book before bed. You'll go to be happier than if you spent the night looking up other people's Instagram profiles. 

9.) Text people back ASAP- I am so guilty of not texting people back in a timely manner. In fact, I can think of one person I owe a text to right now. BUT, I'm working on it. Bottom line: Texting people back within a reasonable amount of time, shows them that you truly care about them.

10.) Identify your people- You can't be friends with everyone; and you definitely can't develop quality friendships with lots of people. Figure out the people who matter most to you. Put them first. Spend most of your time with them, and cultivate those relationships. 

11.) Try to "out-give" the other person- This is especially helpful if you're in a long term relationship. Do more for them than they do for you, and don't keep score. 

12.) Keep learning- Never stop. If you think you know everything you need to know, you're wrong. 

13.) Workout- Do something active every day, if possible. This is probably the best tip I can give for mental health. 

14.) Eat healthy- Cut the alcohol and processed food. Add in the veggies, proteins, fibers and fats. Read Body Love by Kelly LeVeque for more.  

15.) Go to sleep- Everything looks better and less overwhelming after a good night's sleep. 

16.) Stop listening to music that makes you feel something you don't want to feel- Maybe music doesn't affect you the way it affects me, in which case, this recommendation is not for you. But if the songs you listen to put you back in a relationship you don't need to be focusing on or a season of your life you'd rather forget, then STOP LISTENING TO IT. 

17.) Realize that you have a choice- You control your mood, what goes into your mouth and what comes out of it. You choose what your day is going to look like and who you are going to spend it with. You get to choose your life. 

18.) Unfollow people who make you feel bad about your life. Social media can be a great place, and it can be a terrible one. If someone is causing you to feel insecure or insignificant, then UNFOLLOW THEM and don't think twice. 

19.) Know yourself- Make a list of your core values as a person. Start with three to five, if you need a number. Then structure your schedule and your life around those values. 

20.) Stay organized. 

21.) Surround yourself with people who push you to be a better person. 

22.) Know that one mistake doesn't define your day or your week...or who you are. 

A Year Without Clothes

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Question: Do you guys ever do something and then immediately think “Oh sh*t! What did I just do?” Or maybe, a better question is: How OFTEN do you have that feeling? I had an “OH Sh*t” moment yesterday when I announced to the world (or the three people who were watching me on Instagram Live) that I would not be buying clothes for an entire year. NO CLOTHES FOR A YEAR? What am I thinking?

However, in keeping with the theme of last week’s Instagram Live, I am going to make my “yes be yes” and stick by my word. NO BUYING CLOTHES (OR SHOES) FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

If you didn’t watch my Tuesday Truth on Instagram Live yesterday, you’re probably wondering why I’m torturing myself this way. The answer is simple: Over the past few years, I have become far too consumed with material possessions—specifically what’s in my closet—and turned to shopping as a stress reliever or general pick me up when I’m having a bad day.

It’s not that I can’t afford the things I purchase. The problem is that I’m not being a good steward of the money God has blessed me with AND the reason I’m buying that item in the first place is seriously flawed.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something this drastic for a while now, and last night I heard a sermon by J.D. Greaer at The Summit Church. The whole sermon is worth a listen, but the line that struck me the most was:

“The joy of the Lord is not only our strength, but our contentment in the mundane.”
-J.D. Greaer

You know when you’re sitting in church and you feel God tugging on your heart to confess a sin or make a change or do something outside of your comfort zone? Hearing J.D’s words was like a message straight from Heaven; and all I can say is “Ok God. I hear you, and I’m willing to listen.”

What now?

So, I made the announcement. NO BUYING CLOTHES OR SHOES FOR A FULL YEAR. (Perhaps the repetition and use of all caps will help the reality of the words sink in.) In order to hold myself accountable and prove to myself—and all of you, but mostly myself—that this can be done, I will be doing the following:

1.)  Posting a weekly outfit round-up and an update on my fight to stay the course every Friday on social media.

2.)  Posting monthly reflections on the NO CLOTHES journey on the blog.  

3.)  Creating monthly challenges that each of you can participate in with me, even if you don’t want to go all in and abstain from buying for a year. (Think: No Target for a month; ridding your inbox of promotional emails; and unfollowing fashion bloggers or other folks who feed your discontentment on social media)

4.)  Curating my Pinterest boards to provide outfit inspiration for pieces that I already have in my closet. You can follow my Summer Style Inspiration board.

5.)  Praying and memorizing scripture. (1 Timothy 6:6 might be a good place to start)

Honestly, I’m expecting God to move in my heart and my life in big ways over the next year. J.D said one more thing worth mentioning in his sermon this Sunday:

“God is not upset at you because you want to be happy. He is upset FOR you because you choose to be happy in things besides HIM.”

I’m tired of chasing after lesser things, and I’m ready to shift my focus from temporary happiness to lasting joy.