Monthly Archives: April 2015

Style Insights

I can’t tell you anything about sustaining a wardrobe capsule yet. I’m sorry. I just started this project last weekend. HOWEVER. I can tell you a lot about getting started. Because I just did that. Get started that is. Last weekend.

I think a barrier to wardrobe capsules is the need to lean heavily on a cultivated sense of style. Everyone gets dressed, but only a few have “style” and those few are lifestyle bloggers who are paid to get dressed and have someone take their photo in an alley behind their apartment (Is it their husbands? Boyfriends? Why are they all dating photographers? How did they talk them into this idea? Don’t they have jobs? When do they take these photos? This doesn’t seem like a realistic model to me.)

If you’re someone who just gets dressed, it seems like a bad idea to whittle down your options to a handful of tops and bottoms and one pair of very trendy ankle boots. It seems like the potential for showing up to work naked one day is getting more real all the time. And while the idea of “style” sounds somewhat intriguing, it might also sound entirely exhausting.

I totally get that, but I also think you’re probably wrong.

Are you on Pinterest? (Yes, you are.) Do you have a fashion board? (Yes, you do.) This is where your “style” lives and breathes. If you’re lucky, your style might periodically camp out in your closet, but most of the time, it’s writing rent checks to Pinterest because that is where it lives. Your fashion board represents your perfect closet. If you had unlimited resources to devote to “style”- this is how you would dress.

And if you are me- there are a dozen outfits that include a navy striped t-shirt. And 10 with chambray button downs. And 15 with cotton maxi skirts. What I’m telling you is that a pattern will emerge. All you have to do is find it.

And when you find it, appreciate it. What are the commonalities? What drew you to those outfits? What do you already own that reflects that pattern? (Hopefully quite a bit.) What do you own that doesn’t? (Hopefully less.)

I spent about an hour reviewing my “Style File” board. There are over 150 pins and I’ve been saving ideas for a few years now. I want to share my “style” insights with you, so that you can do the same and take the plunge towards a happy minimalist closet.

  • It should be mostly black, mostly white, or mostly denim. Mostly. Except when it’s navy.
  • Pair something flowy with something structured. Or something structured with something structured. Never all flowy.
  • Stripes are good. In fact, stripes are a neutral. Geometric patterns are also nice. Florals are pretty in theory but not in purchase.
  • More cognac leather.
  • Comfort is king.
  • Statement necklaces should be worn with sweaters. In the fall. When it’s cold. Delicate jewelry goes with everything else.
  • Variations on a theme:
    White, Grey, Black
    Navy, Chambray, Denim
    Pink, Coral, Red
  • Layers = a jacket . Maybe a scarf. Maybe.
  • Skirts are a safe place.
  • Winning combinations = Black + Brown; White + Denim
  • Buy a black moto jacket this fall.

My ideal style is preppy, classic, and urban (rather than boho, earthy, or trendy, for example.) If you stood in front of your closet today and picked an outfit that made you feel stylish, put together, comfortable, and happy- I bet it would mirror so many of those pins on your style boards.

I think this is a good risk-free first step and I think you’ll surprise yourself. Long live style! In closing, here’s my ideal outfit:

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Black, chambray and the leather jacket of my dreams.

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Wardrobe Capsule Phase One

I did two things almost immediately after sitting on this minimalism thing for a while.

1. Unsubscribe to every single promotional email that might tempt me.
2. Make a work plan. Call it my work culture, but I just can’t get worked up about a goal if there’s no methodology to back it up.

It is important to me to affect real change in my habits. Every 3 months or so, I make a sweep of my closet and donate clothes I don’t love or that don’t fit anymore. Doesn’t that sound great? It does, but it begs the question- why do I have to keep making passes and why have I acquired so much that I don’t love since my last pass?

Danger Will Robinson.

So while I loved the idea of a wardrobe capsule, it feels very much like the first step of a long journey. I call our action plan the “Moser Family Power Plan” which is the shortened title of the “Minimize Our Space In Order To Live In Our Power Plan.” I’ve talked to you about living in my power right? Well, I think for the Mosers living in our power means hosting friends for dinner on the patio and making playlists and singing together and travelling and laughing laughing laughing. Living in our power doesn’t reflect any material accumulation.

Our plan has five steps: Basic Clean Up, Wardrobe Capsule, Total Elimination, Upgrades, and Sustainability. Sustainability matters the most to me, but the wardrobe capsule is the most fun, so I’ll share more about that here.

You probably saw this photo I shared on Facebook. Pulling everything from my closet was a bit of a reality check and if I had any suspicion that I might not need this, I was quickly galvanized. I sorted everything and started 3 piles: Into My Capsule, Out of Season, and Get Out Of My House. I used Un-Fancy as a guide and kept her rule in mind: “Would I pick this over my favorite item of clothing in my closet?” If this answer was “no”, it went in the donate/sell pile. If the answer was “maybe” or “not in this weather”, I set it aside for storage. What remained were my favorites: basic, versatile, and good quality.

Here’s what didn’t make the cut for spring, but I’m hanging on to for future capsules. If I decide not to include items in any capsule by the end of the year, I’ll donate those “maybe” items that eventually revealed themselves as duds. (Yes, that’s a cat Christmas sweater. Winter Capsule!)

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Here’s what is headed out the door. It includes two pairs of ankle boots that while cute, I would never pick over my $6 Chelseas from Gap (pictured above), two bright colored belts, some J.Crew tank tops that are too short, khaki shorts (I don’t belong to the country club, so I don’t know why I dress like I do), several skirts, and a brightly colored tunic I purchased after our trip to Mexico under the false impression that what looks great at a resort looks great at home. (It doesn’t.)

FullSizeRenderAnd here’s what stayed! IMG_9604I’ll do a full Spring Capsule post later, but I want to share some of my “rules”. My biggest piece of advice for getting started? Keep an open mind and let your wardrobe do the talking.

  • Right off, I decided to stick with 1 capsule. While I don’t have the luxury of working from home, I pride myself on buying very versatile pieces that fit my business casual work style and (what I liked to think of) as my polished, classic causal style. I didn’t want to manage two separate wardrobes, but I really let my existing wardrobe make this decision for me. When I laid it all out, two capsules wasn’t necessary.
  • I haven’t settled on a number of pieces yet, but I think it will be around 35. I shopped for a handful of key pieces this weekend (J.Crew Factory for the win) and I want to bring those in and see what I end up with.
  • I didn’t include: accessories, jewelry, workout clothes, underthings, party dresses, or shoes. But I did pare these items down and I did set aside scarves for the season. I don’t own many shoes and I tend to shop for function over form in that department. I do intend, however, to keep a watchful eye on what I do and don’t wear so I can toss extras out at the end of the season. Right now I have a pair of white Converse, three pairs of flats- black, camel, and pink, black sandals, brown sandals, a pair of Sperrys, and a pair of Minnetonkas on regular rotation.
  • Versatility is key. I gravitate towards a few basic staples in primary colors- black, white, grey, navy, red. Nearly every piece works with every other and this brought the panic level way down. If you pull everything and don’t see a pattern, it’s probably worth doing some thought exercises to hone in on “your style.” You’re probably more predictable then you realize.
  • I considered this a late start on a Spring Capsule, which will take me through May and June. My summer capsule will be July, August, and September.

My overall goal is to increase quality and decrease quantity. No more bargain shopping, no more flash sales. Any purchases should add value to my wardrobe. Finally, this is what I wore to work today.. Wardrobe Capsule Day One. And the truth is, I would have picked this out from the rubble anyway. IMG_9607

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Do You Believe That You’re Enough?

I’m noticing a thread that runs through my life. It reveals itself in my fears, my worries.

I don’t believe that I’m enough.

You might have seen this post on Facebook last night. I loved it, but when I explored Un-Fancy, the blogger who inspired her closet re-do, I was captivated. Minimalism.

Brett and I were drinking coffee in the living room this morning and I asked if he thought we could live as minimalists. I asked, If there were a fire in this room, is there anything here that you would save before running out? (EXCLUDING THE CAT. PEOPLE, I’M NOT A MONSTER). (Stella was asleep upstairs. She’s not part of the thought experiment. I’m not a bad pet parent, she just doesn’t have a meaningful role in this scenario.) Both of us admitted, NOPE. In spite of the fact that we’ve talked about this concept over and over, we haven’t acted on any of it.

Caroline, who writes Un-Fancy, shares this lesson: When things aren’t adding up, start subtracting” 

I started to think about why I’m such a shopaholic. Why I fill my house with things I could set fire to. Why I don’t save more/spend less. Where I put energy, resources, time.

This year Brett and I are travelling to some amazing places to see some beautiful people- experiences I will remember the rest of my life. Doesn’t investing in those moments serve me more richly? Doesn’t that hold more value than a scarf I will eventually leave in the backseat of a cab? (Rhetorical questions because OF COURSE IT DOES.)

Or more importantly, if I took away all the material trappings – Is my life enough? Are my relationships enough? Am I enough? 

It might seem a stretch to tie this back to my body issues but the truth is, I fight with myself because I don’t believe I’m enough. I don’t trust my body. Naked, I have no value. I need black flats and leather bags and blog posts and work-out-weight-loss challenges to cloth me in worthiness.

I’m starting to challenge this notion and I’m deciding where to go with it. My gut instinct when I want to try something new is to “gear up.” Literally. But what if I let go instead? What if instead of buying a new yoga mat I went on more walks wearing shoes I already own? What if I made literal space by getting rid of those floral skirts I haven’t worn since I was 22? What if I stopped shopping for a new piece of artwork for my bedroom and loved on my husband a bit more? What if I was already capable of taking care of myself? What if I’m already just the way I ought to be?

This is heavy stuff y’all. This is a chat over coffee and a talk at lunch and a pow wow with a glass of wine. It’s a lot. It really is. Thank you for being my community as I work through some of these weird things. Isn’t be 26 (or 36 or 66 or 96) the strangest thing?

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We had a bad morning.

I say this in case for some reason you have been caught up in our #mosersonparade world and are under the false impression that Brett and I are living in an Instagram filter all day.

We are not.

I love to share the fun stuff because it makes me happy. It helps me remember. It reminds me what’s good and what my gifts are. But there are a lot of things that aren’t fun too. A lot of that is private and really personal. But it’s important too. And talking about it helps Fight Perfection. Presenting authenticity is part of my Why. I love doing life with y’all and I want you to trust me and to know me well.

Today Brett and I got in a fight about a poop joke. I wish I was being silly, but I’m just not.

(I thought about writing this post without going into details. But I just couldn’t. It didn’t seem right. I’m sorry.)

It was like this: Brett made some off the cuff remark about me hitting up the bathroom twice this morning (IS THIS MY BAD KARMA COMING BACK AT ME?!) and I made some snarky joke back and the next thing you know, he’s sulking and I’m calling him out and he’s hollering and I am like WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO I SHOULD HAVE MOVED TO SPAIN AND NEVER GOTTEN MARRIED.

I’m going to share something I’m not proud of: I go for the low blow 100% of the time. If the shot is available to me, I take it.

Brett: “I just feel like no one ever takes me seriously.”
Amanda: “No one takes you seriously because you whine like a little bitch all the time.”

I am, truly, a garbage person.

But it gets better. We get to work, hop on Google Chat, and KEEP FIGHTING.

Brett calls me a bully. (He’s right) I call him a coward. We are both being just the worst. We finally back down and get tired and realize that things have gotten a fuzz out of hand. We’re both mad at each other for not letting it go and giving the other person a pass. Sometimes we are okay at this. Other times, we really drop the ball.

It’s tough to live with your best friend. Knowing everything about them often means you have all the ammunition to kick them when they’re down. My standard relationship advice is “Be patient and be kind,” and I was neither of those things this morning and it sucked. Nothing is at once more terrible and more satisfying than hurting the ones we love.

We tend to be extra gentle after a round of emotional boxing and we bought lunch and ate at a park and talked about Airplane! and our very favorite Little Debbie’s snacks (Oatmeal Cream Pies-Amanda, Cosmic Brownies-Brett). We bought a plant for my office. We probably won’t fight again for weeks. We will say Hey I love you a lot and go to the movies and send each other cards and hold hands on the couch. The good stuff. The #mosersonparade stuff.

I want to give you this story because I want to tell you that you are not horrible. You and your partner aren’t fighting more than any other couple in the history of the world ever has. You are not missing out on happily ever after because you’re single. Life is hard work and the maintenance is unbelievable. I love to share about the real stuff in person with my friends when I can because we are all just learning together, but in case we can’t sit on the patio with a glass of wine, I wanted to tell you. The Mosers are painfully human.

I hope the sun is shining when you read this because that’s a gift to everybody. So is being honest and broken but looking for moments of redemption. I love you. Happy Friday.

I’m not a grown up, but I’m starting to learn some things about growing up. When I was younger (and maybe you can relate), I was pretty certain that I would mature as I accomplished milestones. Brett and I refer to this as “checking things off the list.”

Go to college- Check
Get married- Check
Buy a house- Check
Have a baby- Check
(In that order…)

I was under the impression that the hallmark experience of aging was moving through this checklist. I would feel more like an adult at each stage. I would be more mature once I owned a home than I was when I was renting. The pinnacle of self-actualization was giving birth, and so on.

You may have come to realize this is patently untrue. If you haven’t, allow me to say- catch up.

The true universal experience of getting older? In my opinion (and let’s be honest, that’s what you’re here for), is the slow, sweet fading of caring even a little bit what other people think. (Or, in the language of my generation- having no fucks to give.)

I think this process starts in your early 20s, a fraught and judgmental time, when you slowly step out of the fog of being a monster (teenager) and start thinking the most important thing in life is defining yourself. As you turn the lens inward, you are at once ceasing to turn it outward and your concern about how your friends are spending their evenings or your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend who is a ballet dancer or some shit just stop mattering. I might refer to this as “Not My Business Syndrome.” If you knew you a friend’s partner was cheating on them, and you hesitated for even a moment about telling them… then you know what I’m referring to. It’s a keen sense of “I’d Rather Not Get Involved-itis.” As you obsess about the minutia about what having bangs says about you to the world (trendy, fussy, unconcerned about having a sweaty forehead), you allow less space for things that used to really matter. It was at this point I stopped disagreeing with my friends all the time and realized that maybe they weren’t actually my friends to begin with.

Your mid-20s are a time when the scatter map of your peers is widespread and disorienting. You are both jealous of the Christmas Card family and disgusted. You pity your single friends and their Tinder disasters but envious of the freedom, the stories, the unwritten endings. This is the time of getting fired for tweeting about your boss. This is the time of losing your job at a start-up that went under. This is the time of moving to Portland. This is the time of realizing that “defining yourself” is thinly veiled narcissism.

And, if you’re me, and in this scenario you are, you approach a milestone and in some cases succeed (Brett Moser) and in other cases fail spectacularly (have you heard the story about us trying to buy a house?) and uncover that what happens inside a decision rarely looks the same from outside a decision. You arrive at the conclusion that life is intensely personal. Everything is a Monet. You may be lucky enough to find a person to share that mess with, but you slowly stop worrying about cleaning it up for the comfort of others.

As a people pleaser, this has been a bit of a revelation for me. In unpacking some complexities that live within me, I have felt less obligated to present my feelings up in such a way that is easily digestible for everyone else, because, bluntly, I don’t owe that to anyone. I love to communicate and I love to connect and share. This is an inherent piece of me. But whether my story resonates with you says very little about me and much more about you and as I age, I worry less and less about editing it so that it will. (Allow me to pause here to kindly say, I love you. You matter to me. I want to hold space for you. All these things can be true at the same time.)

It’s this sense of “You do you” or rather “I do me” that feels a bit like a universal truth. Not everyone owns a home. Some people don’t want to be parents. But the best of us, gradually and sincerely, recognize our own power, stop renting space to the opinions of strangers, and free ourselves up to learn the lessons of the next decade.