Tag Archives: capsule wardrobe

A Capsule Wardrobe that Isn’t

I started my entire minimalism movement inspired by the ideas of a capsule wardrobe. I loved the thought of having beautiful, high quality clothing and having a lot less of it all together. And that’s exactly what I’ve created. I have a teeny, tiny wardrobe. But no capsule.

What I mean to say is that unlike other capsule wardrobe projects, I don’t have anything waiting for me “off-capsule,” if you will. When I started, I pulled items for my spring capsule, pared down clothes I didn’t really want, and set aside pieces that I liked, but wasn’t sure about. Summer or fall capsule items, I thought.Yet as time went on, I reevaluated those items with a more skeptical eye. Why weren’t they special enough to be first draft picks? Ultimately, the answer was because they were ill-fitting, declining in quality, or simply no longer my taste. It gradually became clear to me that those feelings wouldn’t change with the seasons, so out they went.

The only pieces I own that aren’t hanging my closet are bulky, cold weather sweaters. There are 4 seasons in Missouri: Snow, Rain, July, and Oh my gosh it’s so nice today can you believe how nice it is today I love this weather this is great weather. I wear variations of the same thing year-round. As the weather cools, I throw tights on under my skirts. As the weather warms, I roll up my jeans and wear them with t-shirts and lightweight blouses rather than sweaters. Flats, button down tops, pencil skirts, blue jeans, v-neck tees, are worn in every season.

It didn’t make sense to set aside anything for future capsules. I didn’t love that much of my closet anyway. The summer season is approaching and here’s what I intend to buy:

J.Crew Button Down (a variation of my beloved white shirt)
High-waist Denim Shorts (I’m going to try them. There’s a good chance they get sent back, but I’m trying to be brave)
Madewell d’Orsay Flats (I finally pitched a very smelly pair of black flats and my others aren’t far behind. The work shoe situation demands attention.)
High-waist Bikini (As you can imagine, Brett has thrown the full weight of his support behind this purchase)
SOMETHING TO WEAR TO A BARBECUE, OUT TO DINNER, AND A WEDDING. Y’all, I’m struggling here. I’m gravitating towards a jumpsuit. Maybe this one, or this one, or this one. (HELP.)

And that’s it. It’s not an inexpensive list of items to be sure. But they’ll all fit in very nicely with my current wardrobe, which though small, I’ve been getting along with quite nicely. Recently a friend asked me if my capsule wasn’t actually bigger than normal, because she’d never seen me wear the same thing twice. (I can assure you this is not true. I’m actually wearing the same pair of pants today that I wore yesterday. I considered adding another pair of slacks to my list, but decided I should just shave my legs so I can wear a skirt instead. Minimalism you guys. It’s a whole thing.)

So maybe don’t stress if you haven’t dominated your closet situation as swiftly as you’d like. You don’t need a perfectly seasonal and rotating selection of highly curated clothes. My recommendation is to trim until it’s easy to get dressed in the morning and you always have something to wear that you love. It’s working for me!

 

 

 

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Become a Minimalist and Earn $1,000*!

*Results not guaranteed.

A pretty incredible consequence of the Mosers Going Minimalist has been a nice little deposit into our Travel Savings as a result of selling a lot of our unloved possessions. We’ve made about $1,000 from auctioning old phones and records on e-bay, selling empty bookshelves on message boards, and hocking $1 coffee mugs at a garage sale. I can hardly believe it. Things I don’t find useful or believe to be beautiful have transformed into new energy- money that can go into life-giving transactions. (Like staying with our dearest friends in Canada and watching our sweet friend Ben get married on the East Coast and tickets to see Aladdin on Broadway.) (HELLO!)

When I started this journey, I posed the question: Do you believe that you’re enough? Extra money is a treat, but being enough? Having enough? That is my end game.

Savoring new, empty spaces

Savoring new, empty spaces

And now that the clutter is cleared, the real work starts. It’s important to remind myself why I started this project.

1. Own fewer, more lovely things. Saving and making money weren’t actually goals of mine, though I’m pleased at the results. Rather, I wanted less possessions that were more treasured. I sold or donated all of my purses and kept one black Kate Spade that was a gift from my darling cousin and bought this gorgeous cognac brown Madewell tote that I’ve been coveting for years. I even had it embossed in gold with my initials. (MINE FOREVER.) In the end, I’ll probably spend the same amount on clothes. But they’ll be soft and special and higher quality and that pattern of value will repeat itself through my entire home.

2. Capture some peace of mind. One of the things that I found the most practical about the KonMari Method is that after you’ve cleared your home of anything that doesn’t spark joy, life becomes a lot more straightforward. If you fear you’ve lost something and it isn’t where it belongs- then stop worrying. You’ve definitely lost it. Isn’t it THE WORST when you aren’t sure if you’ve actually lost it, or misplaced it, or dropped it at the office? With the Kon-Mari method, everything has a place and if it isn’t in its place, you can stop looking for it and start problem solving. HOW VERY SIMPLE.

Last week Brett was in a really good mood and said, “I’m so cheerful lately!” I said, “You’re unburdened!” As we’ve cleared our lives of unnecessary clutter, commitments, and concerns, we’ve been noticeably more agreeable.

3. Value the right things. Brett fell asleep before me last night and when I stepped out of bed to turn off the lamp I was struck right in the feels. I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I was so overcome, I took a photo.

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There was my beautiful husband and my precious pets all sleeping next to me, peacefully. You guys, it was the most perfect moment and God gave it to me and I have done nothing to deserve it. I cry thinking about it. When we sorted through our mementos, I threw away every single journal I had kept during junior high and high school. It was easy — I was lonely and sad growing up. My family was troubled. I felt unloved. I had wonderful friends and a grandmother who lifted me up and showed me what life could be outside that fog, but I poured my hurt and my anger and my pain into notebook after notebook. I have carried those totems with me for ten years now and it was easy to say goodbye. Now, I have everything I have ever wanted. I don’t need to look back and remember when I didn’t.

There is no possession worth more than that. Don’t you agree? My people matter. Not my things. And I really think that is what lives at the heart of minimalism. This wonderful message that our lives are complete, that we are blessed beyond measure, and that we are truly enough. HOW VERY SIMPLE.

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Kon-Mari Method

Minimalism. Can we talk about this? Because, I am exhausted.

Brett and I took Monday and Tuesday off work to give our house the Kon-Mari once over. An hour into Day One, I was exhausted.

I’ve been overly confident, y’all. I felt that because I had been expressive and vulnerable here, I was prepared to do the work. I expected it to be joyful, simple, and most importantly- quick. I established myself as an authority on minimalism, without actually becoming a practicing minimalist first. (I do this…)

But, I want to encourage you in the face of what I was feeling. Because I think this is so worthwhile.

The most accurate way to describe my reaction was “All. The. Feels.”

Oh my gosh we have so much stuff. Why do we have so much stuff? I just bought that. Why did I buy that? What a waste! I’m such a waster! I’m tired. Why did I think this would be fun? This isn’t fun. Why do we have so much stuff?

And so on. I was overwhelmed immediately, but this is because (as previously established) I tend to ignore hard facts and idealize EVERYTHING. My blessed, sweet husband was patient and encouraging and didn’t pick on me at all. And when I said, I need a break, he said just the right thing which was, Let’s get ice cream. 

We started with clothes and y’all- I am STILL pulling unworn items from my capsule. I yanked a pair of navy khakis, a black sweater, and a button down from my current capsule and just about everything from my “off season” capsule except sweaters that are too damn hot to wear. If it didn’t make the capsule in Round One, I don’t love it. If I have 30 items in my closet and I still ignore certain pieces, then I really don’t love them. Out they go.

Papers were easy but caught me off guard. I was diligent in keeping anything I felt might be important and what remained was a time capsule of my first years of adulthood. An $800 receipt for the black 1994 Escort LX coupe that my dad bought my senior year of high school. (You guys, this was a big deal for us. $800 was a lot of money. I can’t even.)  The award letter for my Bright Flight scholarship. The lease on my first college apartment. The insurance paperwork from when my car was totaled. (Not the Escort. That junker died in the Target parking lot on my way home from work. I bought a beautiful Nissan Altima and some jerk t-boned me on a rainy day 2 months later.) Our marriage license and the applications for our passports. Except our marriage license (natch), these all went in the “shred” pile, but there was something startlingly emotional about flipping through them in succession. I was glad when we finished up.

Komono was, well, everything. We went room by room (to make it manageable) and it took every bit of two days. We emptied cabinets, cleared shelves, dug things out of nooks and our living room is now patently full of goodies for our garage sale on Saturday. (We’re having a garage sale on Saturday!).

Fatty was a big fan of all the available boxes for sitting.

Fatty was a big fan of all the available boxes for sitting.

Mid-day Monday, I was pretty sure there was no chance I’d have the energy to deal with mementos, but by Tuesday afternoon I was so ready to be DONE that I powered through. We kept scrapbooks and photo albums (probably not in total alignment with the Kon-Mari method, but it works for us). I sorted through a plastic bin of photos and Brett and I both determined we didn’t need the hall pass from Kindergarten or the card from our 13th birthday party signed “Joe and Jane.” (Who are Joe and Jane? Where did this card come from? Why did I keep this?) We even sorted through cards and letters we’ve written each other over the years and only kept the most special. (Brett noticed a somewhat concerning pattern which is that about half my cards begin with “Sorry I’ve been such a bitch lately…”)

I threw away a lot of photos. I had an astonishing quantity of photos of 1) People I am not friends with anymore; 2) Places I do not remember being; and 3) Me doing things I should not have been taking photos of (drinking, smoking, breaking into circuses). Emotionally, this was an easy task because if I ever go into politics (I won’t), the blackmail material is significantly lighter.

I’m ready for next week. I’m ready to clear the debris from my home, to pay someone to give it a deep clean, and to settle into the maintenance phase- which I am the most eager and anxious for. I think I’m ready to call myself a minimalist, but I’m certain that there so much more to uncover in these new stages than I could ever expect.

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Ode to a White Shirt

I’m wearing my white shirt again today. I wore it on Wednesday too. And I’ll probably wear it once this weekend. I’m becoming a lot like this woman. If you’re trying on minimalism, there’s a lot of power in a white shirt.

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White shirts go with everything. I don’t worry about my hair when I wear a white shirt. I don’t fuss with my makeup when I wear a white shirt. A good white shirt puts a polish on whatever it is about you that already shines.

However, an interesting thing happens when you combine the principles of a capsule wardrobe with the ideals of KonMari. This morning as I was dressing and thinking about how much I love my white shirt (which is this one, for reference) (yes, I know, it’s freaking steal) I said to myself, I’m a mess. I’m going to ruin this white shirt some day. And I love this particular one. I should stock up so I always have one on hand. Whoa partner.

Marie Kondo tells a story in her book about a woman who loved a shirt so much she bought two. She wore the first one to threads, but the second one sat untouched. It didn’t spark joy anymore.

This particular shirt fits me well and even more importantly, it fills my need for a white shirt right now. I love a sense of abundance as much as the next girl, but when we “stock up” we attempt to anticipate our future needs based on our current situation.

First of all, it seems unlikely that J.Crew is going to stop selling white button-down shirts. Should I be presented with a situation where I need a new one, there will certainly be one available to me for purchase. And don’t we all prefer the “new” anyway? Even if I kept my extra white shirts in plastic bags and tissue paper, they would become “old” just by virtue of being in my closet.

More importantly, I hope in six months (though let’s be honest, I’ll wreck this shirt well before then) that my needs have changed. I hope that my consciousness has continued to expand and that what serves me today will propel me to new experiences and that replicating just won’t do. Isn’t this the beauty of minimalism? That there is growth in maintenance?

In practicing minimalism, my hope is that my interior life reflects that same chicness as any exterior life. That I cultivate and invest in quality, not just in leather and denim and silk, but in my words, and my time, and my energy. It is so easy to slip into our standard patterns (I’ve already double booked myself since my last post on making time so old habits die hard), but a little intentionality goes a long way.
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How to Say No (Or rather, Why We Say Yes)

Can I see a show of hands from my Yes Gals? (Don’t worry, I won’t sign you up for anything!)

GIRLS. (And guys.) Is it just me or are we really seeing each other lately? We are speaking our truths and holding safe space for one another and good stuff is happening. (Tangentially, I love to write for the “me-too-moments”. Thanks for speaking up and saying “Me too!” It gives me so much joy.)

I think my last post hit a few of you in the feels. I’m not surprised because high tide rises all ships and I’m in constant awe of the amazing folks around me. We’re an unstoppable group. But maybe it’s not what we are doing, but why we do it that’s left some of us with a long list of to-dos and a short list of joys.

You are speaking out to me and saying “My relationships are not benefiting from the way I spend my time.” (MINE EITHER).
You are saying, “I have goals I can’t get to because I’m too busy with residual commitments.” (ME TOO).
You are saying, “Why aren’t I spending more time drinking on my patio?” (I DON’T KNOW.)

I have been in countless meetings, pen in hand, eyes averted, repeating to myself “Do not sign up. Do not sign up. Do not sign up.” It works about 40% of the time. I wrote about making space back in February and candidly, I’ve been struggling with it for a long time. How can we learn to deal?

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I think it might pay us to ask ourselves, why do we say “yes” so often anyway?

I don’t presume to speak for us all, Yes Gals, but here are my sneaking suspicions:

1. We want to be liked. I prefer to be seen as a reliable, interesting, well-rounded woman. With clever ideas. And a delicious brownie recipe. Who always wears nice shoes. The more I commit to, the more opportunity I have to impress. If I impress you, then you’ll like me. Right?

I suspect my Yes Gals are often grown up Teacher’s Pets. The “people pleaser” gene is dominant in our DNA and approval translates to acceptance. I’m not accusing us of all being insecure, but we are probably all a little bit insecure.

2. We’re arrogant. Somehow, alongside our insecurities, lives our arrogance. Yes Gals are a proud tribe. Put quite simply, we live by the mantra that “If you want something done right, just put it down right now and let me handle it, please.” We love to be seen as altruistic and there’s no question that we are generous, affectionate, and passionate. But curiously enough, we’re also certain that we are unique in our abilities to conduct a business meeting, host a reception, or plan a fundraising campaign.

There’s something unnerving about the idea of letting someone else have the reins. When the “Is anyone available for this” call is put out, we simultaneously imagine how successful it will be under our direction and what a mess it could become if someone else speaks up first.

3. We ignore the dataWe’ve planned an awful lot of parties in our day, haven’t we Yes Gals? We’re good planners because we’re creative. Creative folks have the perfect birthday banner tucked away and an idea for a cake that is going to just blow the lid off. We dream in showers and perfectly executed meeting agendas and awards banquets. We spend less time evaluating the facts.

We forget that everything takes longer than we think it will. We forget that we’ve never decorated a 6-tiered cake before. We pretend that we are obligated to follow through on a task that we didn’t have to commit to in the first place. We ignore our husbands (and wives) saying, “Wait a minute… Didn’t you just LEAVE a committee? Why are you chairing a new one?!” Mercy.


Here’s who benefits from our whacked out priorities: No one. Not our committee members who can tell we silently resent every volunteer meeting we sit through. Not our spouses who would love to get in some couch time with us. Not our personal goals that gather dust as another season passes. Not our spirits that deserve more tender treatment. We are only robbing from ourselves.

I don’t presume to know the best way to say more No and less Yes. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves, Yes Gals: We get high off the praise, we’re addicted to the attention, and we crave the acceptance. It might come in a pretty wrapper, but in my case, the day planner has some dirty little secrets to tell.

I, for one, deserve better. And you, reader and friend, do too. And so do your communities (your partners, families, friends). I pledge to commit only to that which sparks joy and to follow through for the right reasons. Our generosity should not be born of guilt and our gifts should not be given from obligation.

Yes Gals- welcome to the year of Thanks for Thinking of Me, but No.

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The Ripple Effects of Minimalism

If you’ve committed to a capsule wardrobe, you might have done so with the subconscious (or conscious!) realization that your closet is hardly the only place in your home that’s been neglected by excessive materialism. After reading Marie Kondo’s book, I noticed that nearly every nook and cranny in my apartment was the resting place for something that I didn’t love, or find useful, or believe to be beautiful. (Which is a really pretty way of saying I have a bunch of CRAP.)

It’s suffocating.

Brett and I have committed to KonMari our entire apartment. We’ve taken a day off work in June to do a full court press. (BECAUSE WE’RE LIKE THAT). We’ve started in on Clothes and Books, and we’ll spend our long weekend addressing Papers, Komono, and Mementos.

Simply by starting a capsule wardrobe and cleaning up our bookshelves, we are already enjoying the first benefits of minimalism. We have noticeably less laundry. (PRAISE BE UNTO HIM) Packing for a trip is simple. Getting dressed is easy. We’ve decided to sell our book collection and already pocketed $20! (Which we will add to our travel fund, a true source of joy for the Mosers). (Traveling. Not squirreling away money. No one LIKES saving money.)

Marie Kondo recommends handling each item in your home and accessing it individually. Track your reaction- does it spark joy? And don’t stop at your house.

That committee you are in- “Pick” it up, does it spark joy? That invitation to a weekend trip- when you examine it, how does it make you feel? Your cable subscription, your collection of old Cosmo magazines, your bookshelf full of dusty shot glasses- does it bring you joy to simply own them? Even if you never use them?

In a recent conversation with Brett, I stated- “I want to count my commitments on one hand.”

1. My personal life. (Brett, my friends, drinking on the patio, grilling hot dogs, helping plan my best friend’s wedding)
2. My work. (Which is a joy, a challenge, a pleasure.)
3. My education. (I’m going back to school in August!)
4. My service. (Which I’ve scaled back to include a committee in my young professionals group and a position on the Chamber of Commerce board.)
5. A rotating position for time delineated events. If I’m hosting a birthday party this month, then I’m sorry, I can’t help plan a community service event.

There’s a good chance this sounds silly to you. (Actually, for your sake, I hope it does.) But as a “yes” gal from way-back, it’s transformative for me to declare, My time is the most important. 

Call it a toast to selfishness, but if you need me this summer, I’ll be drinking on my patio, grilling hot dogs and planning my best friend’s wedding. I hope you’re making time to do exactly the things you want to do as well!

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My Spring 2015 Capsule

This capsule wardrobe is a real thing huh? I love hearing about your own journeys with this. I think a bunch of us are SO THERE. Spring is a season of growth. Ideas are percolating and we are establishing roots to weather the coming seasons. We are coming out of hibernation and when the sun beams into our windows,  we want the light to shine on the best of our homes, our relationships, and our intentions.

I haven’t been feeling very good lately. I’ve been really sensitive and quite emotional and to be candid, downright glum some days. The truth is, I’m a really happy person so I’m sitting with a lot of discomfort. My preference is to be cheerful and I struggle on days that are difficult to choose joy. These ideas about minimalism feel like a gift, however, because I see a path to reduce distraction and useless clutter. I see a path to recognizing that I am and that I have enough. I hope your journeys are taking you to the destination you need to reach as well. I recently finished “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (and shared it with Brett!) If, like me, you want to practice the principles of minimalism beyond the boundaries of your closet, I strongly recommend you give it a read.

As promised, this is my post about the spring capsule I carved out for myself from my closet. Admittedly, I think a LOT about that “type” of person I want to be, so the “style” dialogue was not as hard for me as I think it’s been for some of you. (Here’s a post about how to start that conversation.) I added a few pieces in and pulled a whole lot out- this is what’s left.

My capsule is 32 pieces: 18 tops, 10 bottoms, 2 dresses, and 2 jackets. (Here’s a post about what I decided to include and why.)

Tops: 5 button downs, 3 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweatshirts, 4 silky tops, and 4 tee shirts/tanks. 
FullSizeRenderBottoms: 1 grey maxi skirt, 2 pencil skirts, 1 midi skirt, 1 mini skirt, 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of black skinnies, 1 pair of black skimmers, and 1 pair of navy khakis. FullSizeRender-2Dresses: 1 maxi dress, 1 cotton shift dress

FullSizeRender-4Jackets: 1 denim jacket, 1 lightweight jacket FullSizeRender-3Extras*: 1 black purse, 1 brown purse, 1 dress clutch, 1 casual clutch, 4 scarves, 1 black belt, 1 brown belt
*(I didn’t include accessories in my overall capsule count, but I did reduce them pretty dramatically.)

FullSizeRender-5As you can see, it’s startlingly blue. And I hope, quite versatile. There are only a few pieces that I couldn’t wear to work (Slytherin sweatshirt, I’m looking at you) and only a few that I wouldn’t wear at home (those skimmers just scream business casual…)

The real work starts now- in being creative and joyful when dressing, deliberately choosing to love what I own, and saying no to clothes shopping until it’s time to build my summer capsule for July. Brett and I plan to implement the KonMari method to our entire apartment, so my focus in the coming weeks is discarding.

I hope you are staying encouraged and finding ways to implement practices that are meaningful to you. If you need a cheerleader- you know where to find me!

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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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