wardrobe planning: 11 necessities for the freezing cold


I’m going to dress for winter right this year, dang it.  For the past 7 years, since moving from LA to NYC, I’ve been freezing my ass off every winter.  It took many traumatic experiences and nearly being frost bitten to convince myself to finally invest in the dreaded “poofy” coat.  I also went years without any proper winter boots.  I can’t really explain why it took me so long to learn how to dress well for winter.  Maybe it’s denial?

But let’s face it, it just isn’t as fun to dress for winter. When I see other bloggers writing posts about “how to dress for cold weather” and “how to layer”, and then show cute pictures of themselves with sheer stockings in leather boots with two layers of cardigans and a scarf, I can’t help but to roll my eyes.  (And some of these “fashionistas” are living in really cold areas like Scandinavia!  They should know better!)  Anyway, I’m not going to be shy about dressing somewhat frumpy this winter in order to show my readers real outfits that work for the real world.  The weather isn’t quite freezing yet, but I decided to write this post now so that I can document my preparation.  In the winter, I manage to re-wear my clothes down to oblivion.   For example, I always manage to tear holes into my knit gloves (or lose them) and I practically live in black leggings in the cold, either as a base layer under pants, or doubled up under a tunic or dress.  I took a close look at my leggings recently, and noticed that when held up to the light, most had worn down in certain places and became transparent, while others were coming apart at the seams.  My flat ankle boots also took a beating and needs replacing.

The harshness of winter has certainly put a lot of my things into retirement.  One thing that lasted though is my old cocoon shaped poofy coat from Zara, that I’ve worn daily from December thru March, and had repaired and dry cleaned every year since I purchased it 4 years ago.  For the most part, I can keep all my summer items on rotation through the winter, and simply need to augment them with cold weather necessities.  I’ve compiled a list of what I consider real necessities for freezing cold winters like the ones we have in New York City.  This list is especially suited for people that need to commute or spend time outside daily, and need to withstand the bitter cold, snow, ice, and wind.  But still need to dress nice enough for work and be prepared to adjust to warm indoor settings.

11 Winter Wardrobe Necessities: Continue reading →

3 minimalist kitchen tools that I can’t live without.


A good friend of mine moved into a new studio apartment and was in need of basic kitchen supplies.  This was the perfect time to declutter my kitchen.  Always look out for opportunities in your life to unload stuff onto other people who are in need.  It’s a win-win.

In the process, I thought about which kitchen tools added the most value to my life and picked these 3 finalists.  They were chosen for their simplicity, effectiveness, and durability.  It just so happens that all these tools originated in Asia ages ago and can be found at your local chinatown or online for only a few bucks. Continue reading →

good reads: on the peculiarities of two giant ethical clothing brands


This weekend I read two old New Yorker articles on the peculiarities of two behemoth ethical fashion brands, Eileen Fisher and Patagonia.  These two brands are like the godparents of the whole ethical fashion movement.  I was so intrigued by the stories of the people behind them.  (I actually do not own a single thing from either brand, but I do follow a lot of bloggers who wear them regularly).

It turns out Eileen Fisher employees are even weirder than I imagined! (I say that fondly).  The company employees start and end every meeting by ringing a bell.  They all sit in a circle to eliminate a sense of hierarchy, so that “leaders sit in every chair”. And Eileen who is now retired, could only be interviewed in the presence of the company’s PR team that made sure she didn’t say anything damaging.  Wow.  She seemed so imperfectly interesting.  The way she described her mother’s mental health issues, the need to raise herself with her sisters, and how that contributed to her vision for the structure of the company really resonated with me.  I wonder what she would’ve said if the PR overlords weren’t hovering around.  It’s a long article but worth sitting down with a cup of tea if you have some time to kill this week.

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outfit: for a rainy day


I’m prepping my wardrobe for the fall/winter months.  This weekend, it rained quite a bit, so I pulled out these waterproof Ariat boots from the back of my closet to go run some errands.  I invested in these boots last winter when my feet nearly froze off when I was stranded by a stalled subway train at rush hour.  It was very painful and I never want to be in that situation ever again.  I did a lot of research on weather proof boots and read a lot of reviews before purchasing.  Ariat is known for making high quality horse riding and outdoor work boots. Maybe I overdid it, but I have to say these are the most high tech shoes I’ve ever worn.

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outfit: ’tis the season for socks and sandals


Fall is upon us people!  Every fall, I desperately look for ways to keep wearing sandals long after every sane person in New York has  transitioned to boots.  Last year I got some judgmental looks and overheard New Yorkers outright teasing me for wearing wool socks with Birkenstocks in public (sometimes I just don’t care how I look ok).

This year, I decided to fem it up a little bit with cutesy socks (maybe that will be more socially acceptable?). I think girly seasonal socks  look great peeking out of ankle booties or with 70’s style wedge sandals, with an otherwise simple outfit.

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tips for maintaining a minimalist home


When I’m considering something for my apartment, I’ve found it helpful to vet the object in question:

First ask: is this object truly worth the real estate that it will take up?

Next, imagine the physical space around this object in your home… Continue reading →

some surprising benefits to paring down my wardrobe


Maria Van Nguyen wrote a beautiful post on how she chooses to buy less.  She uses an interesting method of shopping only once every 6 months and describes how this has made her life better.

Her thoughts inspired me to think about the positive side effects of my decision to buy less and pare down.

Here are the benefits I’ve noticed:

  • I have more space
  • I have more time
  • I feel less stressed when I get ready
  • I feel more comfortable
  • I feel more confident
  • I feel good about doing what is good for our planet
  • I have less debt
  • laundry becomes easier
  • I become more creative

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Millennial women want retailers to know their style identities.


Restaurants with a  million and one items on the menu are invariably bad.  When they try to do too much, they don’t do anything well.  The same goes for fashion.  The modern woman is more decisive and in tune with her style identity than any generation before hers.  We want retailers who understand that and are brave enough to hone in on their own identities, creating a cohesive message with their clothes.  In recent years, I quit shopping at department stores and other retailers with too much variety.   I’m simply too fatigued to wade through other women’s styles.  When I enter a store, I want to already know that the brand is in line with my identity and values.  We all have different style identities.  Think of the woman in the MNZ palma sandals, and contrast that to the woman in Doc Martins combat boots.  Retailers should stop  spewing out a sea of junk every other week and focus.  They seem to think that if they keep showing us more styles every other week, we will all salivate and buy buy buy.  This stops working on the intentional woman.

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I found the most unfussy coffee maker that makes a decent cup


I was recently asked if I use my wardrobe philosophy in other areas of my life.  I do!  One example, is how I  make  my coffee with a Vietnamese coffee maker, aka phin.  I can’t live without coffee and decided to make it at home to save time and money.  In my search for the best coffee maker, I was so close to buying this fancy highly rated coffee maker with all the bells and whistles after reading every coffee snob review out there.  Then I slapped myself, listened to my gut and said, no this is crazy.  Why do I need something so complicated? People have been making great coffee for decades with much less.  There had to be a better solution, it was the phin!  Now my favorite kitchen tool. Continue reading →

outfit: a slightly different white T-shirt


Sometimes I get teased for looking like Steve Jobs.  It’s an insult, but I do think I pull off the mock neck look better than he does.  I like this Everlane high crew tee for its high neckline.  It adds something just a little interesting to an otherwise uber conventional wardrobe item.  The hem on the bottom is bonded and gives the shirt a structured A-line shape.  I think these shapes look particularly good on girls with smaller busts or when wearing a sports bra.  Anyway, I’ve been wearing these all the time.  It’s currently sold out but I bet they will bring it back soon.

[outfit:  Everlane high crew tee, old Zara utility shorts, Chaco classic sandal, Cluse watch]

Outfit: for a walk in Central Park on a cool Sunday afternoon.


I have Sunday mornings all to myself for the next few months as my BF is off teaching a weekend class.  I used this time today to take my dog on a walk while listening to The Minimalists podcast episode on debt.  I’m pretty late to the whole podcast scene and was pleasantly surprised by their quality content.  These guys aren’t too extreme and have really mature perspectives on life based on starting from rock bottom, reaching success, and then choosing to make huge changes to their lives to bring them happiness.  They are super inspiring to listen to, I think more so than reading their blog.  After listening, I felt inspired to go on a manicure ban for the rest of the year to save some money.  Notice my bare fingernails?  I do pedicures at home because they require little effort and upkeep, so that won’t change.   Continue reading →

​Beauty Review:  Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream​ is the best anti-aging facial cream I’ve used thus far.

Last year, after I turned 30, I began to get a twinge of terror when I looked in the mirror under bright light. I was getting wrinkles!  For the first time, I began to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable aging process.  At the time, I was using MyChelle Deep Repair Cream.  I loved this cream but didn’t use it long because I got complaints from my BF that it smelled like mustard, so I looked into Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream, which I had read a lot about and noticed it had a sort of cult following for many years now, including J. Lo! And her skin is amazing!  I bought it on Amazon which was much cheaper than Whole Foods.  I loved the smell of it right away.  It felt really luxurious.  My only complaint is that it is a bit too thick.  I remedied that by wetting my hands before applying to thin it out a little.  Eight months later without even really paying attention, I realized that my skin looked like the way it used to! I wondered if I was going crazy last year when I noticed the wrinkles.  The wrinkles were never obvious in the first place but I do notice that my face feels as firm and smooth as it did >3 years ago.  Even though it is described as a day cream, I preferred to use it at night because it does feel a bit heavy and by the morning time the product has been fully absorbed and feels just right.  I’m almost out of the product and think next time I’ll buy the light version for easier application.  For comparison, other facial moisturizers I’ve used include:  Burt’s Bees, Oil of Olay, Clarins, Clinique, Kiss My Face, Avene, Shiseido, Roc, and Vanicream.  Dr. Hauschka is by far the best. What’s the best facial cream you’ve tried?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Lessons from a leaner closet


Like a lot of other people, I felt like I learned a lot about myself in the process of paring down.  When forced to make tough decisions on what stays or goes, I learned about what was most important to me.  Since my focus here has been on personal style, I wanted to share some of the things I learned in that department.

My favorite and most worn clothes were surprisingly from a broad range of retailers, from cheap fast fashion stores like H&M to designers like Trade-Mark.  Although I try to shop more consciously at ethical brands as much as possible now, for moral reasons, I don’t mind at all holding onto high rotation, fast fashion clothing that I already have and I like mixing it all up.   Continue reading →