I’ll be back from my trip next week, but in the meantime, I’m thrilled to have an interview and guest post from my blog buddy Shelbi of Urban Girl’s Closet! Her site is clock-full of sage advice about minimal wardrobes, natural beauty, and sustainable living–start with her posts The Five Benefits of a Minimalist’s Wardrobe, How to Create Your Personal Style with the Capsule Wardrobe, and The Top 3 Misconceptions of the Capsule Wardrobe. Today, I have a little interview with her, and on Friday, she’ll share some ways to mix professional and casual wear (which I’m especially excited about, given that I don’t dress professionally for work).
photo by Katie Noel Photography
AN INTERVIEW WITH SHELBI OF URBAN GIRL’S CLOSET
What inspired you to start blogging about minimal living?
I’ve always been kind of a minimalist, but when my husband moved in with me back when he was still my boyfriend, I remember feeling panicky about how much stuff was in our place after he moved in. I wouldn’t let him put any of his stuff anywhere and it caused a little bit of tension, but I agreed to let him intertwine his belongings with mine. We had a long talk about it and I agreed to let him take his stuff out of his boxes. However, it was always in the back of my mind and I never really let it go, but my relationship was important to me so I couldn’t control everything about our lifestyle together.
Fast forward six years later and we had a very large baby shower for my son. Not only that, our family members from out of state had sent us a lot of baby stuff too. To say I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we received was an understatement. All the lists I saw online for new parents said I needed all this stuff, but really we literally didn’t need any of it. I got rid of a lot of my belongings in order to make room for all of my baby’s new things and every morning I would wake up to organize and I was like a deer in headlights. Looking back, the only thing I felt we really needed for him was his car seat, stroller, a couple of swaddles, a couple blankets, some onesies, some toys for him to chew on, a thermometer and his baby carrier. Obviously there are some other little things too like a bassinet and crib, but that’s subjective because a lot of babies sleep with their parents.
I realized that when our place looked like Hoarders R’ Us, that I thought I needed all this stuff for my baby, but it was just “stuff” and nothing more. This was a pivotal point in my life and this is when I started making changes. I’m still making headway, but it’s definitely not a perfect progress.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style has definitely changed since entering my 30s. It used to be a lot more quirky, but now it’s more relaxed and California casual. My lifestyle has changed so much and I think about what I actually need for it now that I’m a mom. I’m still attracted to quirky pieces, and I haven’t stopped my love for them because I think it’s important to show my personality. I just have to think about how I’m going to fit them in my capsule and make sure that it’s of good quality.
What has been the biggest insight you’ve had since using a capsule wardrobe?
I think I’ve figured out that mixing and matching pieces in my wardrobe has really helped me create my new personal style. Before I had a lot of fun pieces, but they didn’t match the rest of my wardrobe and I would always go back to the same things. I feel simple is actually better, but fun pieces or accessories can still be mixed in to bring out my personality. Overall, I’m still learning to admire beautiful pieces that just don’t work well for my current wardrobe. I’ll take a picture of an outfit in a store window, or I’ll take a screenshot of it for memories, but I don’t have to have it if it doesn’t flow with my wardrobe.
Do you incorporate any of your lean closet strategies into shopping for your son?
It’s actually kind of easy for kids to have lean closets, especially for boys because all boys’ clothing is pretty much navy blue and red, and most girl clothing is pink, purple and turquoise blue. Seriously, every piece of clothing my son has can be mixed and matched with each other. He’s really into superheroes and I buy everything second hand. Luckily, there’s no shortage of superhero t-shirts at our local thrift store, which makes him very happy. A lot of the pieces I pick up for him look like they haven’t even been washed, and some even still have the tags still on them. It’s pretty crazy that I can find used pieces in such amazing shape, but I won’t complain.
You have an awesome commitment to shopping only secondhand through the end of the year. Do you have any favorite sources for thrifting or vintage?
To be honest, I really love shopping at my local thrift store. However, for those of you who are pressed for time, I find Etsy and ThredUp are pretty good resources, but again, the local thrift or consignment shops are my favorite. The Mission District in San Francisco has the best thrift and consignment stores. I can’t say that the prices are great, but they have to pay the rent so it’s all relative.
Additionally, I like to look at my local Facebook groups and post that I’m looking for something in the group. People will comment that they either do or don’t have something. Seriously, there are so many resources and if you don’t have the time to dig through racks of clothing, there are ways around that. As I mentioned before, ThredUp is so easy and it’s just like shopping on any online website. There’s also Poshmark, which I’ve never tried, but I’ve heard good things about them.
The travels documented on your Instagram look so dreamy. Do you have any packing list must-haves?
I can’t say I have any travel must-haves, but I do want to try the chewable toothpaste tablets for traveling, because I think they would come in pretty handy. However, I do like to pack light. I condense all my toiletries in small travel containers, I’ll bring a shampoo bar, and I only bring enough clothes for the days I’ll be gone. For example, if I’m going to be gone for four days, I’ll bring four items of clothing not including undergarments, or workout wear. The tough part is when I do stopovers for long vacations, which I always do while traveling. My husband is from Tuscany, so we went to Florence last November, but stopped over in London for two days on the way. London was freezing and Tuscany was quite warm like California, so I had to bring some warm clothing that I didn’t even bother with in Florence. It complicates a travel capsule for sure, but I couldn’t resist.