The 10 Items You Need For a Summer Business Casual Capsule

Happy end of the year! With the end of classes comes my favorite season of the year: internship season. Whether you already have one lined up, or if you’re still interviewing, a business casual wardrobe is an essential for navigating the office space, newsroom or set as a professional.

But deciding what to bring and what to buy can be stressful, especially when “business casual” has so many meanings. For example, my workplace last summer was an “emphasis on the CASUAL” workplace, which meant I could wear nice jeans and sneakers to work, as well as sundresses and harem pants. But I know other friends whose offices emphasized the “business” focus, meaning they had to be in a blazer every day.

When you figure out which version works for you, then comes the hard desicions of what to buy to upgrade your wardrobe. I suggest going with a list for a capsule wardrobe of only 10-15 items, shoes and all, that can be easily added to what you already have. Here are my picks:

ModCloth: Beautifully Upbeat Midi Skirt – $59

Old Navy: Square-Neck Cami Jumpsuit – $40

Madewell: White Cotton Courier Shirt – $65

Madewell: Central Drapey Shirt – $80

Old Navy: Wrap-Front Linen-Blend Top – $3

ModCloth: Opportune Talents Blazer – $79

Madewell: The Harper Mule – $158

Everlane: The Day Heel – $145

Re-Visiting Swedish Death Cleaning

2019 has not been kind to me in terms of losing loved ones and friends. It’s been a hard couple of months, but it’s also been an incredible time of growth and discovery.

With all of this discovery, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about death cleaning and how important it really can be based on the experiences of some of my friends and family.

Cleaning out can be therapeutic…

It’s not always good to throw out everything before you pass away. It’s important to keep the emotions of friends and family before you toss things that you assume they don’t want. One of my friends who lost her dad told me that cleaning out his desk was one of the most emotionally cleansing times after his passing. The memories connected to the items inside, from the sentimental things such as pictures she used to draw him, to the more “every day”, like CD-ROMS of games he used to play, were all helpful in the grieving process. A key point I forgot to highlight in my initial article was the importance of communicating with your loved ones; don’t just throw away without talking about things first.

…but also tedious.

Another friend I chatted with mentioned that cleaning out her loved one’s old documents was boring and actually made her grief more present. This part of the Death Cleaning method is more important than many might think, and I think this example shows that clearly; don’t leave burdens, or secrets to be uncovered behind, and documents like outdated tax info and old medical records can lead to those things.

Live before you die.

Swedish death cleaning is supposed to be done by everyone, regardless of age, health or precaution. Because of this, it’s easy to fall into a trap of not living in fear of being overwhelming when you pass away. Swedish Death Cleaning is an imperfect method; it doesn’t work for everyone in every aspect. Things happen, and life needs to happen for things TO happen! One thing that has struck me in all of the losses experienced is that each loved one lived a life that was worth the hassle of cleaning out the monotonous aftermath. Swedish Death Cleaning shouldn’t stop you from collecting memories, even in the form of items – it should just make it so your life well lived is in sharper focus.

Sentimentality and Simplicity

I’ve talked at great length about my experience with sentimentalism along with my minimal journey. I still feel like my relationship with “things” is heavily attached to my sentimental tendencies, as evidenced by my spring break shopping and my struggle with minimal budgeting. Savannah, GA made me incredibly sentimental — I kept telling my family that my very SOUL belonged in the historic city with its southern charms and hippy spirit. As a result, I went overboard gathering itemized memories, some of which I know I will actually treasure for a long time, and others that may have been too impulsive.

It’s not just spring break though. I always find an excuse for this type of thinking and spending; there’s always something happening that “makes it acceptable,” be it an event coming up, a particularly bad week, or just a nudge from a friend to go shopping.

It’s not an easy habit to kick, by any stretch of the imagination. We have been raised in a world that has always put a lot of value into material goods. Think about it: we are the kids who Toy Story affected the most — a movie that personifies childhood items and gives us a reason to hold onto things! Plus, there’s something romantic about keeping items that were important to us at one point in time. Holding an item from your past can bring you back to those moments and there is something special about that tactile feeling of the past.

Personally, I need to work harder to not give in to FOMO. I live with so much fear of missing even one moment that I don’t stop to think about the ones that I need to remember. This year alone, I will be living in 4 different places between two states, and the things that will last 4 moves and more in the future are the memories that I can’t touch, but that help me through the days that are long and lonely.

What do you think? Is there anything you think you could work on with your sentimentality?

My Favorite Minimalist Instagram Accounts

Apologies for the shorter post today! Midterms and some personal conflicts have kept me away from my writing the last few days, but I promise next week I’ll have a longer, fun writeup featuring my spring break plans. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my biggest inspirations from Instagram. As horrible as I am at actually POSTING on Insta, it’s probably my most used social media and there are a few accounts that really speak to me in their aesthetic and their content – check them out!

MINIMALIST BAKER (@minimalistbaker)

While it’s not my normal minimalist style, Minimalist Baker features plant based recipes with only few ingredients — two things that cut down on waste and are impactful on the environment!

Gather Home + Lifestyle (@gatherhomelifestyle)

This account for the Gather storefront is one of my favorite jungalow/minimalism crossover accounts. The jungalow tag features plant-friendly homes, but can sometimes get to be too crowded for me. This is the perfect blend of the two – plus, their product design is fantastic.

Miriam Stimpfl (@thewaveshavecome)

This incredible human has my dream instagram. She posts beautiful pictures of her home and other minimalist interiors, her travels, architecture and (!!!) her cat!

Toxic Minimalism

One of my favorite tags on Pinterest for a very long time was the “simplicity” tag. It was filled with useful monthly decluttering challenges, stark Scandinavian interiors, and sweet quotes. Recently, while scouring the tag for inspiration for last week’s post, I realized the tag has become cluttered with angry quotes, “stuff shaming” articles, and “brutally honest” callout posts.

There are a ton of niche communities online, covering everything from slime to buying houses. In all of these little communities, at a certain point, they become big enough to have drama, to create “standards” and gateways to entry that prevent newer members to break into the culture. It doesn’t matter what the community is, toxicity moves in.

Toxicity comes in many forms. It can be drama, it can be standards. The kind that I have seen come into the minimalist community has been pressure to do more and beat out all the others.

Get rid of more things.

Make your walls more barren.

Declutter until you have only the absolute essentials, and then cull that list down.

Remove everything that is sentimental from your life.

Shame others who don’t embrace the “movement”.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. When you find a lifestyle choice, it’s like getting a new haircut; you want everyone to notice, and you want to tell anyone who doesn’t notice about it. You want to tell everyone about the hairdresser who did your hair. You want to take new pictures of yourself with the hair and change all of your social medias to match it.

Okay, it’s a convoluted analogy. But it’s the best way that I can explain what the effect of all consuming minimalism looks like. It looks like a tag all filled with negativity. It looks like minimalism becoming unwelcoming.

Let’s face it, while internet drama is ridiculous, it actually consumes some peoples’ lives. It’s more than just words on a screen, it changes the way people live. There are users who follow the minimalist tag through all of the phases and forms, and this kind of toxicity makes it hard for them to keep up.

Mental Minimalism

“No” is a word that has never been in my vocabulary.

When someone asks me to take on a task, take over a committee, join a club or lead a team, I instantly say yes. It doesn’t matter how hectic my schedule is, I respond “going” to every Facebook event that comes my way. If someone asks me to chat, even if I’m in the middle of a task, I will drop everything to talk it out. I would dare christen myself the queen of commitment and saying “yes”. The word “no” doesn’t come to mind very often, and especially never when someone is asking for my time and my energy.

One of my 2019 commitments to myself was to be more mindful and present. What I’ve realized from starting that process is that to be present, I have to have the time to do so.

That means I’ve had to find the strength to say “no”

Knowing all of that, I probably shouldn’t be the one to be writing about minimalistic priorities. But I do have a list of goals and tricks for being mindful and saying “no” that I’ve been working on since the beginning of February. Clearly, they are not failsafe, but they are a good starting point for mindfulness.

  1. Wait before saying yes – Think through your priorities before adding a new one. Don’t make your schedule so stacked that you can’t give your whole self to all of them.
  2. Turn off notifications at a certain time of night – preferably early in the evening, but at least an hour before bed.
  3. Single-task whenever you can – I am that girl who has 20 tabs open and flips between all of them while taking notes in lecture — but that’s a horrible way to work! Taking each task one at a time allows you to be more productive and to get the job done fully.

Minimalism and Holidays

I thought about writing about holiday clutter before Christmas break started, since it is such a hot topic that time of year. It’s a common time for stuff to accumulate, whether it be unwanted presents, wrapping supplies, ornaments or decorations. While personally, I did a quick edit of my belongings before going back to school, I know that I’m not the norm.

Currently, I’m prepping for a Galentine’s Day bash and the shopping involved is reminding me of that same sense of holiday clutter. It’s fun to have all of the decor and the more “chintzy” things during the season, but there are some things that stand the test of time and some things that get tucked away in a dark corner, never to be seen until a future decluttering.

While it is totally okay to not think about minimalizing during the season, there are a few simple things that can be simplified:

  1. Decorations – We’ve all done it. The Target dollar section calls to us and tells us we need all of the seasonal decor we can carry in our cart, and we listen. After the end of every season, take note of what you think will last and stay trendy until next season. If you find yourself avoiding a particular ornament or sign, donate it or give it away! Only hold on to and buy what you need to make you feel festive.
  2. Presents – Maybe not the ones from this year, but some things can pile up over time. For example, I know for a fact a dear member of my family has a huge set of harmonicas he hasn’t touched since he first got them. If there is something you aren’t using anymore, it’s always time to move on and use it to bring joy to someone else! It can be hard removing the sentimental gift feeling from an object, but remember that the gift is not the person – you can still cherish the sentiment of the gift without physically having it!
  3. Candy/Misc – yes, I know this is an odd category, but it needs to be said! I still have friends who have candy canes floating around their houses and it never ceases to baffle me. Holiday candy should not hang around for more than two weeks after the holiday. Same goes for baked goods and other foods you may have sitting around your house in cups! It’s about cleanliness and about lowering your stress levels – and it’s a solid step in shaking the post holiday funk.

KonMari on a Budget

If you’ve ever read this blog, you know how much I love the KonMari method and Marie Kondo. Understandably, I was so excited to watch her show, which came out on New Year’s Day. The catharsis of watching people get rid of years of accumulated junk was inspiring and stress relieving.

My one issue with Marie Kondo is her stress on “quality,” expensive organizers. While I’m sure there is more a push from her marketing team, there is something horrifying about a set of three boxes priced at $89 dollars.

But there are so many easy alternatives to the expensive storage systems typically touted in minimalism. You can check places like Ikea, Marshalls, and the Container Store (not to mention Amazon) for deals and cheap alternatives. Here are a few of my favorites:

Marie Kondo Boxes ($89 for 3) ——–> Ikea TJENA Boxes ($2.99 each)

Marie Kondo boxes ($89 for 3)
TJENA ($2.99 each)

Urban Outfitters clothing rail ($129) ———-> Ikea MULIG ($9.99)

Urban Outfitters ($129)
Ikea ($9.99)

Joss & Main Bamboo Shoe Rack ($96) ————> Ikea MACKAPÄR ($17.99)

Joss and Main ($96)

Minimalist Morning Routine

In one of my first posts for this blog, I talked briefly about the lack of minimalism in my lifestyle. While that has still not changed, one major part of my overly busy life has changed – I have started to plan a morning routine. When a few weeks ago, I woke up and immediately had to start working, I realized I needed to rethink my priority list and plan out a simple schedule that allowed me to be more mindful. It is full of self-care hacks and simple slow down techniques that can be easily implemented into a busy day. One of the biggest parts of the schedule is flexibility – I try to allow myself to adjust to what my body needs, so that I can care for myself properly. Here’s the basic outline of my morning routine:

  • 5:30 a.m. – First alarm goes off. I almost never wake up to my first alarm (just ask my roommate, who does), but I have always needed the security of an early alarm.
  • 6 a.m. – Second alarm goes off. This alarm is the real alarm, and I typically wake up at this alarm. I let myself lay in bed and relax for a while after this alarm goes off – I’ve found it lets me feel more relaxed and rested through the day.
  • 6:30 a.mm – Reading, meditation, and morning coffee or tea – like most college students, I’ve developed a slight caffeine addiction since starting school. Starting early and trading every other cup out for water has helped me kick it a little, but I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not alive before my morning cup. I also have been working on my meditation and prayer routine that includes mindfulness and journaling, but I can’t admit to being super consistent yet.
  • 7 a.m. – Shower. I allow myself a full 20 minutes in the name of #selfcare. Especially with the cold mornings rolling in, I need the wake-up call.
  • 7:25 a.m. – Hair and makeup routine. I’ve been working to set out my outfits the night before so that I can easily get that time-wasting habit out of my morning, but my hair and makeup is unavoidable.  I find myself to be more productive when my hair is curled, my mascara is on, and my skin is taken care of.
  • 7:55 a.m. – Cleaning. I quickly clean my room from the morning mess – including making my bed and cleaning up my makeup bag – before I log on at work.
  • 8 a.m. – Morning note for work. I work as an intern at a health news organization in social media and I love every second of it. My mornings always include this step, which is a big part of my job! It’s a great way for me to read up on the news, and it’s my first “responsibility” of the day. Being ready for my day also allows me to do my best work, so I love getting everything else on the list done so I can fully focus on work.

Hygge

There are many forms of minimalist living that cover things – what you own, what you give away, what sparks and permeates joy. But there are fewer that cover the important idea of lifestyle minimalism, methods that help you stay centered and re-evaluate what is important. Hygge is one of those methods, and it is a popular one especially in the winter.

Hygge has two main tenants; one, the feeling of hygge and two, the physical lifestyle that facilitates the feeling. The emotional side focuses on events and memories. Creating memories and being fully aware is important to the movement, but those who live hygge don’t see it as a lifestyle change. Rather, it’s a switch of consciousness that brings things into perspective.

The physical side of hygge is where the coziness comes in – making it a popular winter trend. Hygge emphasizes the importance of sentimentality and comfort, especially, and eating. Forget the quinoa bowls and green juices of other forms of minimalism and break out the rich mocha coffees, pot pie dishes, and warm desserts. Surrounding yourself with warm pillows and blankets and wearing your comfiest outfits are a must. However, it’s not something you can do alone. Hygge is about sharing and community. So grab some friends, make a cozy pillow fort, and enjoy a nice mug of cocoa.