Becoming Minimalist: Thoughts On Mindful Shopping

Embracing minimalism started with my move to London two years ago.

As I wrote about, there's nothing quite like the task of getting all of your items from a rented apartment in Brooklyn to a rented flat in southwest London to really make you think about what you own. Picture many, many suitcases, a shipping drop-off center, a waiting period, a van driver's buzz at the front door, and a girl answering that door and dragging her belongings up the stairs a time to her new second floor flat.

If that doesn't convince you to clean up and clear out well then christ, not much will.

Favorite new shorts cut from my husband's old pants; beloved Chinti & Parker striped top purchased at a Notting Hill sample sale in my early London days

Minimalism had to do with my big move, definitely. But the desire to reduce my number of belongings is an emotional choice as much as a practical one. I plan to carry much less with me when I head to North Carolina at the end of the year. And with fewer physical items, I have a renewed sense of clarity.

Quite frankly, there's just not room up there for all of that clutter.

The slow embrace of minimalism is not just about letting go of what you no longer want, need, or use, it's also about changing the way you view consumption in general. 

Let's go back for a minute. While I won't bore you with details, let's just say that I used to shop...a lot. I mean, every girl under the age of 25 shops a lot, but my love for fashion and desire to work in an industry where you "need" to look good, paired with that full, pre-recession consumerist lifestyle and shows like "The Hills" and "Rich Girls" convinced me that I needed to shop, shop again, and then again.

And man alive, it felt good.

But that good feeling that I used to get from over consuming was shallow and fleeting, and left me wanting to buy something again the next day. Which I did.

As I've aged, I've shed that desire. I believe this change to be a product of the post-recession embrace of all-things local and genuine, my personal growth, and my desire to only own things that I truly value.

Favorite black crewneck that I've worn for years; new earrings from a sweet friend at Formula

This desire to own less and enjoy more is one that's constantly evolving and growing.

Nowadays, when it comes to shopping for material goods, I try to purchase from independent designers and retailers as much as possible. It's a cliche at this point, but there really is something to say about the feeling you get from purchasing something from a favorite designer found online or that independent card shop down the street. It's the connection, and the feeling that you're doing something good for someone who will appreciate the help.

I'm lucky that my line of work occasionally leads me to these people. In fact, one of my favorite things about writing women's magazine market stories is the research aspect – I love finding small shops and new designers, meeting them, and following them as they build their businesses. I had a jewelry line with two friends in my early New York years, so I get genuine joy out of learning about small businesses, hearing the stories, and helping to spread the goodness of quality products around.

I aim for everything in my closet to either come from a maker that I know or to at least have a good story behind it. It's a goal I'm slowly working toward. Getting rid of (most of) the bigger, less-fulfilling pieces, and focusing on the smaller, more important ones.

My wear-every-day vintage Adidas sneakers bought at a Saturday market near our second flat in London

That's my definition of minimalism. It's not just clearing out your closet and stopping consumption altogether, no sir.

For me, minimalism is about getting rid of anything that doesn't mean something real, and giving the things that do a place to shine.

What's your favorite place to shop? It can be a small business or a large business – no judgement here. Leave a comment and let me know!

This is the third installment of a multi-part series on embracing minimalism. Read part one here, and part two here. 


Clean Everything Spring | Summer 2014

Like most folks, I'd imagine, my taste can be pretty conflicting.

I go back and forth between living like Claire Underwood, and basically being a Mexican grandma surrounded by chotchkies, stuffed animals, and mixed prints for as far as the eye can see.

But let's pretend it's a good day and I'm feeling minimalist. When that's the case, I'm all about lines like Clean Everything who recently launched their latest collection. The line began as a series of rectangular-shaped handbags and accessories (I swear by their White Stitchless Wallet) and has now widened its range to feature backpacks and a variety of other shapes. 

These may be a little edgy for Claire Underwood, but would go down a treat for a night on the town or just if you wanted to look cool and keep your keys out of the way at the grocery store. 

The Line

The Line is one of my absolute favorite developments in the world of retail over the past year. Featuring a super-well curated selection of high-end clothing, accessories, and homeware from both established and newer designers, The Line focuses on "refined, versatile, and honest goods", which basically means baller, designer stuff you can't afford. Sign. me. up. (except I already have signed up, and I've already written about it on this blog).

Each week, The Line focuses on a new "story", and one that ran a few weeks back focused on Scandinavian design and it's my dream that will never happen–I'd never be able to keep peanut butter or tea off of my self or my furniture long enough. Still, it's lovely to look at:


You can shop The Line online or visit their NYC store, The Apartment

Giveaway: Win A Handmade Wallet!

Here in London, we use refillable plastic cards (known as Oyster cards) to pay for our public transportation fare. Since Oyster cards can be read through your wallet, choosing a card case is key.

So when Cristina of minimalist accessory line Clean Everything offered up one of her Stitchless Wallets for a giveaway, I jumped at the chance. 

Clean Everything Stitchless Wallet / Second Floor Flat
Clean Everything Stitchless Wallet / Second Floor Flat

All Clean Everything products are handcrafted in Romania out of leather from Italian tanneries. My Stitchless Wallet in White has gotten a loottaa use these past few weeks and I'm obsessed. It's are also available in Red and Green (hello, stocking stuffers) and sold alongside a slew of other products, including billfold wallets and bags

Clean Everything Stitchless Wallet / Second Floor Flat

Want one of your own? Here's HOW TO ENTER

1. Follow Second Floor Flat on Facebook and Twitter

2. Follow Clean Everything on Facebook and Twitter


Winner will be contacted next week. Good luck!

Line You Should Know About - The Vamoose

The second in the series of Stores You Should Know About is The Vamoose—a U.K.-based jewelry line started by designer Kathryn Blackmore.

A small jewelry line that originally started out selling on Etsy has now into a full-blown collection with a bangin' e-commerce shop. The bracelets, earrings, and necklaces at The Vamoose are all handmade and perfectly strike the balance between being girly and minimalist—which is difficult, to say the least.

In my battle to dress like an adult I'm really focusing on wearing better made, simpler jewelry, and The Vamoose is just the ticket. Aside from being handmade from quality materials the pieces are also affordable which is, well, just plain rare.

Gemstone and Metal Necklaces , starting at £20/$32

Gemstone and Metal Necklaces, starting at £20/$32

Srsly, isn't this stuff beautiful?

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

I've always been one for printed cotton clothing.

I'm not sure why cheap prints are so attractive to me or any of my fellow middle-class female consumers, but they just are.

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

There's nothing like the excitement that comes with the first spotting of a floral or geometric print. Something about seeing that bright, overtimulating print in a bright, overstimulating store is thrilling, but this thrill is always short lived. Pretty much as soon as you take your new, ill-fitting cotton/poly blend dress out of the Target/H&M/Primark/Forever21 bag, you're over it and spending that £12.99/$19.99 feels like a bad choice.

It took me a while, but studying fashion design finally made me understand minimalism and what makes it so great.

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

Now, I'm obsessed and basically only want to wear well-designed solid color/classic printed pieces. I still have my slip-ups (Saturday's purchase of £6 Primark floral flats) but am (kinda) on my way to being the type of gal who can walk into H&M, see a printed dress I like, and leave without it.

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

Junky Cotton Prints, Or The Battle To Dress Like An Adult

And if you've seen To Rome With Love: the reference the "junky cotton print" dress worn to a movie premier by a woman with ladders in her stockings felt like someone has looked straight into my soul and completely and totally understood everything about me.

From here, here, here, here, here, here, oh—and here!