Minimalist February | Simplified wardrobe pt 2.

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If you thought the stuff on my rail was literally all I wore, then you’re either as gullible as me (read: very) or optimistic. Those are what I wear on a daily basis, but there is a vital part of the picture missing.

Say hello to the cheeky chest of drawers. It homes all the things that can’t be or shouldn’t be hung up! Let me take you through it all…

  1. Underwear + swimwear: 4x bras, 1x sports bra, 3x vests, 3x tights, 10x socks, 5x various sports socks, 2x slipper socks, 7x knickers, 1x bikini, 1x swimming costume
  2. packing cubes + smart stuff: 6x packing cubes, 1x formal dress, 1x formal shirt, 1x formal trousers
  3. Sportswear: 3x shorts, 3x joggers/leggings, 1x jumper, 1x softshell jacket, 6x quidditch jerseys, 2x running tops, 2x base layers
  4. 1x spare set of bedding, 1x spare towel, 1x spare set of pyjamas
  5. Seasonal stuff: summer clothes (to be revealed later on this year), Christmas jumper

That’s it, not super interesting, but I know it’s always intriguing for me to see other people’s set ups (partly out of nosiness, partly because it’s useful to compare their approaches in order to work out your own). As always, numbers don’t matter, and it’s useless to strive for a number or hold yourself to someone else’s standards; I just put the quantities of everything for transparency’s sake 🙂 Have a good day!

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Minimalist February | Simplified wardrobe pt 1.

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When bored of the word ‘minimalist’ or sick of the cliché connotations, I’ve noticed bloggers like to go for ‘simple’ or ‘simplified’. Today I am all of those bloggers (fight me!) I’m at once grateful and resentful of labels like ‘zero waster’ and ‘minimalist’ and ‘vegan’. They obviously represent decisions and lifestyles that I am proud of, and it means you can search these terms and find like-minded people to inspire you. On the other side of the coin, labels come with stereotypes, expectations and criticisms. Sometimes you also get caught up in being that stereotype or label, rather than caring about the root issues. But anyway..

The point I was trying to make before I got sidetracked, was that it makes a lot more sense to me to use ‘simplified’ in this case. Because that’s what minimalism means to me. Having less clothes makes everything simpler. It has never been easier to choose what to wear, I have never loved my clothes more, and this is also probably my comfiest wardrobe to date! I used to have clothes I loved, was indifferent to and hated- all in the same place! I had items that I bought cos they looked great on other people, items that would’ve been great in another colour, or a teeny bit longer, or looser (so basically exactly what they weren’t). It’s taken over 2 years of mistakes and learning to realise what I value in a wardrobe and stick to it. And I know the journey is not over, but I like to think I’ll only be making small changes a few times a year from now on.

Here’s a run down of what’s in my winter wardrobe. This is what simple looks like to me:

key: (e)= ethically made (v)= vegan (n)= natural fibres

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TOPS:

  1. GAP Stripy breton (v)(n)– secondhand
  2. The White T-shirt Co. body top in black (e)(v)(n)– new
  3. The White T-shirt Co. body top in grey (e)(v)(n)– new
  4. Uniqlo linen shirt in black (v)(n)– secondhand (similar)
  5. WHISTLES blouse in yellow/orange (v)– secondhand
  6. Levi’s sweatshirt in grey (e)(v)– secondhand
  7. Vintage cardigan in cream (e)(n)– secondhand (similar)
  8. HOBBS cardigan in red (e)(n)– secondhand

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BOTTOMS:

  1. Levi’s 505c jeans (e)(n)– new (from an outlet store) (similar)
  2. COS wool skirt in plum (n)– secondhand (similar)
  3. Vintage tartan shorts in green (n)– secondhand, shortened by me (similar- before alteration, after alteration)

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ALL-IN-ONES:

  1. Urban Outfitters floaty dress in dark grey/multicoloured (v)– new (5 years ago)
  2. Ralph Lauren shirt dress in light blue (v)(n)– secondhand (similar)
  3. Lucy & Yak corduroy dungarees in moss green (e)(v)(n)– new
  4. Finisterre jumper dress in grey (e)(v)(n)– new
  5. Thought denim pinafore in dark blue (e)(v)– new

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COATS/JACKETS:

  1. TOPMAN overcoat in navy blue – secondhand (similar)
  2. RAINS rubber raincoat in green (e)(v)– secondhand

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ACCESSORIES:

  1. Matt & Nat Elle bag in chili (e)(v)– new
  2. LUSH fighting animal testing tote bag in black (e)(v)(n)– new
  3. RAINS msn bag in black (e)(v)– secondhand
  4. Patagonia gloves in blue (e)(v)– new
  5. Jack Wills tartan scarf in blue (n)– new
  6. Local artisan blanket scarf (e)(n)– new
  7. knitted headband in blue (e)(v)(n)– handmade by me (similar)

No Spend January | My ‘I do not need’ list.

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As it’s the last day of my No Spend January, I thought I’d do a little exercise to help me keep on top of my spending in the future. A little while ago, I listened to Tara from Buy Me Once speaking on this podcast. It is really inspiring to hear how she turned her back on a stable ‘high-flying’ job in advertising and the more, more, more way of life, and turned towards helping people to live more ethically and simply.

The Buy Me Once site is a really great resource for finding products that are designed to last a lifetime and often have lifetime warranties. Whenever I’m in need of something, I always check if BMO has any brand recommendations because they’ve done the research! Personally, buying less but better quality products has taught me to value what I do own, and I’m trying to buy in the knowledge (or at least hope) that it will serve me my whole life.

One of the main tips Tara has for kicking the compulsive buying habit, is to make an ‘I Don’t Need List’. You guessed it, it’s just a list of things (be as specific as you like) that you don’t need any more of; a promise to yourself not to fall for it again. We all have our weaknesses when shopping, and this is just a way of remaining accountable.

I thought I’d have a go at writing mine below… I stole quite a few off Tara’s list that were relevant to me, and then added any more I could think of. I also wrote it up nicely and keep it on my wall for future reference 🙂

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MY ‘I DON’T NEED’ LIST!

Clothes/Accessories/Beauty:

I do not need more than a capsule wardrobe

I do not need more than 1 coat

I do not need more than 1 hat, scarf and gloves set.

I do not need more than 5 bags (tote, handbag, rucksack, sports bag, carry on holdall)

I do not need jewellry (excluding earrings and nose rings)

I do not need more than 5 pairs of earrings

I do not need more than 5 nose rings

I do not need more than 1 pair of sunglasses

I do not need more than eight pairs of shoes (wellies, heels, boots, shoes, pumps, trainers, flip flops, sandals)

I do not need more every day makeup than these 5 items: lip balm/stain, mascara, eyeliner pencil, solid perfume, eyebrow powder

I do not need any toiletries that come in plastic

I do not need to partake in beauty trends that require new gadgets and tools

Technology:

I do not need a tablet (there’s nothing it can do that a phone + laptop can’t)

I do not need to upgrade my phone if it’s not broken

I do not need DVDs

I do not need a fitness watch

Leisure/Furniture:

I do not need decorative nick nacks

I do not need any freebies that I don’t find useful or add to my home in a valuable way

I do not need to pick up ANY pens from ANYWHERE

I do not need any more fabric (unless I need something specific for a project I’ve ALREADY planned. Basically don’t buy it just cos it would be nice to use one day)

I do not need to buy greetings cards

I do not need any more jars or tins (only buy if you don’t have any at home already that fit the purpose. Not allowed to buy just because they’re cute or pretty!)

That’s about it for me at the moment! I live with my parents at the moment, so the kitchen bit isn’t really applicable. I think I’ll take a leaf out of Tara’s book and update my list this time next year, adding and amending as appropriate- it’ll be interesting!

No Spend January | Week 2 round up.

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So this week 2 has been a considerably more pleasant experience! I mean it can only go up from forgetting that you’re actually doing a no spend challenge! Anyway, I’m letting go (if I say it that makes it true, right?!)

Saying that, it was my birthday on Wednesday (23, would you believe!) Obviously that meant a few presents. I got such practical but still fun gifts, thanks family! Sewing supplies from my siblings, a couple of basic tops from White T-shirt Co. from my parents, to replace the bobbly, rubbish ones from H&M I’ve had for years 🙂

Other than that, I’ve noticed myself feeling the urge to shop when feeling down. I’ll add that to the list of situations which seem to trigger my spending, like boredom, and being paid haha! Also, I think a social media + email purge is in order. Even just a few emails or Instagram adverts about January sales are enough to make me feel like I’m missing out on some mysterious bargain!

In more positive news, I’m feeling super satisfied with my wardrobe. I’ve pared it down to the perfect size and I love all my items. It’s taken me a good couple of years since I started this journey and without the temptation to buy anymore clothes, I’m getting the chance to really appreciate them! Nothing can seep into my consciousness if I can’t even see it 😉

Just a short post this week, but I’m feeling optimistic about the remainder of  January 🙂 Stay tuned for another post in the week!

No Spend January | Most treasured items.

I read this article from the Guardian that articulated something I hadn’t really thought about before. Materialism and Consumerism are so often used interchangeably but they are quite different. These days our society is dubbed more materialistic than ever, when actually the bigger issue is the excessive consumerism.

Materialism= preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations (link)

Consumerism= the fact or practice of an increasing consumption of goods (link)

Like the article says (better than me by the way) is that they are both linked and both relevant to the Western lifestyle, however consumerism has gotten to such a level that for most people the owning of an item almost means nothing after the novelty of the purchasing it has worn off. The fact that you can buy another [insert product here] means that the one you have always pales in comparison to the shiny advertised one.

Richard Denniss argues that we could do with a bit more materialism to be honest! (Or at least value of our belongings) That way we would seek to repair, maintain and use our things until the end of their lives before replacing them.

In light of this reading, I got to thinking about how my mindset is slowly shifting (although that damned consumerism still eats at my brain far too often). I wanted to share a handful of items with you all that I treasure dearly and intend to keep for as long as I can…

DSC01971.jpg1. Wool cardi– I bought this hand-knitted wool cardigan from one of my favourite vintage shops little over a year ago, and to be honest, I didn’t really realise how much I was going to love it. When I tried it on I loved how classic it looked and thought it would go with my wardrobe (all true) but the reasons I love it now, go so much beyond… It doesn’t have a label in it, so I’m inclined to think that someone hand-knitted it, which is a lovely thought. It is hands down THE WARMEST THING EVER and puts every other cardi I’ve ever owned to shame *AND* the buttons are made of wood which is both adorable and means that the whole thing is biodegradable. Need I go on?! (I’ll spare you)

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2. Fountain pen– I’d known of the brand, and whilst I’m not immune to branding, I had no real desire to own a Parker pen. I chanced upon a market stall one day selling new and used fountain pens, and explained to the man that I wanted one you could refill with ink from a bottle. He showed me a range, from about £20 to the one I eventually bought for £140. I sooo wasn’t planning on spending that kind of money on a pen (I have since had many a horrified look from friends and family upon hearing this) but I’m glad I invested in a good quality, good-looking and not plastic pen. I look forward to writing now and take more care when I do it, which for me has been a unforeseen bonus!

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3. Duffel bag– travel has been a regular and important occurrence for me for the last five years, and knowing your bag will stand the test of time makes me grateful. Mine is waterproof, worn like a backpack, the largest size you can take as your carry on with every airline and is made of sturdy stuff. It serves me well on any trip of any length for any purpose meaning it’s the only travel bag I need and there’s nothing I love more than simplicity 🙂

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4. Bike– as I type this, it’s been just over a week since I got hit by a car, meaning my bike has prematurely reached the end of its life.. I’m very sad, because my plan was to repair and replace parts as needed and not have to buy another one for a long time. This was my first adult bike, and I’ve ridden it practically every day for about 3 years. It represented my freedom and I loved it. It was secondhand when I bought it, so I expect it’s had a good run at least. Looks like I will have to replace it, but the point still stands that a bicycle is something I can’t see myself being able to live without, so it definitely deserves a special mention on this list.

5 things this Monday…

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Hello friends. I appreciate that it’s been a couple of months since my last post. When major changes happen in your life, sometimes it feels like you need to economise energy and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other! I’ve moved home from uni, worked a fantastic though hectic temporary job and am now through the other side. Having had the space to collect my thoughts and relax, I have the brainpower and sense of self that I was missing and I’m back for more Magical Blue shenanigans! Without further ado, let’s kick off with my old favourite, 5 things that caught my eye recently…

  1. A company in Denmark rents out baby and child clothing to parents and I love the idea! Firstly it means that the clothes can be returned and reused by more children which is great for the environment, but it takes the hassle out of constantly shopping for it all! I really hope this is the future for many more countries.
  2. Next up, the big news this week that France has planned to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040! I love this bold commitment, as it shows that France is prepared to lead the way or stand out on its own for the sake of the planet. They’re really investing in alternatives which is what needs to be done.
  3. An orca found tangled in fishing gear in Scotland was discovered to have the highest ever recorded levels of toxic chemicals in its system in the UK region. Lulu was part of the last pod in the UK, estimated to have about 8 members. Such high levels of damaging PCBs was thought to have been the reason Lulu never bore offspring which doesn’t bode well for the future of this pod…
  4. Being a reducetarian is a great way to get started on the road to better health, a lower environmental impact and a more ethical diet. I’ve spoken with many people who are of the opinion that if you can’t make a large difference, it’s not worth doing. Be it veganism, zero waste or even politics, a lot of people opt out of trying at all because what’s one person going to change? And also, it’s so tempting to want to be perfect from the off, that the thought of failure also discourages us. Being reducetarian just means reducing meat consumption at a level that is realistic to you. It could mean meatless Mondays, vegan until 6 or just cutting out one type of meat from your diet. I didn’t know what reducetarianism was, but before going vegan I cut down to only eating meat on weekdays, (I know!) then weekends before stopping completely. I can recommend the gradual approach 🙂
  5. And lastly, how much easier would capsule/minimalist wardrobes be with these shoes?! The premise is that you buy one pair of shoes and can switch the heel height quickly and easily. For someone who very rarely wears heels, this would kind of solve the problem of having to have a pair just to use once or twice a year. It’s an interesting idea.

Make do and mend.

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You might remember I picked up this book on one of my charity shop hunts this summer. It is a reprint of an original book published during World War II advising people on how to make their clothes last longer and repair them during the austerity of war-time, when clothes were very hard to come by. I sort of picked it up for an interesting read, rather than to actually learn about clothes maintenance haha, but I didn’t get far in before my first burst of inspiration hit!

There are chapters on clothes maintenance and washing etc., but the one that made the most impact on me was the one on darning. Even typing the word now conjures up the image of something out of a period drama, but it’s actually not as complicated and more effective than I thought it would be.

One afternoon I stuck a series on Netflix and dug out two items in need of a good darn, and in a matter of hours it was all done! The book outlines darning techniques for a heap of different types of material, but I just used the standard one (see this post by Béa Johnson, it’s basically the same technique) for my first item.

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Before (right) and after (left)

This is a bandeau-type bra that I stupidly stuck a safety pin into to hold a top up once (hence the annoying holes!) Up close it looks sort of messy, but a few weeks on I can safely say that the sewing holds up when stretched and I matched the colour of the thread really well too which helped to make it look more professional.

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Before (top) and after (bottom)

Next up is that dress that I oh-so-gracefully managed to rip at the armpit and not notice for ages until I was taking it off one day! Good times. ‘Make Do and Mend’ recommended that I do a blanket stitch around the raw edges of the hole and then sew the seams together which ended up looking like this. The dress is quite dark in reality so the black thread barely shows, and it sits under my armpit anyway. I could’ve done this more neatly in hindsight but it definitely does the job, and I wasn’t ready to let this dress go!

So there we have it, 2 articles of clothing diverted from the scrap heap with a little bit of thread and a needle! If you’re not confident sewing, it’s worth asking around your friends and family for help. I hope this inspires you to see if you can salvage anything you would’ve otherwise chucked 🙂

5 things this Monday…

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  1. First thing’s first, this is one of the most hopeful things I’ve read in a while- the Swedish government is cutting VAT on repair services. Increasingly it seems more logical to buy new appliances and items because repair is either expensive or unavailable, but the bottom line is that repairing is simply out of fashion and doesn’t fit in with convenience culture. It makes sense that our first port of call should be to try and fix things- GO SWEDEN!
  2. I’m no stranger to recycling weird and wonderful things, but this prototype for a shoe made from recycled carbon emissions blew my mind! I don’t understand the science behind it, but it’s so great to know that people are putting their heads together to come up with ways to divert pollution from destroying the earth. Every little helps after all.
  3. In a move towards transparency and better treatment its garment factory workers, GAP has published the names of the factories that supply its clothes and shoes. In theory, this move gives workers and advocates the ability to alert the companies of injustices for swifter correction amongst other things.
  4. And the good news just keeps on rolling! France has banned plastic cups, cutlery and plates as of 2020, and plans to replace them with compostable alternatives. It is a good initiative to start the process of reducing pollution, but some argue (fairly) that it might send the wrong message; greener living isn’t just subbing one material in for another but rather wasting less. That said, I still think the less plastic floating around the better.
  5. After 4 pretty monumental events this last one seems a little trivial, but hey ho: StyleCaster gives 10 ways to remove wrinkles without an iron. I relinquished my iron recently after using it a grand total of about once a year, and I have to say I don’t miss it; but if I found myself in need I would definitely consider a few of these ideas! Most of them require no planning or specialist equipment which is right up my street 🙂

5 things this Monday..

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Lake Poopó, Bolivia 2013-2016 (Source)

I realised recently that I do way too much research to even document here. Some of it deserves to be written up in an article, but some of it doesn’t really need any introduction. I’ve decided to share 5 things I’ve learned and liked with you every week, starting today!

  1. It is easy to forget why I have chosen not to buy any more items made from animal products when they are packaged and marketed to gloss over the process of how they get to the shops. This is why, as uncomfortable as it is, I watched this 15-second video by PETA showing one of the many coyotes whose fur is used to line clothes brand Canada Goose’s coats. I am no longer happy to pretend that animals do not suffer when they have to die for me. If you’re not up to watching it, the short article is here.
  2. This recipe by Green Kitchen Stories is so up my street! Greens upon greens packed into a creamy vegan sauce to accompany that lovely-looking pasta. Healthy, good-looking, and simple.
  3. Style Wise‘s article on the 6 myths about buying ethical clothing is a must-read! I used to give myself some of these excuses in order to justify my lifestyle, others I really and truly believed. If you’re wondering how ethical shopping is really done, as well as the answers to the hard and all-too-common questions, this does a pretty good job of summing it up.
  4. What was the second largest lake in Bolivia has almost completely dried up as a result of climate change, NASA found recently. The pictures speak for themselves and remind us that we cannot afford to wait a moment longer to reduce our footprints, for the sake of the world and everything living on it.
  5. I stumbled across the website Buy Me Once not too long ago and I’m so pleased. Part of the challenge of living sustainably is investing in products that last, so that the need to replace them is eliminated. This site includes a directory of clothes, items and homeware designed to last, that have repair services and lifetime warranties- an absolute dream!

Have a great day 🙂