This girl cleaned out her closet, and what happened next was epic.

I spent last weekend peddling my fashion baggage all over Northern Virginia. It took three consignment stores (who does Current Boutique think she is, anyway?), one for-the-sisters pile and several trash bags earmarked Goodwill to shed my worn wears. So how does it feel? Simply put, it feels really good.

The creator of Project 333 suggests that clearing the physical and mental space previously occupied with shopping and storing purchases allows for richer, more meaningful experiences to enter your life. So far, its biggest impact on my life is the emotions I’ve left behind. You know that feeling when it’s 8:35 7:35 and you are frantically looking for a work outfit but you can’t even slide garments down the rack to select anything because your clothes are packed so tightly? I do not miss that feeling. Or the one when you try on a dress that you bought online for the fifteenth time and it still looks weird but it’s been over 30 days and now you can’t return it. Don’t miss that one, either.

Before I curtailed impulse shopping and minimized my wardrobe I routinely felt guilt, annoyance and disdain towards my closet. Now I feel proud, creative, savvy and mindful about pretty much everything. Three months ago I could produce any number of excuses to buy something new. Now I can’t find an excuse to buy anything at all! In fact, I missed the boat on these Loeffler Randal sandals and these J.Crew flats in gold, both planned purchases for my summer capsule, because I delayed the purchase and now they are sold out. On the bright side, I saved myself $568.

How’s this for a rich and meaningful experience? On Sunday night Matt and I attended the annual Blue Jeans Ball to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. Impulsively, we bid $700 on a three night stay in Paris – and won! That opportunity was made possible by Project 333 – for once, an extra $700 was actually sitting in my bank account. Plus it was for a good cause. ‘Cause we’re going to Paris!

The round up of outfits in today’s post all share simple foundations highlighted by joyful pops of color. What a way to live.

Top Outfit Details: DVF wrap dress (2012); Joie military jacket (2014); Tangerine cashmere scarf, origins unknown (2012); Loeffler Randal Tasmin ponyhair pumps (2014); Loeffler Randall Industry Bag (2014); Stella & Dot Norah Chandelier earrings (2014); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant (2014)
Outfit Details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); J.Crew necklace (2013); LA Made dress via Stitch Fix (2015); Coach purple Legacy tassel cross body bag (2012); Loeffler Randal gold gladiator sandals (2009)
Outfit Details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Stitch Fix top (2015); Hermes scarf as belt (2009); J.Crew Minnie pants (2013); Elie Tahari teal peep toe flats (2013) Coach Legacy purple tassel cross body bag

Let It Go

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Perhaps the omission was a gift from the universe, easing our family’s transition through a late winter cold snap: For several months my toddler forgot to sing the theme song from Frozen. In early April, however; The Frozen Song re-emerged as a thematic element in our collaborative bedtime story. In summary: AJ hosts an egg hunt and all of his cousins are invited (”All of them, Mommy!”). There is a custom Play Doh decorated surprise egg hidden for each cousin. Anna’s egg is wrapped in a tutu and when she opens it a real ballerina dances out (these are big eggs). Caroline’s egg is decorated as an egg and when she cracks it open, baby Ashby is trapped inside and AJ rescues her. Finally, Isabelle opens her egg, emblazoned with a glittering crown, and out jumps Princess Elsa, singing “Let it Go, Let it Go, Let it Go...” At this point he falls asleep softly singing the only words anyone really knows from that song.

Yesterday the nurse at the doctor’s office needed to confirm my last name. “Is it Mapp or Bressan?” After a very pregnant pause I responded “Bressan.” I have been married for nearly six years but man was it hard to let that one go. We cling to things, don’t we? Maiden names, college scrapbooks, dog eared copies of Judy Blume’s Blubber, a $175 silk Joie blouse that never actually looks good on - they all tell a story about who we are, or were. But where is the line between identity and junk?

That evening I enjoyed a glass of champagne with a chic friend to celebrate her newly acquired American citizenship. Thinking back on the last name conversation I asked if the ceremony sparked any sort of identity crisis. “Not at all,” she replied. “I retain both my Swiss and Italian passports.”  Leave it to Ada to be a triple citizen of the world. After a moment she added, “It was kind of hard for my Dad, though.”

Today’s outfit wasn’t quite as inspiring as the pink magnolia letting go of her petals in the background. Looking to the indigo top and flats to elevate grey base layers and an overcast spring morning. 

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Outfit details: Salvatore Ferragamo silk twill scarf (2009); J. Crew ruffle trench (2008); South Moon Under indigo hi low t-shirt (2012); Banana Republic ruched grey jersey skirt (2015); Steve Madden Kstudd indigo studded flats (2012); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant necklace (2014)

We Need Space

Yesterday my husband and I were sitting on the couch, I nursing a baby, he nursing a beer, when the toddler crammed his little behind in the middle of us. “Give me space!” He ordered. “I need space!” Dutifully we scooted aside to give the boss a seat.  I started to explain that if he needs space he should go sit on the empty side of the couch and maybe not cram his butt in between two people who are clearly comfortable - but really? Who’s listening?

With tropical travel on the horizon, I am faced with the ultimate wardrobe edit – vacation packing. Determined not to purchase anything new, I set out to cull through my existing warm weather clothes. But where are they? Skinny (ish) casual items are boxed in storage loft, occasion and dry clean selections hang in AJ’s closet and a mix of maternity and summer casual dresses (including nine several Tart Collections frocks that aren’t actually “maternity“ and thereby viable for vacation) are crammed against the wall in the baby’s wardrobe. I am left wondering where anyone else in my family stores clothes. Do they even own clothes? Are my children naked at this very moment? 

It took all weekend to edit my selections. Dozens of additional items were routed to the “donate, consign or give to Pamela” pile and I am reminded of how this whole excess reckoning experiment began – pawing through Pinterest for creative solutions to manage my massive clothing collection. Instead, I will soon live in a world where I can store clothes in the space available to me. Imagine that.

If you like today’s outfit, I will grant you three wishes. Mine are for sleep, a tan and 45 minutes to get a pedicure before Saturday.

Playing it cool with the boss

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Joie Hooded Military Jacket (2014); White + Warren cashmere scarf (2012); South Moon Under indigo hi-lo t-shirt (2012); Joe’s Jeans “Genie” or Slim Jogger Pant (2013); Schutz Lace Cutout Bootie; Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant (2014); Pave diamond disk necklace (Anniversary gift from Matt, 2014) - On AJ: GapKids + JunkFood Spiderman sweater (2014); Seven for all Mankind Brett Jeans (Gilt.com - only $35, don’t judge - 2014); Carter’s socks

On the Wagon

Project 333 has helped me curb the urge to shop compulsively. Proudly, I am 14 days clean. I still peruse the 9 PM Gilt.com sales while waiting for my toddler to fall the eff asleep; the difference is that I choose not to indulge. It’s an empty high, anyway. Almost never does an impulse purchase emerge as the link that connects my entire wardrobe. Little things trip me up, though. It’s easy to delay the purchase of $495 Loeffler Randall tassel sandals; but damn you indigo Ikat print scarf, with your $45 allure of outfit completion and on-trend pop of color. Just a nip, she says. A sweet little sip of accessorize.

In the face of an upcoming tropical vacation, I rationalized my summer clothes hoping to find an excuse to shop. What I found, however; was three pairs of white jeans, four barely used and extremely versatile beach wraps; a floppy straw hat and a straw fedora; two pairs of J. Crew chino shorts that fit and FIVE pairs of J.Crew leather thong sandals. Truth be told, I did purchase two new bathing suits. Give me a break! I just had a baby and itty bitty string bikini season is over.

A rainy day is so suitable for draping gray layers. Comfort clothes, if you will. Also an example of an outfit I own in 24 variations. 

Outfit details: Design History gray open front cardigan (2014); Gap Body black t-shirt (2014); Banana Republic gray ruched skirt (2015); DKNY tights (2014); Nine West Heartset Wedge Knee High Boots (2014); Striped scarf from Posh, Charlottesville, VA (2010); Red tassel pendant from a boutique in Charleston, SC.

Dress Code Violation

There is a sartorial movement afoot that celebrates “uniform dressing.” This is the idea that the very fashionable curate their wardrobes around a signature ensemble or silhouette. Much like Project 333 or related minimalist fashion experiments, the theory is that the fashion enlightened instinctively cull through excess, pare down options to what works for them and stick to it. 

Think about it, fashion royalty wear uniforms: Anna Wintour is well oiled in her banged bob, oversize frames and a-line dresses. Kate Moss prefers slim pants, killer heels and a sharply cut jacket. You’ll be hard pressed to find Carolina Herrera in anything but a crisp white button down, black skirt and those enviable tennis calves.

I suffered in an actual uniform for eight stifling years at St. Pius X Elementary School. High school was spent in violation of Norfolk Catholic’s covered leg and knee skirt policy. I am convinced that my childhood acquiescence to dress code is the root of my adult binge shopping addiction. Arrested fashion development!

Alas, I am a grown up now. I recognize and respect order. Perhaps it’s because my house lacks order and it is my nature to rebel the status quo. Regardless, my outfit today has a school boy vibe and the adult in me thinks it’s very fashionable.

Details: Kiton navy blue double breasted blazer (2010, check out the link - I scored this FREE at the Greater Washington DC Clothing Swap); Ann Taylor Loft Tunic Softened Button Down Shirt (2014); French Connection gray crewneck sweater (snatched from sister Emily 2015); Joes Jeans 29 Ankle Cargo pant (2010); Halogen nude open toe booties (2015); Cashmere tangerine scarf, origins unknown (2012); Stella and Dot Rebel Pendant (2014); Stella and Dot Norah Chandelier Earrings (2014);  YSL Muse handbag (2008)

Surprise Inside

My toddler can’t read so I don’t know how he found the “Surprise Egg” YouTube network. The premise is simple: Faceless adult hands crack apart plastic eggs to reveal tiny licensed treats. With great ceremony the anonymous fingers rip open a shiny foil parcel. A wee Minecraft horse tumbles out. Sometimes the creepy hands unearth a nutritious packet of Hello Kitty sugar candies or a Lego Spiderman Mini Figurine. How delightful! I think. Another adorable plastic nightmare to clog the corners my home. After each 3 - 5 minute video its  “Another one mommy, another one!” And I oblige because I like quiet.

Yesterday I received a promising e-blast from J.Crew. Considerate gal that she is, J.Crew wrote to remind me that SPRINGSALE earns 30% off all orders. Won’t you just take a peak? Oh OK. My eager fingers scan the responsive-for-mobile product pages and land on the surprise inside: Ribbed racer back tank top. Select Color. Gray, white and black, please? Only $29.50 each (plus 30% OFF!). A steal, a deal, a downright GIFT from the tank top goddess. Another one!  Another gray, white and black tank top to clog the corners of my closet.

Reason prevailed. It would be wrong to lead you astray, dear reader, on our journey to minimalist nirvana. I defied the tank tops’ sweet siren song and instead took this picture of her would-be sisters.

Outfit Details: Hermes horse bit scarf (2007); JCrew ruffle trench (2008); Rachel Pally striped tunic (2014) on top of BCBG Layering Tank Dress (2014); DKNY tights (2014); Nine West Heartset Wedge Knee High Boots (2014); Loeffler Randall Industry Bag (2014); Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant (2014)

Kid Stuff

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This morning my toddler found his dog eared Oriental Trading catalog in the trash can. Full meltdown: “My stuff Mommy! Daddy threw away my stuff!” (Full disclosure: it was Mommy who threw away his “stuff” but I am not going to argue semantics with a 3 YO.) We removed his stuff from the trash, he stopped crying and ran outside to play in the ashes of his charred Christmas tree. I threw the catalog away again. 

Earlier this year we listed our home for rent. For four tedious weeks I kept it Pintrest perfect. Accessorized the coffee table with art and fashion books, even. Everyone who came through commented on how lovely it was, unique and so well decorated. “What a great yard!” they said. The toddler in me repelled – these bozos are picturing themselves in MY HOME, MY KITCHEN, MY GARDEN. My possessive emotions were so palatable I entertained staying. Moments later the actual toddler returned, trashed 1200 SF in 12 minutes and I was emotionally mature again. My kingdom for a playroom. 

I did an admirable job of narrowing my closet down to practically nothing but there are still several items to reconcile. What am I afraid of? If I truly need the J.Crew graphic tee that says “Cheers!” in 11 languages, I can grab it from the storage box. 

Letting go of our stuff is scary. What if there is nothing left? 

As AJ would say: “That’s silly, Mommy!”

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Details: Stella & Dot Nora Chandelier Earrings (2014); TJ Maxx No Name black knit turtleneck (2013); Gap denim jacket (2002 - no seriously); tangerine cashmere scarf, origins unknown (2012)
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Details: Coach purple tassel cross-body (2012); Steve Madden cheetah flats (2011); J.Crew Minnie pants (2013)
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For 12 easy payments of $2650, all of this could be yours.
Top photo in front of our new home, which is right next door

Switch Fix

Yesterday I was late to work. Again. I won’t bore you with details but its really hard to get out of my house in the morning. I zipped into my spot (in front of Potbelly’s), exited the car and trotted right down the parking lot. 

BING! Text Message. 9:25AM Lisa R.: Jenn you just walked by RC :30*, which started at 9AM.” 

*RC:30 is a monthly company wide meeting in PotBelly’s. Lisa R. is my boss 

Dammit! My head fumbled over excuses. As I was clearly called out - in front of most of the the company - I opted not to reply. So that’s how yesterday started. 

It doesn’t take much to derail a morning, does it? Can’t find matching shoes, no time to make lunch, toddler demands milkshake for breakfast, snarky barista adds WAY TOO MUCH half and half to a watery iced americano - it all adds up to a shitty mood. That’s no way to start a day. 

After wallowing in self pity over getting caught, my office sage Kristin reminded me that the key to happiness is perspective. I could choose to let my morning ruin my day or I could choose to make better choices tomorrow. So that’s what I did (Kristin is very convincing). Last night I went to yoga at 8, made my lunch before bed and pre-selected a smart little outfit from my edited closet. And then I was up, once an hour, all night, nursing the baby. 

However sleep deprived, I was prepared for the morning. I acknowledged my fatigue, strapped the baby and the toddler in their car seats and hit the Starbucks drive thru at 6:45AM. When we got back home I took a shower, pumped while finishing hair and make up, slipped into my smart little outfit, grabbed my lunch out of the fridge, promptly spilled 80% of the pumped milk and decided not to cry over it. 

Switched up my pictures, too. Natural morning light is a real mood lifter and my new photographer is super cute.

Oh! I got to work at 9:04AM.

Details: Hermes silk twill scarf; Chloe Havanna sunglasses; Gorjana spike earrings; floating citrine necklace (birthday gift from Matt, 2010); Gap chambray shirt; Gap red puffer vest

Details: Matt Bernson Wildfox anke bootie; Joes Jeans fatigue skinny cargo 

Details: Tassle pendant from boutique in Charleston SC; Loeffler Randall Industry Bag; engagement ring from Andrew Mitton Jewelers, Charlottesville, VA

New photographer and coordinating husband, Matt, wearing North Face Thermoball jacket and Washington Nationals visor