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

Namaste What?

An integral element of a rich spiritual practice is intention. From yoga to meditation to chakra balancing - the first step is to make a dedication, offer it up to the universe and allow the energy of your practice to manifest it into reality. 

My intention for yesterday evening was to commune with nature and enjoy a sweet Spring evening with my children and husband. As soon as I got home I went into the backyard to admire the budding trees. So peaceful. Such prana. Moments later my family returned from a nature walk to 7-11. My toddler barreled into freshly cleaned house with sticky hands and a mouth full of Tic Tacs. Poor little Ashby wasn’t wearing socks. Matt nursed a Big Gulp and wanted to know why I always “look so angry.” Om. 

My intention this morning was to wear white jeans. Last night I laundered the selected pair and laid out several top options. Striped pocket tee, navy blue blazer, poppy red cami – all contenders. After several rounds of mixy-matchy it finally came together. Now I needed to bust a move. I was intent on a swift exit but AJ chased me across the decomposing pink magnolias intent that I hold him “like a baby.” BAM! Dirty feet meet white jeans. Om Shanti.

Thankfully, the #OOTD was saved by Matt, who knows how to dab out a dirt stain. Mindfulness guru that he is, I also earned a lecture about taking things too seriously.

I was intent on an authentic Hermes Collier De Chien Cuff bracelet but this knock off from Party City will have to do
They called him Soot Foot
Sending white light for a speedy recovery

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); J. Crew striped roll sleeve tee shirt (2015); J Crew yellow skinny belt (2014); Seven for all Mankind white jeans (2013); Halogen nude booties (2015); Coach Legacy purple cross body (2012); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant (2014); Hermes inspired teal cuff from Party City (2014)

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)

It’s Fashion Season

Spring is outfit season. April heralds death to tights and a glorious return to bare legs and open toed shoes. Granted, these newly appropriate outfit extenders do not come without great responsibility, namely pedicures and shaving, but all in, it’s worth it. 

But uh, back to the lecture at hand. Perfection is perfected, so I'ma let ‘em understand. I have worn all but five of my 33 items. (Go back and count them, I’ll wait.) The last ladies standing are: J. Crew navy blue eyelet skirt; no name navy blue pleated dress, Gap teal and navy blue wrap dress, DVF black and white wrap dress and a teal Max Studio sundress. All have been waiting for this warm weather week to reveal themselves. That and I haven’t purchased navy blue tights since eighth grade. 

One month in and a third of the way through the first season of my capsule wardrobe. It took a month to wear 33 items. Go figure. It’s easy to wear an outfit once, but it takes some creativity to rework the same outfit into something fresh and new for the upcoming 60 days. Now comes the mixy-matchy. Now I reveal my fashion chops. I am game! It is warm! 

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); YSL Muse handbag (2008); Kiton navy double breasted blazer (ultimate clothing swap find 2011); J. Crew vintage cotton v-neck t-shirt (I may have bought this in the past two weeks); J. Crew navy blue eyelet skirt (2012); Butter teal suede sandals (2012); Ases throat chakra pendant (2012); diamond pave disk necklace (anniversary gift from Matt, 2014); teal FitBit band to count the Spring in my steps  

Coconut Wedge

No tropical souvenirs for this girl! New minimalist me didn’t flinch at the lady pedaling wraps and hair braids. Nary did a muscle in my trigger finger twitch at the thought of a purse braided from palm leaves. In fact, my only purchases were hand crafted pina coladas from the one man coconut stand on the beach in front of the resort. They were delicious, made from real pineapple, blended with cracked coconut and dark rum, plus you got to keep the coconut – a keepsake Bahamian ant farm for the kids. I also bought several dozen artisan pina coladas from the Daquiri Shack across the street. No big deal, only $6 each, made from only the freshest ingredients and SO much better than the powder mix frozen drinks they served on the all-inclusive package.

Like the perfect pina colada, there is an ART to finding the ultimate nude wedge sandal. They must be just the right height, with no unnecessary foot hug. Ankle straps are out because we all know those make short girls look stumpy. The perfect nude wedge should be dressy enough to wear to work and yet substantial enough to anchor a bikini (you know, for Vegas those all- important bikini with wedge situations). Surprisingly, cost isn’t a determining factor – $525 Prada wedges can go south as quickly as a $39 Seychelles varietal can make an entire pool season. The funny thing is that I never remember the four pairs residing in my closet until I bring a new one home. Blame it on the rum.

My travel outfit was a seasonal hodgepodge of not-new resort wear, anchored by the wedge du jour. Very happy I opted to wear the skinny white jeans before a week at the buffet. 

Easy on the rum, son
The wedges between us
Outfit details: Old Navy star print chambray shirt (2014); Lulu’s orange ikat wrap (2014); Seven for all Mankind white jeans (2012); Kate Spade perfect gold wedges (2014); Coach Legacy purple tassel crossbody (2012); Original Penguin straw fedora; Chloe Havana sunglasses

The Day Before Tomorrow

Feeling good today, friends! Because: vacation. I am a big fan of anticipation. My favorite day of the week is Thursday, so wrought with possibility.  When we were little, my sister and I would spend a week each summer in New York City with our Aunt Catherine. NYC is epic, always has been, always will be, but this was the ‘80s and NYC was authentically cool. Break dancers on street corners cool. Hot pink dollar sign earrings cool. DJ Magic Mike mix tape cool. Understandably, our annual trip was a BIG DEAL. And while the week’s festivities never disappointed (Aunt Cat ran that city) my favorite part was the plane ride there. I can still feel the giddy belly butterflies. Once you were actually in the city the trip was destined to end and with that the return of another sweltering summer in Norfolk, VA.

Tell the truth day! I bought some stuff from J.Crew. Also I forgot to cancel Stitch Fix. Both packages arrived yesterday. As soon as I spotted them at the door my minimalist rationale went out the window. Matt asked if I loved our baby anymore, because she needed to eat and I straight sprinted to her nursery to rip open boxes.

In the light of day I could see that the braided rope belt wasn’t leather and the statement necklace was one that I didn’t need to make. This is when I had what my therapists call a “breakthrough.” Online shopping feeds my anticipation addiction. Until it arrives, anything is possible. The belt could be the link that connects my wardrobe; the vintage cotton v-neck tee might be the last that I’d ever need to buy. Unlike memories of late night cannolis and my first cappuccino in Little Italy or the fourth time we saw Cats!, these unnecessary online purchases left me feeling empty inside. I sent everything back. OK! I kept a pair of denim shorts. One day at a time, people.

Feeling the vacay vibes! Even the rain can’t get me down, or touch my new highlights and spray tan under this jaunty beach hat. 

Outfit details: Original Penguin hat (belongs to Matt, 2013); trusty Joie Military Fatigue Jacket (2014); Gap Women 1969 Destructed Western Denim Shirt (2015); Tinley Road Maya Vegan Grey Leather Shoulder Mini Dress (2013); Salvatore Ferragamo Louisa Silk Scarf as belt (2009); Hunter Boots (gift from sister Emily 2013); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant (2014); Stella & Dot Norah Chandelier earrings (2014); Pave diamond disk necklace (anniversary gift from Matt, 2014)

Great Hair in 5 Steps

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I work in retail. Just like the yogini in Lululemon with her story about Hustle pants or my new BF, the J.Crew dude who told me that my outfit was cute. Every hour of my work day is focused on better ways to sell Cibu. Are we one in the same? Me peddling pomade and them with their seasonal variations on things I already own?

There is a difference. For starters, hair products don’t sit in your closet for years. HALT! If you still own products that you purchased (or I gave you) before 2012 throw them away now. Seriously, they are expired and you don’t even like them because if you did you would have used them all up about - eh -  32 months ago.

You do not need dozens of hair products. You need a relationship with your Stylist so she can craft a haircut appropriate for your lifestyle and teach you how to use the right products to achieve that look at home. What do I mean about lifestyle? Well, how much time do you have? No seriously, how much time do you have to do your hair in the morning? How much time do you have to get your color retouched? Great hair is achieved by managing expectations. You are not Kim Kardashian. Do not go Fashion Week Platinum if you can only get to the salon once a season. 

Because I love you, dear reader, I am going to let you in on the secret to great hair, in 5 steps:

1.       A Stylist to give you a great hair cut and teach you how to use:

2.       Shampoo and Conditioner appropriate for your hair type

3.       Argan oil drops to nourish, add shine and protect hair from heat

4.       Styling Product to smooth hair, set curls or add volume while blow drying

5.       Finishing Product to hold look; enchance shine or add texture

Any questions? For real. I can answer any question you have about hair.

Much like an essential hair care routine, my essential outfit is usually compromised by 5 parts: Base layer (dress; pants or skirt and shirt); Top layer (Jacket, blazer or cardigan); Great shoes; Jewelry; Hermes scarf variation. Here are examples from the past two days.

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Outfit Details: Hermes Eperon d’Or Remix silk maxi twilly scarf (birthday gift from Matt, 2014); Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Alice & Olivia black dress (hand-me-down from fashionable co-worker, 2013); BCBG Hi-Lo Dayton cardigan in Poppy (2013); Stella & Dot Norah Chandelier earrings (2014); Stella and Dot Rebel Pendant (2014);  Loeffler Randall Tamsin Haircalf pumps (2014)
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Outfit Details: Hermes silk twill scarf, hand rolled, 36” x 36
Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Joie Hooded Military Jacket (2014); Stella & Dot Norah Chandelier earrings (2014); J.Crew rolled sleeve pocket tee in Stripe (2015); J.Crew Minnie Pants (2013); Stella and Dot Rebel Pendant (2014); Loeffler Randall Industry Bag (2014); Seychelles ballerina flats (2013)

Top Image: Cut by Sharon So, Bubbles Towson Town Center; Color by Christopher Houser, Salon Cielo Connecticut Ave, DC; Cibu Knot So Knotty Leave-In Detangler

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.

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)

Project 333 - Minimalism is in

Putting outfits together and looking put together is very important to me. For 35 years shopping for clothes and accessories was my favorite pastime. Now I have a toddler and an infant, a full time job and own a small (but charming!) house. All of this translates to no time, minimal storage and considerably less discretionary income. Recently I transitioned out of my post natal wardrobe and became very frustrated. I spend too much money on too many clothes that I don’t love. 

Last week on Pinterest I unearthed this image and was flooded with emotion. How simple, how chic, how inspiring! A quick search for “minimalist wardrobe” led me to Project 333. Simply put, Project 333 is an exercise in reduction. Reduce your wardrobe to 33 items and wear only those 33 items for 3 months. 

With spring coming and finally down to a dress size that includes zippered pants, I was moved to pair down my belongings to 33 items that fit and bring me joy. I will tailor the official Project 333 rules to suit my comfort level: the 33 items I selected are business casual separates mostly worn to work. My 33 items do not include shoes and accessories because these items add flair to my mostly basic wardrobe and without access to them it would not be a plausible fashion experiment. However, I did reduce the accessories and shoes I will rotate into this capsule collection. For example, I have five Hermes scarves. Hermes scarves are my signature accessory. I will only be using two for this project. The others will be stored for the Summer collection. Thinking about Project 333 as curating a seasonal “collection” of my own clothes gets me very excited. 

Spring 2015 Capsule Collection

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Store, Consign or Donate Collection

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Outfit Day 1

Marc by Marc Jacobs dress

JCrew trench

Seychelles ballet flats