This post comes from way across the pond, from a childhood friend currently living and learning in Dublin, Ireland. April and I met and became friends in high school, and through our different and myriad life paths somehow managed to stay in touch.
After growing up, living, working and studying in Arkansas, April threw off the shackles of conventional life to pursue her dream of living abroad, combined with an incredible educational program. Now at University College Dublin, April is getting her Master’s degree in Equality Studies. In her words: “It’s really a great program that allows you to study any area that captures your passions– my main areas of interest are social stratification, mindset of the poverty-class, and anti-capitalist/globalization movements, so it’s been fun working on controlling the impulses to purchase like we, as good little consumers, are taught to do…”
So, as you can already see, April’s connection to my operation revamp :: the closet series has depth and scholarly credibility!
Additionally, as she’s been overseas, she’s had tons of amazing opportunities to travel, usually with just a backpack. This, combined with the original daunting task of packing for a few years of living in another country, has inspired April to live with minimal trappings, although never to the detriment of her style.
April is inspiring in so many ways you readers will never know, but I’m grateful that I have the platform to share this little peek into her life. Enjoy!
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The opportunity to live in Dublin, Ireland for the year is a dream come true; but we must not underestimate the nightmare of paring down a wardrobe that took years to build up and consumed the entirety of a huge dresser and two large closets down to one (insanely massive, mind you) backpack. I literally donated 46 pair of shoes and 8 large hefty bags full of clothing upon leaving– I now find myself asking what I was doing with so much stuff? It is so easy to acquire what seems at the time great additions to one’s wardrobe, but I’ve really come to appreciate the old saying about ‘less being more’, just as I imagine anybody who has carried all of their worldly possessions on their back for 6 weeks before settling down would agree.
Now with two extended, ambitious backpacking trips under my belt (and scars on my shoulders from said backpack to prove it!), I’ve made it a personal mission to keep all of my belongings to a bare minimum- especially when it comes to clothing- without my style having to suffer. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task. I am constantly tempted by the gorgeous European-styled shoes calling my name from the shop windows, and want so badly to copy every trend that the locals look just so adorable flaunting!
I realize that I may have more pressing reasons to want to keep my possessions to a minimum as I am not settled for the long-term and find myself constantly gallivanting around, but the simplicity allowed by a more minimalistic life-style is something that I have come to rather enjoy. I feel good about choosing when and what to consume, actively deciding not to be swayed by the ever-changing fads and the capitalist mindset of always needing more. I save loads of money, which I am able to pour right back into memorable travel experiences such as splurging on that special dress for a night at the Opera House in Paris or taking a camel trek through the Sahara Desert! And perhaps best of all, there is this sense of freedom that comes with not being weighed down by an excess of stuff; being able to fit all that I need on my back in a moment’s notice.
With a limited selection available, I have somewhat of a ‘signature look’ that I rarely stray from. If I don’t wear a blouse or find that I’m no longer in love with a skirt, I simply pass it on to keep to the bare essentials. To ensure that I make the right purchases, I often make a pact with myself that I will only buy premeditated items. (I admittedly make exceptions for impulse buys when at charity shops if under a predetermined price range.) We often know exactly what it is that our closet lacks; if you find yourself saying multiple times, “I wish I had a _____ to complete this look!” then it’s probably safe to assume that it’d be a worthwhile investment. Go looking for that specific item rather than letting the items pick you. Of course when minimalism is actively pursued, quality purchases are important. I now own just one pair of menswear leather flats for the summer and one pair of leather boots with a cozy fur interior for the winter… that is all! Finding timeless shoes that will look great for most any occasion, are comfortable, and will hold up for months of wear without a single day off will cost more than Payless charges, but will likely last years to come if treated properly.
I’ve noticed that most of us have a couple of colors that we just love to wear, that match our eyes or compliment our skin tone, make us feel good, and bring an influx of compliments when worn. (Those colors for me are greens and maroon.) Embrace your colors when shopping, pair with neutrals, avoid hard-to-match prints/designs; you’ll be able to make nearly any combination you match together from your closet into a unique outfit!
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Tried and true, I’ve been able to compile this ‘must-have’ list of pieces that have served me well both in my day-to-day life as a student and through the busy backpacking tours:
-A legion of tights (thick and cozy ones for winter, thin and colorful for summer– cotton preferred over nylon as they tend to stay in place better)
-Simple, plain skirts to wear over the tights (suitable for casual days and cute enough for date nights)
-Tops of various sleeve lengths that can be easily layered for a multitude of looks
-A sturdy cardigan that doesn’t stretch out when worn
-And of course great accent pieces to change up your look; a flirty hat, colorful scarfs, flower brooches, and jewelry that is fun yet basic enough to compliment most every outfit
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April blogs her adventures – international, style-worthy, and otherwise – at The Journey Begins Today.