Choosing Wardrobe Basics


Ever since I started editing my wardrobe, I've been giving more thought to my wardrobe basics. These items serve as my go-to pieces and the foundation for everything else I add to my closet. As I mentioned last month, I'm doing the 5 Piece French Wardrobe; basics don't count towards the five items I purchase per season until I've checked off all of the items on my list.

So what's on the list of basics? You can see an example here, but your list will depend on your location, lifestyle and personal preferences. I think of basics as the pieces required to have a functional, comfortable wardrobe. Usually, it's ideal to choose your basics in neutral colors (gray, black, white, beige). As for how many of each basic you need, the numbers will vary by individual, so set a quota based on what you need each season and then stick to a one-in, one-out policy. This will ensure you don't overbuy basics, just because they're basics (guilty!).

Here are a few things to consider when shopping for basics:
- Shape: Do you prefer fitted pieces or a slightly less structured look? What cuts and necklines are most flattering and practical? Does the shape of each basic work with the other items in your wardrobe?
- Versatility: Can you wear each basic with multiple outfits? Can the basic work as a layering piece with other items in your wardrobe?
- Comfort: Are the fabric and fit comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time? If you feel at all self-conscious or fidgety wearing the basic, it's probably best to pass on it.
- Longevity: Will the fabric hold up to frequent wearings and washings? Is the item truly basic enough to wear for months?
- Care Instructions: Before purchasing any item of clothing, I always check the washing instructions on the tag. I usually avoid dry-clean only pieces unless they're things like coats that don't need to be washed frequently. Note that some "dry-clean only" items can be hand washed.

The point of 5 Piece Wardrobe-ing is to have fewer, but higher quality, items in your closet. The same goal applies to choosing basics: they are the most essential part of my wardrobe, so when possible, I choose quality over quantity. Every once in a blue moon, I splurge on a pair of dark-wash skinny jeans that last for years without stretching or fading. My favorite shop for tees and sweaters is Aritzia, but I've also found great basics at H&M, J. Crew and Zara.

At the moment, my typical uniform involves denim, tees and sweaters. Along with those, I toss on a black jacket that I can dress up or down and my favorite black ankle boots. I plan to share a more in-depth list of my basics soon.

What's on your list of wardrobe basics?

Weekend Reading


It has been a week of good finds: in addition to snatching up a dreamy spring jacket from Topshop, I've been constantly inspired by reads around the web. So I decided it's time for another installment of weekend reading: blogs and other articles hand-picked by yours truly (and a certain croissant-sniffing hound). I'm crossing my fingers and resolving to write these posts on a biweekly basis; they're a perfect excuse to share the random treasures in my bookmarks folder. Enjoy!

| Cocorrina, my current blog crush, created by blogger/graphic designer Corina. She lives in paradise, aka on the Greek island Kefalonia, and her blog reads like a journal of creative ideas and beautiful images.
| Dejhana's flawless take on double winged liner.
| A reflection on love and my favorite movie star couple.
| Rosie's recipe for brown sugar and ginger salmon, craving it with udon noodles now.
| All of the outfits on Hello It's Valentine. My style is mostly monochrome, but sometimes I catch myself wishing for Valentine's whimsical wardrobe (and effortless short hair). She also has a cat named Batman. Need I say more?
This essay on the profound impact of Disney movies on one child's life.

Any links to share? Leave them below!

A Good Night's Sleep


How many hours do you sleep per night? Not enough, perhaps? I function best with about eight hours, and I've learned over the years that no amount of caffeine can cure a sleep debt. Though I'm an extremely deep sleeper (I've almost slept through two fire drills...), I sometimes have trouble falling asleep. When that happens, here's what I do...

Use aromatherapy. I associate the smell of lavender with bedtime, so I surround myself with that smell as I wind down for the night. A sachet of crushed lavender lasts years and works its magic tucked into a pillowcase or hung near the nightstand. I also keep a vial of Weleda's Lavender Body Oil handy to dab on before bed.

Take a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep cycles; normally, its levels rise around bedtime. For years, I've relied on melatonin supplements to recalibrate my circadian rhythms when I'm stressed or jet-lagged. I recently discovered Sleep Squares, chocolate-flavored chews that contain a mixture of melatonin, vitamins, and herbs that promote a good night's rest. Double-check with your doctor before taking something like this, but it's my much preferred alternative to traditional sleeping pills.

Read a book, but nothing too plot-driven. Choose something slower-paced, descriptive or philosophical. I love falling asleep to books about imaginary places far from everyday life, like Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities.

Exercise regularly. When I'm physically exhausted, my body's need for rest trumps my mind's need to stress out. On days when I run a few miles, I sleep like a baby.

What do you do for a good night's sleep?

A Spring Salad


After promising myself to eat a lot more variety and a little less of my favorite pasta, I decided to try this spring salad recipe on Urbanara's Journal. It calls for a rainbow of veggies I don't incorporate often enough in my diet -- zucchini, asparagus, radishes -- as well as whole grains and a sweet, citrusy kick.

This salad will give you a huge boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Just take a look at asparagus: it's in season right now and loaded with vitamins A, C, E and K as well as folate and, surprisingly, protein. I followed Urbana's recipe with a couple of modifications: I substituted red peppers for red onions and cracked wheat for bulgar. I also made the orange vinaigrette according to the recipe, using orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and honey. Many say that asparagus and apple cider vinegar prevent bloating, so eating a salad like this is good for your tummy, inside and out. I'm not complaining! Here's a shorthand version of the steps:

1. Cook 1/2 cup of grain and blanch the asparagus. 
2. Slice all of your veggies and mix them with the corn and grain. I julienned the zucchini using a vegetable peeler.
3. Make the dressing using 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. honey and a dash of salt and pepper. Drizzle on the salad, toss and serve. 

This salad is proof that it's possible to cook quick, healthy meals on a budget. I made a huge batch that served three people; all of the ingredients were organic and totalled to just $10.

Have a go-to healthy recipe? Please share!

Blog Talk: Creating Content


Based on your feedback, today I'm trying my hand at a new feature called "Blog Talk," aimed at bloggers and anyone interested in starting a blog. I hope to share the things I've found most useful in creating my own little online space: lessons I've learned, technical tips, and general resources. Though I'm by no means an expert on this topic, here's hoping the more I learn, the more helpful I can be. If there's anything specific you'd like me to address, let me know!

For my first topic, I'm focusing on content. When I hear from readers interested in starting their own blogs, the most frequently asked questions include: what do I write about? and how do I make my content unique? Let's face it, I still ask myself those questions all the time! There's no step-by-step recipe, but in my opinion, here are a few keys to creating content that stands out.

Keep an Open Mind
Whether you're blogging in a specific niche or you're taking a more multifaceted approach, cast a wide net when you're looking for inspiration. Read blogs in different genres: for example, I'm not a design blogger, but I love reading design blogs, and they have definitely helped solidify my sense of aesthetics. In order for your blog to grow, you need to grow, so go explore, try new things, read good books... whatever sparks your interest and curiosity. By expanding your sources of inspiration, you'll develop more unique and informative content. (Of course, there is merit in making your content cohesive; that's a topic for another post.)

Embrace Half-Baked Ideas
What if you have an idea, but you don't know where to go with it? Ideas-in-progress can make engaging posts, especially when you open them up for discussion. When you use your ideas to generate questions, you encourage readers to participate in your blog. Maybe you can't make up your mind about the latest trend, or maybe you're trying to work towards a goal, but you're facing some challenges along the way. Because "thinking aloud" posts are relatable and honest, they can also help express your personality and voice. Garance Dore does this very successfully in her "stories" feature.

Be Your Own Editor
Blog about the things you love and feel 100% comfortable sharing. Sounds obvious, but when you put your blog forth in a sea of other blogs, it's easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing rather than build your own ideas and opinions. Don't think too much about dos and don'ts (I realize the irony in that statement)... readers want to see your take on things! You should never feel that you have to post about something just because "it sells" or that you can't post about something because "it's not popular." Trust me, if you're interested in what you're writing, someone else will be too. What can you teach your readers that they might not already know? What fresh perspectives can you offer? What do you like about your favorite blogs, and what would you do differently?

Finally, keep in mind that developing content usually takes time, trial and error. There are many ways to stand out, so go do your thing!

How do you get inspired to create new content?

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