The List

It has taken me some time to take stock. I know, doing things slowly is the antithesis of this day and age where everything moves at incredibly high speeds. But I have been making a conscious effort to live a more mindful life and that does include stopping to smell the roses, or should I say, taking my own sweet time.

I had a really close and honest look at my wardrobe over the last 3 months (where has that time gone?!?), and came up with a surprisingly small list of items that need replacing. Some fall into the category of “urgent” replacement, while others can perhaps take on one last season – if I’m being really frugal about it. I also listed a couple of things that I don’t currently have but could do with.

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The list came up as follows:

  • Everyday tights - urgent 
  • Boots – urgent 
  • Knee-length coat – not urgent
  • Dress – not urgent
  • Wool sweater/Cardigan – wants, not needs 
  • Merino wool leggings – wants, not needs

Everyday tights – I wore all my tights to death last year so now I need to buy at least two new pairs. I found a New Zealand made option for merino tights, but for organic cotton, I will probably go with these.

Boots – well, the ones in the picture have really reached the end of the line but I’m convinced that I will be just fine this Winter without a new pair. The thing is, I won’t buy footwear in New Zealand, and I don’t want to order online – we’re too far away from everywhere for free returns, and without those, there’s nothing to mitigate the risk of wrong sizing. I want to buy these boots in Portugal, as I do all my footwear. Since I am not travelling there until after the Winter here is over, I will have to make do with what I have (ankle boots, city gumboots and my winter oxfords).

Knee-length coat - I’ve spoken about this one here. Below is the 7 year old warmest coat/parka in my wardrobe. Not trendy or fancy but it has served me well through many cold Austrian, Belgian, Czech, English, Portuguese, and New Zealand Winters. Now that I look at it for the first time in several months, it doesn’t look too bad. I think it will make it through another Winter.

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Dress – my trusty, all seasons, all occasions, 4+ yo knitted dress from Mango (here and here) is too worn out to resist another season so, sadly, I have to retire it. I had been at a loss for a few weeks: People Tree had some very good options, as did Kowtow, but none felt particularly right. The search ended last weekend when I came across a navy blue, polka dot dress, also from Mango, hidden amongst dozens of other dresses in a second hand shop. It was my size and my preferred fit by my favourite brand, which doesn’t have shops in NZ. It was exactly what I was looking for. I’m happy with my first purchase of the year!

Wool sweater or cardigan and merino wool leggings – these two items wouldn’t really be replacing anything at the moment so fall into the the category of things that I think I could do with. They are currently more wants than needs. 


I focused this exercise on my Autumn/Winter wardrobe as the cool seasons are around the corner – yesterday I had to wear an extra layer for the first time this year – Autumn is here!

However, I have also been keeping a record on the clothes I have been wearing in the last five or six months – like the cardigan in the picture below, which I love but is looking a bit rough. I plan to revisit those notes later in the year when Spring arrives and warm weather returns. Until then, I plan to stick to the list!

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Those of you having close looks at your wardrobe needs, how’s it going? And do you also feel like taking life in general at a slower pace?


A Functional {Intentional} Wardrobe

In previous posts, I make references to a functional wardrobe but I never really stated what I mean. I think it’s time to change that.

I consider my wardrobe to be functional when it works well for me – my life demands, my personal style and even my body shape. A real test of this kind of functionality is time-pressure. If I can put together an outfit I love, early in the morning, with minimal fuss, then my wardrobe is working for me.

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My functional wardrobe is one that has been put together over time, and {mostly} with purpose. This intentional, slow-paced approach gives me an opportunity to explore my style in a way that is adaptable and can evolve with me. It has also helped me curb impulse-buying, minimize clutter and waste in my life, and think more creatively about my outfit options.

From my experience, I wouldn’t say that a functional wardrobe has to be built from scratch or that the first step towards creating functionality is to get rid of everything you don’t love or need.

You need time to learn about your style and needs. As you take your time, you’ll find that slowly, the garments that you really need but are probably of lower quality, are replaced with better quality ones (which last longer and need replacement less often).

As for the stuff that really has no place in your life, you either find a new home for it, or simply don’t replace it at all when it reaches the end of its (generally short) life.

In time, you’ll find that your wardrobe no longer overflows with unwanted possessions and, instead, reaches an optimal size that is a more honest reflection of your clothing needs.

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In my definition, a functional wardrobe really is an intentional wardrobe, as I don’t think you can achieve a high level of functionality without intention. functional wardrobe is put together in a mindful way.

There is some effort in putting time aside to think honestly about lifestyle demands, personal style and whether a purchase fits a real purpose.

But, if you ask me, effortless outfit options, greater opportunities to create and express your own style, and a more positive impact of your style choices, are worth this on-going, long-term process. If for nothing else, for the feeling of confidence you get when you step outside wearing something you love.


What do you think, is an intentional wardrobe something worth pursuing? If you’ve tried something like this yourself, what do you think have been the biggest benefits and challenges? 


Taking Stock

When I had that attack of mindless consumerism the other day, I figured it was probably a good idea to step away from all the pretty coats distractions and take stock – what are my real wardrobe needs at the moment?

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Creating a functional wardrobe is all about being aware of what we already have and mindful about what we really need.

It’s knowing that all our tights from last Winter need replacement, but our Winter trousers don’t because we ended up wearing skirts most of the time.

It’s knowing – and accepting – that buying a pair of Hobes as our casual cool-weather footwear, is probably not the best idea since they’re not hardy enough for the rainy place we live in.

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I am at a stage where I can, with a clear mind, recall most items in my wardrobe – and what condition they’re in. But in the midst of excitement around something new, all clarity goes out the window.

I’ve recently found that, when that happens, pen a paper are all the technology I need.

Writing things down helps me focus and achieve a level of awareness that I don’t have when I’m exposed to distractions such as newsletters from my favourite brands, emails announcing new items/promotions, instagram…All those little things that prevent me from thinking clearly about a purchase, and encourage me to obtain stuff that may not contribute to the functionality of my wardrobe.

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What do I already have? What condition is it in? Will it last another season? How many new pairings can I create with it? 

These are some of the things I’m currently trying to answer, in the hope that it will help me make better decisions about what to buy this year.

I suspect this may take me some time (and effort). But without a clear idea of what’s going on, it will be a lot harder to make useful contributions towards my wardrobe – and easier to buy stuff that I will regret later!

What about you? Have you taken stock of your wardrobe’s state of affairs lately? How often do you do it?

The Mindless Consumer

I can get really excited about things. If I see something I really like my mind goes like “oh, I Want It! I Want It! I Want It!”. This urge to own stuff makes me anxious and is one of the reasons why I started the journey to become a mindful consumer. But the anecdote I am about to share in this post really goes to show that being a mindful consumer is the journey, not the end of the story.

Last Sunday morning, I was spending some quality time on Polyvore, styling the new Popbasic collection*, when I noticed that all of the outfits that I put together were Winter-focused.

Despite the glorious Summer outside, it made me think about my Winter wardrobe – starting with coats. I proceeded to spend a substantial amount of time looking at the coat collections from some of my go-to places (Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti) and some new finds (like the one below found at ALAND).

After a while I realised two things:

  1. oversized coats are still in, particularly in ovoid shapes (when you don’t follow trends closely, spotting trends is a really surprising game);
  2. I would like the one in this board, thank you very much. And while we’re on it, those ankle boots too, s’il vous plait.
Winter Coat

After over an hour looking at coats from various European (and Korean) places, wishing I had more options in New Zealand, I started to seriously plot ways to purchase the coat I wanted. When it got to the point where a shopping trip to Europe started to sound like a reasonable thing to do, that’s when it hit me – I was having a serious attack of mindless consumerism.

Time to pull out that guide on how to curb my enthusiasm and snap myself back to a more reasonable ground.

Looking at the guide, I can see I won’t get past the first hurdle. While one of my coats does need replacement, I definitely do not need it now. In fact, thinking about it, it is a coat for a much cooler weather and from my experience of the last 2 Winters in Auckland, I didn’t really need it that often. It is possible that I can make it through next Winter without it.

Time to get my brain to accept the reality: no trip to Europe and no ovoid oversized coat for now.

On the plus side, catching myself being mindless does motivate me to think a bit further about my real wardrobe needs.

I will leave that to a later post, but tell me, what are some of your current wardrobe desires? And how do you deal with that “Must. Buy. Now” feeling?

* Please note this is a referral link. I decided to use it on this post as a way of supporting a small business and a young entrepreneur that I admire. I trust my readers are able to make their own consumer decisions. For more information on Pobasic’s referral program see here. You can also read my disclosure policy here

The Style of Others {OOTD}

Do you know that feeling when you’re traveling overseas or living away from your home-country and see someone who you just instinctively know that they can only be from the same place you are?

Or when you look at a style or design and think things like “that’s very Parisian”, “oh, that has such a Nordic feel” or “that’s very East Coast”?

Well, when I put together this outfit yesterday morning, my immediate thought was “ohh, this looks very Spanish”.

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I’m not even sure what that is supposed to mean. But it can’t be just the fact that every piece of clothing I’m wearing here is from Spanish brands such as Mango and Stradivarius!

We may have access to the same stores these days but a Zara in Vienna has a very different display of outfits from a Zara in Paris or Lisbon.1

Despite a globalization of brands and democratization of fashion, we still seem to be able to put things together in very culturally-specific ways.

I guess if we look at our personal styles as a form of expression of who we are, part of our cultural background will come through somehow. Such cultural particularities can then be recognized by others, either from the same or different culture.

I still can’t tell you exactly what it is about this ensemble that makes me think of it as “very Spanish”. Most likely, this is just based on my personal, and very generic (limited?), definition of Spanish style.

But isn’t that what happens when we attempt to narrow-down the common nature of the styles of others?

First Day of Summer {Birthday OOTD}

Well Hello everyone and Happy 2015!

This thing of having Summer during this time of the year is actually pretty good. I really got the sense that I recharged and am ready for a new year.

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Stepping relaxed into 2015

A relaxing holiday didn’t “just happen”. I didn’t plan it to the last detail either. But I did have to make some conscious decisions such as how I was going to deal with any work-related stuff (not touch it with a stick was my choice), or the amount of travelling I was willing to make (2-hour drive on a Saturday to get to a beach? Yeah, nah!).

I have found that being clear about these types of things from the onset helps me and my family stay stress-free while on holiday.

This year (last year?), it has also helped that I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do for my birthday. I usually don’t think about it at all and just go with the flow of things. When your birthday is during the festive season, it’s very easy to piggyback on other people’s plans for that day. I didn’t like this but, for many years, chose to be annoyed instead of coming up with my own idea of a good birthday. Honestly, why it took me so long to stop complaining and start doing something about it, beats me. But I finally did and it was awesome – best birthday ever!

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Apparently, that’s the oldest store in New Zealand!

We took it easy in the morning, but booked lunch at a place we had been wanting to check out for a while. Not only was the location beautiful but the day was finally sunny – the first proper day of Summer!

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This was not the outfit I had planned to wear for my birthday. I actually was looking forward to wear the blue dress I wore to my sister’s wedding. But I left it behind in our garage when we left and just remembered two hours into the drive north!!!

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No chance of driving back for that and it took me a good quarter of an hour to get over it. All was forgotten a week later and so, on the sunny morning of my birthday, these shorts and stripes were a natural option.

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I wasn’t disappointed with my choices – both to wear shorts and do our own thing for my birthday. It turns out that in life, as when you’re picking out an outfit, you’re probably better off when doing what fits you and your lifestyle.

Did you have a happy start to 2015? How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve – do you feel you have to do something in particular?

Thanks for reading!

xo Rita

 A few more photos I took of the Kerikeri Mission Station. Enjoy!