Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Color Up Your Life

color blog

Photo by Zaksheuskaya from Pexels

With springtime here (even though the snow came for a fateful April Fool’s Day prank), we start to see brighter colors and pastels pop up around us. Whether it’s through fashion, nail colors, or those springtime flowers that start to pop up, it’s time to say hello to brighter hues. As most people absolutely love the chance to include different colors into their life, it’s no surprise that colors have amazing benefits for us, both mentally and physically. Keep reading on to find out why no one should be afraid to include a little more color into their life.

Colors Have Health Benefits

It should come as no surprise that each color offers something more than just being an 

appealing hue. Each color of the rainbow offers beneficial health benefits. For example, there’s a reason why people love to fill their living space with house plants. They’re not only pretty to look at but there are also health benefits that come from surrounding yourself with greenery. Studies have shown that the color green has been known to stimulate healthy living while also relaxing the mind and body. As we’re surely about to be surrounded by pink with the arrival of spring, pink also has health benefits worth noting. Reports have shown that pink has a calming effect on our nerves while also being seen as intuitive and insightful. If you want to find out the health benefits of other colors, check out this informative article on how colors affect our health.

Colors Positively Affects You

Not only does color have the power of affecting you in a positive way, it can also be used to affect the people around you as well. Yellow is the best example of this, often depicting feelings of happiness and warmth. This affect from yellow colors is one reason people use light therapy as a way to avoid symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Orange is another bright hue that has been known to positively affect people and has been shown to be the color of comfort and confidence. With these positive side effects, incorporating brighter hues will make a world of a difference for you and the people around you. You can easily do this by adding more orange and yellow into your home as well as your office space. Doing so will have the people around you radiating with positive vibes!

It’s Easy to Incorporate Color into Your Life

With all the ways you can easily add color into your life, it’s simply silly to not include more color when the opportunity is presented. A simple way to add more color is through the use of flowers. Take advantage of all the vibrant flowers that are about to be blooming and incorporate them throughout your home. Colorful flowers not only instantly add a homey feel to your space, but they can add a floral scent throughout your home as well. (Just be sure to check and make sure they are pet friendly if you have furry friends… lilies are extremely toxic to cats!)

Another fun way to incorporate more color is through your appearance. If you want your hair to be matching those springtime feels, opt for coloring your hair a fun color from a brand like oVertone. Color conditioner company oVertone offers brightly hued hair colors, so the next time you feel like making a change to your hair, consider going bold with a yellow or a vibrant pink. If you’re not ready to dye your hair a bold color, stick with applying different colors into your outfits, makeup, or nail color. No matter how you choose to incorporate color into your life, you’ll no doubt be feeling color benefits for a significant period of time.

PS. I have not personally used oVertone, but I really want to try. If you’ve tried them, please let me know your results in the comments because I’m thinking of switching next time I need to re-up my color. I rock hot pink, in case you didn’t know!


4 tips for maximizing clothing storage when you don’t have closets

Happy Thursday! Did you take my challenge last week? I would love to hear all about it. I made a concerted effort to connect with my partner and really focus on him for a few moments at the beginning and end of each day. This week in particular has made a big difference on my mood and outlook throughout the day. Spending some time waking up together, instead of me slinking away to get dressed for a workout in the dark, has made me a happier person these last few days. Those moments are more important, in the grand scheme of life. I will never wish “If only I hadn’t spent so much time sharing my love with him…” so I call this challenge a win, in my books.

How did your challenge go? (If you’re just reading, last week I challenged readers to perform a small action each day for a week to improve their lives – such as drinking a glass of water upon waking, spending a minute to hug and kiss their partner or children when they get home, eating a serving of vegetables, etc. Go check it out!)

This week, I’m going to bring it back to your garden variety minimalism themes and talk about how to cope when you lack closet space. Many of us live in small spaces and lack storage space. I, personally, find this to be a blessing in disguise, because it means I have to be very particular about the clothes and items I keep around. They must really be things that I love if they make it to the prime real estate.

We don’t have closets in our master bedroom. There is a linen closet and a couple of storage cabinets on the landing outside our bedroom, which are being used for linens, the laundry hamper, workout equipment, unmatched socks, and craft supplies. The small spare room/office near our bedroom has one closet, but it’s housing my boyfriend’s nice button-down work shirts and some shoes. (Stay tuned for “How to live with a non-minimalist.”)

What can you do when you don’t have a lot of closet to work with?

1. Store clothes in a dresser

My first order of business when I moved in was to procure a dresser or two. Co-human had been using a downstairs spare bedroom to keep his clothes in a dresser and closet, but I prefer having clothes in the bedroom. I found a set of dressers at a local antique shop and purchased them for a great deal. One dresser is more horizontally oriented with three long drawers – these house partner’s underthings and socks, tee shirts, and backup tee shirts, respectively. The other dresser is taller with four short drawers. I have two: underthings and socks, and tee shirts/workout clothes/misc. The other two are for my partner’s workout shorts/towels and pants. (Side note: I have now written and read the word “dresser” so much that it no longer looks like it’s a real word).

Keeping clothes in a dresser, bureau, or chest of drawers is a great way to keep clothing contained without needing to hang them up. This works well for pants, sweaters, workout gear, tee shirts, socks, and underwear, but some things really need to be hung to maintain their shape and avoid wrinkles, such as dress shirts, slacks, dresses, or blouses.

2. Hang clothes on coat hooks

The more minimal you keep your wardrobe, the better for this example. If you only have a few “nice” items that you need to keep on hangers, you could hang them from coat hooks on the wall. This would be a great option if you only keep a few articles of clothing (think Project 333) and want to pre-make some outfits to wear.

Do not use this option if you have cats, dogs, ferrets, or other pets that might climb up your pant leg, pee on your hemline, or chew your sleeves.

3. Use a wardrobe

We bought two Ikea wardrobes to put in our bedroom for clothing storage. This solution made the most sense for our needs. They were about $100 each (plus gas and mileage to Pittsburgh and a burger lunch) and fairly easy to assemble. I put them both together. They have a shelf at the top, on which I keep folded pants, tank tops, leggings, and sweaters. They have one rod, which comfortably fits all of my clothing besides the things in the two dresser drawers. I still only have about 50 items in my wardrobe, but there are some things I recently culled from the pile and need to donate.

4. Be a nomad

You could always live out of a backpack and just have two pairs of pants, five shirts, and some socks and underwear. Hey, it’s an option.

How do you compensate for lack of clothing storage?

Ditch it: Goal pants and fat pants

In May 2011, I participated in a 5K race.  I finished next to last and spent most of it walking when I was recovering from my little walk-jog (I do not purport to be in peak physical condition), but I finished it!  All participants got a free tee shirt, but they were out of anything bigger than a large and, true to my pre-minimalist tendencies to take the free thingy, I took a size large and decided it would be my goal shirt.

You know where this is going, right?

I never did anything to fit into that shirt.  It just took up space in my closet, shouting things like “Hey!  You can’t wear me!”

That shirt was a real jerk.

It was donated, or sold at a yard sale, or something.  If I ever do get to a size large, I’ll get a shirt that I actually like instead of a freebie one-off shirt.  It’s not like you’re going to never buy clothing again so you need to stock up on whatever you can find that’s smaller than you are, for the purposes of goal setting.  I don’t have any goal pants or goal clothes, because my goal is just to get healthier.  Weight loss will happen as a result, but I am not focused on a pants size or a tee shirt to get there.  My motivation comes from within me, from a desire to be healthier so that I can enjoy life and activity, and so that I can be a good role model for my friends and my family.  That motivation does so much more than a pair of pants could.

On the other hand, what about keeping your old, too-big clothes when you’ve lost weight?

I have reached the point where my two pairs of jeans no longer fit me.  They poofed out in the thighs like MC Hammer’s pants and could barely stay on at the waist.  Time for new pants.  (I raided my sister’s closet… no shame).  But since I have no intention of gaining the weight back (since this is a lifestyle change and not a yo-yo diet), these pants are now useless to me.  I am still tempted to keep a pair to compare old pants to new pants as I lose weight, because seeing the difference is really exciting and motivating, but I will probably just list them on ebay since they are still in really good shape.

Reasons why I have no second thoughts about ditching clothes that don’t fit…

  • I’m a minimalist and I don’t want clothes I can’t even use taking up valuable space
  • I can get bigger or smaller clothing inexpensively because I shop at thrift stores, yard sales, and ebay
  • I mostly dig dresses, which are a very forgiving clothing item if you gain or lose a few pounds
  • I no longer have to worry about replacing expensive bras, since I stopped wearing them

What are your thoughts on goal clothes and fat clothes?


Bra-free workplace attire

So, I stopped wearing a bra.  Here’s what I wear to work!  Most of the shots are in my bathroom mirror at work, so pardon the faucet in the photos. 🙂 Also, sorry about my iFace.

photo 1

Black tank, green tee, black vest.
Layers are the secret to bra-free outfits.

photo 2

Brown polka dot dress, grey tank, brown button down.
Again with the layers. Also, this is one of my favorite outfits!

photo 3

Pink tank, grey button-down. I got the grey top at a thrift store!
Layers again, plus an interesting bustline on the grey top, it sort of naturally creates a place for the breasts to hang out so they aren’t just all loosey-goosey in my shirt.

photo 4

Pink tank, DKNY Cozy sweater.
I remain slightly uncomfortable with this outfit. But I don’t think it’s necessarily that it looks sloppy without a bra, it just really really accentuates my bust, drawing more attention to the chestal region.

photo 5

Grey tank, green/brown/black tunic.
This tunic top has a bit of an empire waist on it, giving a bustline to the shirt so I don’t have to make one with a vest or other layered top over the shirt.

photo 1

Black and white patterned dress, black cardigan.
More layers!

photo 2

I love this dress so much I had to show it to you with and without the cardigan. New favorite dress.

photo 3

And we’re work appropriate 🙂
It has a built in support, so it keeps things in place without really restricting movement or being too tight.

Modified Project 333

You know you’re minimalist when you have to go back to get MORE clothes for your Project 333.  If you aren’t familiar, Project 333 is an experiment in keeping a simple wardrobe.  You choose 33 items to wear for three months.  Everything else gets packed away until the end, at which point you take a look through and, ideally, get rid of most of the things you didn’t wear.

I have a friend who would not do well with this project.  She might be able to swing a Project 333 in which you can choose 33 items for 3 days.  You think I’m exaggerating.  I am not.  She’s an unapologetic fashionista.  I greatly enjoy the things she does with hair, makeup, clothing, and accessories… but damn, I have helped her move three times now and it’s a lot of stuff! (Much love to you, you know who you are!)

Anyway, I went through my closet and picked out the clothes I wear most.  Wardrobe decisions have followed an interesting and varied path in my closet…

  1. Backwards hanger method – Whatever is still on a hanger after a set amount of time goes bye-bye.  I did sell a few items on ebay after a year but I confess that some are still in my closet.  But they will be going away.
  2. Feelings method – How does each piece of clothing make me feel? Fat and frumpy? Dump it.  Fabulous? Obviously keep. Sorta short but I love it? TBD.
  3. Doctor Who method – Only wear outfits that I would be comfortable being caught in should the Doctor appear in his TARDIS to take me away.  Don’t laugh.  Good method.
  4. Ex method – What would I like to be wearing if I run into an ex? (Note that Doctor Who is more important than this)
  5. Free-boob method – What can I wear without a bra and still look and feel good in my outfit?

#5 is a very serious new twist in my life.  Without a bra, I cannot wear loose-fitting tops with reckless abandon, all tunic-style and flowy.  Nope.  Boobs.  Can’t do it.  (Check out the next post for photos on how to wear work-appropriate outfits without a bra – I think I’m pretty stylish!)

So I have arrived at Project 333, something I have long wanted to do but never really felt like doing.  After all, my wardrobe is only around 50 items (I’ll do an accurate count after Project 333 and the subsequent purge), so it’s not like I have a clothing habit to fight off.  But it’s a new challenge and something I’d like to try!  Here’s what I am wearing:

  1. Black dress
  2. Brown dress with polka dots
  3. Brown dress with flowers
  4. Green dress with flowers
  5. White and black patterned dress
  6. Orange and black paisley dress
  7. Jeans
  8. Jeans
  9. Jean shorts
  10. Black capris
  11. Khaki capris
  12. Grey tank
  13. Pink tank
  14. Black tank
  15. Black tank
  16. Black tee
  17. Green tee
  18. Green/brown/black empire waist tunic
  19. Purple button-down
  20. Brown button-down
  21. Grey button-down
  22. Blue cardigan
  23. Brown cardigan
  24. Black cardigan
  25. Cozy sweater
  26. Black vest
  27. Purple pashmina scarf
  28. Black flip flops
  29. Sneakers
  30. Purple flower hair clip
  31. Celtic pewter earrings
  32. ???
  33. ???

I’m not counting underwear, socks, pajamas, gym clothes, or my volunteer uniform.

Project 333 begins now!

Have you tried a wardrobe challenge? How did it go?

Ditch it: The bra

I’m an information sponge and I read a lot about health and wellness knowledge that comes from outside the realm of modern medicine.  Up until now, I thought that a good bra was necessary for breast health, but I’ve come upon some conflicting information that has me second guessing that belief.

The history of the bra

Many ancient civilizations’ artwork depicts women wearing some type of bra or breast-supporting garment.  These cultures include India, Greece, Rome, and China.  Ancient Egyptians did not wear bras, preferring to go bare breasted or wear tunic-style garments without undergarments for the chest.

Beginning in the 16th century, women wore corsets, which pushed their breasts upward.  It also looked pretty hard to breathe in, in my opinion.  In the late 19th century, clothing manufacturers split the corset into pieces – a girdle for the lower torso, and a breast-containing bit, the ancestor of the modern bra. Commercial production of bras began around the 1930s.  Only eighty years ago.

There is a lot more to the history of the bra but I want to get to the stuff that tells you that you don’t need to wear one.

The industry of bras

The sale of bras is a multi-billion dollar industry. In my opinion, a lot of this money probably comes from the fact that bras are only “good” for six months before you “need” to replace them.  I have a bra from 2009 in my dresser.  Whoops.

Bras are marketed to women from the onset of puberty until death.  Bras have special features to push your breasts up, make them look bigger, make them look smaller, make them someone’s version of ideal.

Holy crap, they’re breasts.  They didn’t need artificial support when we were cave-dwellers or natives and they don’t need artificial support now.

Don’t you need a bra?

Bras support the breasts, right? Wrong.  Bras actually cause drooping, sagging breasts.  What happens when you have to wear a cast or a sling for several weeks, and you can’t use an arm or a leg? Muscle atrophy. The same thing is happening to breasts when we stuff them into bras for years.  The muscle around the breast loses tone, thereby creating a “need” for breast support.  Those training bras are training girls’ breasts to require artificial support.  Bras don’t make healthy breasts, they make lifetime customers!

There is a study that found a positive correlation between length of time a bra is worn and incidence of breast cancer.  “The longer and tighter a woman wore a bra, the higher her chances of developing breast cancer.”  Bra-free women have a similar incidence of breast cancer to that of men.

Bra Free, a site run by Dr. Elizabeth Vaughan, outlines another risk of frequent bra wearing: the potential for toxins to build up in our bodies.  She says:

Follow me through this, step by step…it’s not complicated:

  • We live in a world that is increasingly polluted; many of these environmental toxins are in our bodies.
  • Many of these toxins have estrogenic effects.
  • Most of these toxins are stored in our body fat.
  • Breasts are primarily made of fat. It surrounds our breast tissue.
  • Each of us has a different capacity to clear these toxins out of our fat and our bodies. Studies suggest that some individual women’s bodies can detoxify these substances and get rid of them 500 times more efficiently than others. Quite a range.
  • Toxins are carried out of the breasts by the lymphatic system. Breasts are loaded with lymphatic tissue. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a “pump” like the heart. Movement and massage help move toxins along our lymphatic system.
  • Anything that slows down the clearing of these toxins will increase an individual’s risk of developing symptoms and/or disease.
  • Bras which restrict movement of the breasts, appear to increase congestion in the breasts, and slow down clearance of toxins from the breasts will increase the rate that women develop breast diseases. Why? Because the toxins remain concentrated in otherwise healthy tissue for much longer.
  • I’m convinced that the longer women wear tight restrictive garments, the faster the damage will progress.

So go bra free. Or wear a less restrictive bra. Let your breasts move and jiggle. Let your breasts detoxify themselves more freely.

What will people think?

I recently went on vacation to Florida.  While I was there, I didn’t wear a bra.  I didn’t care.  The people weren’t going to see me ever again.  When I got back to Ohio and returned to work, I wanted to continue the experiment.  I went without a bra for a week, and no one appeared to notice.  No one said anything, at least.  There were no leering man creeps eyeing my chest.  I wore a bra for four hours to volunteer on the weekend, but then when volunteering the next day I went without.  Still, no one said anything.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what people think.  If your breasts flop around in your top a little bit, that’s not anyone else’s problem.  I get a little self conscious, still, so I tend to wear a camisole under a top just for a little extra layering and comfort.  Especially in my polyester volunteer shirt, sheesh.

Other reasons to ditch it

Can you imagine the money savings from not having to buy any more bras? If you never buy a bra in your life, you could save thousands of dollars.  Estimating 60 years of bra-wearing, replacing every six months, and spending $30 per bra (this is just assuming you buy one at a time, instead of a white one, a black one, a “nude” one, a strapless one, and a sexy one), that’s over $3,500 on bras in a lifetime.  What have I been doing with my life?

You’ll also save space in your dresser or closet used to store bras, you won’t have to hand wash and hang dry bras, and you won’t have to agonize in dressing rooms trying on new bras after getting measured by a stranger to make sure you have the right cup size.  You won’t have to deal with twisted straps, pinching clasps, and the red marks left imprinted into your skin after a long day in a tight bra.  Ditch it.

Love your body, clean your closet

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 was Love Your Body Day (LYBD).  LYBD seeks to encourage women (and men) to, clearly, love their bodies.  Stop fixating on the things you hate about your body.  Stop wishing it was different.  Stop worrying about numbers on a scale.  Stop negative self-talk.  Stop reading magazines that promote airbrushed models as the desired shape and size for beauty.  Stop letting other people’s words get you down. Here’s a secret: They aren’t always happy with their bodies either.

A pants size will not make you happy.

To bring this idea around to a practical minimalist application, I’d like to talk about the clothes in your closet, wardrobe, or dresser that do not fit and do not make you feel fabulous.

Holding on to clothes that are too big, just in case, is not healthy.  You have an excuse to stop being accountable for your health because you think it’s okay since you’ve got a pair of fat pants. First off, stop calling them fat pants.  Someone else out there just calls them pants.  They may like their body just how it is, and you calling their pants “fat pants” just adds another little layer of insecurity that society is throwing at them.  Stick to the clothes that fit you.  “But what if I gain weight?” Then you buy bigger clothes when you gain weight.  Keep yourself accountable — eat a balanced diet of mostly plants, and move for thirty minutes a day, and you should maintain your weight (minus any health issues that cause extreme weight fluctuations).

Holding on to clothes that are too small, as motivation, is not healthy.  Having clothes in your closet that are too small is a body-negative reminder of your “ideal” beauty and body.  Get comfy in your body, and stop making yourself feel bad by surrounding yourself with reminders of what you’re not.  If you want to lose weight and wear smaller clothes, do it.  In a healthy way.  Which will take a while, so go ahead and take that top to Goodwill.  Reward yourself with new clothes when you do lose the weight, instead of having to look at a blaring neon sign that says “YOU CAN’T WEAR ME” every time you get dressed.

Holding on to clothes that are not your style is silly. These are the clothes that technically fit, but that you don’t wear.  Because they have a weird pattern, or you don’t like the cut, or you just don’t wear long sleeved shirts but your aunt bought it for you, or a tee shirt from high school that you have no reason to wear, or any other of the million reasons people hang on to these clothes.  If you are not wearing them, get rid of them.  Try the hanger trick.

Some guidelines:

  • Only clothes that fit you and that make you feel good deserve a space in your closet.  Anything else is not worth your time.
  • If you are pregnant or otherwise gaining weight that is temporary, a range of sizes is acceptable, but it IS possible to avoid having an entire (soon useless) wardrobe of maternity clothes.  See Miss Minimalist for more on that.
  • If you have a lot of clothes in sizes that don’t fit and you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them all, limit yourself to one box of clothes to put in storage for you to have on hand in case of weight fluctuations.
  • Don’t let your mom guilt you into keeping an ugly shirt because she bought it for you. Apply this to whatever guilt-ridden sentimental reason you have for keeping something you don’t really wear. Sorry mom.
  • When purchasing new clothing, look for items made with forgiving fabrics with some stretch, or elastic waists.  This makes the clothing more comfortable to move in and accommodates minor weight fluctuations.

What’s your favorite item of clothing, and how does it make you feel to wear it? Share in the comments!