Bea Johnson lives waste-free with her family since 2008 and is the author of the bestseller Zero Waste Home (Zéro Déchet en francais)
"Since embarking on the Zero Waste lifestyle, our lives have changed for the better: We feel happier and lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff. My goal is to share its incredible health, financial and time saving benefits!"

A simple, easy to carry wardrobe.

 

Summer is here, and we have made our annual trip to France to visit my family, celebrate my younger brother's wedding and older brother's 40th birthday. We will be here for a couple of months.

This year's flight was a bit difficult: Although we came more prepared than last year (read about last year's travel experience here), our personal headphones did not work in Air France's two-prong connection and the flight attendant gave us a hard time for using our Klean Kanteen for drinks served in plastic cups. At the meat counter, "I don't have a trash can" is the easiest and quickest explanation to the jar I hand out. But on a plane, where the situation is not set for conversation (people waiting to be served, reaching over someone's head, and engine noise), interactions need to be cut short. When the flight attendant asked if I was afraid of the "parabens" in plastic cups - he probably meant BPA ;), I smiled and simply nodded.

Apart from the handful of winter pieces noted below *, I packed my whole wardrobe into one small carry-on, with room to spare, for our summer stay. Since I wrote the post "Zero Waste Closet", I have reduced and come closer to finding the exact amount and type of cross-seasonal pieces that work for me, the places I live/visit, and the activities I partake. I can mix & match (my base color being black), layer them, dress them up or down with different shoes, add leggings to dresses, roll up long sleeves for the warm weather, wear a long shirt as a dress, turn a loose skirt into a tube top with a belt, etc... I can let my creativity go wild ;) re: last post.

Since we started the decluttering theme, many of you have asked to go into detail about my wardrobe, so here is more insight.
  • Seven Tops: Four basics, three "fashion". In order: Black long sleeve scoop neck, black 3/4 sleeve boat-neck, black spaghetti tank, black loose tank, hot pink loose tank, grey sparkly tank, ruffle long one shoulder. Tip: Find shirts that are long enough, so they can also serve as mini-dresses in the summer.
  • Three Sweaters: *Hooded sweater (heavy weight), black V-neck (medium weight), striped boat neck (thin weight). Tip: Buy good quality that does not fuzz up.
  • Three Dresses: Black sheath, denim shirt dress, colorful dress. Tip: Dresses for a simple wardrobe are made of a material that is cross-seasonal; for example, tweed does not apply.
  • Occasional Dress: Green Awards/dress for my brother's wedding (I am now ready to donate, sell or redesign this one). Tip: Buy an occasional (once every five years) dress used, and donate it back to the thrift store after the event.
  • Six Bottoms: Jeans, trousers, black leggings, fitted skirt, loose skirt, shorts. Tip: Stay away from khakis/khaki color, which do not work well with winter pieces.
  • Intimates: Seven undies, matching convertible bra, two pairs of medium socks, *two pairs of thick socks, footless tights, PJ's, and a swimsuit. Tip: Find the perfect bra first, match undies second. PJ's should be light enough for summer, warm enough for winter, and be decent enough to wear overnight at someone's house.
  • Six Shoes: High heels, boots, medium heels, jazz flats, sandals, *slippers. Tip: Match the color with your purse(s).
  • One All-Purpose Purse: I used to have three purses, but found this one used on my last shopping spree... my computer fits in it, and it has a removable strap to turn it from messenger into clutch for occasions. It is black to match my shoes. Tip: Make a list of items to fit in the "new" purse, take your computer to the store if necessary.
  • Five Toppers: The family blazer (Max, Leo and I have all shared it), black cardigan, *leather jacket, *sporty waterproof jacket, and a *cozzy. Tip: Go for texture and don't be afraid of color, if your purse matches your shoes.
  • Accessories: *Winter hat, summer hat, belt, jewelry (wedding ring, belly piercing, fashion piece), All purpose cover-up, sunglasses, and *gloves. Tip: Stick with a hardware/metal color that fits your complexion (gold/silver), and find accessories that carry your base color and have dual function, such as a necklace that can serve as a belt.
Obviously if you work in construction in Alaska, your needs will differ from mine. The key is evaluating what your everyday needs are while incorporating cross-seasonal/activities essentials into your wardrobe as much as possible.

What is your key to a simple wardrobe?