Paring Down

by Amanda Bedgood

The beauty of living with less

Less is the new more. Yes, you are still in the style section. And, yep, we are still talking about fashion and trends and all that fabulous stuff we love to peruse for in our local boutiques. But this IND Styler is going to turn much of what we believe about looking "now" on its head.

It all started with the "green issue." We're talking green living for real. You know, the planet. And while it's easy to point toward organically grown bamboo shirts and recycled jewelry, all of which are fantastic and we encourage you to buy, it's time to look at the big picture.

At some point even buying more "green" stuff is just its own kind of excess. If we boil down the essence of what it means to be green I believe it means living with less. Do not panic. Being a minimalist is far from boring. Check out our Style Q&A this month with the always fashionable and yet low maintenance Valerie Woerner for the proof.

Living well with less and looking fabulous is about finding a balance between what you need, what you want and what you'll actually wear. The idea of a capsule wardrobe has been floating through the fashion world, and Woerner herself is right in the middle of creating one for herself. The basic concept - a finite number of pieces for each season that work for all occasions (often 33 is the magic number of items). You buy and you organize and you toss what you don't love, and you're left with only the wearable. And then (wait for it) you don't buy more.

Woerner pointed me to a blogger who's beautifully tackled the capsule wardrobe challenge and you can read much more about the idea and the step-by-step process of creating your own at

In the words of un-fancy's "Caroline" of Austin, Texas, the capsule wardrobe is part of the bigger picture: "To me, a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters [less time spent deciding what to wear/less time spent shopping/less time doing laundry or caring for clothes], more money for our dreams + helping others [less money spent on clothes that never get worn] and more contentment and happiness."

It's a radical idea. Especially for the fashion minded. And yet it's sounding pretty good about now. More isn't always more.

I've developed a new habit in the last few years. I only buy what I love. I mean love. And if I find something at a good price that I love (I mean obsessed) and don't need right that minute, I buy it anyway. I will eventually wear it if it's timeless and fantastic.

The truth is that many of us are essentially living on a capsule wardrobe in the most unorganized way. Don't we tend to wear our few favorite things over and over again? With a capsule wardrobe it's all about creating a closet filled with nothing but pieces that fit perfectly and speak clearly to your style. There's nothing less about that.