The Simple Chic Life Principle

8:26 PM

The magazine ready house, the always-chic outfit, the homemade-gourmet meals, and the perfectly-organized-home/life - having it all. If you have kids this also includes being the perfect mother and having time for work, yourself, and above all your children. Images of this dream life are everywhere - online, TV shows, books, etc.

I have been striving for this life, often with failed DIYs and countless money spent on "the right" things. I have always looked to buying as the solution for my dream self; if I just got that perfect purse or trendy home decor, then everything would fall into place! All of this while feeling guilty about not having figured life out and having wasted resources/time/money on my attempts at the ideal.

In the past year things have really started to come together and not because I created the perfect home or wardrobe, but because I changed the definition of what perfect means. I no longer do things because a magazine/image/show tells me it will make me happy or because I think life will be pure joy with that one more shirt. Instead, I have resolved to find what truly makes me happy and keep it simple.

I think most people will agree that the less stress in your life, the happier and healthier you are.

Inspired by Zero Waste Home, the KonMari Method, the Happiness Challenge, the French wardrobe ideas, the capsule wardrobe concept (review of each concept here), and a few of my own findings I created some new rules to apply across all points life. The result is a simply chic and happier lifestyle.

1. Simplify
  • Everything below supports this one goal. The simpler your life is, the less items you have, the more time you have for things you enjoy, and the bigger the reduction in stress.
2. Only keep/wear/live with/participate in things that make you happy

  • Go through your life and remove anything that doesn't make you happy or as the KonMari method would say, anything that doesn't spark joy. 
  • Go through your home category by category and donate, sell, or toss anything that doesn't make you truly happy. Note: This includes things that you have guilt about such as that wedding present from great aunt Mildred or the family heirloom clown statue. Honor the emotions that accompanied the gift - both the gift-givers joy in giving the gift and your gratitude in receiving a gift - and then move them out! What is left should be things that give you great memories, make you smile, and bring you joy everyday. 
  • For events only accept those that you are excited about. Obviously a few events are required (work, sister's wedding, etc.), but for everything else if you don't think you will have fun, then just reply and say you can't attend. No explanation is needed and I have found people don't often ask for one. 
3. Invest in what you love
  • Only buy items that you are 100% in-love with and that are the quality you are looking for. Often with furniture people will buy something quick that looks pretty good and is ok quality, but within a few years they will hate it and how it has disintegrated over time. If you saved that $$ you could get something truly fantastic that lasts many many years. This item doesn't have to be brand new either. Sometimes, you just need to give yourself permission to wait to find the right thing (like an antique or the right house for you needs). This applies across the board from large purchases to small. Think about your toiletries, the find the products you love and stick to that. Even better if the products can serve multiple purposes, for example I use California Baby SPF for face and body. This means my bathroom isn't filled with different versions of sunscreen.
  • By saving to buy those great pieces or higher quality items you will need to be very thoughtful about the items you bring into your home, which will reduce clutter and the amount of time spent shopping. Suddenly, you will have a lot of valuable time back.
  • You will also feel good about how you spent your money because there won't be any guilt or worry attached to the purchase.
4. Vote with your $$ to focus on what is important to you

  • Everyone believes in different things. Where you spend your $$ is a great way to "vote" on what you support. It also gives you a nice sense of accomplishment and thoughtfulness when you buy. For me supporting local farmers and producers is important. Buying from the farmer's market makes me feel good about how my hard-earned money is spent.
  • This also applies to refusing items (especially free ones). By refusing those samples you are making a statement and bringing less clutter back into your house.
5. Give yourself a break and put yourself first

  • There are always going to be things that are critical to your happiness. For me, having a clean and tidy home is one of those. I have a girlfriend who needs to enjoy some form of exercise a few days a week. Work to prioritize these things. If you have simplified and done the above, finding some additional time to focus on these activities shouldn't be a problem.
  • While we can't do everything we want 100% of the time, picking 2-3 activities/hobbies that are most critical for your well being can have a big impact on reducing stress and making yourself happier. Maybe yoga is your preference, so you prioritize attending a class 3 days a week. You still have to run the errands, pick up the kids, etc., but for at least 2-3 key things you are putting yourself first. 
  • Consider the cost of your time and determine if it is worth hiring someone to give yourself a break. Cooking is a good example. For folks who don't enjoy cooking using a meal service or hiring a private chef might be a great solution. 
6. Remind yourself of the great things in your life on a regular basis + thank others

  • Maybe it is during weekly yoga or maybe during daily meditation, but take time to think about the positive things in your life and the little things about yourself, home, or life that you love. For example, the way my reading nook feels so cozy on a cold winter day. 
  • Each night write down 3 positive thoughts for the day. Aim to look for the little things like a faster-than-normal commute or reading a good book. 

What does this looks like in my life?
  • I love everything in my house because we reduced things we didn't love and have only added items we adore, chosen thoughtfully,  and will have for a very long time. Our vintage mid-century dining room table and perfectly matching chairs are great examples. 
  • Each quarter I only pick out ~33 items of clothing to wear. That means I no longer spend time in the mornings overwhelmed by picking out an outfit. Since my wardrobe contains only pieces I feel great in then I feel chic everyday.
  • With reduced stuff in our house we are able to keep our house tidy (critical for me)
  • Since we keep the house tidy and there are fewer clothes and loads of laundry, I now have time to spend on things I really love like cooking, reading, and family walks with the dog. 
  • I no longer go to events I don't want to (with a few exceptions) so that gives me more time to spend with friends and family. 
  • I listen to what I need - if that means I need to take a break from being with people (yay introverts) I give myself that break or if that means I need to make sure I always have food to avoid being "hangry" then I always pack a snack.
  • Every night I try to meditate for 10 minutes to give my brain a break and I try to write out 3 positive thoughts from the day. 

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  1. Great tips and tricks. I'll sure be trying to implement them at home and overcome the guilt about throwing away certain gifts.

    1. Man guilt is so powerful! It has taken me a long time to be able to get past my feelings of guilt about stuff. I love what Maria Kondo wrote in the Magic Art of Tidying Up and also what Bea Johnson wrote in Zero Waste Home. It made me realize that gifts and heirlooms are really more about that moment when the item is given or received and less about the actual item. I do have a few things though that I just can't get rid of. Let me know how cleaning out goes!