“The only thing I regret is that I didn’t pack one of my cute scarves. And lipgloss,” my friend Geneva said. She was telling me about her recent bike tour through New Zealand. She and her boyfriend packed super light, and managed not to forget anything-except something a little more stylish to wear when she wasn’t hammering the pedals.
It’s amazing how such a small accessory like a scarf can make us feel like ourselves, or feel beautiful. I really admired Geneva’s minimalist approach. And it got me thinking.
Don’t most of us like to think our lives are expressions of the creative people we are inside? Whether it’s how we arrange our homes, the work we do, or the moves we make on a climbing wall, we are always expressing our personal style on some level. The most obvious example is how we dress. We choose what we wear because we feel it somehow expresses something about us. And with a constant barrage of ads, catalogs and new styles in our mailboxes, inboxes and shop windows, it’s super easy to find tons of ways to “express ourselves” with clothing.
But how does that fit in with our values of living simply, lowering our impact on the world around us and enjoying the small things in life? A cute new dress, cool looking climbing pants, or rad shoes seem like perfectly legitimate ways to express personal style. But where is the line between collecting a reasonable wardrobe of attractive, functional clothing and excessive consumerism?
A little over a year ago, I moved out of my apartment and into a van, essentially whittling my wardrobe down to a duffel bag. Well, a pretty big duffel. But it’s given me a whole new respect for people who express themselves with minimalism and simplicity. People who look interesting because they actually are interesting.
My friend Becca is an awesome example. She’s been living out of her car, taking photos and pretty much living the gypsy life for the past couple of years, so she doesn’t have some huge closet full of stylish clothes. She keeps it simple. But every time I see her, she’s in the same two beautiful silver bracelets from a shop in Lander, Wyo. They’re her signature. I’ve seen her wearing the same simple outfit of jeans and soft blanket-weave shirt on multiple occasions, which totally fits her easygoing, nature-loving personality. She doesn’t need a whole wardrobe to make her interesting because she is interesting. Between her glowing smile and those bracelets, she’s a complete knockout.
So this year, I’m trying to take a lesson from the Beccas and Genevas of the world. People who are so busy living their adventures that their style comes naturally. People who don’t need the latest “it” accessory because their personal accessories come with stories that are way more interesting. Doesn’t it seem that simplicity never goes out of style?
Photo by Becca Skinner. More of AJ Contributing Editor Hilary Oliver’s writing can be found at The Gription.