Last spring, I wrote about how the pandemic and an international move had affected my wardrobe, and how I am working on slowly rebuilding my closet. My goal was to purchase less than 20 items this year, and for half of those items to be from small and/or ethical shops, or be used.
So, how am I doing? Back in April, I made a wish list of 19 items that I wanted to get in 2021. Of those, I purchased just 11 items, and spent 2/3 of the budget I set for myself. Five of the eleven items have been from small shops, and one additional item is from a company that I believe is fairly ethical (Prana). The most expensive item I’ve purchased this year was the sweater in the photo above. After a lot of dreaming and debating, I splurged on the gorgeous Babaa no 19 cardigan in July. It’s been a wonderful staple in my closet (paired above with a tank from Simply Merino and my trusty old Levi’s 711 jeans.
Narrowing down my closet and taking inventory has allowed me to really dial in exactly what I wanted to add to my wardrobe, and I’ve been super happy with my purchases because of that. If it wasn’t on the list, I had to stop and really evaluate whether I wanted to spend my budget on it or not. The Prana Cozy Up top above was a bit of a jump for me as far as a new color, but it’s quickly become a favorite piece. Of course, the weather has also dictated a few of my purchases. After a late summer rainstorm left me dripping in the hallway at preschool, my shoes squelching as I walked (oh yes), I realized I need some rain boots. But the abysmal summer (read: cold and rainy) meant I hadn’t purchased any sandals.
I’ve also realized that my car-free, apartment-dwelling-dog, life means I’m putting a lot more miles on my shoes than in years past. My shoes and boots are wearing out faster than I’d planned, so that is something I’ll need to take into account going forward. I desperately need to replace a couple pairs of shoes, but I’ve been indecisive about what will fit best in my closet. Last fall, I purchased a pair of Allbirds Mizzles, but I don’t find them to be as comfortable as my classic wool sneakers or my tree skippers, since the fabric is thicker and doesn’t breathe as well. Both my Tree Skippers and my Wool Runners are at the end of their life span, as are my Hausschule (slippers – a staple in German homes). While I can wait til next spring or summer to replace my Tree Skippers, I’ll need a new pair of casual sneakers quite soon. I had debated replacing my slippers, but instead mended the wool and will hopefully get another few months out of them.
Doc Marten’s were on my shopping wish list this fall, but I’ve been debating whether I need them. So, each time I’ve gotten ready to leave the house, I’ve asked myself if the shoes I’m wearing are the best choice (going for a run, absolutely, my running shoes are aces) or if something would be better (a little cold and rainy, maybe the docs would work better here) and that’s helped me dial in my wardrobe gaps as well.
I had planned a trip to Athens for December, and with it, I’d planned to purchase a pair of sandals or two, using up some of my remaining budget, at my favorite sandal maker in Athens. But the trip was cancelled and I didn’t end up buying anything else with the Christmas rush happening. I’m doing a no buy this month, and then in February, I’ll reevaluate my wardrobe again. I think I’ll even do a round up of all the things I bought in 2021, along with links, and then post my 2022 goals then.
I’d love to hear about your wardrobe staples, or if you have favorite cute but comfortable shoes!
Time is finite. You always think there will be more of it. That you’ll have one more chance to visit your favorite restaurant. To wear that dress you love (before it doesn’t fit again). That you’ll watch another sunset or sunrise or ride on a plane and stand in front of something that a group of people built hundreds or thousands of years ago.
But time is finite.
If we have learned nothing in the past two years, I hope we’ve learned how finite our time is. How quickly our days can go from before to after. It’s something I struggle with, every day. This is the last moment you’ll have that is exactly this moment. Think about it. Even if you feel like tomorrow will be the same as today, it won’t be. It’ll be tomorrow, not today. And today will become yesterday. And none of us know how many days we have here on this planet.
I am by no means encouraging you to do stupid shit, but I am saying that we need to embrace each good moment, and remember to be present in them. Remember that chances are worth taking and you can do impossible things too. Today, I’ll cross the 10k mark for my first novel. I feel like shouting from the top of the nearest church tower, and I feel like puking and deleting it. But the point is, I’ve been wanting to do this for years. What if I’d never had the chance?
“There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” ― Erin Hanson
Time in finite. Take the trip, hug your friends, say I love you. Listen to the voice inside you that guides your heart, let go of the things that aren’t making your life better, and fight for the future. Because I’ve had more regrets about not doing things than I have from doing things.
Photo is from my personal collection, taken in Hawai’i.
It was my birthday in August, and with it, I am squarely in my mid-30s now. In some ways, I feel very old (hello, TikTok stars, how are you all such babies?!) and in other ways, I feel like just gotten to a point in my life where I feel aware of who I am. I am more confident in making decisions based on my desires, and not the whims of the media or outside influences. This ability ebbs and flows though, I am not impervious to outside influence.
The last year was full of artistic and professional burnout. There was a point in there, when I debated never picking up a camera again. I couldn’t find joy in my chose craft at all. So, I stepped back from photography. I finished renovating, painting, and then sold the home I thought we’d live in for decades. I packed our lives into boxes, put them on a ship, and moved across the world. I started writing again, I went back to playing the piano, I started painting and designing and making digital art. I did nothing. I read a bunch of books. I danced in the kitchen.
We spent months without seeing anyone outside our home, with our only contact being on a screen. There were days in the past year when the weight of the world at large, and the world at home, was enough to crush me. To keep me from wanting to get out of bed. To make me question the very fabric of who I am, and what I’ve dreamed of. On those days, I questioned every decision I’d made in recent years, but especially the ones that led to us living abroad. And on other days, the path felt very clear and focused. Clarity in one area of my life often leads to clarity in another area as well.
As I posted earlier this year, I reevaluated my entire wardrobe after we moved. I’ve been working hard to slowly add only pieces I love to my wardrobe, and to shop from smaller, sustainable, and more local, brands as much as possible. It hasn’t been easy, but as much as it’s hard work, I do enjoy knowing that I’ve carefully selected all the pieces that I’m adding into my closet.
And as we venture out into the world at large, as things have reopened and we make more plans for the future, I am also reevaluating where I spend my time, my money, and my energy. Trying to figure out my next steps for work and life, and finding my own voice again. I’ve stopped fighting it when I have the urge to deep dive into something, and instead, embrace it. I research the heck out of something, and then, when I’ve found my answers, I can securely move forward.
I’ve made another trip around the sun and come to the realization that I’m most likely not neurotypical, and that it both makes quite a bit of sense, and doesn’t surprise me much at all. I’ve realized that making new friends is like speed dating and that’s made it easier. I’ve decided that I’m going to conquer my fears and say yes more. I’m going to try things and tell myself it’s okay to suck at them. I’m going remember to make mistakes and not get tangled up in mental self-flagellation afterwards. I’m going to teach myself – and the little human I’m raising – that mistakes are normal, that being perfect isn’t the goal, that joy can be found in the darkest of days, and that the little moments are the most important.
About a year ago, I started asking N to tell me a good thing every night, and we do a bad thing as well. At first, it started as a way to find small joys in the midst of a life changing pandemic. And then, it became a way to remind us both that happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light (Harry Potter). And then, it made me realize that it was a way to know my child better. To know what brings them joy, and to find ways to turn the bad moments around. To find the things that really matter (spoiler alert: it’s time with friends, ice cream, Story Time on Zoom, and calling her grandma) so that we can keep finding that joy in life.
So, in a way, I guess my 4 year old has taught me one of the greatest lessons of the past two years. Figure out what little things make you happy every day, and keep doing them. If you can’t think of one thing that made you happy that day, you need to reevaluate your priorities.
A couple weeks ago, I went on a retreat in Austria, a small weekend in a little house with eight other women. It was a fantastic time to get away from Munich, to get away and spend some time with other women who are also entrepreneurs. One thing I realized towards the end of the weekend, is even though we did a lot of talking and soul searching for each of us, I focused on my business side, and didn’t mention my writing to anyone there. I don’t know why, when writing has been taking up a huge amount of my work hours lately. Something to contemplate as I go forward with things.
I took the train down, and it was just a delightful as I’d hoped. My muse is a huge fan of long train rides or flights and I had a breakthrough with my novel. Which also necessitates a huge rewrite and plot rework, but I’m here for that. Anything other than writer’s block. I also got some great planning done for setting up my business here, and am hoping to get everything squared away over the next couple weeks so that I can start taking on client work again in September. Anyone need a VA?
While there, I went for a walk that turned into a hike down a mountain in the pouring rain, which reminded me that a year ago, we were in the Methow Valley and had no clue the turn our lives would take in just a few short weeks. The last year has been hard, in so many ways, and has taught me a lot. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I am hopeful that I’m heading in the right direction.
What happens when you purge a bunch of clothes because of the pandemic and an international move? You end up with a very limited wardrobe. As we emerge into a new world in 2021, I’m searching for a few key things to fill out my closet, but in the meantime, here’s what I currently own:
Tops: 23 + 6 sweaters (4 purchased in 2020) 9 of those are short sleeved tops, which is my largest category. My tops are also the area of my closet that I struggle with the most. Trying to find a balance between simple pieces that aren’t black, white, or grey. This is an area I need to work on, and I’m planning to slowly replace some of my older tops with high quality and eco-friendly brands over the next few years. I’ll probably retire a few of my tops that don’t fit me quite right anymore, and I’m hoping to invest in a couple new pieces to replace some worn ones.
Bottoms: 18 (2 purchased in 2020) 5 of those are shorts, 6 of them are athletic wear, and only 3 pairs of jeans. And in true 2020 fashion, the only bottoms I’ve added in the past 18 months have been athlesuire. I’m looking to replace/add to my jeans and other bottoms this year. Only 2 are skirts, which I haven’t worn in ages.
Dresses: 6 (1 purchased in 2020) This is a section of my closet that got cut quite a bit when we moved. I didn’t wear many dresses over the last couple years, chasing a kiddo, and I needed to purge some out that just weren’t serving me. My dresses run from very casual t-shirt dresses to fancy cocktail dresses.
Shoes: 10 (3 purchased in 2020) Another area that took a big hit, I donated every single pair of my heels in 2020, except for my ballroom dance heels. I’m hopeful that I can get back into dance sometime soon. All my heels were cheap, none of them fit my feet well, and so I purged them. I did purchase two pairs of casual shoes (both from Allbirds) and one pair of snowboots last year. I’m looking to find a new pair of heels, and some black sandals this year. My favorite sandals, that I bought 5 years ago in Athens, will probably need to be replaced sometime soon, but I’m hoping to make it back to Athens to get a new pair before that happens!
Jackets: 8 (1 purchased in 2020) This is an area that could probably use some work, and I have a few here that don’t get much wear. Both of my blazers aren’t worn much, and my black one needs tailoring, but I’m not going to replace it, because not only is a nice piece, it matches one of my skirts for a suit set. The only jacket I bought in 2020 was my 3/4 length down coat, which was been amazing for the winter here in Munich. The one thing I’d like to add back to my wardrobe is a leather jacket. I had one for quite a few years, but got rid of it, and I’m searching for a new one. My last one was a red moto jacket, and I’m not sure if I should go with a color or stick to black for my next one. But I’m looking for something less boxy for the next one.
Athletic gear, sleepwear, underwear, etc: Unknown I don’t count these, as I don’t have a lot of athletic specific items. I usually have about 2 weeks worth of underwear and a week’s worth of bras and try to replace what is worn every 12-18 months. I should probably pare down and replace some of my swimwear, but I’ll get to that when I can actually go to a pool again.
Scarves: 10ish? I didn’t count my scarves, but I did donate a few of them before the move. All the ones I have left are either pretty special to me or fill a certain niche in my closet.
Total items purchased in 2020: 11 Not too bad! I’m probably going to be higher than that in 2021, since quite a few of my shirts are in desperate need of replacement, but I am going to aim to keep it under 20 pieces.
For 2021, my goal is to purchase less than 20 items, and to have half of the items I buy be used and/or from small shops and ethical brands. Ideally, I’d have 3/4 of the items from used, or small shops and ethical brands, but I think this will be harder to do with the pandemic and so many lockdowns here in Germany. I’ve also got 3-4 pieces that need to be tailored this year: the blazer below from Banana Republic, and a vintage dress and vintage skirt that both need to be hemmed. So I’m hoping to find someone who can do this work for me, since it’s above my sewing skills, and get these pieces back to work in my closet!
Over the winter, I made a plan to stop shooting weddings. I announced that here on the blog at the end of January. I had started working on a new business plan and I was really excited to see where 2020 would take me. I went on vacation to Palm Springs during the first week of February, got sick the next week (was it? wasn’t it? we’ll never know) and when I finally felt better in March, the world shut down. And my new business plan was dead in the water. My industry is dead. My business plan relied heavily on the wedding and event industry, my industry, being busy.
And then, two weeks ago, my husband got a job offer in his hometown of Munich, Germany. This isn’t something that was unexpected. We had been making plans to move to Germany for a while now. But it was much sooner than expected, with a much faster timeline that we expected. And so we’re moving this fall! My husband leaves in a few weeks, the kiddo and I will follow after we get the house packed and ready to sell. And I really don’t know what is next.
Do I restart my business as a photographer in Munich? Do I pursue another self employed gig there? How do I even go about starting a business in Germany? Do I work remotely as an American company or for one? Do I find a full time job in Munich? That last one isn’t as bad as I first thought, if the benefits are anything like my husband’s job offering (6 weeks of vacation time, what?!). For now, I know that I need to finish the projects that are currently open in our house, pack up our belongings (and sell what we aren’t taking) and figure out where we’re living after the temp housing we’re booking. This site won’t go away, no matter what I do. Maybe I’ll blog about life abroad, or maybe I’ll spin it into something new. Who knows?
Over the past year, we’ve done most everything with the following question to guide us: does this move us closer to our goal, or further away? For us, the goal was moving to Munich. So, every big purchase, every choice we made, every house project, etc. was made with that in mind. It seems sudden to those who didn’t know what was happening behind the scenes. Just like it seems like a duck is gliding effortlessly across a like, all while paddling like mad under the surface.
I am endlessly grateful for the nine years I’ve had running this business. I’m leaving on a very, very strange note, but I am proud of the work I’ve done over the years. So! Work towards your goals. Live the life your heard desires. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and vote in every election.
While things will be slow here, you’ll be able to find updates about our new plans on Instagram at @wenzel.haus