Summer Capsule Wardrobe Recap

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”
—Edith Head

Earlier in the summer, I boxed up most of my clothes in the name of science, goals, and moving. Capsule wardrobes are ubiquitous at this point but it was the first time I’d officially tried to do one myself. The takeaway was something I already knew, but found it helpful to be confronted with afresh: I simply own way too much stuff.

I’m not alone in this realization. In fact, I’ve been fascinated to watch some really quality reporting on consumer habits adjust to environmental awareness in particular, but also what seems to be a genuine weariness with the constant bombardment of STUFF TO BUY. Influencer marketing has played a bit role in this, without a doubt, as has targeted ads on all forms of media. We live in an age of conspicuous consumption, but I’m happy to see a general sense of self-awareness start to put some cracks in this.

And of course, I’m guilty. I like “stuff.” I particularly like clothes which–as I have learned thanks to the first move of my adult life which involved furniture–are much easier to transport than home goods.

I’ve written before about how my relationship with shopping has changed as a result of various books and publications, but the truth is that I’ve gotten a bit off track in the last year or so. I still buy mostly second hand, but I’ve been less stringent about that than I would wish. I still buy stuff I don’t need. I still own too much.

Doing a capsule wardrobe before the move unquestionably made my life easier. It gave me one less thing to think about in the mornings, kept my space tidier, and allowed me to pack well in advance. It gave me a sense of discipline, which is of course the big theme for me this year. It also made more ruthless in considering what items I wanted to keep or donate, which is always a good thing. It was a great experiment and I’m looking forward to doing a “cold weather” version of the project eventually.

But what I’m sitting with right now is the fact that, like so many other people, what I really need to do is continue to reduce the amount of things that I own. Living in a new place, having the opportunity to reset a lot of habits (which I enjoy as a process, a by-product of my military brat upbringing), I’m doing a lot of thinking about how to achieve this in a reasonable and healthy way. I continue to reject the idea of minimalism–it’s too ascetic and in authentic–but I know I need to be more clear-eyed about possessions.

A capsule wardrobe helped me dress for my actual life, not a fantasy version of it. My actual needs are pretty small in compared to my wants. Learning to restrict the latter has been something I’ve gotten much better at as I’ve gotten older, and I’m hopeful

Weekend Links

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”
– Heny Rollins

It’s the weekend, piglets! A short intro from me because I’m technically supposed to be on holiday…even through the reality of my job means I’m still doing a bunch of work this week, I’m annoyed to say. Hey ho, such is life. Jeff is in a similarly grim set of circumstances and we’ve agreed therefore that a long Christmas break, possibly to include foreign travel, will therefore be justified. Win some, lose some.

It’s a rainy sunday here, so that means I’m going to log off, make a couple of batches of soup, drink copious amounts of tea and alternate between Agatha Christie’s Poirot and my newest love, Schitts’ Creek by way of relaxation. Tell me your plans in the comments!

Happy weekend to JLo and literally no one else. This is what fashion and media types call “a moment.”

What an awful scam on every level, do not @ me.

One of the Founding Mothers of NPR has passed away. RIP Ms Roberts.

*screams into the void* I’m (sadly) not at all surprised by this at all, only angry and depressed. Sometimes I think about how the vast majority of sexual crime statistics track almost perfectly over my closets female friend groups and myself and I just want to set something on fire.

And as a follow up, the pertinent question. (My own question about what the Kavanaugh hearings really ask remains: are women acceptable collateral damage on someone else’s journey?)

Hook ’em on Shakespeare young.

This investigative piece on the harshness of live on the high seas (an excerpt from a forthcoming book) is hard to read but is evidence of how many industries have horrifically out of date practices and next to no labor protections. We’re not nearly as advanced as Silicon Valley would have us think, sometimes.

Hm. This seems super not great for us as a species

I will read anything by Anne Helen Petersen, and we were blessed with another gem this week.

Seriously, guys. Let’s just try some ideas. Let’s run the experiments.

Highly relevant to my interests.

In case you’re looking for your next book read.

Smoking is bad, team. Smoke if you’re a grown up and damn well please, but there is no need to relitigate the health hazards.

I’m for Boleyn-core, 100%.

The kids are going to save us. They shouldn’t and we shouldn’t have to ask them to, but they are. And I hope that leaders around the world are doing a bit of demographic math in their heads in response to the images and headcounts of the marches this week. Kids grow up and they vote.

Data is fascinating, and useful. We need more of it and less punditry.

A pet theme of mine is how much I wish Americans could see their news through the lens of another nation’s media. It’s enlightening, whatever your political bent.

I know it’s only the latest in a long list, but this is a really serious allegation. In normal times, we would never even have gotten to this point, and yet here we are and I’m not convinced there will be any consequences. How bloody GRIM is that?

And finally, please enjoy my favorite new Twitter account.


“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
― Yves Saint Laurent

Ducklings, you have been neglected of late. My apologies. This has been a rather hectic and not-at-all-restful summer with far too many big projects taking up all the space in my brain and most of my free time. However now that we’re a bit more settled, the blog shenanigans will recommence.

A fun one to get us back in the groove! In honor of the bathroom cupboards I cleaned out in anticipation of the move and my frantic attempts to devise a new means of storage in a new home, here’s another dive into the beauty products and items I’ve used to the last drop since my last update in April.

As mentioned, I love similar peeks into people’s cupboards and bags to see what they love and why. It’s also interesting to see how individual tastes or large trends change, and what we think is worth our money. As always, share your thoughts, questions, and eyerolls in the comments as you deem fit!

There is nothing like tracking how long it takes you to use makeup products to completion to help you curb your beauty spending. I went on a mostly-successful “no buy” challenge for the first half of the year because 1) I know beauty products are my vice and 2) in spite of this vice, I legitimately want to move towards a future where I simply own fewer items overall. It was humbling. Like many people I continue to simply own way too much, but more on this in future posts.

I finished off some seriously longwearing items since my last update, and ones in every single category. I finished a Lancôme stick foundation, the first of that type of product I’ve tried and one I ended up liking a lot more than I thought I would. It was really useful for work travel especially. Another bottle of Glossier You perfume was polished off–it’s a steady favorite but one I’m not repurchasing until I reduce my other perfumes down by at least two. Not just one but two lipsticks made their final bows one from MAC and one from Charlotte Tilbury, as well as two lip balms by Glossier and Bite Beauty. Finally, the eyes have it! I polished off a felt eyeliner by Tom Ford (easily one of the most expensive products I’ve got, especially for what it is. I regret to inform you that I liked it very much), another tube of Glossier Boy Brow, and a cream stick eyeshadow by ByTerry.

Long time minions will not be surprised by almost anything in the skincare pile, where tried and true favorites continue to reign supreme. From the drugstore the trust No 7 line cleaners remain an excellent option for balm and gel cleansers, and the Botanics brand produces a nearly 100% organic eye cream that I’ve enjoyed enough to finish twice and buy a third still sitting pretty in my cabinets. I also used a bottle of rosewater spray from Botanics which was perfect for summer, but I won’t be purchasing again until the weather heats up once more. Another micellar water, this time the French cult favorite Bioderma which I happened to pick up a bottle of whilst in France earlier this year and the Pixi Retinol toner which I tried. The Ordinary continues to make a great hyaluronic acid which is grand value for money and a lactic acid serum which is not a true dupe for the industry-leading Good Genes by Sunday Riley, but produces a similar effect over time based on similar ingredients. Finally, long-time favorites Glossier moisturizer and Thank You Farmer SPF retain their crowns.

And over in body and hair, once again no surprises. I still have never yet met a fancier body wash that I was willing to pay a “pink tax” or justify luxury prices for. Jeff and I share this and deodorant, as well as the St Ives scrub for body care (I would never use this on my face but Jeff does because he’s a heathen). Shampoo and conditioner over the past little while has been simply using up what I already had in the shower prior to a move, along with a fistful of travel sized products picked up from various hotels on work trips over the last few months. Utilitarian, but interesting to me to track both from a consumer and sustainability point of view. It’s a category of products that I’d like to find alternatives for that don’t break the bank.

And that’s our latest semi-annual dive into beauty usage. I’m sincerely considering another “no-buy” challenge to help me continue to use up more makeup products especially. It’s certainly a goal overall to continue to focus on the “reduce” part of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

As always, I’m curious as to how your consumer habits have changed–and why–or how they have stayed constant–and why. Share in the comments, kittens!

Weekend Links – Flying Flamingos Everywhere

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”
– Heny Rollins

Beloved kittens, I type this to you full of trepidation. Another co-worker has discovered this site and I suspect commentary or judgement will soon flow in full tilt.

Ah well, Small Dog Nation grows. (Hi, Tom!)

This week we continued to get the last straggling task from the move over the line and try to settle into a new home without any internet. A literal nightmare. However, I learned from the Evening Standard this week that as many as 20% of Britons don’t have or use internet and it gave me pause because–on an intuitive level, it rings true to me. I work in an industry now that pulls from many, many demographics and have learned that not all of them are “very online,” as the kids say. To me, this represents a potential manifestation of the growing discrepancies of access, opportunity, wealth, and education in society that we are all collectively becoming increasingly aware of. I’d be fascinated (and possible disturbed) to see current data on this for the US as well, where we know the urban/rural divide in particular includes access to internet services.

What interesting tidbit caught your attention this week? Share in the comments. Meanwhile, I’ve pulled together a smorgasbord of reading to get you through until Monday. The new continues awful, the pop culture varied, and beauty news surprisingly good.

McKay Coppins at The Atlantic has published his latest longform about the dynastic duelling within the next generation of Trumps as they try to position themselves to take over the family business…whatever that business happens to be. Thus far it’s been development and branding, but can political mantles be inherited? Thus far there are few successful examples of this in the US and those who have tried (Hillary and Jeb spring to mind) tend to be on the receiving end of good old fashioned American scepticism about dynasties.

Ha! My long-held pet social theory is given credence in this pretty impressive interactive piece from the New York Times: how politics and pop culture are colliding and entangling, and why that’s not really good for any of us.

What a beautiful piece of science and culture writing!

Excuse me, what? What doesn’t Tina Turner deserve?! (Full piece here.)

Sharpiegate continues because it was NEVER about the Sharpie. It was always about who Mr. Trump could bend to his narrative will, and at what institutional cost.

Bolton is out. I’m not surprised but I am cackling because of course Mr. Trump is not really a hawk and never has been. I think Mr. Bolton has done damage and I’m not sorry to see the back of him, but I also think the constant whiplash of what my country’s actually policies and approaches are across the world aren’t doing anyone any favors.

The absolutely wacky handling of the Taliban talks could not have helped. We’re just announcing international negotiations on Twitter now I guess…

Kind of like the reporting on the lifting of a major intelligence asset out of Russia, because we didn’t trust the president NOT to out them. We’re not usually supposed to hear about this stuff as the lay citizenry…

It’s the corruption, stupid. Once again, even the most charitable interpretation of these events is not great. The President is supposed to be surrounded by people who not only keep him from corruption but also help him avoid the shallow appearance of it!

My previous life in luxury property means I found this story fascinating: there is too much luxury property stock in NYC (and frankly London) and little prospect of sales at expected prices. This seems niche, but I think reveals a lot more about the economy of who we’re building for (right people) and why (investment, not housing). There’s a reason populism is on the rise.

Meanwhile, in Britain….(the Speaker gave the British Parliament version of a mic drop on the way out. For more context and less snark, see here). Britain and the US are stuck in a game of onedownsmanship, but they have us whipped on theatricality, it must be said. (ETA, the courts are now involved! It’s so ridiculous and messy.)

People can be trash, but they can also be kind of great. Both in one story.

Progress is not inevitable, but we are learning how change happens. It takes effort.

…and we might be up against our own evolutionary biology

I really want to read this, but it’s going to be difficult.

The New York Times did another incredible interactive report on the flooding that has taken place across the US this year. It puts what appeared to my untrained and uninformed eye a series of isolated events into a much bigger pattern.

UGH. I didn’t want to link that That Story this week, and yet here we are. The thing that convinced me it was worth sharing (besides the viral nature of the story) was this take from Vox on what our collective fascination about female scammers might say about us as a culture.

The universe is not all malevolent, my treasures, for it is giving us more Phryne Fisher!

Victoria Beckham finally launched her eponymous beauty line and the first product drop was very on brand. As a devotee of the collections she did with Estee Lauder, I’ll be keeping an eye on developments.

It’s fashion week. Let’s unpack some relevant shit.

GOD. DAMN. IT. What a nauseating farce this whole thing was/is.

This piece is gorgeous. I’ll leave you with this tiny taster: “The mystery of cosmic asymmetry will always be the point at which an imaginary conversation with my brother about God would begin.”

I never thought I’d be engrossed in the niche world of chess, but this unusual way in hooked me.

In the world of stand-up, where nothing’s valorized quite like edginess, Mulaney relishes his squareness to an almost defiant degree.” I’m a full on stan at this point.

Go on

Weekend Links, Moving Day Edition

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” 
― Rodney Dangerfield

Kittens! I type the final notes on this week’s links drop to you from my absolutely madhouse of an apartment just before the movers show up. Please send prayers, votive offerings, or appropriately slaughtered sacrifices to your deity of choice on our behalf today. I leave you in the comforting arms of a nice bunch of reading material.

I cannot go into everything that happened in British politics this week, suffice to say it’s been BONKERS. I recommend The Guardian’s news podcast Today in Focus for several of their most recent episodes regarding the recent slings and arrows, but also their Brexit updates over previous months to try and catch up.

Too much advice about going green involves pushing slightly less toxic alternatives to things we don’t particularly need, to distract us from thinking about whether they were necessary in the first place.”

More information on the Second Hand September campaign.

Two articles, one British and one American, about who has really benefited from property and development investment in recent years.

It’s sacrilegious but I chuckled.

Hurricanes are getting stronger, and here’s some science as to why.

Who doesn’t love baby pandas?

Know her name.

If you’ve ever wondered about the afterlife of famous puppets, wonder no more!

My generation may be losing its faith in, well, faith. And not just religiously.

The ONLY perspective I am sharing on the sheer stupidity that is Sharpiegate: “He has a tremendous skill for controlling and crafting narrative, but instead of using that for any kind of shared vision, it’s always only about himself.”

ETA: FFS. He’s so fucking good at reality TV marketing that it sometimes makes my teeth hurt.

Here, clean your eyes and soul by donating to the INCREDIBLE humanitarian work coordinated by Chef Jose Andres who is setting the standard for crisis responsiveness with food at this point.

Three of these are absolutely our love languages.

Etsy was supposed to be different.”

Because 2019 is a shitshow and the universe knew we all needed a win and that Lizzo was the one to deliver.

Speaking of Lizzo, I’m excited for Hustlers and did not know it was inspired by true events.

On the flipside, Lana Del Ray reacted very poorly to what was (I and a lot of other people thought) a very thoughtful and in depth review from one of the best respected critics in the biz. Sorry, LDL, but this ain’t it.

Dear god, why?! Why would anyone give that hellsite more of their intimate life details?

Ronan Farrow has dropped a book on the tactics wealth men have used to systematically silence victims bury evidence of their abuse. He’s also dropped some serious reporting on how notable organizations courted Jeffrey Epstein’s wealth, showing how this system works in detail. Keep going, Mr. Farrow.

The Atlantic is going to a subscriber model but I will absolutely be spending money on a subscription because their wide-ranging reporting–never anything to sniff at–has been especially brilliant of late. Especially in the health and lifestyle arena. This week in shocking but not surprising: vaping is problematic.

Retaliatory politics. Cool cool cool.

STIFLING politics. Cooler cooler cooler.

Gerrymandered politics from known biased operatives (see the citizenship question for the census). Coolest coolest coolest.

Who on earth thought this was going to be an okay (or intelligent!) move?

Another pop culture item I am late to is Schitt’s Creek, which is just as wonderful as everyone says. This summary of the dating history of the daughter of the house/motel had me in stitches. Spoilers, duh.

This…this is a tale….

September Moodboard

“Caught in the doldrums of August we may have regretted the departing summer, having sighed over the vanished strawberries and all that they signified. Now, however, we look forward almost eagerly to winter’s approach. We forget the fogs, the slush, the sore throats an the price of coal, we think only of long evenings by lamplight, of the books which we are really going to read this time, of the bright shop windows and the keen edge of the early frosts.” 
― Denis Mackail, Greenery Street

September is here! This may be my favorite month of the year, my love of the winter holidays notwithstanding. We’ve still got the summer sunlight for a while yet, but you can start to taste autumn on your tongue. This past weekend was suddenly noticeably cooler, and the leaves in our neighborhood are starting to go gold around the edges. Britain being Britain, I’m sure we’ll get some kind of freak heat wave (or indeed a freak blizzard!) before Mother Nature settles into the usual rhythms, but I’m ready for it when she does.

This month is going to be frantic. We’re officially all systems go for the move this weekend and I’m going to be boxing and packing every evening of this week in preparation. I’ve hired movers and we pick up the keys on Saturday…pray for us!

Meanwhile Jeff is dealing with the minor busy season that comes halfway through the financial year and my work projects are kicking back into overdrive as people return from their August holidays away. There are some big and bold tasks on the horizon, mostly fun I’m pleased to say! I’m trying to fight any feelings of overwhelm in favour of looking at the big picture possibilities.

This month, I’m determined to stay as calm as possible in the middle of a lot of potential chaos. Let’s channel any drama into our lipstick choices, find ways to marry cozy with comfy with stylish, and enjoy the in-between time of transitions. If there’s mess, let’s at least try to make it look good in the process.

What mood are you going for this month, kittens? What are your priorities? What are you looking forward to?

Weekend Links

“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…”
―Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

It’s been a week, kittens; let’s hop straight into it. Don’t worry, there is plenty of good stuff in here to help you swallow the news pills in between.

Tell me what you’re up to this weekend in the comments. I’m frantically preparing for a move and even typing this up is distracting me from my purpose! Keep up on any shenanigans here but otherwise, let’s catch up in September!

Please god, let her live to be a million.

I cannot believe I missed this piece when it came out in July, but it’s brilliant. “I am told that routine and structure are good for the nerves. I’m told predictability and mindfulness will give me strength and peace. I believe them, but consider this too: What if my goals have nothing to do with peace and calm? What if peace and calm are the last things I want?”


I also didn’t know a thing about this musical which should be a crime because this is EXACTLY my lane. My best friend literally wrote the book.

ANOTHER thing I missed (I can’t ever go on holiday again, the FOMO is insane) was this style gallery. Yes, it’s ridiculously white and rich, but I don’t care. I have my new vision board.

Speaking of ridiculous, (probably) white, and rich: this story!

If destroyed or degraded, the Amazon, as a system, is simply beyond humanity’s ability to get back: Even if people were to replant half a continent’s worth of trees, the diversity of creatures across Amazonia, once lost, will not be replenished for roughly 10 million years. And that is 33 times longer than Homo sapiens, as a species, has existed.”

Here’s some ways to help.

Who wants to go on a mini-London road trip?

So…we’d essentially plumet right back to the 19th century. Cool cool cool. Sounds about right.

I completely missed this last week…WUT.

The tragedy of digital media isn’t that it’s run by ruthless, profiteering guys in ill-fitting suits; it’s that the people posing as the experts know less about how to make money than their employees, to whom they won’t listen.”

A criminal first!

Policy and culture go together inextricably. This piece on why America still hasn’t implemented child care options on the scale of some other countries cuts right to the heart of the matter: a significant portion of the American populace believes that mothers should be the primary carers for their children. That’s it. We have so structured society (married, straight, middle class, supported on a single mostly-male-earned income), and thereby made it difficult for individuals and families who cannot make that paradigm work for them to cope. And even though that paradigm is less and less sustainable, even for the groups of people it supposedly benefits, a lot of people are still clinging to it and refusing to allow other paradigms to come to the fore. It’s maddening.

A feast for the eyes!

Mother Earth is such a strange and wondrous dame.

GUYS, we need to talk about the VMAs. Missy Elliot took home her long overdue Video Vanguard award, and delivered a blazer of a performance in her undeniable style and with a bunch of throwbacks.

And yes, LIZZO ALERT. She’s a great performer live, but this is easily her best so far. It’s a sermon of self-love and acceptance and I am here for it!

Two music profiles dropped this week, one on Harry Styles and one on Taylor Swift, and both are masterful versions of the craft.


How does an industry navigate a crisis of conscious and purpose? On a cult-like meditation campus, apparently. Honestly, the piece is really interesting and raises good questions, but doesn’t do much to convince me that the people who created the problems we’re going to face in the third decade of the 21st century are the right people to fix ’em.

An aesthetic!

Speaking of cult-like meditation! The Atlantic had another fire week and I’ve got three pieces to share starting with this reported piece on GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness empire and what she’s really selling.

Then a pivot to the traditional male space with a piece on Andrew Luck announcing his retirement from professional American Football because, to put it mildly, it’s broken his body. The negative response from “fans” was horrible to watch and betrayed the almost gladiatorial perspective American’s have of their sports figures. Our hostility to their personhood (whether it’s political opinion or pain) or the willingness to turn a blind eye (especially to domestic abuse and sexual violence) are two sides of the same coin: we don’t care as long as we are entertained. The players seem to be pushing to change this more quickly than the viewing public is willing to accept.

Finally, this piece. Because I’m not anxious enough already. Also this.

ETA: ANOTHER Atlantic piece because General Mattis breaks his silence and while I still have a lot of issues and disagreements with him, I also retain a very real respect in some key areas.

I fell in love with Gabriela Hearst when I first saw this handbag many years ago. Of course I did: it’s un-get-able. That love as continued. She dresses who I want to be when I grow up.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the Tea Party and what’s happened since.

We’re doomed.

Is the purpose of business changing? The Business Roundtable updated their own definitions this week to include the statement that businesses have more stakeholders (including communities) that just shareholders. As you might have guessed, everyone seems made about it from capitalism “purists” to revolutionaries.

Reader, I might have cried reading this.

There was a social media kerfuffle this week when a prominent opinion columnist at the New York Times (most famous for his idea that free speech shouldn’t be curtailed when it hurts people’s feelings…which is relevant) got mad at something someone said about him, threw a tantrum, asked to metaphorically speak to the manager in a move he claims was not about getting the person in trouble (“Sure, Jan.”), and flounced off the platform. He also got a speaking invitation out of it?! Men really can just…fail upwards, can’t they? This story is a textbook temptest in a teacup, but seems to have taken hold because it once again put some hypocrisy on display, and also reveals how ill-qualified a lot of our most prominent opinion-havers seem to be.

Update: Dave Karpf, the target of this outburst, responded and frankly wiped the floor with Mr. Stephens. “Stephens reached out to me in the mistaken belief that I would feel ashamed. He reached out believing my university would chastise me for provoking the ire of a writer at The New York Times. That’s an abuse of his social station. It cost me nothing, but it is an abuse of his power that would carry a real penalty for a younger or less privileged academic.”

Someone from NYC, please report!

All 2019 was missing was a challenge to the Fermi Paradox

A palate cleanser. I LIVE.

In Brexit news, PM Johnson wants the queen to suspend Parliament. Cool. Last time a monarch did something similar there was a tiny little Civil War. (The Guardian, as per usual, has a really comprehensive set of updates posted as this story broke which is worth a read. Includes information on the parliamentary process–called proroguing–works.)

I’m watching this story as a military brat, and thus far even with the hasty “clarifications” issued following the initial story breaking, I’m really angry about this. As an expat, I have a lot of questions about how similar policies may affect the civilian world. (Lisa DeJardins of PBS NewsHour did the breaking news and excellent follow up reporting for a play by play.)

Finally, because apparently we need to have this discussion: