It’s about the Journey, not a Destination​

“I wish…”

“I cannot wait for…”

“Someday, I’ll…”

I consistently catch myself wishing it was years down the road to a time I’m well-established in my career, living where and how I want to live, and knowing how my life plays out. I watch older people with envy, wishing I’ve already “paid my dues” to get to their position. The problem with this is I see a destination, and in doing so, overlook the journey.

At a work gathering this past week, I was told: “You’re going to do great things, just don’t wish your life away to be where I am. You’ll get there.” Even though I’ve heard this before, it truly stuck with me this time. I was able to step back and recognize that I WILL do great things in life, even if I’m not there yet, which is okay. I succeed day in and day out, constantly learning and becoming better, and I’m happy with that. I’m happy to have a whole lifetime for personal, as well as professional, growth. I’m happy the one life I get is not even close to over.

I’m learning to acknowledge and appreciate what I have now — my outstanding first marketing job, in which I’m learning everything I can about digital marketing (social media, content creation, email marketing, search engine optimization, website management, and more); a beautiful apartment that exemplifies my personality and lifestyle; new and current friendships; my family; and the enthusiasm to discover who I am. I’m loving this part of my journey, but when it’s no longer right for me and the time to move on, then I will.

Life isn’t about a destination; it’s about the journey. It’s not about getting somewhere and stopping; rather, it’s about enjoying where you are, every moment of every day, and constantly becoming better. I will become well-established in my career, as well as live where and how I want to live, but that’s not the destination… that’s only another part in the journey. I have a long journey ahead of me (as we all do), and I’m ready for the long-haul. I want to look back later in life — when I’m at another part of the journey — and be proud I never settled for anything less than I knew I wanted or deserved.

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Timeless Wardrobe​ | Socks

The next article in this series is socks. Yes, you might be taken aback that I’m actually writing about socks, but I think they’re an over-looked clothing article. Even though they’re usually covered by your pants and shoes — except when you “flood” — that quick flash of your socks throughout the day can add or take away from your outfit. The devil’s in the detail. You’ll look even more put together if you can nail every detail of your outfit. That is why I’m writing about socks. They’re an important component of your wardrobe, and if you coordinate your socks with your outfit, then you’ll look very put together.

Like I discuss in the shoes blog post, I believe socks have an overwhelming amount to chose from because there are various types and colors, especially with the “crazy sock” trend. I used to wear them myself; I had floral print, USA, Harry Potter, etc. I gathered a pretty impressive crazy sock collection, totaling over 30 pairs. But, then I started to draw away from this trend. I started to get tired of trying to pair these wacky socks with my outfits (if that was even possible). Instead, I shifted to neutral color socks so that I wouldn’t have to think too much about it in the morning.

I didn’t go back to plain, simple socks to fit the “minimalist” persona; rather, I switched merely for convenience. Whether the socks were black, dark gray, light gray, white, or whatever color I reached for, I knew they’d work with my outfit. As I stated in my previous blog post about chinos, I wear black, gray, navy, khaki, or green chinos every day of the week, so by owning black, gray, and white socks, I can grab any pair from the drawer and not worry about color clashing.

Unlike the last few blog posts in this “Timeless Wardrobe” series, I am not listing out three or four brands you can purchase socks from. I do not think it matters with socks. I think they’re all the same quality and comfort. I do not think you should purchase socks over $10, especially when it is only one pair. Literally, Walmart and Target socks work GREAT because they’re very comfortable, last a long time, and come with four to five pairs per pack for a respectable price. I advise you to get gray, black, and white crew socks. They’ll pair well with 99.99% of the clothes you own and work for any occasion. I also suggest wool socks for the colder months because they keep you warm and are super comfortable. The pairs I got are from Walmart for like $5, and they’ve lasted me two years now.

There you have it. No high-brand, mid-brand, and low-brand options. Just simple, straight-forward options for socks. It should be simple and easy to buy socks rather than finding the best brand for the best price. After all, even though they’re an important component of your wardrobe, they are, well, just socks.

Timeless Wardrobe | Sneakers

“Momma always says there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been.” — Forrest Gump

I’ve recently noticed that my eyes wander to the shoes of every person I pass. I’m drawn to see what shoes they wear and cannot help but wonder why. Did they get their shoes for comfort, work, fashion? Are they a Walmart-brand or high-end name brand shoe? And, do the shoes work well with what they are wearing?

Normally if I see someone wearing dress shoes, I think they want to look more professional and sophisticated. Or, if someone is wearing heels, I immediately think they regret wearing them because they are uncomfortable and make your feet hurt so much. (I do not know this from experience, I just have many female friends who make these remarks when they wear them.) What really fascinates me is women who wear high heels in the city and walk for miles without their feet bleeding. I wear tennis shoes when I visit the city, and even MY feet are killing me after hours of walking. How do they do it in high heels?! It is just amazing. But, that is beside the point.

Shoes may have the most variety for people to choose from. There are dress shoes, sneakers, casual shoes, heels, boots, sandals, etc. And, they come in MANY colors and sizes. It is quite overwhelming when you think about the options we have to choose from. How can we decide the shoes right for us without buying hundreds of them? Well, three years ago I was lucky enough to find the perfect shoe for me: white sneakers.

There seem to be tons of mixed feelings about white sneakers because people think they look fashionable, but they do not seem practical because they are white and will get noticeably dirty real fast. While this is true, there are ways to counteract the dirt and grim your sneakers pick up. You can take 20 minutes a week and clean and polish them, or you can make a point to avoid situations in which your white sneakers will get dirty (like do not wear them to a day party — also known as a “darty” — or concert, you’re just asking for them to get demolished).

White sneakers make your footwear noticeable from the rest of your outfit because of the intense whiteness that people see when they look down. These sneakers go great with any look, such as an athletic or business casual look. A trend that started about two years ago is men wearing white sneakers with their suits. This makes them look both professional and fashionable, as well as give their outfit a contemporary vibe. This is a controversial trend in the fashion world, believe it or not, but I think if you have a slim-fitting suit and are in the right setting, then why not pull it off? Other people feel suits are meant to make you look professional, and wearing white sneakers prevents this. It’s up for debate.

The two white sneakers I want more than anything are from Common Projects and Maison Margiela. The former is made of Italian leather and the latter of calf-skin, which makes them durable and high-quality. Also, the materials make these sneakers easy to clean and restore to their beautiful, crisp white color. These sneakers are low-tops, so you won’t need to worry about your pants bunching up. Quite the contrary, your pants will either “flood” (when your pants do not reach the top of your shoe, and people can see your ankles or socks) or rest perfectly on the top of your shoe, known as “no break.” I do not own either Common Projects or Maison Margiela sneakers because they are too expensive for me. The former run for ~$415 while the latter cost $475…. Yeah, they are way out of my price range. But, I know many fashion influencers who own both pairs, and they love them because of their quality, comfort, look, and durability. I hope to own them someday, especially the Maison Margiela sneakers. (Donations welcome.)

Cheaper options are Adidas’s Stan Smiths in all white or Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 sneakers. The former are ~$75 while the latter are $175 (or four payments of $45). I own the Adidas’s Stan Smiths, and they have been a staple in my closet for over a year, but I am loving the Under Armor Command Indoor soccer shoes that someone gifted me this summer. They are the perfect mix of athletic and fashion. I have entertained getting Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 sneakers, but I can find slightly used Common Projects or Maison Margiela sneakers on Grailed for $200, so I would rather do that. But, I really do not want to buy someone’s used shoes.

As always, the most budget-friendly options are from fast fashion retailers. H&M and Old Navy make cheap white sneakers that you may buy, but I do not think they will stand the test of time. However, there is some advantage to this. You can purchase them to see if you like wearing white sneakers, and if you do, then go for the better quality ones once these sneakers are worn out. But, if you don’t, no harm, no foul, you only spent $30-40 on them.

While there are literally 100s of shoes to choose from because of style, brand, color, and size, white sneakers from any company are one of the best, most versatile footwear you can own. While they may be hard to keep perfectly white, there are ways to minimize how dirty they get. Moreover, they go well with ANY outfit (even suits, people) and give your look a clean finish. So, what are you waiting for? Get your own pair now and rock the heck out of them!

Timeless Wardrobe | The Sweatshirt

If you’re new to my blog, “Timeless Wardrobe” is a new series in which I discuss simple, contemporary clothing you could purchase to create a versatile and ever-lasting wardrobe. This series is meant to help me further improve my wardrobe and others build their own. The first in the series was the chino, and you can read that blog post here. The second clothing article in this series: The sweatshirt.

More specifically, the crewneck sweatshirt. Crewneck sweatshirts are simple and well-balanced, which make them a must-have in your timeless wardrobe. They are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can own. They are unbelievably comfortable, which make them perfect for both lazy Sundays when you leave the couch only for more food, and the days you’re constantly on the move. But, who said you had to sacrifice fashion for comfort? I find that neutral-colored crewneck sweatshirts go well with anything you wear, such as chinos, jeans, athletic shorts, soccer sweats, or pajamas. Crewneck sweatshirts are also fantastic for layering. They go great over an oxford shirt for a smarter, cleaner look, or under a jacket or windbreaker for warmth and comfort.

The crewneck sweatshirt I favor the most is from Asket, known as “The Sweatshirt.” Asket is a Scandinavian company that strives to slow down the fashion industry, and they achieve this by focusing on fit, timelessness, and quality in every clothing line they develop. I decided to purchase the gray Milanese crewneck sweatshirt from Asket because this color pairs well with black and navy, which I wear every day. It also is 100% Egyptian cotton, which makes this sweatshirt incredibly comfortable and high-quality. I won’t go into too much detail about this sweatshirt because I already dedicated a blog post to it. If you want to learn more about Asket, the quality of their clothing, and the amazingness of “The Sweatshirt,” click here and then come back and finish this post! What I will say is this sweatshirt costs $95 with $15 for shipping, so this sweatshirt may not be for everyone because of the price tag, but it is so worth it. Trust me. I want “The Sweatshirt” in black or forest green, and I cannot wait to reach my saving goal and purchase another.

Another crewneck sweatshirt I wear on a consistent basis is from No Nationality. It’s a very lightweight maroon-plumish sweatshirt that adds a little pop to my wardrobe. I will disclaim that I did not buy this sweatshirt for my timeless wardrobe; rather, I won it in an Instagram giveaway! I just love it too much not to integrate it into my wardrobe. Like the Asket sweatshirt, my No Nationality crewneck sweatshirt comes with a steep price tag, costing ~$140. However, I believe my particular sweatshirt is discontinued; but, they have alternatives you may like. I recommend adding a colorful sweatshirt (still on the darker color spectrum, though), such as maroon or mustard to add a bit of color to your wardrobe. I would love a mustard-colored crewneck sweatshirt, but I haven’t found the right one yet.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, then I recommend a sweatshirt from H&M. They are very comfortable and decent quality. I think H&M‘s crewneck sweatshirts are a perfect starting point because they allow you to experiment with different colors and sizes without breaking the bank. Then, once you discover your favorites, you can go for the higher price tag items. H&M has all kinds of crewnecks in various colors, so you’ll just have to explore their webpage or stores until you find ones you like. Their sweatshirts range from $10-$25, but it all depends on if there are sales or not. Either way, $25 for a crewneck sweatshirt you’ll wear several times a week for years is a great investment.

There you have it, folks. The second article in your timeless wardrobe. I’ve already covered chinos and now sweatshirts. I got some great future content that’ll cover t-shirts, Oxfords, sneakers, jackets, etc. Make sure to follow my blog and sign up for email notifications, that way you won’t miss out on any of this content or future posts!

 

Timeless Wardrobe | The Chino

A timeless wardrobe consists of versatile, high-quality clothing that lasts for years because of their simple and contemporary look. And, creating a timeless wardrobe does not have to be hard or expensive; quite the contrary, it is as simple as purchasing quality pants, shirts, jackets, etc. that work in all setting. This will actually save you money and time in the end because these pieces will last for ages, and you won’t need to continuously update your wardrobe because of wear-and-tear or the ever-changing fashion industry.

Developing a timeless wardrobe has allowed me to cut back on spending, create simple yet sophisticated looks that align with my minimalist lifestyle, and gain confidence in how I look. Additionally, I’ve cut my wardrobe by a 1/4 and saved $100s over the past four years from it. No really, my freshmen year of college I had three closets and two dressers spread out between my dorm, home, and grandma’s place. Now, I use half a closet and tiny dresser in my apartment.

From reflecting on my journey toward a timeless wardrobe, I found a keen desire to develop a series of posts which will help other’s create their own if they are interested. As you can tell from the title, this series is known as “Timeless Wardrobe” (saw that one coming, didn’t you?). The first in this series: The chino.

For those who are not familiar with chinos, they are lightweight, cotton pants that can be worn throughout the year. Their lightweight material makes them great spring and summer pants because they’re breathable, but the fact that they’re pants make them perfect for the crisp fall and freezing winter weather. They can be dressed up with dress shoes and a blazer for work or an event, or they can be dressed down with a jacket or sweater and sneakers. Chinos come in all colors — gray, navy, black, green, white, maroon — and work well for literally everything. I am a HUGE fan of chinos. I own navy, gray, black, forest green, and khaki chinos, and I wear them every day of the week without fail.

Neutral-color chinos that are slim-fitting and made of high-quality material make a great asset to your timeless wardrobe. You can dress them up or down for any occasion, the cut and style make them acceptable in all settings, they work wonderfully in every season, and they’ll last for years because neutral colors will never go out of style and the material will stand the test of time.

I, personally, am obsessed with Banana Republic’s “Mason Athletic Tapered Rapid Movement Chino.” The athletic build gives the thigh-area enough room for your thighs to breath and not be hugged, but the tapered legs create a slimmer silhouette and eliminate the bagginess. Not only does the fit allow for comfort at all times, but they are also water-proof and stain-proof. These particular pants run for ~$100, but Banana Republic always has sales that knock these babies down to ~$55. Another alternative would be J.Crew’s “484 chinos,” but they range around $70 and are a bit tighter on the thighs. A budget-friendly pair of chinos would be H&M’s “slim chino,” which cost $30 but are low-quality and uncomfortable. Remember, part of a timeless wardrobe is quality because high-quality clothing will last without ripping or tattering, so I wouldn’t recommend the latter option. But, they are a good start if you cannot afford more expensive options like the first two.

If you want to build a timeless wardrobe, I urge you to start with the chino. The pants/legs are a prominent focal point, and starting with neutral-color, properly fitting pants will make it easier for you to find a shirt and shoes to pair with it. I find the pants the centerpiece of an outfit; first, you decide the color and style of pants, then you determine the shirt and shoes to go with it (spoiler alert: I always go with white sneakers). What is more, it’ll be significantly easier to build your timeless wardrobe once you have the pants down because you’ll know what kind of shirts/sweaters/jackets and shoes will complement your pants.

Take the first step toward your own timeless wardrobe by following my blog and signing up for email notifications. That way, you’ll never miss a post and can ensure that you follow me on this style series journey.

Change.

Change. Change is an inevitable experience that we all have gone, are going, and will go through. The change may be small, perhaps a new haircut or a change in lifestyle. Or, the change can be large and significant, such as the loss of a loved one, a career switch, or a move.

My most recent change is from college to career. I went from being a student at Clarke University to a financial marketer at Heartland Financial USA, Inc. I also went from living in the dorms (and home for the holidays) to my own one-bedroom apartment in downtown Dubuque. I went from having a roommate who is — and forever will be — my best friend to living alone with a deafening silence. At first, the change did not seem significant. It felt like I was working for the summer then going back to school this fall. But, it hit me today that I wouldn’t return to my second home and favorite place in the world. I am no longer a current Clarkie but instead an alumnus. And, while I still go to Clarke to workout and see my people, it just isn’t the same anymore. It’s all changed.

Instead of fighting change, we must embrace it — all of it. Fighting the inevitable will not stop it from happening; rather, it’ll make the transition harder. I am embracing my change. It’s tough, yes, because Clarke means more to me than people realize. It was where I found my family, my passions, my self. It was my life for four years and counting.

To my senior and junior friends at Clarke: Don’t wish the final moments at Clarke away. Yes, the stress sucks, the course load is overwhelming, and you “just want to graduate and do what you love.” But, don’t forget about the good times — the home athletic games, chatting with Mary Ellen, sitting in your dorm/apartment/place with your friends that have become your family. Take the good with the bad and embrace it all for your final year(s).

Along with the theme of Scotty McCreery’s song “Five More Minutes”: I wish I had just five more minutes as a current Clarkie. Trust me, you’ll feel the same way too, once you settle into the next phase of your life. As cliche as this whole post is, this just adds to it, but I really couldn’t care less because it’s the truth… and I embrace that I’m very cliche. In all, don’t let change get you down or instill fear in you. Change is good. Change allows you to grow into the person you’re meant to be.

The Asket Sweatshirt: Product Review

With a price tag of $95, as well as $15 for shipping, the Asket Sweatshirt may seem like a preposterous purchase for many people. But, for some, this $110 sweatshirt is well worth it because of the quality, comfort, fit, and versatility.

I wanted the Asket Sweatshirt for two years, ever since I accidentally came across lifestyle bloggers and Instagram influencers sporting such a minimal yet extraordinary piece of clothing. But, with being in college and saving the little money I had, I just couldn’t bring myself to make the purchase. “When you graduate and get a full-time, well-paying job, then you can get it” I promised myself every time I found myself on asket.com looking at the sweatshirt.

Finally, after two years, I made the purchase at the end of June. I literally couldn’t wait another moment; I ordered it while laying on the couch… at 11:30 p.m…. minutes after my direct deposit hit. I slept well that night, knowing I would have this sweatshirt within days.

With only owning the sweatshirt for a little over a month, I’ve worn it more than I care to admit. With the many times I’ve worn it, I’ve made note of the top qualities I love about this sweatshirt. The first thing is the quality. The yarn is 100% Egyptian cotton, which gives the sweatshirt its softness and superior quality, among other things. This sweatshirt is made to last. It isn’t a fast-fashion piece of clothing made to last a year (if that); rather, it’ll stand the test of time for years to come. So, a $110 investment on a six- to seven-year return? I’ll take it. It’s warm, cozy, and makes for a perfect lazy day or up-and-at-em, non-stop-running day. I wear this sweatshirt on Sundays when I lounge around on the couch, as well as when I’m running errands around town.

The next thing that I cannot help but appreciate is the fit. It’s tailored yet relaxed. It provides a great silhouette and doesn’t have bulkiness around the hips and back, but it also doesn’t hug the body in an unflattering way. Asket has a unique fit system, of which there are fifteen sizes in total ranging from XS-XL for size and Short to Long for length. Mine is a Large-Short, but I think a Medium-Long would work just as well. The reasoning behind this: Are you a medium size-wise but need the length of a large? Then a Medium-Long would fit. Or, are you an XL in size but need a shorter length piece of clothing? An XL-Short would work! It’s not generic sizes in which you must pray they fit, but they really fit the clothing to you!

The final most notable quality is the versatility. This can be dressed down with some sweats and a baseball cap, dressed up with a dress shirt underneath and some nice chinos, or in-between with a baseball cap and chinos. The third is my go-to almost every day, but I literally rock all three every week. This all comes back to the minimalistic design: a simple gray sweatshirt. It doesn’t need to look extravagant or have a flashy brand to be great; no, it can be a simple gray sweatshirt, and it’ll be a staple in your wardrobe.

Care to check out Asket and even make a purchase of your own? They sell much more than a sweatshirt, including Oxfords and socks. Go to asket.com and welcome timelessness and minimalism into your lifestyle.

(I’m no way affiliated with Asket. They’re just a brand I advocate for. Not only for their clothing but their business and personal ethics.)