Hey y’all! I’m not sure if it’s my upcoming 23rd birthday, the encouragement I received at the Modest Fashion Guild, watching The True Cost, or a combination of all three, but I have been seriously evaluating, purging, and researching my wardrobe recently in a way that I never have before.

(I love this painting by Pino Daeni, since I have sisters and two blonde-headed brothers)

 I wanted to spend a minute informally articulating 5 things that are currently influencing how I am curating my closet:

  1. Easy-to-wear: I’m done with the days of safety-pinning my clothes into place so they don’t shift awkwardly. I’m done with pouffy tiered skirts, stretching out shirts, heels that squeak. Life is too short to hold on to mediocre clothing or items that don’t make you feel awesome. 
  2. Ethical: I am absolutely appalled at the (albeit limited) research I’ve done into how clothing can be sold for so little at places like Forever 21, H&M, and Gap. After spending most of my spring and summer providing skirts for women, I’ve realized just how much work it is to create a garment. A factory owner in The True Cost was speaking about working with companies who wanted items cheaper and cheaper and he said something along the lines of “There are only so many places you can cut costs to make a garment for $3, and so you end up taking it out of the workers’ pay.” I know this first hand as I’m barely breaking even on the Errand #17 skirt… and I’m certainly not charging $3/item. I will not be buying new from any non-ethically-sourced companies anymore; instead opting for second-hand or smaller companies who have a passion for better practices in the fashion industry.
  3. Looking my age: Now that I’m closer to 30 than 13, I’m deliberately evaluating certain styles/prints/hairdos/ensembles in order to appear less juvenile. This is a little tricky as a stay-at-home daughter (still with blonde hair and freckles) since I’m not needing to dress up for a corporate job and because I’m not doing that whole “you’re an adult now show some skin to prove it” thing. 
  4. Show that I know what I’m talking about: Along the lines of looking my age, I’m also keenly aware of the fact that there are a lot of people watching me. Blog readers, girls at church, the men at the hardware store– whether I’m comfortable with it or not, what I’m wearing says something. As a business owner, church-goer, and blogger, I should look professional, presentable, and personable at all times. I’ve definitely been slipping in this area the past two years since I’ve been sick and fatigued, but that is no excuse. [have to be honest though– I spent all day yesterday in a t-shirt and yoga pants, praying for the strength to shower]
  5. Classy: I feel like the genuine mid-40s southern woman has exactly the poise I would like to see in myself. Just enough jewelry, just enough confidence, just enough care, just enough educated simplicity, just enough posture, just enough hair pouf that you don’t necessarily notice it in the moment, but it stays in the back of your brain all day long. Maybe it goes against the “A lady never tells” southern belle rule to reveal this aim of mine, but I have to be candid with you, my dear reader. 
More than ever, I want to be deliberate. I’m tired of too many clothes, too many choices, so much variety that I don’t have a “look”. I’m ready to sincerely simplify. I don’t expect anyone else to share these “influences”… this is just what’s personally affecting me right now. 🙂 
My brain has been explooooding the last few weeks with thoughts, dreams, and heavy heart issues that I hope to share with you over time. I would love to hear what things you’ve been learning about or inspired by lately that are showing in your wardrobe! 

29 thoughts on “The 5 Things Currently Influencing My Style”

  1. I enjoyed this post! I feel the same way you do in every regard, and I really relate to only wanting clothes that I really feel good in. I don't like to fuss with my wardrobe. I'm always trying to minimize what I have..at twenty-four-years-old, I am still fighting to have a more consistent look. How are you feeling this week? It is Lyme disease that you have, correct?

    – Kara @ roadtoholiness.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks for sharing, Olivia. I've been evaluating some of the same things recently – especially purposing to buy only ethically made clothes. Hopefully I can check out 'The True Cost' soon too; it sounds really interesting!

  3. Hi this is a great post. I am 20 and I know how you feel, In the past 2 years i have gotten really into trying to find clothing that was good enough as when i was from a baby till 13 i wore comfy and simple clothing or school uniform. Then i started home schooling and still i just wore basic clothing but i was trying to find more fashionable clothing but at the time not much option for plus size women's clothing.

    I have always worn clothing that was appropriate. But i use to wear thin straps and shorts and leggings as exercise pants as when going to physio and gym and doctors that need to see how you walk and exam your legs and joints but don't now, i wear under shirts under everything now and i wear leggings under skirts and dresses now.

    I know how hard it is when you have health issues, i have autism and sensory processing disorder and that has always affected my clothing choices and then i had other issues and had to be in and out of hospital at 12 and then again when 14 and then when i was just getting over that i then broke my leg and snapped a ligament in my left knee and did nerve damage and now have a foot drop and after that while recovering i found out i have ehlers danlos syndrome type 3, i had symptoms my whole life but its hard to get diagnosed as not many doctors know about it as its rare. So i just wore pj's mostly and soft clothing that i could wear with braces and cast's. when i did try and buy clothing every once and awhile from 14 till 17 but they were from online and did not fit properly and i could only get skinny jeans and them and nerve damage do not go together and tops that were not comfy so i ended up just buying long maxi skirts and knee skirts and plain long sleeve tops and leggings and wearing them when i was 18 then i started being able to go shopping in store and started to be able to find jeans and dress pants, more skirts, tees, blouses and leggings, shoes, coats, jackets, cardigans and dresses. Now at 20 i finally have a wardrobe that is comfy, suitable for my needs and look appropriate for anywhere and occasion and is also age appropriate too. I also started wearing makeup again as i stopped when i got sick and only started to look after my skin again last year. I now try and get dressed even if its just house clothing and slippers and i do my teeth and wash my face and moisturize and brush my hair in the morning to make myself feel better and a bit more put together, if i can't i have started to keep face wipes and face moisturizer, body moisturizer, feet and hand cream and lip balm by my bed so i can use it and not need to move around to much.


  4. I'm doing a similar revamping. I rely so, so, so heavily on T-shirts to get me through the day, and I'm trying to push at least dressier, nicer T-shirts that can work under a cardigan at my casual creative workplace WITHOUT looking like I literally just forgot to change my pajama shirt before I left. Part of it is having a baby last year – it's so easy to fall prey to "just wear whatever's clean" in those early sleep-deprivation days, and it's a hard habit to break. It's difficult to care much about what my own clothes or face looks like, my entire being is kind of wrapped up in taking care of someone else right now. I'm pulling it together though. I feel like the "she's a year old" mark led to some kind of light-switch moment for me, where I felt like I could start to breathe and look at myself again.

    I'm also needing to work on being more frugal, so that's informing quite a bit. I want to tear my closet apart and get rid of probably 60% of my clothes and start over, just buying single pieces here or there. It's a dream of mine to be able to shop ethically for everything. It's tough, though! Definitely pricey, although often worth the cost.

    I do wonder – have you considered doing a version of one of your skirts for sale at Fresh Apparel that would be just-below-knee length?

    I don't know if you ever read Life According to Kenz, but she is dealing with Juvenile RA and has a lot of great posts on having an auto-immune illness and how important self-care is, even if that means spending the day in yoga pants fighting to get up long enough to do any one thing at all.

  5. Olivia,

    I am new at blogging, and getting ready to launch my first blog- http://www.modestblondie.com.

    I can't tell you how inspired I have become by your style and modest lifestyle. I think you hit the nail on the head in all of your posts and are very humble doing so. Because of your post about 'The True Cost' I bought the documentary and spent an hour and a half in shock, followed by the past few days thinking EXACTLY what you are. I've been researching like crazy and know that I need to purge. I need to be deliberate in what I wear and be aware of where my clothes are coming from. I am coming up on my 24th birthday and also trying to finalize my style, get rid of trendy, "tweeny bopper" if you will looking pieces and really feel confident in everything I wear. I feel like you put to words EVERYTHING I've been thinking in the past few days.

    Thank you for sharing, you are not alone in your thoughts!


  6. Dear Olivia,

    "Looking my age" is something that I have been struggling to achieve in past few months. I am a stay-at-daughter who works in my dad's ministry, so I have had to find a look that was both professional and feminine. I have found that pairing a tailored jacket or blazer with a pretty skirt is a very easy way to look classy, feminine, and "grown-up" 🙂

    God bless,

  7. Well done you for being so honest about your decision to shop ethical! Buying second hand is great, if only because it's hard to afford ethical fashion all the time (which tells us something about how much we should be paying if workers weren't exploited!).

  8. Olivia, great post! Good things to think about 🙂

    On a personal note, I too have Lyme disease (3 types) and would love to tell you what I am doing to beat it! The Lord has led me to some people that have helped me so much in knowing what to do. I have been treating it for 4 months, and after changing something, I have noticed a significant difference in the past several weeks, especially.
    My Dad has healed from Lyme (after being mis-diagnosed for many, many years).

    I don't know much of your own story, though from what I see in your blog here and there, it's been a long struggle. Praying for you today <3

    I would be so happy to tell you what I am doing – both my aunt and Dad have seen great success. If you would like, I can share my email with you :o)


  9. Olivia,
    You are the only person I know who can sound so wonderfully happy in the midst of tiredness, busyness, and stress! Christ certainly is your strength! I am very encouraged by you sharing all your goals with us, and letting us know that you struggle just like everyone else.
    I am also learning how to dress (and act!!) my age, and I have found that buying better quality clothing makes me look a little more mature. No more shopping at Walmart for church clothes:) I think my jewelry is also becoming less "loud". Costume jewelry works for summer, but I want to start wearing simpler pieces of higher quality as we get into the colder months.
    Praying for you,

  10. You are not the only one going through a time like that. I'm 35 and have five kids and feel very much the same way you do. I am being treated for Lyme Disease right now as I have been very sick for seven years. I sew my own dresses and am considering starting an online dress shop. I am also in the process of reconsidering my wardrobe to reflect what I want it to reflect and to have more one style. I am also greatly inspired by historic fashions and the image of the true lady, inside and out. I also have many things on my heart and mind and feel so drawn to live more deeply with God

  11. Thanks for this post. I can relate to much of this. I struggle between what to wear whilst working from home and what to wear in public. I am still a college student taking classes, but I am also a farmer, self employed crafter, and a substitute teacher. There are days that call for suits to give a presentation and then there are days that call for jeans and a t-shirt to work in the barn. I don't want to have a huge wardrobe to cover every aspect. I try really hard to have a set of "work clothes" that I wear farming and the rest of my wardrobe works accordingly to what i am doing that day.
    Love Always,

    Prayers that you wlll start feeling better. Remember to rely on God's healing hand.

  12. I've always encountered the opposite in my life. It's you're an adult please cover up, not the other way around. I struggle with this too as my job as a maid means I'm rarely seen by my clients and Im bound to get bleach or filth on me. We are moving to a new city and I'm evaluating how t shirt and jeans may not always be a look I want. A southern friend and I were talking and she said the trick is, even if youre in just jeans and a t, you always always always have earrings in and your nails done. Shes so right, it brings that little bit of polish I think is the difference between my 25 year old self and my 26 year old self.
    I also feel like it might be easier for you bc you have a very easy to dress body, I'm not quite so blessed but I'm working on it!!

  13. Thanks for the post! I happen to be reworking my own wardrobe. I've eliminated several pieces that I avoid wearing, and shopped for matches for my favorites. I'm also incorporating layers! 🙂

    – Nicole, handfulofhymns.blogspot.com

  14. I loved this post so much, and was wondering if you were considering doing a capsule wardrobe or something of the like. I developed a church capsule wardrobe for when I head off to college and it was so helpful when I went to figure out what to pack. I highly recommend using the app Stylebook to help you come up with outfits- basically, it allows you to arrange your clothes into polyvore-style outfit collages and a ton of other features.

    Also, I can totally relate to dealing with a chronic illness. While my illness does not have an official diagnosis, I do spend 25 out of 30 days of the month with migraines, and I deal with chronic pain and fibromyalgia constantly. I've pretty much adapted a daily uniform of straight cut jeans, a t shirt, a cardigan, and a scarf, regardless of what season it is. Sometimes the jeans are swapped out for oversized yoga pants or a midi skirt with tights, but that's pretty much it.

  15. Hello Olivia.
    Love your post!I get what your saying though…When you get to a certain age some patterns on clothing aren't appropriate anymore.As you get older the way we dress changes:)….(In a good way!) Im almost 16 and the way I dress is modern but Modest and I dont have a job yet and Im still in school but I feel like for my age I dress very appropriate and MODEST for my age….I do wear t-shirts and jeans but on Sundays or (a dressy event) for church I wear skirts or a dress…..Like maxi skirts mainly I love them sooooo comfortable! Or denim skirts I like wearing dressy blouses with a necklace! But anyways Love your post great point! God bless you!


    Shelby K

  16. LOVE that you are addressing these issues on your blog! This issue has way too little exposure in the Christian world. Probably because trying to find cute modest clothing that fits within the budget can be hard enough, and when you factor in anything else, it really gets overwhelming. But I've found that just taking one step at a time gets you a long way eventually. For me, the way to do it affordably is to buy most things used and research a company's social responsibility policies before purchasing new things. There are different gradations, and there is no way to always only purchase things that are fair trade and beneficial to creation from the very first production of the raw materials, but over time you get to know which companies are better than others. When companies don't have their social responsibility policies listed, I usually ask – I think it's good to make manufacturers aware that people are starting to watch (although I am sure there are plenty of loopholes even in policies that sound good at face value.) My favorite companies to buy from are the smaller ones that are intentionally investing in peoples' lives. Those companies are out there, I'd be happy to share some websites if you're interested.

  17. As a forty year old, Southern, church going, stay-at-home mom….I love this post! I love that you are coming to these realizations so early in your life. Many of these I am just now coming to. I have drastically reduced my wardrobe so that I am not wearing mediocre clothing that doesn't feel good or fit right. I have been thinking more and more about ethical practices. And modesty is always a thought (especially since I am raising 4 daughters). May the Lord bless you as you seek to honor Him in your life.

  18. It's so great that you are looking into ethical sources for clothing. The True Cost really was appalling! I would love to hear some of the places you shop; it has been so difficult finding clothing since I stopped shopping at typical retailers. Any resources would be appreciated!

  19. I haven't seen The True Cost but it sounds interesting. The Gap/Old Navy have had other controversies as well as the low pay for the people who make the clothes, and I have avoided them for awhile now. But it is so hard to afford the well-made clothing (and hard to find – some of the pricey stuff is still poorly made and/or thin, cheap material). Especially when you have three kids to buy clothes for too! I find some good things for myself at stores like Goodwill, but can rarely find anything for kids that is not too beat up and in their sizes. I like to occasionally support some of the people who hand sew kids' clothes on Etsy. They aren't cheap, but the items I have bought are really cute and have gotten lots of use. I also have been striving to have things in the closet that make me feel and look good when I wear them. When I was around your age, I went through a brief phase of buying the skimpier "show-off that you're grown-up" clothes and now I don't know what I was thinking. But I don't think your early twenties is the time to go too "corporate" either. I don't think women need to give up feminine details just to appear more mature. Unfortunately, it seems like a trend for young women to do the "menswear" look to appear more sophisticated. I think a propensity for vintage does help avoid a lack of femininity.

  20. [I'm not doing that whole "you're an adult now show some skin to prove it" thing]

    I've found the opposite to be true! I always see teenagers pushing boundaries of legs, midriff, chest, etc. and I think when ladies mature they realize they can be attractive and even MORE sought after by being covered. Much more mystique 😉

    Love this post about growing up!

  21. I appreciate this post as I am also getting older and am also tired of too many clothes. I went through my closet recently and got rid of everything I didn't love or never wore. It was about half my clothing! Another recent post inspired me to take up sewing, so now I'm determined to sew, tailor, and thrift my way to a wardrobe only of pieces that make me feel good. Thank you for the inspiration, Olivia!

  22. This post was awesome and I loved reading it. So many things to think about! I am not ready to simplify my wardrobe at this point (even though I know it needs it) because I still don't have a firm grasp on my 'style'. However, even though I am still 4 yrs younger than you the necessity to dress my age has been on my mind recently. It is really hard to transition from my 'stay-at-home' days to college while not showing to much skin in order to do it.

    Having other people watching me and what my clothes say about me is also something I have been thinking about recently. And while I do not like being judged by what I wear, unfortunately people do it, and I am struggling to come to grips with this idea and figure out how I want it to affect (if at all) the way I dress.

    Basically, I would love to hear even more from you on these ideas and I can't wait to watch you mature in your style so I can have another example of what it can look like 🙂

  23. Amen, Olivia! I have a constant, nagging urge to go through my wardrobe and clean out anything that doesn't quickly and easily give me a modest, polished, effortless look. I am so frugal that the thought of, "But what if I need to dress up like a cowgirl again?" or "But what if we do get pregnant and I need this bigger/looser item a year from now?" constantly stop me. I'm going to use your post as a catalyst for purging this weekend, and it's the perfect time, as a charity will be going door-to-door in the neighborhood to pick up unwanted clothes. Thanks for this!

  24. I'm thankful to get some ideas of ethical places to buy from, like Hanes for example, from your comments on your recent posts.

    This is what I am doing to aim for simplicity, and it came partly from your blog, because you would make a skirt and call it a spring skirt, or announce a fall ensemble for example. My goal is to dress for each season, and each season has not that many outfits, but trying to get all outfits I like. The seasons helps so there is some variety and obviously, the temperature changes, but the colors, are what I feel pretty and happy in, in that season, and that reminds me of that season too. I love to decorate my house the same way, swap some things out each season. Of course there are staples that move with each season give or take.
    Its kinda fun growing up, and I say that at age 37, so I kinda laugh. But I remember how sophisticated I felt when I bought my first '30' year old dress, my 25 year old hat. And I have this great salmon dress with a highlight floral belt I consider my 40 year old dress now. Its great to add some sophistication to life, it happens so naturally and beautifully.
    But you mention your freckles and blonde hair, and…I think I share with you, a young look, I get that I look 25, or that I probably am on my first child, when I have six, and I learned from one woman, that this young attribute is called 'ingenue", its the ability to wear denim and eyelet lace at any age and get away with it, well! ( See this article to see if you see anything in yourself here with ingenue: http://www.truth-is-beauty.com/blog/style-identities-the-ingenue) . I go with it, because a part of me is always going to feel and look young, sweet, fun, girlish, and thats just me! It is partly due to my young skin, (I still get a bit of acne) happy face, blonde long hair, petite frame that doesn't vary much over the years, spunky effervescent personality, soft facial features…
    So as you grow up, and its been fun to follow your blog a little the past few years, I enjoy to see the changes but you'll keep that thread that says Olivia, at 14, and 24, and maybe more! I think your freckles and blonde hair and eye sparkle, that say young, are fantastic!
    My secret hopes are that you will someday sale patterns!!! You are so fantastic at design! If there are pattern drafting classes still available…It would be awesome to have shirt patterns made by you, so women could make cute styles that weren't too low, and had sleeve options that weren't skimpy…and weren't causing practically slaves to work. (Go seamstresses!) …Patterns in swim wear cause I love your ebooks but I benefited greatly in making my swim top from the pattern that was in there because I am close to your size. How great if you had patterns for the girls sizes and the plus sizes. Anyway. Maybe you won't be going in that direction, but thats my secret hope. I know that you will be meeting that special someone and transitioning into that wonderful role of mother within the next decade, and will shift your attentions elsewhere, but who knows, as you begin to make clothes for your girls, maybe things will move in that direction. Only time, and what your heart desires, and what God has in store for you, will tell! Best wishes in your special transition time! I think you will do fabulously! ~Emily Balling

  25. I will be 25 in December and I have been working on these exact goals for the past few years! I don't know if other people struggle with this as much as I do, but I find it to be so hard to go from wearing any and everything and buying clothing all the time to have a more refined, intentional style. But I'm learning! I would love to see more posts about this! (Just found your blog")

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