Our Streamlined Minimal(ish) Mom on the Street embraces the double life of a superhero: attorney by day, waste warrior by night! (And she looks great doing it.)
By day I’m a litigator in a big DC law firm doing work for major corporate clients. It means lots of travel, plenty of meetings, and a daily uniform of dress-jacket-heels. It’s really interesting work… but it’s also one of those jobs that can be all-consuming if you let it. In the interest of having a happy family and a sane self, I do my best to draw a firm line between home and office. That means the weekdays feature lots of billable hours, but the weekends packed to the brim with kids’ sports, family adventures, and all kinds of passion projects.
One of my biggest passion projects is figuring out how to reduce our family’s environmental footprint, from the small (reducing plastic use, composting, and optimizing our recycling) to the large (like slashing energy use and carbon emissions by minimizing driving and steering us toward a vegan diet). Believe it or not, this is a LOT of fun! Once I started seeing it as a game or a challenge, I became excited for each new opportunity to make a sustainable shift. Laundry powder in a metal can, instead of detergent pods? Sure! Bar shampoo and conditioner instead of plastic bottle versions with sulfates? Why not? Skip the car and take a scooter and metro to work? Let’s do it! Gamification makes all the difference.
Editor's Note: Though her true identity remains hidden, Minimal(ish) Mom shares her waste-fighting adventures on Instagram! Follow along for minimalist style advice, household tips, and beautiful inspirational images.
Which three words best describe your style? Streamlined. Feminine. Fun.
What are your favorite places to shop? I try really hard NOT to shop! For the past decade or so, I’ve been whittling down my wardrobe and strengthening my willpower to resist shopping. Your mileage may vary, but I vastly prefer having a streamlined set of favorites rather than a packed closet with nothing to wear. Most of those favorites are J. Crew and Boden.
There are also so many benefits to not shopping. First, it hones your sense of personal style. (Read Anuschka Rees’ The Curated Closet to jumpstart this process – it’s a blast!) Second, it’s hands-down better for the environment and for human rights. (Watch The True Cost about fast fashion – so eye opening). Third, you save yourself time and money. (I used to spend so much time browsing online and considering yet another dress. Once I told myself “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t shop as a hobby” I experienced this great freedom. What busy mom doesn’t want more freedom?)
Right now, my closet hovers around 80 items across all four seasons, to cover two very different lives: BigLaw Litigator, and Weekend Mom. There’s not a lot of sartorial overlap there. The Venn diagram between them is basically “a good bra.”
What’s your best style advice? Can you swear up, down, and sideways that you’ll wear it at least 30 times If not, it’s probably too trendy and/or too inflexible to be worth it.
What article of clothing/accessory would you not want to live without? A just-below-the-knee, curve-hugging, v-neck navy dress. By switching out a scarf, belt, and/or blazer you can wear the same thing two or three times in a week and nobody will notice!
Who’s your favorite style icon? Claire Underwood from House of Cards, minus the evil, plus about 18 inches of hair.
Which trend would you want to see make a comeback? Subtle bouffant hairstyles. Think Raquel Welch and Brigitte Bardot at their best. Very, very sexy.
What should NEVER make a comeback? Those chunky, clunky Steve Madden shoes we wore in the late 90s. Lord help us all.
And super-low-rise jeans.
And babydoll tees.
There’s so much about 1995 -2005 that needs to stay in the grave.
What fashion/style did you love at the time, but now cringe when you see old photos? Ultra low-rise jeans. I once had a pair with a completely non-functional, 1-inch-long zipper. At that point, why even bother with the pretense of a zipper?
Of course, it’s hard to tell if the cringing comes more from the style itself, or the fact that I’ve had multiple babies since wearing it and certainly could not fit into it anymore.
What’s your best style secret? The confidence that comes with age. And lots of black eyeliner.
Stilettos or flats? Stilettos for meetings and walking around the workplace. I just love them. They dramatically improve the line of workwear, and I don’t mind towering over the men.
Behind the closed office doors, however: flats – specifically, Rothys! I have a treadmill desk and walk most of the day, so a solid pair of flats is a must. I love that Rothys are made from recycled water bottles, and that you can pop them in the washing machine. That’s a must when they’re getting 20k steps a day of foot perspiration. TMI?
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family? Exploring the DC/NOVA area, mostly outdoors… think Great Falls, Burke Lake, hikes along the Occoquan, and Smithsonian museums.
My hands-down favorite every year is visiting the cherry blossoms on the tidal basin on peak bloom weekend… but at 7 in the morning, before most people are awake. We buy fancy donuts, eat them on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (shhhh, against the rules…), and walk the tidal basin. Everyone’s so happy with the donuts that they let me take pictures without complaint, and we’re back in the ‘burbs for soccer games before the crowds arrive!
Best advice you’ve received: “It is better to give than to receive.”
My parents are the living embodiment of this biblical ideal, and my goal is to live by this a little more like them each day.
What’s your go-to family dinner? So…. well… my husband does the cooking Monday through Friday. And Sunday. Everything he makes is amazing. I am not worthy.
But when I’m in charge, the go-to is Beyond Burgers, topped with a generous dollop of chunky guacamole, thin slices of sweet onion, and picked jalapeño, on a really good bun. For ethical reasons I’ve been a vegetarian for 26 years, but have always adored meat. With Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, my taste buds are so happy! If you’re interested in reducing or eliminating meat consumption for ethical or ecological or health purposes, I can’t recommend these two brands enough. They are so good, and 100% plant-based.
We’re raising our kids vegetarians as well, and I love how that simple choice has helped instill such compassion in them.
What’s your favorite restaurant? Mama Chang's! It’s Peter Chang’s newest restaurant. It has the famous Peter Chang puffy bread, but otherwise the menu is totally different from Peter Chang’s in Arlington. The décor is also bright and fresh and lively, and the restaurant has turned attention to an underused corner of Fairfax City.
What’s been your best family vacation? Croatia for spring break this year! We started in the capital, Zagreb. It feels pretty Eastern European – very Prague-like. We wound our way down to Plitvice Lakes, an amazing series of clear waterfalls and lakes that you traverse by little wooden bridges. Then we ended the vacation in Dubrovnik, which my husband deemed “Grownup Disney.” We rented a tiny apartment within the walled city, and it was pure magic. We had a private garden with orange trees and turtles and a view of church steeples. Heaven. We also ate gelato every day. Double heaven.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list? Scandinavia in the summer.
Portugal in the spring.
Prague in the winter (we did this – it was magical – Christmas markets with warm almond wine and pastries at mid-day!)
Nowhere in the fall – I love moody, windy, rainy fall days at home, curled up in front of the fire.
What’s your favorite beach read? Fiction: David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Safran Foer. These dudes are not classic beach reads, but I like what I like! JSF has a new (non-fiction) book coming out this fall, and I’m so excited! It’s called “We Are the Weather” and is about climate change and our diets.
Non-fiction: nerdy stuff about city planning, like “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs and “Walkable City” by Jeff Speck.
I’m obsessed with the idea of “placemaking,” with decreasing car dependency and improving walkability, and with building strong, financially resilient towns. OBSESSSED. If I were to add one item to my closet right now, it would be a teeshirt that says “Jane Jacobs Is My Homegirl.” Sadly, but not surprisingly, Google suggests that this shirt does not exist.
What’s your favorite show to binge watch? I adore this golden age of quality TV but also tightly cap consumption. Call us rigid, but in the interest of making time for other hobbies, my husband and I are super disciplined about TV watching. Our “binging” is thinking "I’d really like to watch a second episode of that show this week…” and then turning off the TV to do other stuff.
Current favorites: Killing Eve, Black Mirror, and Chernobyl.
Pantheon / GOAT: The Wire, The Sopranos, and Deadwood.
What’s the best song to dance to when nobody’s watching?
"Love Shack" by the B52s.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be?
It would be pretty fascinating to spend a day with Mary, mother of Jesus. What a whirlwind that woman experienced…
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day? Cuddling with my kiddos and holding their hands as they recount their days and try out their latest jokes and riddles on ol’ mom. Pure bliss.
We love Streamlined Minimal(ish) Mom's style and dedication to her mission! The clarity with which she sets and meets personal and professional goals—combined with her joy-filled and fun approach to new challenges—inspires us to take on the world!
Why not try a treadmill desk, or ride a scooter to work? Or take on the challenge of no new shopping, and streamlining your wardrobe? Why not get the family in on the fun of sustainability? (Never thought we'd write that sentence.)
Follow Minimal(ish) Mom for more glimpses into her streamlined style and her approachable ideas for incrementally reducing our waste as individuals, families, and whole communities.
And for more stylish moms on the street, check out our Mom on the Street channel!