What Is a Capsule Wardrobe and Why You Need One Right Now

There are women in my closet hanging on hangers, a different woman for each suit, each dress, each pair of shoes. I hoard clothes. –Marya Hornbacher

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Does this quote sound like a familiar refrain in your life? Is your closet crammed so full of clothes that it’s taken on a life of its own? It’s OK if it does. Let me introduce you to the capsule wardrobe, and why taming your closet is one of the biggest favors you will ever do for yourself.

A capsule wardrobe can be defined as only having a few set items in your closet—between 10 and 20, depending on what works best for you. It usually means dresses, shirts, pants, and skirts. It does not include shoes, accessories, outerwear, t-shirts, camis, jammies, or workout clothes

Here are the greatest advantages of the capsule wardrobe

  1. Getting dressed in the morning is a snap. How much time do you spend fussing over what to wear in the morning? Because I only have 15 items to choose from, it makes my morning routine a breeze.
  1. You become much more intentional in your clothing purchases. I have a very specific list of items I need and I don’t deviate from it. If you hate shopping, you will really find this liberating.
  1. You have the opportunity to invest in quality pieces. Yes, my jeans cost almost $100 at a department store. But because they are my only pair of jeans, I have worn them so much more and they have held up so much better than jeans of a lesser quality.
  1. It saves you money in the long run. Have you ever done the math on the cost per wear for your clothes? I have worn my $100 jeans well over 100 times, which is well less than $1 per wear. If I bought I $40 pair of jeans and wore them 20 times…$2 means I haven’t gotten my money’s worth out of it.
  1. Accessories steal the show. Because my clothes tend to be solids, I have lots of fun with accessories. Scarves, jewelry, and shoes provide that pop of color or element of surprise to ensure no two outfits are exactly the same.
  1. Shopping with a purpose is oh-so-easy. I don’t buy something “just because” it’s on sale or get something at Target that I kinda-sorta-not-really like. Because I have a very specific list, I don’t settle for “like.” I only buy what I LOVE.
  1. There is a freedom in owning less. I can’t even begin to describe the joy I derive from owning less. My life is defined by the experiences I have in these clothes; I am not a slave to worrying about my out-of-control closet. Retail therapy doesn’t hold as much power over me. (Don’t get me wrong—I still love to shop!)
  1. Editing your wardrobe allows you to express your true (fashion) self. I was all over the map before I switched to a capsule wardrobe…a little bohemian, a little trendy, a little classic. But after I found my fashion voice, I realized I prefer classic pieces more than anything else, and this helps me even more when I go shopping.
  1. You will love each and every thing in your closet. I can honestly say there is nothing in my closet I am “meh” about. Each and every thing fits beautifully and I love it. If I haven’t worn in a year—out it goes.

I had first heard of capsule wardrobes when I was a little squirt in the 1980s, working on my Fashion badge as a little Girl Scout. It was always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t actually drink the Kool-Aid until I read Jennifer L. Scott’s Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned Living in Paris. I cannot recommend that book highly enough to teach you how and why of editing your wardrobe.

How full is your closet? Is a capsule wardrobe something you are willing to try? Comment below and stop by next week for a pee

The Lane Bryant Ad That Was Banned & Why You Should Care

Size discrimination. The final frontier.

From mainstream media to how people treat us in everyday life, far too many people still judge us women by the number on the scale and our clothing labels.

You would think in the tolerant 21st century we would have to put up with less and less of this crap, but sadly, this is not the case.

This became sadly evident in a recent 30-second Lane Bryant commercial that was banned from the airwaves by both ABC and NBC:

Starring SI cover girl Ashley Graham, new mom Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, Georgia Pratt, and Precious Lee, this ad features plus-size models, rolls, curves and all. They boldly proclaim what their bodies allow them to do while they nurse babies, kick box, do yoga, and sport denim in stiletto heels. From wearing flowing dresses to nothing at all, these women are celebrating Lane Bryant’s #ThisBody campaign.

It should be a celebration of all bodies, but instead, ABC has flat-out refused to run the ad. NBC won’t air the spot either, citing that the ad doesn’t meet the FCC’s “broadcast indecency guidelines.”

What’s the big deal? Why should you care?

This just goes to show that size discrimination continues to be real. OK, I get this ad isn’t appropriate for daytime TV. But let’s face it—network TV has thrown us far worse. From Paris Hilton or Charlotte McKinney selling Carl’s Jr. burgers to famous vegans stripping down for PETA, advertisers always use women who wear less than these five models to hawk their wares. But a size 16 woman?! Apparently the double standard is very real. And very not cool.

The commercial depicts very normal-sized women just like us. Lane Bryant does still have a long way to go in diversity (all the models are 14/16 and hourglass shaped), but since the average American woman is a size 14, what is it specifically that ABC and NBC object? Why shouldn’t all bodies be celebrated? Are they trying to alienate a key demographic?

What does your body allow you to do? I love this ad’s message because it celebrates our bodies’ victories no matter what the size. My size 18/20 body was made to run 5Ks, do yoga, and love this one life I have.

You have the power to make your voice heard. There are a few things you can do to make your voice heard on this subject:

  • Contact your local ABC and NBC affiliates via social media to voice your opinion.
  • Thank CBS for keeping a more open mind and allowing the commercial to air.
  • Get in touch with Lane Bryant to let them know you support their message of love at any size and their #ThisBody campaign.
  • Support Lane Bryant with your business.
  • Don’t let this be a one-and-done headline. Keep this topic of discrimination in advertising alive by discussions with your friends and family.

While this may seem like a trivial topic, it is sad two of the major three networks have intentionally decided not to air this commercial. It shows women whose size is very much the norm and it carries a message of empowerment. However, ABC and NBC have decided to cite vague obscenity laws to mask blatant size description. In the end, we, the plus-size community, lose out because our voices and images continue to be underrepresented and ignored altogether.

What do you think about the video? Are NBC and ABC being discriminatory? Comment below!

6 Reasons to Hire Someone to Do Your Taxes

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Who doesn’t love saving money!? Heck, I consider it a compliment when my sister calls me “cheap!” But after filing my own taxes for years, I finally sucked it up in 2015 and hired a CPA because I had a new business and I knew I was in over my head. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

In 2015, 34 million American households had an accountant or tax professional file tax returns for them.1 Is hiring someone to do your taxes a good idea? Here are 6 reasons why hiring a tax professional is a smart idea:

  1. Convenience factor. The most obvious reason to hire a tax professional is for simplicity’s sake. If you don’t have hours to wade through 1099s, 1040 forms, and W-2s—or you just don’t want to—why would you drive yourself crazy?
  1. Cost-effective. As I mentioned last week, you can expect to pay between $100 to over $400 for a quality tax preparer. They are worth that price for the hours of headaches they will save you doing your own taxes. I also know my CPA got me hundreds of dollars’ worth of deductions I would have ignored or simply never read about.
  1. A good professional will understand your situation. Unlike tax software, you are dealing with an actual human you who can answer your questions. They will know the latest tax codes for complicated situations such as:
  • Healthcare costs
  • Small businesses
  • Retirement contributions
  • Student loan interest
  • Mortgage interest and real estate taxes
  • Inheritances
  1. Finding one can be easy. I had no idea how easy it was to find a tax professional—word-of-mouth. My father highly recommended his tax preparer to me, and I have been so happy to work with her. Other ways to find good referrals:
  • Ask friends, co-workers, and other acquaintances
  • Crowdsource suggestions on social media
  • The IRS even has a directory
  1. You have a lot of choices! There are over 1 million taxes professionals in the United States. Do not hire the first person recommended to you. Don’t be afraid to interview two or three people who were recommended to you. Do you click with the person? Are you comfortable working with them? Do they readily answer questions that directly pertain to your tax situation? If they don’t, that’s OK—just move to the next person on your list.
  1. Support local businesses. I never even considered a storefront tax preparation service. As a small business owner myself, I am passionate about supporting other local entrepreneurs when I can. I like to keep my money in my city’s economy, and my tax preparation fee helps support my friend Lisa and her small business.

Because it will save your time and hassle and especially because you are supporting a local entrepreneur, I feel strongly about hiring a tax professional to do my taxes. If any of these points resonated with you or you are just feeling too overwhelmed this year, consider adding a tax preparer as a valued member of your financial team. There is nothing with reaching out to ask for help, and so many good professionals want to help you!

Have you hired someone to do your taxes? Comment below and tell me about your experience!

1 https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/More-Taxpayers-Filing-from-Home-Computers-in-2014–Many-Taxpayers-Eligible-to-Use-Free-File.

5 Reasons You Should Totally Do Your Own Taxes

even-taxes-can-bring-down-Jerry-MaguireApril 15 is lurking around the corner. Like an extra serving of beets or an unwanted guest. You know it’s there. You know you have to deal with it, but you just don’t want to.

If you are like 27 million American households, you may decide to do your taxes yourself and file with the IRS.1 But how will you know if it’s right for you? In the first of this two-part series, I will cover if you should file taxes yourself—either on paper or with tax software. Next week, we will cover if you should hire a professional to handle it.

While it may seem daunting when you first think about it, here are reasons you should consider doing your own taxes:

  1. It is less expensive. The cost of hiring someone to do your own taxes varies greatly, but it can be as little as $100 to over $400, according to the National Society of Accountants.2 If you file your own taxes on IRS.gov, it costs you nothing. TurboTax, America’s number one tax preparation software, is $35 to file federal taxes (depending on the package you choose), and $37 per state you file in. That can add up to some pretty serious savings while you wait for your tax return!
  1. The 1040EZ really IS easy! If you have an uncomplicated financial situation, the 1040EZ is totally the way to go. I have finished it by hand in about two hours. The 1040EZ form is for anyone who:
  • Is without dependents
  • Earns less than $100,000
  • Has no student loan interest deductions
  • Is under age 65

The regular 1040 form takes a little more time, but I can knock it out in an afternoon or evening. Another advantage of online software is that it makes it even easier to file because they ask “Yes/No” questions and walk you through the process step by step. There is a reason I used TurboTax for nearly 10 years—convenience and ease of use!

  1. It is an excellent way to take stock of your financial picture. For many years, I never balanced a checkbook or was sure how much I had in retirement. But every late winter/early spring, I would get my documents out to assess my finances. It is an excellent reminder time to stop and take stock of where you are and where you want to be with your money. Are you saving enough for retirement? Are you making your money work for you instead for working for your money? Those hours you spend doing your taxes are time well spent because you can set new goals and reaffirm your commitment to being financially savvy!

 

  1. It’s like riding a bicycle. The first time I filed my taxes in my 20s was a bit of a challenge—especially the state forms (which I personally think are a lot more complicated than federal forms) and I had no one to help me. But the good news is that it got a little easier every year because I learned a little more with every return I filed. By the time I filed my last return on my own in 2014, I filed with TurboTax in about an hour.
  1. Lots of help is available. If the thought of doing your own taxes still sends chills down your spine, take heart. There are so many free resources available to help you do it! If you make less than $54,000, you may qualify for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). These are IRS-certified volunteers who can walk you through the process. I promise it isn’t nearly as scary to have someone explain it to you!

There are also a myriad of resources online, from IRS.gov to blogs and search engine results. You are not alone in this process! Is there a friend or family member you can enlist to help you out? Or have a tax-filing party where you sit down with your forms (maybe a bottle of wine), and help each other out? The more the merrier!

From the low cost to the self-reflection it generates, doing your own taxes makes a lot of sense. I think doing your own taxes is the mark of a strong, confident, and independent Plus One Woman. You have the dignity of taking control of your financial destiny and have learned something about yourself in the process.

Have you ever filed your own taxes? Comment below and let me know how it went!

1 https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/More-Taxpayers-Filing-from-Home-Computers-in-2014–Many-Taxpayers-Eligible-to-Use-Free-File.

2 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-much-do-you-pay-for-tax-prep/.

About Moi

 

 

 

10734172_1502241910046553_8605234224568940339_nBefore I get too deep into this blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce myself and share a little bit about my journey as an unmarried, curvy singleton in the 21st century.

My name is Annie and I live in Nebraska (yeah, one of those flyover states in the middle of the country. We have corn and cows. Oh, and a football team. There’s some other stuff here, but those are our most notable exports). I come from a large(ish) Catholic family and never attended public schools till I went to college where I majored in French and European Studies.

After grad school and a meandering career path, including a stint as an au pair in Italy and training to become a Catholic nun, I taught high school for 6 years until I was completely burned out. Because I was living out-of-state, I needed to come home to be closer to my family. Though I loved the students, I quit teaching and now I work for the State. I’ve never had a nine-to-five job, and I must say, it suits me very well in this season of my life. My work is interesting, I get to apply a lot of my liberal arts background every day, and my colleagues are nice people.

When I am not working or blogging, I enjoy (in no particular order) jogging, reading, Netflix, wine tastings, art galleries, yoga, not speaking English, cooking, silent movies, jazz, the Kansas City Royals, and traveling.

Maybe it’s strange for a woman in her late 30s to never have owned a home, but I am perfectly content renting right now. My current roommate is an 18-pound orange Manx (no tail) cat whose only contributions to household expenses include waking me up early on the weekends to eat. And whose hairballs force me to clean the carpet. But she’s a keeper.

While this may sound like I live a normal woman’s life, there is a dark side to my past. I’ve battled depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem almost my entire life. Having been a teacher, I unfortunately know this is common, but I was bullied in high school to the point I tried to kill myself. Being told I was fat and ugly took such a toll on me that it became deeply engrained my soul. I always told myself that while I was smart, I wasn’t pretty enough or interesting enough to ever sustain a meaningful relationship and that no man would ever want to date me.

That negative feedback became my reality. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy and it wasn’t until 2011 that I finally began to accept myself for who I am. After hundreds of hours of reading, reflection, and prayer, I finally realized I was capable of loving and being loved. Age and wisdom have played a huge part in my healing and where I am today.

Roll call! Where are you from? How have your experiences shaped you in the woman you have become today?

 

 

 

 

The Seven Pillars of Plus One Woman

A manifesto. A statement of beliefs. A rant. Call it whatever you want, this is a list of seven priorities we plus-sized singletons should reach for as we live our best lives.

 

Just remember that we are all works in progress. I know I work on all of these, and I don’t necessarily practice all of these every single day. But I am human—the journey is the destination, not perfection.

 

  1. She cares about her health. “If you are overweight, you are at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, blah, blah, blah…” OK, WE GET IT!!! We understand being thin(ner) is medically and socially preferable to being overweight. We have lived with fat-shaming from our elementary school PE classes, or even earlier. Just shut UP already!!!

 

Don’t tell us what we can and cannot do just because we aren’t thin. We run marathons, do yoga, SCUBA dive, are certified aerobic instructors, and lift weights. We are not lazy and we are not couch potatoes. We care about our health, we exercise, and eat correctly because this is the only body we get in this lifetime!

 

She is not ignoring the link between her weight and her health, but the curvy single woman concentrates on her health on her own terms.

 

  1. She radiates simple, natural beauty. Who has time to sift through thousands of beauty products or item of plus-size clothing? I don’t! But I do know what I like and works best for my body type. I advocate looking my best without spending my hard-earned cash on items I will only wear one season or being a slave to the current trends.

 

The Plus One Woman takes a page out of the Frenchwomen’s beauty book. She does not need to cake herself in makeup, spend more than 15-20 minutes on her hair, or go much beyond a carefully cultivated capsule wardrobe to exude a simple, natural beauty. Her look transcends the decades and no matter what the occasion, she is chic and ready to go!

 

  1. She is financially savvy. Because she isn’t married, the Plus One Woman doesn’t have the luxury of a second income. She knows how to spend, save, and give in equal terms. Paying thousands of dollars in interest to credit card companies is not in her life plan. Investing for the future, planned purchases, and owning her own home mean so much more to her than next the impulse trip to Walmart or Target.

 

I am just as guilty of racking up credit card debt, and I learned from my mistakes. I spent more than 7 long years working multiple jobs to pay off $30,000 in debt. It was only thanks to my introduction to Dave Ramsey that I took control of my financial life. The secret was perseverance and an old-fashioned work ethic. Now that I am debt-free, my budget goes to things I actually feel good about—beefing up my savings and travelling!

 

  1. She cultivates positive relationships wherever she goes. Life is too short to deal with the toxic family member, the boorish boyfriend, or the dismissive co-worker. The Plus One Woman recognizes that while she cannot change people’s behavior, she can control how she reacts to every situation.

 

While it is very difficult both in theory and in practice, the curvy singleton does not have time to waste on people who drain her life forces like vampires. It’s OK to (mentally!) flip off these people and go about her day. She shouldn’t give her mental or emotional real estate to these people.

 

Instead, she seeks out positive people because she feeds on their energy. She fills her life with those who will validate and love her for who she is. In doing this, she becomes an unstoppable force.

 

  1. She is strong. Many Plus One Women have spent the best years of their lives being wallflowers. From high school dances to college relationships to breaking the glass ceiling at work…they were content to fade into the background and let others shine.

 

Depending on her background, she has been programmed to seek approval from family/friends/teachers/co-workers. In the past, she sought validation from others.

 

NO MORE!

 

We are sick and tired of apologizing and being bullied for our gender/weight/shortcomings. It is time to take front and center stage!

 

We want people to look at us beyond our size. We should be seen as the beautiful, smart, funny, confident women that we are now. If someone cannot recognize our individual spark of genius, they are not worthy of our time.

 

We’re here. We have no fear. Deal with it.

 

  1. She is smart. You don’t need a PhD in microbiology or astrophysics to be smart. A Plus One Woman seeks knowledge wherever she is. Whether it is the reading the latest bestseller, taking a weekend road trip, keeping abreast of current events, or even keeping up on pop culture, you are in the know. You have a dozen topics of conversation at hand for small talk and parties. You are always improving your mind and are not content to be just another pretty face. (Although you are!)

 

She is not only a reader, but she is a volunteer and activist for causes she believes in passionately. She reads, listens to music, travels, goes to cultural events, and smartly consumes media even when no one is looking because she knows her brain is her sexiest asset, and will remain sexy until her dying day.

 

  1. She strives to be her authentic self. As cliché as it may be, Shakespeare was right on the money when he said, “This above all, to thine own self be true.”

 

Think about it…we only have about 79 years to enjoy this life. To laugh, to love, to grow, to experience every day to the fullest. I love British history, Star Trek, Lawrence Welk re-runs, nachos, and romance novels. Should I have to apologize for any of that? HELL NO!!!

 

Nor should you apologize if you are shy, swear a lot, walk slow, prefer staying at home, want to wear fishnet stockings, snore, or you love NASCAR. You are who you are, and no excuses are needed.

 

Find what you love and DO IT. Learn who you are and BE YOURSELF.

Why the World Needs Plus One Woman

If you do a Google search on “plus-size single women,” you will find page after page of BBW dating sites and advice.

 

Ugh.

 

Don’t get me wrong. There will be plenty of time to talk about dating, but this isn’t the post. It just blows my mind that there is no online community for plus-size women who aren’t married. That is exactly why Plus One Woman is important.

 

I know for a fact there are millions of single curvy women in this country (and around the world, for that matter). Literally tens of millions.

 

Now, I’m not a statistics person, but I’ve done my homework:

 

  • 2/3 of Americans are considered overweight1 (curvy)
  • 100 million Americans over 18 are single (never married, widowed, divorced, living with a partner)2
  • If you assume half (50 million) of the single Americans are women, and 2/3 of them are overweight, that means there are about 33 million unmarried plus-sized women

 

Thirty-three. Million. American. Women.

 

That is the entire population if Morocco!

 

That is a LOT of women who don’t have any representation online. No blogs, no Facebook or Twitter presence. Nowhere for us to congregate online, link arms, and share resources that will help us lead our best lives as curvy singletons. Where we are safe to be ourselves and where we can celebrate our size and ourselves.

 

*insert image*

 

I know we are out there—I have met you online and IRL, and I am ready to raise the flag. Because even though I live in a city of 275,000 people, why do I always seem to be the only single woman in the room wherever I go? People talk about what they did with their families or significant others over the weekend, and I’ll blurt out, “I got through the latest season of Bob’s Burgers on Netflix!”

 

They look at me weird. Awkward silence. Then they resume their discussions of what kind of gutters to buy or what Junior did in soccer practice.

 

Aren’t you sick of those conversations? Why do they have to happen on a daily basis? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have our own slice of the Interwebz for us to:

 

  • Connect with women around the country?
  • Have live Twitter chats to while away Friday and Saturday nights?
  • Become activists to advocate positive body images for our daughters, nieces, students, and any other young women who look up to us?

 

The reason the world needs Plus One Woman is because there is absolutely nothing like it. There are so many wonderful blogs about plus-size fashion and body acceptance, but from what I can tell, none of them address the particular challenges unmarried women bigger than a size 14 face. Plus One Woman is the intersection of singlehood, size, and community.

 

Do you think there should be an online haven for curvy singletons? If there are any topics you would like me to cover, please comment, hit me up on Facebook, or send me a tweet!

 

1 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

2 http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2014/cb14-ff21.html

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