LIFE & STYLE
"It's the Simple Things in Life"
Most of us can agree that we have too much stuff in our lives. The popularity of books on organizing like Marie Kondo’s bestselling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, the exponentially growing business of home organization services, and the congestion of “stuff” we see trucked to our landfills is indisputable evidence that we are a bit overstuffed with our stuff!
Erin Boyle, Lifestyle Blogger of “Reading My Tea Leaves” has risen to incredible fame by simply sharing how she lives in a 500 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, New York, with two kids. That is no small feat! One of her secrets to solving the Stuff Struggle is focusing on filling her home only with well made things that are truly useful and beautiful.
As housing gets more and more expensive in major cities around the world and every square inch of our home starts to really matter, everyone is asking how do we do more with less? While decluttering and minimizing in our homes are great steps towards unstuffing ourselves and making room for greater comfort, another avenue to consider involves enjoying some creative “More With Less” gift giving ideas. If you or your friends are moving towards minimizing check out this little gift list of life changing experiences to share during the special moments in your lives. Enjoy the making of memories instead of giving each other more stuff.
1. GIFT CERTIFICATES
The secret behind the perfect gift certificate is one that allows your friend to enjoy an adventure rather than an object they’ll need to find space for. Giving a gift certificate is super simple. Keeping in mind the recipient's interests and favorites, just go online and purchase one! Thinking beyond the traditional shopping gifts, many restaurants, coffee shops, amusement parks, movie theaters, and even home services offer them. If you know your loved one’s bucket list adventure, try catering your gift certificate towards that interest. Gift certificates allow the person to enjoy exactly what they want, which is just grand!
Who doesn’t love pizza!? The pickiest of eaters, vegans, vegetarians, kids, and adults all look forward to enjoying a slice. Almost every great birthday party I have attended with my kids serves it. Even those with gluten intolerance can now enjoy delicious gluten free versions. In LA we have some of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy. “Pace”, tucked away in Laurel Canyon, “Medici” in Sherman Oaks, “Pizzeria Mozza”, “AGO” and “Terroni” near Melrose. In Toronto you can score the most authentic and the best Neapolitan pizza at “Pizza Libretto”. Wherever you live there is sure to be a revered pizza joint. For a dear one’s birthday treat them to a gift certificate so they can go enjoy a slice and think of you.
It is through the sense of sound that we can experience great happiness and joy. It’s so satisfying and uplifting to listen to favorite tunes, sing along, and even dance. Music we love attaches to our memories and years later hearing the same music instantly brings us back to those special moments in our lives. Since sound is so personal, a gift certificate to i-Tunes makes for a great and thoughtful gift. Your friend can choose exactly what she wants to purchase and listen to. If you know exactly what artist your friend enjoys listening to you can even gift tickets to a live performance by that artist. Either from their library or live they are sure to enjoy their gift of a musical experience. (youtube link to an old man going crazy dancing)
If your friend has in iPad or kindle, gift them an e-book certificate for whatever amount you like. If you know your friend prefers paperbacks and hardcovers, look for vintage printings from her favorite authors or give her a gift certificate to her local book nook or Barnes&Noble. A book is tangible, but it can also be shared or donated to the library after reading. The expansive world it opens someone up to is a priceless and memorable experience.
Gifting the chance to learn something new is very thoughtful and useful. While the gift satisfies the receiver’s curiosity about the world, the knowledge they gain will serve them for a long time to come. Take into consideration your friend’s interests and use the list below for some useful gift inspirations.
Cooking is a life skill that anyone would appreciate refining, even the most experienced of cooks, because there is always more to learn and discover. Consider your friend’s level of experience in the kitchen and gift them a class they will find useful. “Sur La Table” is a great place to start if you live in Los Angeles. In addition to your local culinary arts schools, check with your favorite restaurants and bakeries for group and private classes they may hold.
Foraging classes simply teach what wild plants that are safe to eat. Gifting your friend an opportunity to learn how to forage will not only get them out in nature, breathing fresh air, and meeting interesting people (group classes often take place on weekend mornings), but might even save their life one day if they ever get stuck in the wilderness without any food. Additionally, wild plants are extremely nutritious, full of incredibly healing minerals, nutrients, and enzymes.
Karen Stephenson of Edible Wild Food
in Ontario, Canada leads an informative and fun “Wild Edible Food Walk” that ends with the group sharing a salad with the plants they’ve all picked with Karen’s help. My family has previously gone on walks with her and found her class to be illuminating.
*Here is a list from Eat The Weeds Blog sharing with us “101 Foraging Teachers” that instruct in U.S., Canada, and Europe.
The people behind “MasterClass” find “the best of the best” in any particular field and get them to teach a class, which they film and edit beautifully. This class is available online at MasterClass.com and can be purchased and watched anytime, anywhere. There is a page that allows you to “gift” a class. Whether your friend likes fashion, music, cooking, wildlife or film there is something to satisfy everyone’s interests. Steve Martin lends his expertise and teaches a class on comedy, Serena Williams teaches tennis, Jane Goodall teaches about conservation, Usher teaches the art of performance and later this year Diane Von Furstenberg will instruct a class on building a fashion brand.
Magic On The Go
Imagine you are sitting at dinner and conversation has stalled. Or you are out with your kids waiting for something, or other, and you bust out a mind bending puzzle or magic trick right there on the spot using simple things that are already around you, like salt or ice, toothpick or napkin. That special moment of sharing, bonding, awe and excitement is what inspired actor and award winning magician Steve Valentine to launch “Magic On The Go”, an ever expanding online collection of short videos that teach magic tricks from the simplest for a beginner to extremely complex for a full out pro. If your friend or loved one can use some “magic” in their life, gift them a subscription to this amazing and ground breaking new online school and community.
3. SPA SERVICES
Mom Friendly Spa
If your friend happens to be a new mom, sleep and time deprived, she will surely be overjoyed receiving a gift certificate to a spa day like one at “Spa Lé La” in Studio City, CA. “Spa Lé La’s” motto is “While the little ones play, you get away.”
They offer a variety of relaxing services, including nails, massages, facials, and hold on-site child care so her little ones can play while she even enjoys a luxurious bath!
Owner Trina of Facial Bungalow was inspired to pamper moms. “Spa Lé La” might soon come to where you reside. Look out for a “Spa Lé La” franchise coming near you.
Reflexology is an ancient technique of pressing on specific points on your feet and hands that help your body “release toxins”. This treatment would make a perfect gift for someone in your life who needs a little boost of energy and a lot of healing.
If you live in and around Los Angeles, I highly recommend you give “Soul Point Reflexology” a try. They issue pretty gift certificates and have specialists that will drive to your friend's home to perform a one hour reflexology session for $80. Contact them at email@example.com to for details and to book a session.
When there is a special occasion and somewhere to go, who doesn’t like to have their hair expertly blow dried? A gift certificate to “Dry Bar” is the way to go. With hundreds of locations across the nation, check their website for a "Dry Bar" nearest to where your TLC recipient lives.
4. HORSEBACK RIDING EXPERIENCE
Giving a loved one a chance to to experiencing riding on horseback and witnessing amazing views of the famous Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and surrounding downtown Los Angeles is sure to make a memorable gift.
At "Sunset Ranch" they get to saddle up for a one of a kind guided tour through the rolling hills of Griffith Park. This 5,000 acre park sits in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
If you live outside Los Angeles, check your local listings to horseback guided tours.
5. MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION
“Magazine subscription gifts are like getting a hug from a loved one once a month.” That’s how it feels! A dear friend knows I love fashion and got me a year worth of subscription to “Porter Magazine” for my birthday. Every time it arrives I feel like I’m receiving a big, huge hug from her. I love “Porter Magazine” for not only covering current fashion trends, but also featuring interesting articles about art and culture and history.
Again think about what interests your friends and subscribe them to a magazine. If they like cooking get them Martha Stewart. If they live in California and love art, travel and culture get them Sunset Magazine. Whatever their interest; yoga, art, food, fashion, parenting, photography or travel, get them a subscription to a magazine that delves deeply into that topic. Oh and spy around to see that they don’t already get this magazine in the mail! While a magazine is a tangible gift if can be recycled or beautiful images from within it’s pages can be cut out and used to create an inspiring image board.
There you go, my little list of gift giving ideas that cures over stuffiness and promotes thrilling adventures, deep knowledge, pure imagination, beauty, love and learning. And if you happen to spy some things on this list you would want yourself as a gift please feel free to share this article with your friends as a little hint that you want more adventure in your life and less stuff.
When I was a kid my parents would drag me to thrift shops to buy clothing to wear to school. We had recently emigrated from Russia and were penniless. Both my parents were working two jobs so my brother and I barely saw them. I was mortified to be at the thrift shop, choosing to sulk in the corner instead of looking for things I might actually like to wear. In the end my mom would choose clothing for me, but since our sense of style differed to the extreme, I was forced to give vintage shopping for myself a try. Rather quickly I got really good at it, finding truly unique and flattering pieces of clothing and accessories that would get me lots of compliments. Eventually vintage shopping grew to be a passion of mine and now I love to venture out for a fun afternoon of “treasure hunting”, whether I’m in my home city of Los Angeles or when traveling. It’s truly thrilling to me to find a one-of-a-kind piece for a bargain to add to my thrifty vintage collection.
Here are my “Top 6 Vintage Treasure Hunting Secrets”:
I love vintage jeans because they are durable, easy to wash in hot water and have that pre-loved look to them. Shopping vintage jeans allows you to inexpensively discover how various jean features look on your body. After I gave birth to my first child I gained a lot of weight and none of my jeans fit me. I was craving comfy jeans. Many times I’d gone jean shopping and a pair of jeans I tried on for a minute in the poorly lit dressing room looked and felt right, but weeks later I’d come to the conclusion that these jeans were unsuitable for my lifestyle as a mom and unflattering for my body type. Having learnt my lesson, I didn’t want to pay a fortune for brand new jeans, then lose the extra weight and not be able to wear the jeans anymore. Through vintage shopping I discovered my love for boyfriend jeans. I know! Where have they been all my life?!
My Vintage Denim Tips:
Take note of the jeans you love and why, and then eventually, when you know exactly what you like, what flatters you, and what you know you will wear for sure, see about investing in a nice new pair made sustainably.
Consider the following elements when shopping for jeans: straight leg, boot cut, slight flare, pencil, slim fit, high waist, low waist, light denim, dark denim, black, white, also consider your body shape. What features do you want to highlight? What features do you want to minimize? A good friend of mine recently pointed out to me she has short legs and wide knees. So, she discovered she looks good in and likes to wear short skirts with a bit of a flare to them to draw attention away from her knees and give her legs added length. This design knowledge usually comes with experimenting and vintage shopping is the most economical way to get this experience. You buy, you try them out (you need time to fall in love with a garment), if you like it, you keep it. If you don’t like it you can ask yourself “Why?” and donate the clothes back to the thrift store.
While on your denim search keep an eye out for overalls, jean jackets and jean dresses. As long as they are made from 100% cotton and have that authentic thick quality jean fabric, you are good to go. Vintage Levi’s, 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, and True Religion are a sure bet. Stay away from really worn, stretchy, saggy jeans with funky buckles and stitching. Some authentic patchwork and embroidered jeans from the 1970’s are a goldmine if you find them, but replicas can look cheap. The more you shop, the more you’ll start to recognize the difference.
2. NATURAL FABRICS
Fabrics sourced from nature such as bamboo, wool, silk, cotton and linen, feel great on the skin and are easy to wash, which you’ll want to do when working with vintage clothing. Natural fibers break down easier and faster (which is great for the environment), but when vintage shopping you want to look for only gently used clothing made of plant fiber material. This may take some extra treasure hunting effort, but it can be done. People donate or resell clothing for various reasons and some clothing might even still have tags attached. People who donate their clothing might not like the way the style, cut or color of the piece looked on them, while you give it a chance and it looks and feels spectacular.
3. ANIMAL PRINT
I don’t think animal print will ever go out of style. There is something timeless about it. Wearing animal print goes all the way back to when we lived in caves and wore fur to keep warm. I imagine a battle with a wildcat back then, where the human survived, was a powerful reminder of the life and death cycle that rules the world. Any human who lived to tell the tale of fighting a wild cat went on to wear the animal skin with pride and gratefulness of being alive. We don’t need to fight wild cats these days, so a simple animal print or accessory will suffice. If you are getting ready to battle it out in the world of finance, business, or even surviving a trip to the park with your little ones, add a small element of animal print to help you tap into these primal powers. If you happen to find a vintage animal print made of natural fibers (replicated prints, not actual animal skins) kudos to you! If not, and you see one made with a mix of synthetic and natural fibers, for comfort reasons, make sure there is a higher percentage of natural fibers than synthetic one. And once you are done with this synthetic garment make an effort to properly recycle it.
4. VINTAGE BAGS
I asked my friend Candice, who is an award winning film director and wardrobe stylist on some of the most popular television shows out there, what her style secrets and tips are and she said she buys really simple clothing in dark colors and invests in accessories. Accessories pull the entire look together and a luxurious, well made, vintage bag is one way to do just that. We have a lot of stuff to carry: snacks, wipes, tissues, wallet, keys, makeup, sippy cups, etc. We carry so much stuff that countless stand up comedians have used our bags to build entire stand up routines upon. Let’s own it. We need a good, useful bag that makes us look stylish, and the best, most frugal, most environmentally friendly way to buy it is vintage.
*Check out “What Goes Around, Comes Around” for fine luxury vintage - including jewelry, scarves, belts (look for animal print!) and much more. Sign up to be on their email list for deals.
5. USE A LUXURY PIECE AS INSPIRATION
Take your favorite, perhaps most expensive piece of luxury clothing or accessory you own and use that as a jumping off point for your vintage shopping adventure. While browsing look for retro pieces with stories from another place and time and pair them with your favorite luxury item to create the perfect “High/Low Contrast” look. To create these contrasts simply observe what elements your favorite piece encompasses; for example, is it soft, light, bright, romantic, textured, tough, dangerous, playful, or simple, muted and dark? Whatever it is, choose contrasting design elements when looking for vintage pieces to complement.
Pair luxurious silk pants with a simple, form fitting t-shirt or try rockstar tight black faux leather pants with a soft white cotton t-shirt with a cute and cuddly image of a puppy. How is that for contrast!
“The High/Low Contrast” form of styling became popularized when Anna Wintour became Editor in Chief of American Vogue in 1988, and for her first cover with the magazine she decided to dress model Micaela Bercu in a very expensive bedazzled sweater and then contrast it with a simple jean. The look was so unexpected and revolutionary the printers had to double check with Ms. Wintour that they were printing the right image. Ever since then, the most stylish people in the world have relied on the “High/Low Contrast” when getting dressed.
What is a classic? Nina Garcia’s fabulous book “The 100: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own” presents an in depth list of of timeless pieces of clothing and accessories. Simple to read and full of witty, fun fashion stories and gorgeous fashion illustrations, this little book is a classic every woman should own. The clothing and accessories Nina features in her book have been around forever, translating through every fashion season, and have set the standards for true classics. When you have some time, give the book a read and then head out to “treasure hunt” for the time tested pieces Nina features.
I hope you find my “Top 6 Vintage Treasuring Hunting Secrets” helpful and inspiring.
If the secrets I shared with you help you to create a fun, fashion look you are proud of, share it on Instagram with us and tag #LittleDailyGem in your post. #makevintagesexy #savetheplanetshopvintage #littledailygem
One lucky subscriber will win a complementary fashion consultation with me!
For additional style inspirations check out “The Sartorialist’s” blog where he features everyday people on the street, from all around the world, wearing really unique, trend savvy and fashionably fabulous ensembles.
Want to know more about the impact our fashion choices have on the world? Check out this informative blogpost from “Everyday Earthiness”.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE FASHION DOCUMENTARIES: