Building a Versatile Closet || Why I Shop Beyond My Current Body and Style

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We all know the feeling. Facing a full closet that somehow seems empty. You, once again, have nothing to wear in spite of a wardrobe smashed full of pieces you’ve spent years collecting. So you toss on the same thing you wore yesterday, or pull together an outfit that makes you feel at least a little bit “you” and walk out the door, feeling unsatisfied and, probably, discontent with more than just your ootd.

Familiar, yes?

If you’re one of the few who has never experienced discontent with your closet (you may be a goddess or a mythical creature, because I really doubt than any mere mortal has ever escaped this discontent), it’s probably the fault of one of two reasons: you have an unlimited budget and closet space OR you’ve masted the art of versatility.

Although I don’t claim to be a closet goddess, I have learned a few things about minimizing the “empty closet phenomenon” and building a wardrobe I really love. The first, most important, golden rule to me will always be versatility.

A Case for Versatility

Unless you’re Marie Kondo herself, it’s nearly impossible for every piece in your wardrobe to seamlessly flow together. But versatility is one of the most important keys for getting the most out of your closet and, if you want to, minimizing it as a whole.

Although it’s pretty self-explanatory, I think of a “versatile piece” as one that flows between multiple outfits and occasions. It’s a piece that fits you throughout each month and season, as your lifestyle changes and as your body evolves. It’s a piece that lives your life along with you.

The definition is simple, but finding truly versatile pieces isn’t.

Here are a few reasons why I believe versatility is so important to consider when buying a new piece:

1. Your clothes will fit you as your body changes

  • This means less “maternity shopping” and no “period clothes”.

2. Your clothes will transition from season to season

3. You can shop less and live more


How to Build a Versatile Closet

A few “rules” to consider as you build a thoughtful, cohesive wardrobe:

  1. Can I mix and match this piece with more than 50% of what I already own?

  2. Will this piece fit me on an “off day” or if my body fluctuates?

  3. Does this piece make me feel like myself?

  4. Can I travel in this piece or style it for multiple occasions?

  5. Will it fit into my real lifestyle?

If the answer to most of these questions is “yes” then you’ve found yourself a versatile gem.

What building a versatile closet isn’t.

Slow fashion often gets a bad rap for being boring or “potato sack”-ish. Although there are definitely more than enough oversized, beige pieces to go around (I proudly own several), versatility isn’t chalked up to being lifeless or blah.

The key is finding pieces that feel versatile within your personal style. This might mean a lot of neutrals and beige. Or, it might mean pattern mixing and bright colors and fun silhouettes. As long as you’re shopping with versatility in mind, you don’t have to limit yourself to pieces that don’t have personality.


One brand that I’ll refer you to over and over for truly mastering the art of versatility is Encircled. I’ve worked with them before and am excited to say you’ll be seeing quite a bit of them on these virtual pages over the next few months.

In case you missed my first post, Encircled is a Canadian brand creating staple pieces with the traveling woman in mind. Each of their pieces is so incredibly versatile — many can be worn multiple ways and all are designed with the “rules” above in mind.

I’m wearing one of their most versatile in this post and, unless you know ahead of time, you probably can’t even tell that it’s the same piece.

Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi — dress, scarf, cardigan, shirt, all in one.

Although I’ve only styled it two of the many ways in this post, the fact that I can wear my scarf as a dress, layered over and under pieces, as a jacket layer, as a beachy summer dress, or (as I’ll be doing lots in the future) as a nursing cover, is pretty staggering. Encircled shows 8 total ways to style the Cardi on their website, but I’m convinced there are even more options!

I’ll be taking this piece on our Babymoon next month to test it out while travelling AND to wear as a warm weather dress that works for a growing baby bump (the wrap dress and Grecian tunic styles are my favorite bump-friendly styles).

Now, let’s see if the Chrysalis Cardi meets my requirements for versatility:

  1. Can I mix and match this piece with more than 50% of what I already own?

    • Easily. The fabric, color, and multi-wear style makes it insanely easy to throw on with just about any outfit.

  2. Will this piece fit me on an “off day” or if my body fluctuates?

    • Yep. I specifically chose it with my continually changing pregnant (and post-pregnant) body in mind.

  3. Does this piece make me feel like myself?

    • Of course. I feel most “at home” in comfortable, flattering, and “live-able” pieces.

  4. Can I travel in this piece or style it for multiple occasions?

    • Oh yes.

  5. Will it fit into my real lifestyle?

    • And yes.

Clearly, Encircled knows what they're up to when it comes to designing pieces that give women more options without over-stocking their closet.

This piece is just a small sampling of the many that Encircled offers designed with versatility and real women in mind.

And best of all — you still have time to get an order in before their holiday shipping deadline hits! Any order placed before December 14th will arrive in time for Christmas and, just kidding, this is best of all — you can get free shipping with the code HOLIDAYSHIP18.

Now, let’s get real for a second. Tell me how your closet currently ranks on the “versatility scale” and let’s make a plan to get it where you want it to be!


*This post is part of an ongoing ambassador partnership with Encircled. All opinions, photos, and creative direction are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible!*

Handbags that Elevate Entire Communities

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Storytelling is in my blood, it’s at the core of who I am and, in a strange, roundabout way, it’s become my job. Telling the stories of brands who are adding to the global movement of responsible consumerism. Telling their stories because they deserve to be told. Telling their stories because they’re so much more valuable than a positive “blog review”. Story is what drew me to the ethical fashion space in the first place — once I realized that each piece I bought and put on my body either told a story of exploitation and unfairness or one of beauty and hope, I couldn’t stop telling the stories of these trailblazing brands. I wanted everyone to know that there are better options. And so this space, in my mind, functions as an online collection of stories, a virtual library of brands who are making the world healthier and happier.

Today’s edition is about a brand who, very quickly, grew very close to my heart for several reasons.

Elevate’s name doesn’t leave room for speculation — they’re upfront about what they’ve set out to do: lift people up through job creation and business development. Tucked away in an unassuming Nebraska town, Elevate sells handmade leather goods made by artisans in communities all over the world where they work with locals to develop leadership programs and, eventually, full fledged businesses.

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Midwestern brands. I lived in central Nebraska until I was 10, only a few hours where Elevate has their headquarters. The sense of home, community, belonging, and slow captured across endless landscape and small towns packed with rich history. In a way, it will always feel like home. And in urban settings where the rush of inspiration and convenience of connection is rampant, finding brands doing amazing things isn’t uncommon, in rural Nebraska, however, where resources for socially conscious businesses are limited and it can be hard to convince communities to think outside their tradition, it’s something worth celebrating.

I see so much worth celebrating about Elevate.

Their Process

Instead of setting themselves up as “saviors” coming to employ the locals in the communities they work in, Elevate sets up long term programs, with locals as the true leaders. People are at the heart of their mission — they seek to understand the true needs of these communities and their worldviews, not imposing their own ideals where’re better left at home.

Their mentor program is meant to draw out the leaders in each community, giving them the opportunity for business ownership. The business training can take six months to a year to complete, with the opportunity to accept a small low-interest loan upon completion. These small businesses create jobs for others in the community and their leather products are sold both locally and to the global market.

It’s a sustainable, measurable method that is setup to create long lasting change in the communities where Elevate operates.

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Their Products

Elevate creates a wide-range of (really, really) high quality products for all budgets. Each and every one of their pieces are exquisite and designed to last a lifetime - from their briefcase messenger bags, to their totes and backpacks, to their belts, journal covers, and wallets.

I have their Mid-Sized Zipper Tote in camel (because I can never choose anything besides camel) and it’s the perfect middle-of-the-road option between my large ABLE tote and my small leather clutch. It has interior pockets perfect for holding phones and wallets, and a spacious main compartment for a laptop, planner, or a daily stash of diapers. It can either be worn as a cross-body or as a shoulder bag — I usually leave the cross-body strap attached because I like having options.

Their pieces would make the perfect keepsake gift for anyone on your list, or of course, the perfect addition to your own closet built for real life that won’t wear out from heavy use.

You can use the code “Olivia10” for 10% off your purchase!

Elevate is truly a brand to put high on your go-to list — their mission is making a real impact and their products are build to last. What more could you ask for?


* Thank you to Elevate for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions, photos, and words are my own*

One Dress, 31 Days || Introducing the Avery Dress

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I’m the furthest thing from a fashion designer. Oddly, I don’t even think of myself as a “fashion blogger” because I still feel like I’m figuring out my personal style as I go. I don’t know what makes the “perfect” piece. I don’t know how to source fabric, or where to put seams, or how to ensure a design works on multiple bodies.

But somehow, here I am. Wearing a dress that I helped create. For 31 straight days.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet Avery. She’s the dress I’ll be wearing all December long while I raise awareness for human trafficking with Dressember. (To read more of what Dressember is, why it’s effective, and why I choose to join in, read this post).

One dress, one full month, countless ways to style it.

I haven’t always been this crazy, don’t worry. Several years of Dressember under my belt (this year is my fourth), a shared inspiration with my sweet friend Emily of A Day Pack, and a desire to make this year a little different was the push I needed to make a month of dresses even more intense by limiting myself to one dress.

Here’s the story of The Avery Slip Dress, because, friends, I’m so excited and so proud that this actually happened.

Emily and I co-led a Dressember team last year. We’ve both done the challenge for several years and, aside from the privilege it is to raise awareness about an issue so close to both of our hearts, we both love the challenge of wearing dresses for a full month. Challenging my closet’s versatility, my own creativity, and yes sometimes, sanity, has become a highlight of each winter.

This year though, as we were chatting over the summer, we decided to try something we’d never done before.

We decided to wear a single dress all month long, because if we could do it, anyone could. One of the most common reasons for not participating in the movement is because people feel limited by their closet or think that wearing one or two or three dresses all month long isn’t possible. Allow us to prove that it is ;) (You can see an example of a previous “Dressember Capsule” where I wore five dresses here for added inspiration).

The problem was, neither of us owned a dress that felt like “the one” we’d want to wear for a full month. Nothing versatile enough. Nothing comfortable enough.

We chatted about what our “ideal dress” would be and, coincidentally, we both had the EXACT same vision for the dress. A midi-length, rib knit, shift dress, perfect for layering and accommodating changing bodies.

Now all we needed was someone to agree to make it for us.

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Enter Hanna.

Hanna is the founder and badass one-woman-show behind Sotela. If you’ve stuck around over the past few years, you’ll know that her brand is one of my all time favorites and I’ve been lucky enough to partner with her lots over the years.

We pitched the idea of designing a “Dressember Dress” for us earlier this summer, half expecting her to say she was too busy or that the idea wasn’t possible.

We underestimated the woman though, because she was as enthusiastic as we were and took our design and literally made it come to life. Hanna had access to an organic ribbed cotton, offered to dye it black, and one sample later, we had the Avery Slip Dress.

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And the best part?

YOU can buy the dress too. We intentionally designed the dress to fit a wide range of body types without being form fitting. The fabric is perfect for baby bumps (lucky me), holiday food babies, bloat from period week, and everything in between. Layer over and under it with ease. Add heels for a night out, or flats for an easy at-home outfit. It’s the most versatile design we could think of (oh, and it’s reversible). We hope you love it as much as we do.

No, you don’t have to wear it all December long (although we’d love it if you joined us!). You don’t have to participate in Dressember to buy the dress. However, Hanna has generously agreed to donate a portion of the sales from the Avery Dress to Dressember during the month of December, so if you’re interested in the dress, your purchase can have twice the impact if your order it sooner rather than later.

It’s been so much fun bringing this dress to life and I can’t wait to see it on real women, during Dressember and beyond.

Click here to order the Avery Slip Dress.

Click here to join our Dressember team.

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All photos by my sweet sister-in-law and owner of Shutter Story Photography.

When "World Changing" Is Just Another Buzz Word (And How to Combat It)

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I’ve been sharing about incredible brands here for a while. Brands who literally change lives. Brands who, through quiet and beautiful production, make the world a safer, healthier place. Brands who aren’t afraid to do big things to help those in need. Brands who shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And after several years of sharing brand after brand, I can tend to have a “dumbed down” perspective of just how important the work these brands are doing is. Another brand that combats trafficking. Another brand that uses upcycled material. Another brand that employs at-risk women.

Is my privilege showing yet?

I know about the issues, but I’m not directly affected by most of them. I’ve never employed a woman fleeing for her life. I’ve never known the struggle of choosing to take a stand and use eco-friendly materials, or not use plastic in production. I’ve never traveled to far off villages to learn the art forms passed down from generation to generation in hopes to capture something similar for consumes in the West. And I don’t think most of us have.

When I feel myself loosing my “awe”, I slow down. I reevaluate why I write here and why I’ve decided to make a living out of showcasing brands who make the world a little better.

I don’t think I’m alone here. The echo of amazing, humanitarian, eco-friendly, ethical brand reverberating over and over again can warrant a quick applause and appreciation for beauty without much thought or action afterwards.

But I never want this space to become a numbed review of products. I never want to stop feeling the weight of what the brands I partner with accomplish (paired with my own inability to fully comprehend it). And I want the same for you, the people who choose to come here because you know fashion can/should be better.

So, when I brag about a brand, let’s feel the weight of what they’re doing in an industry that pushes against it. And let’s support that.

Which leads me to today’s brand. An offshoot of a non-profit organization doing truly astounding things in the lives of women whose options are sorely limited.

Meet Darzah

“Darzah” is the Arabic word for “stitch”. It symbolizes the literal process of embroidering product and also the journey each woman takes to arrive within Darzah’s safe walls. A part of A Child’s Cup Full, Darzah employs refugee women in northern West Bank, in an area where unemployment rates for women can be as high as 63%.

Employing women seems like a non-issue to those of us who live where we have easy access to jobs, don’t face blatant discrimination daily, and who haven’t had to literally flee for our lives. But for these women who A Child’s Cup Full employs, the opposite is their reality. These women have had to fight for themselves and their families and when a woman doesn’t have access to a job, the alternatives aren’t pretty.

Darzah teaches these women artisans how to embroider stunning and traditional Palestinian designs on locally sourced leather from a family-owned supplier. These designs, called “Tatreez” embroidery, are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, a beautiful (and literal) symbol of the new lives these women are walking into.

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These words, “employing women”, “local supplier”, “refugee”, “traditional techniques”…let them hit you. Let them sink a little bit deeper than they have before.

These are the brands that are changing the world, one life, one embroidered pair of shoes, at a time. And I hope we never forget the weight of that.

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*Thank you Darzah for sharing your story with me and sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions, creative direction, and photos are my own.*

RV Living: A Q&A + 7 Things I've Learned in Our First Month of Tiny

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We did a thing - a slightly crazy thing - forcing us into the lifestyle both my husband and I have craved for more than four years.

We bought an RV.

To live in. Full time.

With 2.5 kiddos.

The number of people choosing to “go tiny” is growing and, as someone who has always been in love with the concept of less but better, living in a big space allows for too much wiggle room (ie. hoarding). The confines of our tiny space allow for very little excess, and it’s a challenge that I’ve happily looked forward to for a long time.

A few of you asked about our square footage transitions, so here’s a quick run down of the size of the spaces we’ve lived in over the past few years. Our first (and only) home we’ve owned was a 2,400 square foot Victorian style home in Nebraska. It was beautiful and huge and we spent two years remodeling it, but we knew it wasn’t our forever space. From there, we moved to Colorado and our first condo here was a little two bedroom unit with enough space but no flexibility to make it our own. We left there and moved in with my parents for a season. We had a bedroom and a bunk-bed room for the girls. Now, our RV is a cozy 37 feet long with two pull outs for extra space, a bunk room for the kids and a separate “master bedroom” for AJ and I. It is small, don’t get me wrong, but it’s ours and it’s great. All of our extra belongings that we didn’t sell or donate (things like our dining room table and my piano, out of season clothes, and outdoor gear) are stored in a little shed on my parents property.

It’s been just about a month in our RV and, although the majority of our time here I’ve been battling morning sickness, we’ve gotten quite settled in and I’ve already learned so much. This blog post is simply me sharing my “initial lessons of tiny living” since I’m no where near an expert, and a quick attempt to answer a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten from you all. I plan on documenting much of our journey into tiny and plan to share a full tour once we get a few little projects out of the way and I feel the RV is closer to “done”. My goal is to get it finished by Christmas so we have room for a little Christmas tree.

For now, I want to share a few things I’ve learned this month and a few brands who’ve so sweetly agreed to help turn transform space from a weekend vacation home for wealthy elderly couples into a home for a family of four.

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  1. Bring the Essentials and Nothing More

    As I mentioned before, it was either, bring too much stuff and turn into a crazy woman, or choose just the essentials and create a place for each thing. Since we weren’t moving too far and had already downsized significantly after our move from the condo, I already had a pretty good idea of the things I’d need for the RV. We have just enough dishes for the four of us. We have just enough toys to not overwhelm the space (I can swap them out with others in storage to freshen up the excitement every now and than.) We have just enough clothes to fit our minimal storage options. And we have just enough bathroom essentials to get the job done.

    As for our clothes (one of the main questions I’m asked and one of my bigger hurdles thus far), here’s how I’m handling it: the RV has built-in storage alongside our queen size bed, over the top of it, and underneath it. The hang-up space is minimal (I’ll do a full tour soon!), so I had to create a mini-capsule of my most worn pieces. Since I’m getting more and more pregnant by the week, I knew I’d have to downsize and rely on pieces that are versatile, so it was an easy transition. I keep my extras under the bed, and my flat laying clothing and things like socks, bras, and underwear above the bed in the cupboards.

    The girls room has a lot of storage, so their clothes fit easily in the under the bed drawers. Aj’s closet is his own territory and I try not to look at it.

  2. Choose Aesthetically Pleasing Storage Solutions

Simply deciding where in the world to put everything was the biggest challenge. Our RV comes with lots of storage options, but of course, they’re not meant to house everything a family needs to survive, so I had to get a little bit creative. I’m thankful for brands like Urbana Sacs and Ten Thousand Villages who offer functional but beautiful (and eco-friendly/ethically made) storage solutions.

I put small things like my makeup, my Hand Made Beauty non-toxic nail polish (read more about them in my last blog post!), a few house plants, bathroom essentials, and cleaning supplies in my Urbana Creative Sacs, made from sturdy eco-friendly recycled paper, and store them in the open shelving in the bathroom and inside the vanity. They also sent me a few larger Sacs that I put my socks and underwear in and our toilet paper in another large one. They’re such a versatile and beautiful storage option that can used and reused for years.

3. Add Pieces that Bring You Joy

Since there is literally no space for “eh”, I made a rule for myself long before we even bought the RV that I’d only fill it with necessities and pieces I truly loved. I’ve had to do some soul searching to continue to nail down my “personal style” but I knew I wanted the RV to feel bright, cozy, and not cluttered. I’m using a lot of whites (hopefully out of reach of places sticky fingers can reach) and bringing in rich, rustic colors like burnt orange, deep navy, and forest green green when I need color. Luckily, I had most of the pieces I brought to the RV, but a few new additions are my Anchal Project throw pillow, my vintage runner for the kitchen I found on Etsy, and a gorgeous throw blanket from Quiquattro.

Anchal Project is an amazing brand that I’m honored to be working with - their pieces are made by women artisans in India and their designs are modern but cozy. I have their 22” Cross-Stitch Toss Pillow in rust and I love the pop of color it adds to our otherwise minimal bedroom.

4. Functional and Multi-Use Products are Everything

Aside from the few decor items I have in the RV, all other space is used for functional but cute storage and functional/cute everyday items. I’ve also come to rely on multi-use products that can serve multiple functions. I made all purpose cleaner that can clean literally any surface in the camper. My decorations also double as pieces I can wear (I hung my fedoras on the wall and have a small space to hang clothes for display on one of our bedroom walls (once the painting is finished!). Getting creative and learning how to disguise the unsightly things like remotes and cords with pretty baskets is a fun challenge.

5. Kids Don’t Take Up As Much Space As Adults

The girls we’re probably more excited than AJ and I were when we moved in. Since they’re so close in age (20 months apart) they’re used to sharing a space and their little bunk room is their kingdom. I have a few designated spaces for things like art supplies, play dough, blocks, and other toys, so they can have their own choice of things to play with.

I got a few questions about how I plan to encourage the girls’ independence and give them “space” while living in an RV. Although this answer isn’t necessarily a quick and simple one, my summarized answer is that kids simply don’t need as much space as we assume, and they really don’t need as much “stuff” as we assume. My girls have incredible imaginations, love playing together (usually) and can turn literally any space into whatever they want. If I ever sense that one of them needs a break from the other (usually when nap time needs to happen), we sit down, take a break, and give them space to play (or rest) separately.

6. Brighten Up the Space Wherever You Can

RV’s and campers are not known for their aesthetically pleasing instagram-ability. In fact, I think the opposite is usually true. They come with dark interiors, small windows and weird brownish beige walls. I knew that taking all steps I could to brighten up the small space would be one of my first steps to making it feel like “home”. My goal is to bring in as much white as possible, which includes painting the walls (a big process that we’re currently in the middle of), taking the weird brown curtains down and replacing them with sheer, bright ones, and adding white bedding.

The folks at Doplnok have been chatting with me for a long time and we finally decided that now was the perfect time for us to try out their fair trade, organic cotton sheets. The sheets are made with GOTS certified organic cotton and the brand is Fair Trade certified, which gives me confidence that their backing up their claims with action. The sheets were shipped in a gorgeous reusable box that will be put to good use in our tiny home.

7. Routine and Finding Out of the House Space is Important

In addition to the above, I’ve tried to set predictable routines and, especially important, make sure to get outside/out of the RV time as often as possible.

We didn’t decide to go tiny so we could spend our entire days inside cooped up in a camper - we did it so we could essentially be forced to get out more often, explore our home, and try new things. It pushes us out of our comfort zones, and I think it can only be a healthy experience for all of us, despite the obvious challenges.

Wintertime will be one of the biggest hurdles. Some days, it will simply be too cold to be outside, so I’m going to make a “Wintertime Fun Jar” full of fun inside ideas to keep us busy on the days where the winter blues strike. I’m so excited for our first summer in here though. Setting up the patio, letting the girls picnic out front, and (hopefully) getting to travel with it are a few things I’m anxiously awaiting.


One month down - countless more to go! I can’t wait to get more projects finalized so I can share a full tour of the RV. Stay tuned and, as always, comment away with any and all questions you may have!

Considering RV/tiny home life with kids? Read about our first month as a family of four in a 37 foot RV.

*This post was partially sponsored by a few brands who’ve helped me make the transition into RV life. Thank you to Urbana Sacs, Anchal Project, and DOPLNOK for making this post possible.*