30 x 30 Wardrobe Challenge: The wrap up

Although it’s been about two weeks since I finished my 30×30 wardrobe challenge, I still haven’t written about how the challenge ended.  That’s because I’ve been rolling the ideas around in my mind, ideas about how the challenge finished and what I learned from it.  I didn’t just want to leave it hanging, even though I don’t feel like this was a terribly successful adventure.

I abandoned the challenge in it’s final week.  The reasons for walking away were pretty simple. At the beginning of the fourth week I got ill and spent several days wearing nothing but pyjamas. And when I was well enough to re-enter the world, nothing in my capsule wardrobe appealed to me.  I was bored with wearing the same things over and over and I wanted something fresh to pull me back into the land of the living. So I broke away and wore a cute pucci print dress that I love and didn’t feel even a smack of guilt.

I do feel like I learned a few lessons from the challenge though.  Firstly, I learned that capsule wardrobes are not my style.  Several times I’ve read articles or watched videos about people who have a capsule wardrobe and make it work brilliantly.  I’ve wondered if I could do the same thing, and I now know that the answer is a definitive “no”.  I mean, if it were a necessity, like if I was travelling and needed just a small amount of clothes for practical purposes, then I could manage.  But for my day-to-day life I enjoy having a bit more flexibility in my clothing choices.  I like the chance to be creative with what I wear and play around in my clothing.  Limiting my wardrobe felt like I was fettered, not liberated.

I know that a lot of people who do this challenge find that having only 30 items to choose from makes getting ready in the morning easier.  I did not find this.  Rather than feeling excited to put together an outfit that I really want to wear, I felt bogged down in my capsule wardrobe, trying in vain to find ways to wear those items that felt fresh.  It actually took me longer to get ready each day because I wasn’t motivated to put on an outfit that felt inspiring and fun.

One good thing that did come from taking up this challenge was that I felt like I was able to define my personal style a little more.  I have always had a pretty eclectic fashion sense, and wear all manner of styles, from polished vintage to bohemian, from punk rock to androgynous, from avant garde weirdness to down-to-earth denim.  When I limited the things I was wearing, I became much more aware of the styles that appealed to me and the clothing I felt most comfortable in.  It really highlighted some of the items in my wardrobe that were once my style, but that I feel like I’ve outgrown.  And that’s not to say that I think I’m too old to wear certain things, only that my personal style has changed and moved away from those particular aesthetics.  I’ve come out on the other side of this challenge with a clearer idea of the kind of things I want to wear, the way I enjoy presenting myself and the kinds of things that feel uncomfortable and costume-y.

I felt a little bit disappointed that I didn’t enjoy the challenge more, but I think it went as well as I expected.  I didn’t truly think that it would turn me into a wardrobe minimalist, inspired to throw away all the excess clothing and wear only those 30 items forever.  But I do feel that the 30×30 challenge was a good task to undertake because it wasn’t easy and I did take away a few important lessons.  I feel clearer moving forward about the kinds of things I want to wear, and more confident in my personal style.  But I also know that I’m probably never going to be the kind of person who can enjoy living out of a capsule wardrobe.

Have you done the 30×30 challenge?  Did you find it easy or a chore?  What did you learn?

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My pet peeves with sex toy companies

When it comes to designing and marketing toys, there are certain things that companies do that cause me to roll my eyes and seethe with frustration.  Whether it’s creating toys that aren’t fit for their purpose or perpetuating sexual shame, sometimes sex toy manufacturers really frustrate me.  Here are five things that I wish sex toy companies would stop doing.

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  1. Using the word “Massager” instead of “vibrator”

I’m always puzzled when I see the word “massager” pop up on the packaging of an item that is very clearly a vibrator.  I get that there are a lot of appliances that were intended to be used to relieve sore muscles, which have subsequently become cult-favourite sex toys (Hitatchi Magic Wand, are your ears burning?).  But often dildos and vibrators are sold under the guise of “massagers” that purport to “ease tension” and “reach those tight spots”.  All of this pussy-footing around just seems so silly to me.  That item that looks like a pearly pink phallus that rumbles and buzzes?  I’m gonna use it on my genitals.  It’s a vibrator.  The jig is up and you aren’t fooling anybody.

 

2. Non body-safe materials

There are materials that you aren’t allowed to use in the manufacture of children’s toys that are regularly used to make toys intended to come into contact with the most intimate parts of your body.  Some of these materials are not safe because they are porous and can harbour bacteria that can cause infection.  Some are actually toxic and can cause anything from minor irritation to chemical burns. And yet companies continue to make sex toys from non-body-safe materials because it’s cheap and they look good.  The worst part is that a lot of the “beginner” ranges of toys are made from these materials.  Those cute jelly dildos and small sized butt plugs look colourful and are easy on the wallet, but they can be seriously bad for you.  I wish that more sex toy companies would work harder to make their toys safe to use.

 

3. Anal toys without flared bases

I have lost count of the number of toys I’ve seen that are marketed as being “anal safe” that are actually anything but.  You should never put anything in your backside that doesn’t have a flared base to stop it getting sucked up into your ass.   Even though this is a very well-known rule, companies continue to make toys that are intended for butt play that have no means of retrieving them.  It’s very simple, if you want to sell butt-toys, make ones that aren’t going to disappear inside your consumers.

 

4 Including Anal-eze with butt toys.

While we’re on the subject of butt toys, let’s talk about Anal-eze.  Anal-eze is a numbing lotion that you’re supposed to apply to your asshole before anal play to stop it from hurting.  It’s also the Product Most Likely to Induce a Tantrum from this blogger.  Anal-eze is pointless and plays into so many insecurities people have around anal play.  Firstly, if you’re going to be playing with your anus, you don’t want to numb the area because you’ll miss out on all the pleasure.  Secondly, anal play doesn’t hurt when it’s done properly.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down, use more lube, relax, try a smaller toy, or change positions.  Pain has a function, and without it you run this risk of doing real damage to yourself.  I think that a lot of people use products like Anal-Eze because they are afraid of anal sex and believe that it’s going to hurt.  And ironically, if you can’t feel your butt, you’re more likely to rush or use something that’s too big and you’re going to be sore when the numbing wears off, which only reinforces that fear that butt sex is painful.

While I get pissed that Anal-Eze even exists, what makes me truly livid is the fact that some manufacturers include it in the packaging with their butt plugs and anal probes. To me, that eliminates the pleasure and power a person might experience from buying an anal toy and replaces it with fear and shame.  Also, it’s just plain unsafe.

 

5. Claiming to mimic “real life” sex acts.

In the last year, there has been a tidal wave of clitoral suction toys that are supposed to feel “just like” oral sex.  But they never do.  They feel great, but the sensation of a machine on your genitals is always going to be different to a real person.  Sex toys aren’t a substitute for a partner.  Sex with toys doesn’t feel like sex with a person. And that’s ok.   I see sex with toys as a different kind of sex to having partnered sex, and I like both for different reasons.  Trying to make a toy that mimics sex with a human being will always leave the consumer disappointed because even if you could perfectly replicate the sensation, you can’t program a toy to be spontaneous or intimate.  I wish that more manufacturers would focus on marketing how great the toy feels, rather than comparing it to sex with a partner.

There are plenty of companies out there that create amazing body-safe toys without cringy marketing or a side-helping of shame with every purchase.  But there are still plenty of stores out there selling toys that commit these five sex toy crimes.  And I wish they’d stop.  Because sex toys are so much fun and the less shame and stigma that surrounds them the better.

 

What are your sex toy pet hates?

What I wore: Breaking the rules

My 30×30 challenge isn’t over yet.  However, I’ve been home sick for a couple of days and I felt like I needed a pick me up. And breaking out of my capsule wardrobe felt like the ideal way to do that.  I needed a jolt of colour, something fun to make me feel like myself again after days in bed.

Last weekend a friend dropped around a bag of clothes for me.  She’d been cleaning out her wardrobe and brought over her cast-offs for me to look through.  One of the items in the bag was a gorgeous teal body-con dress. I instantly fell in love with the colour and the draped shoulder detail, but I was nervous about actually wearing this dress.  I tend to shy away from body -con styles because I find them incredibly intimidating.  I don’t like clothes that cling and show off all my curves and swerves.  I always feel a bit…exposed in body-con cuts. But as the temperature continued to climb this week, that teal wonder was whispering to me, tempting me to give it a whirl.

 

The final push I needed came in the form of Dia&Co’s Try-Day Friday challenge.  Every week on Instagram and Facebook, Dia&Co put out the call for followers to wear something that scares them, to try wearing something that they feel a teensy bit intimidated by.  I’m a huge believer in trying new things and taking leaps when you feel a bit stagnant.  And after a few days of feeling unwell and the tail-end of my 30×30 challenge, the Try Day Friday message was a wakeup call to me.  I threw on the pretty teal dress and rocked it.

I am wearing:

  • Teal body con dress from 7 Angels
  • Vintage tan sandals
  • Silver hoop earrings

I’m so glad that I took the Try Day Friday challenge and gave this dress a chance.  While it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, I felt summery and cool in my slinky little dress.  The bright colour was ideal for the hot weather and I felt proud of myself for trying it out.  It’s been a long time since I’ve worn something this far out of my comfort zone, and it kind of helped me to feel like myself again after what I’ve felt has been kind of a low-key month in the style department.

30×30 Wardrobe Challenge: Week 3

As the third week of my wardrobe challenge draws to a close, I have a bundle of feelings and none of them are good.  Mostly I’m feeling bored, frustrated and ready to abandon the challenge.

I’m getting exceptionally tired with wearing the same items over and over.  I’m sick of the sight of my capsule wardrobe and I  am so looking forward to the end of these thirty days so that I can go back to being creative and adventurous with my dressing.  I’m so fed up with having to set up the ironing board every couple of days to make sure that I have enough clothes pressed ready for work.  I’m just over it.

The ironic thing is, there’s nobody holding me accountable except myself.  It’s not like I’m doing this challenge for anyone but me.  There’s no external arbiter telling me that I have to keep on going, and yet I am loath to abandon the challenge before the 30 days are up.  Not because I feel like I’d be letting anyone down, but because I’m so darn stubborn.  I don’t want to give up before the end because it feels like a failure.

This week I had the additional challenge of dressing for a convention.  I attended the Sexpo convention in Melbourne on Saturday and I had a really tough time choosing something to wear.  I wanted to feel comfortable but I also hoped to draw confidence from my outfit choice.  I knew that I’d be meeting lots of like-minded people at the convention and I wanted to look awesome.  I had to break the rules and wear a pair of Converse sneakers, because none of the footwear in my capsule wardrobe was going to cut it for an entire day on my feet. I ended up in jeans and a tee shirt, and in hindsight I wish I’d worn a skirt because I was so freakin’ hot after a full day of walking, shopping and socializing.

 

In a tiny way, having less to choose from did save a bit of time when I was selecting an outfit for Sexpo.  Often when I’m dressing for an event, I have a habit of getting caught up in all the different options, considering what image and mood I want to project.  It’s almost like deciding which version of myself I want to be, as though my outfits are costumes I can slip in and out of.  Without a wardrobe full of potential options, I had to go out stripped of my armour and just wear something relatively plain.  I felt oddly vulnerable stepping out without a carefully chosen outfit, but ultimately the day was amazing and I met so many awesome people.

 

I am definitely looking forward to the end of this challenge, but I’m determined to tough it out for another week.  I think with some grit and careful planning, I can get through.

 

 

30×30 wardrobe challenge: week 2

Week 2 of my 30×30 wardrobe challenge has passed sluggishly.  I’m finding that as the days march on, I’m finding this challenge more difficult.  During week 1, I was wearing each item for the first time and each outfit still felt fresh and new.  Now, I’ve gone through pretty much my entire capsule wardrobe once already and I’m now at the point where things are getting their second or third wear. And I’m finding that tedious.

 

My wardrobe is a source of joy for me.  I see my clothes like a huge box of crayons that I can use to create any picture I want to.  I love putting together different outfits that reflect my mood on a particular day.  Fashion is one of the ways that I express myself. And now that I’m limiting myself to a small fraction of my clothing, I kind of feel as though my wings have been clipped.  It’s like going from having a deluxe set of  Crayolas to one of those crappy four-colour crayon boxes you get with cheap colouring books.

 

I’m noticing that I’m really missing certain items of clothing dearly.  There are a couple of pairs of shoes, some special tee shirts and one amazing dress that I’ve been hankering to wear lately.  But because they are not part of the capsule wardrobe that I’ve created, they’ve had to stay locked away out of reach.  Even though I feel a bit down that I can’t wear these clothes, this exercise has really highlighted to me which items in my wardrobe I love the most.  Those clothes that I’ve been longing for are the things that make me feel amazing.  The items that are comfortable and colourful which just bring joy to me when I’m wearing them.

 

On the other hand, I have noticed that there are a couple of things that I haven’t been missing.  I felt inspired to do a mini clear-out during the week when I realised that there were a couple of things that I wasn’t keen to reach for again once the challenge is over.  Putting a bit of distance between myself and the bulk of my clothing gave me a new perspective.  I noticed a couple of items that were pretty worn out and ready to be binned, and a few things that I just don’t enjoy wearing any more.  So it’s been nice to take a step back and edit my wardrobe critically.  The 30×30 challenge has given me a sense of clarity about which items I really want to keep, and which ones I could stand to throw out.

Week 2 has been a mix of good and bad.  While I’m beginning to get bored with my capsule wardrobe, I also feel as though I’m making some great choices about those items in my closet that I’ve been hanging onto for too long.  As an added bonus, I have a feeling that I’ll be a lot more creative with my outfits once I’m finally finished the challenge and I’m able to colour with all my crayons again.

 

30×30 wardrobe challenge: Week 1

I’ve completed the first week of my 30×30 wardrobe challenge and I thought it was about time for an update.  I’ve been posting daily outfit photos on my instagram feed, but I’d like to delve a little deeper here and share some of the struggles and insights into the first week of this minimalist challenge.

 

30×30 challenge day 1. Floral wiggle dress and silver flats. #30×30 #wardrobechallenge #outfit

A post shared by Vanessa Bowen (@nessbow64) on

I have to be perfectly honest here and admit that I’m not really enjoying this challenge so far.  I expected that once I’d picked my clothes and gotten started, it wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as I thought and I’d just sort of cruise through.  That hasn’t happened at all and I’ve had a few struggles this past week.

First of all, the weather really hasn’t been playing ball this week.  It’s been unusually cold and windy for November and I’ve had to cheat almost every day by adding a jumper or jacket to my outfit for warmth.  When I put together my 30 item wardrobe, I made the mistake of thinking that the temperatures were going to be climbing as we headed towards summer, and so everything I chose is lightweight with short sleeves.  Additionally, most of the shoes I selected are sandals, with few closed-toe options.  In hindsight I really should have included at least one jacket and a pair of boots in my wardrobe.  However, on the day I chose my capsule wardrobe I was very focused on selecting clothes that could be worn multiple ways and didn’t want to “waste” a valuable spot with something I might only wear once.

Additionally, I’ve already been feeling bored with having so few choices.  I know that many people who do the 30×30 challenge find a smaller wardrobe more liberating, and enjoy having fewer items to choose from in the morning.  I’ve found it really limiting so far.  Not so much on work days, as my outfits tend to be fairly similar when I’m heading to the office, but on the weekend I found it tricky because I wasn’t really in the mood for jeans…and yet that’s what was on offer.  I also kicked myself for not adding any sneakers to my capsule wardrobe because on Saturday I was travelling and I really wanted to wear my Converse All-Stars.  It’s been a bummer to know that there are items that I feel like wearing, and yet I’m not “allowed to” because of the rules of this challenge.

 

 

I’ve also run into a wee dilemma with new purchases.  Although I’ve been reigning in my spending on new clothing this year, I do allow myself the occasional splurge.  On Sunday I was in Melbourne and swung by Dangerfield and Princess Highway.  They had all their new season stock in and lots of items on sale.  I could quite easily have bought half the store.  But instead I limited myself to one purchase: an emerald green skater-skirt.  I’ve wanted a skirt just like it for ages and it was a perfect fit and 20% off to boot.  I simply couldn’t leave it there and I know it will be something I wear a lot.  However, now I have this stunning new skirt in my wardrobe and I’m not allowed to wear it for another 21 days.   This displeases me.

 

There have been a few benefits that I’ve discovered in week 1.  Firstly, putting together outfits in the morning has taken less time because I have fewer things to choose from.  Even though I’ve felt like wearing items that weren’t in my capsule wardrobe, I’ve diligently stuck to the rules and it has saved a lot of umming and ahhing in the mornings.

 

Additionally, I’ve been more efficient with my laundry because I have to make sure that my capsule wardrobe is clean and ironed so that I have enough choices for the week ahead.  30 items isn’t a lot and I’ve needed to keep on top of my laundry pile to ensure I don’t run out of clothes.

So far I’m not loving the 30×30 challenge but I’m going to stick with it and do my best.  If nothing else I’ve learned the importance of including clothing for a range of weather conditions in your capsule wardrobe and my laundry hamper is looking emptier than ever.

 

Stay tuned for my Week 2 update post and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for daily outfit photos.

5 unexpected benefits of a vegan diet.

About one year ago I decided to try a vegan diet for a month, to see whether it would work for me.  I expected it to be quite difficult to maintain, but I’d been curious about veganism for years and following a period of research into benefits of such a diet and the reality of the farming industry, I wanted to at least attempt to go vegan.

 

It’s nearly a year later and I’m still going strong on my vegan journey.  Once I’d done my research and some planning, I didn’t find it very difficult at all to make the transition to a vegan diet.  A lot of the obstacles I’d expected were non-issues, and I reaped a huge number of benefits.  My skin improved, I lost a little weight and I had more energy.  But going vegan had a number of benefits that I hadn’t predicted would cross my path before I started on this journey.  Today I wanted to share five unexpected benefits of being a vegan:

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  1. Vegan food takes less time to prepare.

Eating vegan is a huge time-saver.  Initially, I had a couple of shopping trips that took twice as long as usual because I had to check a lot of packages to figure out what was vegan friendly.  But once I knew what to buy, shopping was a total breeze.  Cooking vegan food takes a fraction of the time it used to take me to prepare meaty meals.  Vegetables cook a lot more quickly than meat, and a lot of the meat substitutes require less cooking time as well.  My meals are done so much more quickly now.

2. Your palate changes

Over the past year, I’ve tried to keep an open mind about food.  I’m not generally a picky eater, but I am normally hesitant to try new things.  A lot of vegan foods have a reputation for being boring and tasteless, and I tried to keep an open mind when sampling new ingredients or foods.  In fact, I’ve found loads of specialised vegan foods that are super tasty, which I now get cravings for.  I pushed myself to try some vegetables that I’ve never been fond of and found that I actually really enjoy them.  I think that since I changed my diet, my palate and tastebuds have changed somewhat too.  Just the other day I found myself snacking on a handful of cherry tomatoes, a food that I previously hated and found bitter.  I feel proud of myself for trying so many new foods and adopting loads of them into my cooking.

3. It’s easier to wash the dishes

Have you ever tried to chisel dried-up cheese off a plate that once held pasta or nachos?  It’s damn near impossible.  But when you don’t eat cheese, you never run into that problem!  Even the vegan cheese substitutes don’t stick as voraciously to the crockery as dairy cheeses, and are easy to wipe off.  As a person who hates doing the dishes, I welcome this.

 

4. You weed out the jerks

I don’t think that I’m a preachy vegan.  My personal philosophy is that the food you eat doesn’t make you a dick….but the way you act about it can.  When I started ordering vegan meals in restaurants and sharing pictures of my vegan cooking on social media, there were the inevitable number of eye-rolls and comments challenging my decision.  And while it wasn’t fun to be made to feel shitty about my food choices (especially as I made an effort not to bite back judging people who do eat meat) those jibes served a very important purpose.  I was able to look at those people who were so negative towards my diet and evaluate whether I actually wanted to continue spending time with them.  It allowed me to see those people who shout down others who don’t share the same opinion as them and step out of their path.

 

5. You can lick the bowl

Vegan baking is made extra fun by the fact that you can eat raw cookie dough without fear of food poisoning.  There are no raw eggs that might harbour salmonella, so it’s perfectly safe to lick the bowl after your cake goes into the oven.  Heavenly.

 

Do you eat a vegan diet?  What are some of the unexpected benefits you found?