Life is Worth Living

All About Skirts (And Dresses!)

A few days ago, I received some questions from you, dear readers, about skirts. This must be an interesting topic for some of you, as I’m forever getting clicks on my skirt post from about two years ago. (See HERE.)

Today, I’ll show you my wardrobe of skirts and dresses and answer those questions.

Today’s skirt with two Little Girls who wanted to be in the photo too.

My Entire Wardrobe of Skirts and Dresses

Are you ready? I have two pictures for you:

Here are my day-to-day skirts, minus one, which I’m wearing. Boring, no?

And…here are my Special Occasion dresses (2) and skirts (2).

Now this is not very exciting, I know. But you see, I like plain skirts because they are easier to match with any top.

The other thing to notice is that my skirts and dresses hit below the knee. While it’s true that I always wear leggings under them in the winter and shorts in the summer, I prefer this length for comfort, and I suppose also for a sense of modesty.

These two photos, however, are a bit misleading for two reasons:

  1. I actually have more skirts and dresses. Gasp! Today, though, I’m only showing you my Cold-Month skirts and dresses because the Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are folded in a drawer, just waiting to come out. As soon as the weather does change, I will switch out those skirts. The Special Occasion dresses will also be switched out. Does this make sense? (By the way, all my Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are made of a lighter material–both in color and in fabric–but they also hit below the knee.)
  2. And there are an additional few dresses of my mother’s, which I haven’t shown. These old dresses–I think there are about 5 of them–are hanging inside a plastic bag.

Kim, what about exercising or playing sports? Do you wear skirts for that too?

I had this question the other day, and the answer is yes and no. When we go hiking as a family or play badminton in the backyard or go for a walk, I don’t change. I wear my skirt. I don’t care if I look funny. I hate changing.

When I want to jog a mile or two, however, or ride my bike, I do change for obvious reasons. If it’s cold outside, I wear sweatpants, of which I’ve got two pairs. If it’s decently warm, I wear capri leggings with a skirt attached. (See photo below.)

Capri leggings with attached skirt. The leggings extend beyond my knees, but the skirt obviously does not. I’ve got two pairs of these.

How about pajamas? Do you wear “dress” pajamas?

Nope. I twist and turn about too much, so I wear shorts at night, of which I have two pairs. It’s the only time I wear shorts, however, as I do not like them.

A swimsuit??

Yes, I do have a swimsuit, and yes it’s a skirt. Or, rather, it’s a skort with a tank top that I purchased from Lands’ End a few years ago.

Do you own a pair of jeans?

No. I don’t feel comfortable in them.

Where do you like to buy your skirts and dresses?

Mostly, I purchase my clothing from secondhand stores. However, when I can’t find what I want, I will buy things online. I try to avoid Amazon, if possible. Recently, I purchased a few clothing items from Inherit Clothing Company, which is an online Christian boutique specializing in modest clothing.

And of course, when I do purchase something I still follow The Rule:

One Item In, One Item Out

In other words, if I buy a new skirt, then an old skirt goes away.

I hope that helps. Be sure to ask if you have any other questions!

Christ-Like Minimalism

Boys and Minimalism?

Before we get to the topic on hand, how’s your Lent going?

Ember Days last week was a wringer for me and oh so difficult. I can barely do the Church’s prescribed fast of one main meal and two small snacks without practically dying. Three days in one week! I’m such a wimp, but I guess I’m trying, and I made it. (Barely.)

Then, for some extra penance, last week I decided to paint my bedroom. I don’t know why I did this to myself. It’s so horrible and terribly tedious, especially the trim work. To help things along, though, I listened to Patsy Cline and sang loudly. Eventually my husband felt sorry for me and took over–painting, not singing, that is. God bless him.

And onto today’s topic…

Boys and Minimalism

Today I’m offering a tour of the boys’ bedroom for those of you interested in such things. There are three boys who share this room: a 10-year-old and twin 12-year-olds. Is it minimalistic? Sort of.

Here’s the what greets you when you walk through the door:

A Triple Bunk Bed

One of the very first things we purchased when we moved into this house was a triple bunk bed for the boys for the obvious reason that their room was the smallest. I’m telling you, if you’ve got more than two kids in a room, triple bunk beds are the ticket.

The first thing you may have noticed from the above picture is the lack of toys everywhere. That’s because the only “toy” the boys keep in their room are legos, and normally these legos are strewn all over the floor in the corner. So for posterity, I took the following picture which more accurately resembles the “everyday” experience.

Legos dumped out and beds not made.

What’s Missing From This Boy Room?

  1. The 10-year-old’s little tractors and farm equipment. One boy does have some toy tractors and hook-ups, which he keeps in the storage room. Why there? Because there’s room on the floor to set up a farm, and he won’t be bothered with the girls, for nobody likes to play in that dark, unfinished place.
  2. Their books. While they do keep their current reads in their beds to peruse at night, all other books are in the book shelves located in the basement family room.
  3. 3 Nerf guns with bullets. The boys have a little plastic tub of these items, which is also in the basement family room.
  4. Games and puzzles. All the kids’ games and puzzles are in the Game Closet, which is technically the bathroom closet. Funny place, I know.
  5. Trains and train tracks. This bin is also in the basement family room as the Little Girls actually play with them now, not the boys.

That’s all for toys. If you’d like more thoughts on that topic, however, click HERE for a post I wrote awhile ago. Not much has changed.

Moving on.

The Closet

Here’s a picture of the the boys’ closet:

What you can’t see are a few lego boxes on the left and 3 backpacks on the right of the clothes hamper. The upper closet shelf is where the twins put their jeans and pants. (Most of which happen to be in the hamper when I took this picture…)

Since the boys’ room is small, we’ve elected to put their only dresser right in the closet. On top of the dresser are three boxes. Each boy has one in which to put his treasures, like duct tape, string, baseball cards, rocks, jack knives, etc.

The drawers of this dresser are all labeled, too. This is because the boys were continually mixing everything up and not, therefore, able to find socks or undershirts when they wanted them. I’ve found that clarity makes for less chaos.

Here’s a breakdown of the drawers from top to bottom:

  1. Undershirts and underwear (They all share)
  2. Socks and belts (They all share)
  3. Shorts – 12 pairs (They all share)
  4. 10-year-old’s jeans/pants
  5. Lego directions

To the left of the dresser is where the 10-year-old hangs all of his shirts and to the right is where the twins hang their shirts. The nice thing about having 3 boys close in age, however, is that really, they can share most things.

Confusing? Here’s a specific inventory of the boys’ clothes:

10-year-old:

  1. 5 pairs of jeans/pants
  2. 8 long sleeved shirts
  3. 4 short sleeved shirts
  4. 1 suit with jacket and vest
  5. 4 uniforms for private school

Twin 12-year-olds: (These numbers are higher, as their are two of them)

  1. 8 pairs of jeans/pants
  2. 12 long sleeved shirts
  3. 12 short sleeved shirts
  4. 2 suits with jacket and vest

We try to stick pretty closely to these numbers, as it seems to work if I do their laundry once a week. Also, should the boys receive a new shirt or something for their birthday, etc., we do follow The Rule:

One Item In, One Item Out

Lastly, here’s a shot standing against the bunk beds of the opposite side of the room.

Nothing to show.

And that’s it! If you have any questions, be sure to ask.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Can a Teenager Be a Minimalist?

The short answer is yes, but I’m not so sure my teenager is. She does try, however, and today I’m going to offer a tour of her room.

The Eldest’s Room

I’d like to begin by saying that I wish The Eldest did not have her own room, for I think sharing a room with a sibling is terribly helpful in combatting selfishness and pride. This should be obvious to anyone who has had to endure this and contend with a sibling using all your stuff and leaving it all over the place. Nothing is sacred. Furthermore, it’s obvious that nothing can really be private. And for sanity’s sake, one had better have a tidy room to accommodate another person’s treasures and junk. Truly, the possibility for virtue is endless when sharing a room.

In our situation, however, sharing a room isn’t practical. The Next Girl Sibling is half the age of The Eldest and follows a completely different sleeping schedule. The Eldest gets up at 6am, showers, and joins us for Lauds at 6:20, while The Next Girl Sibling skips it all and sleeps until 7:30 am. She also goes to bed a full hour earlier. (At least The Next Girl Sibling has the honor of sharing a room with two Little Wreckers, her younger sisters, which ought to contribute to her growth in holiness and virtue…)

In any case, we’ve decided that The Eldest gets her own room for the time being, and here is a shot of it standing in the doorway.

She does try to keep her possessions to a minimal.

I’d like to point out the neatly made bed. Is it always this way? Nope. Almost never, in fact. But moving on…the two drawers under her bed are not for clothes. One drawer contains knitting apparatus and the other has all the Little Girls’ paper dolls, which they frequently play with during the day and leave all over the place. The night stand serves as The Eldest’s only dresser, and it contains her underthings.

Next, here’s a shot of the opposite wall that I took while standing on her bed:

This side of the room contains an old desk that used to be mine in college. Now normally this desk is covered with school books and piles of paper, but today The Eldest is at school and has her homework with her. The drawers of this desk contain a ridiculous number of colored pens and other letter-writing equipage, which is clearly not minimalist. (She’s a diligent epistoler and a dabbling calligrapher, so we’ll forgive her.)

Lastly, and really what everyone’s interested in, is the closet. Just how much clothing does a teenage girl in this day and age need?

Notice the lego bin on the floor. This contains all four girls’ legos and is most often dumped out and scattered everywhere…

Here is a full shot of the closet. There are no other clothing articles hiding anywhere. What you can’t see on the top shelf is only a sewing machine and a sewing basket on the left and right respectively. In other words, here is The Eldest’s entire wardrobe for every season of the year. (Remember, she does not have a dresser or chest of drawers, other than the night stand.)

Let me break it down for you.

On her shelf are four piles of clothes: (L to R)

  1. running clothes
  2. 1 pair of jeans and 1 pair of sweatpants
  3. shorts to go under skirts and dresses
  4. long leggings to go under skirts and dresses

After the piles, you can see two pair of dress-up shoes. She’s also got a pair of running shoes, flip flops, two pairs of boots, and one pair of Mary Janes for school, which in all total 7 pairs of shoes.

Her clothes left to right break down (roughly) thus: 3 dresses, 8 or so skirts, school uniforms in the middle, 14 or so long sleeved shirts and sweaters, 8 or so short sleeved shirts, 8 or so tank tops. There are a couple of items in the laundry basket below, which you can see, so likely I’m missing a few.

Now, is this minimalistic? I don’t know. For her station in life and considering that she’s got to weather all four seasons in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I’d say it’s not bad. Certainly others have and do get by on less, but I’m satisfied.

One rule we do practice in this household is One Item In; One Item Out. In other words, if grandma gives The Eldest a new sweater for Christmas, which she did, then The Eldest must choose a sweater to give away, which she did, thankfully.

And that concludes our tour. Questions? Be sure to ask.

Life is Worth Living, Most Popular Posts

Kim, Why Do You Always Wear Skirts?!

The other day, when the twins and I were stranded in St. Paul, we decided to tour the old James J. Hill Mansion.  I was of course wearing my usual attire: black shirt, gray skirt, and black boots.

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For the record, this is the exact gray skirt I was wearing that day…

And naturally I was minding my own business during this tour, politely listening to our Tour Guide in his ponytail, pink button-up shirt, and skinny jeans.

As we were entering the bed chamber and bathroom of the Mr. James J. Hill’s wife, our Tour Guide commented on the lack of a shower.

He glibly remarked, “You’ll notice, if you look into Mrs. Hill’s bathroom, that you will not see a shower, but rather only a bathtub.  In fact, none of her daughters’ bathrooms have showers either, but all the boys do, as well as James Hill.  This was because it was thought that if a woman were to take a shower, she may suddenly want to wear…”

He dramatically paused and then smirked, “pants.”

At this point, the Tour Guide grinned and looked directly at me, the only woman wearing a skirt in our group, and then remarked, “You probably don’t have a shower in your home?”

He winked at me and went on, “Watch out for those showers, ladies!”

Honestly, it took all my self-control to hold back an eye roll.  Instead, I just interiorly rolled my eyes, for he meant his comment as a slight to any woman who would be backwards enough to prefer the chains of feminine attire.

Well, I do prefer dressing in a feminine way.  I like skirts, and I like dresses.  And I can really think of two main reasons why this is so:

  1. I am a woman after all, and I like how skirts and dresses make me feel.  I like feeling feminine.  Why is that such a bad thing in our culture anyway?  Why must we all be the same?
  2. I’ve noticed that when I do “dress up,” I feel better about everything.  My morale goes up.  I’m happier.  I’m a better wife and a better mother.
For the record, I do own one pair of jeans and one pair of black pants, which I do wear from time-to-time…even though I don’t like them.

Today, however, in honor of my Condescending Tour Guide I want to offer a challenge to any ladies out there who may have never given skirts or dresses a chance.  I challenge you to a 30-Day Skirt-Wearing Fiesta.  (Or Dress-Wearing Fiesta.)

30-Day Skirt-Wearing Fiesta Guidelines

  1. Wear a skirt (or dress) for 30 days in a row.
  2. Notice how it makes you feel.  Uncomfortable?   Pretty?  Frumpy?  Feminine?  Whatever.
  3. Does anyone treat you differently because you’re “dressed up” in a seriously “dressed down” culture?
  4. Write these things down daily.  Keep a journal.
  5. At the end of 30 days, review your thoughts, and let me know what you think.  I’m genuinely curious, for I realize that skirts and dresses are not everyone’s cup of tea.

I Did Not Grow Up Wearing Them Either

By the way, I never used to wear skirts every day.  It just sort-of grew on me over the years, but I suppose it began about 15 years ago in grad school.  I had a friend who consistently wore skirts, and she always looked so well put-together.  Later she married and everlastingly wore the same thing: a black pencil skirt and a collared, button-up shirt.  I can tell you, her presence commanded more respect and awe than if she had chosen to wear sweatpants and t-shirts.

In any case, I’ll close this post with photos and comments of my 4 skirts that I wear every single day.  (I’ve also got a few nicer skirts and dresses for Mass…but I don’t feel like trying those on right now.)

Skirt #1

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This is my newest skirt, which I bought at Christopher and Banks for about $45 earlier this year.  (It’s still available HERE on their website.)  I like the jean material because it’s stiff.  I don’t like flimsy material of any kind.  The buttons that you see running down the front are deceiving, as they don’t actually unbutton.   I also like this skirt because of its length.  It’s great for any season.  You’ll notice that all my skirts are this length, which is intentional.

Skirt #2

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I purchased this skirt for a few dollars at Clothes Mentor, a second-hand store.  I’ve had it for a few years, and I still like it, even though I’m not a huge fan of brown.

Skirt #3

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I bought this skirt probably 7 or 8 years ago at Christopher and Banks.  I don’t remember how much I paid for it.  It’s also jean material, like the first skirt.  (I clearly like jean material, even if some may think it nerdy.)  I realize that when I wear this skirt, I’ve likely got “Homeschool Mom” tattooed on my forehead, but I don’t care.

Skirt #4

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Lastly, you’ve already seen this skirt.  It was also purchased at Christopher and Banks 7 or 8 years ago, and I still like it, in spite of Condescending Tour Guides.

If you’ve got any other clothing-related questions, be sure to ask!  Or, if you’d like a tour of my closet, click HERE.

For those of you who may be new here, I’ve also got some other thoughts on clothing and modesty HERE.

Life is Worth Living

My Favorite Dress: A Tale of Pride & Woe

The other day I put on my favorite dress.  I haven’t been able to wear it for awhile, due to the fact that I was pregnant and then had a baby.  And you must remember, most dresses are not conducive to nursing babies.

So I finally shook the dust off of it and slipped it over my head.  It fit!  Miracle.  Wow, I felt almost glamorous.  My husband gave me a double-take.  This was going to be a good day.

As the day wore on, however, I found myself thinking of…myself.  Yes, considering my dress, how neat it looked, how neat I looked.  Every time I passed a mirror, I checked myself out.  Still looking good.

Later on my husband and I loaded up all 7 children and drove to church for Stations of the Cross.  My husband and two of the boys were serving, so I was in the pew with the remaining 5 children. Do I need to say, that I didn’t expect to enter deeply into this devotion?

After about the second or third station, I had to take the baby out into the narthex, where I put her on the floor, knelt down, and attempted to pray from the St. Alphonsus Liguori booklet.  Then I was bombarded with thoughts of…my lovely dress.

This was obsessive.  This was not good.  All day my thoughts were of my dress and how I looked.  What was going on?

Then a thought whispered to my soul, “Do you love this dress more than Me?”

Whoa.  My heart pounded.  What?

“Do you love this dress more than Me?”

I was holding that booklet and staring at a picture of Mary, holding Jesus.  He was completely emaciated, and I realized how stupid and foolish I had been.  How blind!  Do I love this dress more than you, Jesus?  No, of course not.  Forgive me, Jesus.  Forgive me.  What shall I do?

But I knew what I had to do, even before I finished the thought.  This dress must go.  It will be a sacrifice in atonement for my pride and vanity.

And so that evening, I took my favorite dress off for the last time.  It will be given away.

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Not much of a dress, I know, but nevertheless, goodbye, dress.

Motherhood & Parenting

Bare Midriffs, Bikinis, and Leggings – Oh My!

Since I brought up the topic of clothing and closets in the last post, I thought I’d examine it a bit further.

When I was younger, I got away with wearing just about anything.  Tight jeans?  No problem.  Bare midriffs?  Big deal.  Tube tops?  How cute!  Bikinis?  Of course.

My parents were too busy to notice, and I took advantage of the situation.  But let me be clear, I knew what I was doing.  I wanted attention from men, and I got it.

I’m older now, and I’ve thought about these things.  Truly, it was really damaging for me to dress that way, for I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough, but that I had to, in a sense, sell my body for attention and love.

About 15 years ago, when I came back into the Catholic Church, I began to look seriously at how I dressed.  These things matter after all, and I found that I was sending the wrong message.  No, it wasn’t ok for me to dress in such a way as to make men’s heads turn.

The body is to be hidden, veiled if you will, because it is holy and beautiful.  And no, this does not mean that one must wear only denim jumpers and turtlenecks, far from it.  Rather, we are called to wear clothing that is simple, but dignified and beautiful, if possible.

In our culture, this is hard.  It takes an extra effort to search out those stores that even make suitable clothing.  But this is a battle worth fighting for, and I’m thankful that my husband takes the lead on this one.  He sees that our culture is losing this battle, and he wants our children to begin wearing appropriate clothing now, as little children, so as to grow in the habit.  These things matter.

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Daughter #2 hard at work this morning.

For example, when leggings became all the rage a few years ago, our family made a conscious decision to never wear them alone.  This goes for me and even the two-year-old.  If we want to wear leggings, we must wear a skirt or dress over them–just a shirt doesn’t cut it.  My husband and I want to be sure that our girls know that they are beautiful and have great dignity, and that there are other things to wear besides just leggings.

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The Two-Year-Old this morning.  She refused to smile for me.  She picks out her own outfits.

Most people “get it” that husbands and dads don’t care to stare at women out in public wearing skin-tight clothing, but from a woman’s point of view, I find it hard too.  I don’t like to see other women wearing revealing clothing because sometimes it makes me feel poorly about myself.  I think, “Wow, she looks great.  I certainly don’t have that kind of body.  Maybe I should workout more…”  And then, if I don’t stop it, those thoughts continue to speed downhill.  This will always be a struggle for me.

I mention all of this today because I want to encourage those of you who do attempt to dress in a modestly beautiful way, and I want to challenge those of you who may need to take a closer look at your wardrobes.

Just how should one dress as a daughter of the King?

I know I have some work to do, as I am in constant need of conversion.  How about you?

 

Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-Like Minimalism: The Bedroom Closet

Some of you could care less about what’s in my closet.  Really, I sympathize.  You may just want to skip this post.

For the rest of you, here we go.

My Closet:  An Introduction

Now I’ve been pregnant or nursing for about 13 straight years.  Just think about that a minute.  Then consider that I likely have another 10 more years of fertility.

Take a minute, do the math, process it.  Think some more.

So clearly my body has been up and down a lot and will be up and down some more.  There’s my normal, pre-pregnancy weight.  Then, there’s my pregnancy weight.  I always gain about 50 pounds.  Then, there’s the post-pregnancy period, wherein it takes about a year for my body to return to its initial weight.  And then about that time, I’m pregnant again.

Why do I mention all this?

Because as any of you mothers out there know, this requires a variety of clothing sizes, unless you have the privilege (or burden?) of being able to buy new clothes every “Body” Season.

And then consider the fact that I live in a region that promises a temperature swing from a frigid -40 degrees Fahrenheit to a blasting 110 degrees.

It’d be a lot easier to live somewhere tropical year round.  I imagine you could live in a sundress and call it good.

How does all this relate to my closet?

In short, I’ve got three wardrobes:  Normal, Pregnant, and Post-Pregnant.  Of course there’s some overlap with clothing.  For example, my two nursing tank tops have simply become my pjs for all Body Seasons.  (Romantic, no?)  And fortunately (or unfortunately?) I can wear my one pair of sweat pants also during all three phases.

But for my sanity, I do have clothing for each specific Body Season, and I’ll mortify myself a little by writing about it.  Maybe it’ll give you a few ideas.  I’m hoping it’ll spur me on to get rid of more.

So what is in my closet?

No skeletons, I hope.

Here’s a shot of my clothes as one walks in the closet:

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Let me break it down for you.  As it happens, right now I’m experiencing a Normal Body Season, so my blue tub of maternity clothes is sitting on the floor.

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Tub of Maternity Clothes.  Currently not in use.

The pink box on the upper shelf is my wedding dress, and the brown box is my sole box of childhood memorabilia.

My Post-Pregnancy clothes are discreetly hanging in the corner, behind a few tank tops, which you may be able to see, if you look closely.

My dress-up clothes are hanging on the right, with my 3 dancing dresses in plastic.  (My husband and I enjoy dancing; it’s a hobby.)  So, the clothes on the left are what I wear every day.

Here are the remainder of the shelves, which contain bottoms for all four seasons – jeans, skirts, skorts, and capris.  (I don’t have any shorts.  I hate them.)

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The top shelf features a pink dancing skirt next to a Nikon camera; the bottom shelf has two bags on it.

Here are the exact numbers of my regular clothes:

  1. Long-sleeved shirts: 12
  2. Short-sleeved shirts: 6
  3. Tank tops: 7
  4. Sweaters/zip-ups: 8
  5. Jeans: 1
  6. Pants: 1
  7. Skirts: 6
  8. Skorts: 3
  9. Dresses (including for dance): 8
  10. Capris: 2
  11. Leggings: 2

I realize that for many of you, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of clothing.  But I’m working on it.  I was greatly inspired by Darci Isabella’s video on what she’s got in her closet.  Wow.  Like 5 tops and 2 skirts.  Just wow.  She does qualify it, however, with that she’s done having children.

My current rule is that if something comes in, something goes out.  I keep the same number of hangers.  And I also “rotate” my clothing, so that way I can see what is being worn, and what is not.  For example, do you see that blue long-sleeved shirt on the end?  I haven’t worn it in a long time, because it’s on the end.  Everything that’s been worn, gets put on the other side.  That shirt may have to go.

Confusing?  Make sense?

It’s my crazy way of knowing what I need to get rid of.

And how about my husband?

Here’s his entire wardrobe.

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Work clothes hanging on top.  Everyday clothes on the bottom.

He does have some running clothes too, and so do I.  They’re just in the dresser, in the room, with underwear and socks.

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Dresser for underwear, socks, 2 pairs of leggings, nylons, running clothes, veils for Mass, and an empty drawer.

And shoes?

I gave up on shoes a long time ago.  Less is way better, and in my case, a lot more comfortable.  Here is a picture of every single pair of shoes I own.

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From left to right: winter boots, running shoes, every day shoes, dancing ballet slippers, sandals, flip flops, and every day boots.

Any questions?  Be sure to ask.