Less is More

Ada Polla share her thoughts on how less is more with a few
key signature pieces in your wardrobe.

My grandmother and my godmother both taught me that it is best to value quality over quantity. In life in general, and in your wardrobe in particular. Both always told me that the perfect fitted back slacks would serve me better than 5 cheap pairs bought in trendy colors. As such, I pride myself on a wardrobe that is filled with items I love and wear – and not too many of them.

Nonetheless, my interpretation of a “minimalist wardrobe” was recently challenged when my girlfriend Jenn Mapp told me about her 35 items. She recently decided to simplify her closet (thus her life), and pare it down to 35 items. And she loves the result – not just in her closet. Intrigued? Read on…

AP: What made you decide to reduce your wardrobe to 35 items?

JM: For most of life shopping was my favorite pastime. Now I have a toddler and an infant, a full time job and own a small (but charming!) house. This translates to no time, minimal storage and considerably less discretionary income. Earlier this spring, while searching Pinterest for closet organization tips, I discovered several boards dedicated to the idea of a minimalist wardrobe. The notion of turning my massive, unmanageable closet into a curated collection of seasonal apparel just felt right. Within a few days I ruthlessly edited my clothes down to 35 items and consigned, donated or stored the rest. My life has improved immeasurably.

AP: What are your 35 items? Does this include accessories, shoes, lingerie – everything?

JM: I define “35 items” as the apparel hanging in my closet — business casual separates worn mostly to work. My 35 items do not include accessories because these are my signature outfit makers and without them this would not be a plausible fashion experiment – for me.  Workout clothes, lingerie and sleep items do not count. However, my entire fashion collection now fits in one side of an Ikea Pax wardrobe. This makes me very proud.

AP: How has your life changed since undergoing this fashion experiment?

JM: In so many ways! Obviously I’ve saved money and time but I’m also happier and more present. You don’t realize how much energy it takes to manage possessions. Most tangibly, my fashion experiment motivated me to start a blog. I assumed #jennmapp would be a fashion blog cataloging multiple outfits created from 35 items but I’ve found that I am more inspired by the psychology of the process. Curbing the impulse to shop parallels instinctive behavior in every aspect of my life.

AP: Any tips on how others could reduce their wardrobes?

JM: Sure, how about a random numbered list? The internet loves a list.

  1. Purchase or borrow an inexpensive rolling rack.
  2. Assemble your entire wardrobe in one place.
  3. Automatically move formal or cocktail attire, out of season clothes, ill-fitting or damaged items to the rolling rack.
  4. Consider every item that remains. These will make up your current season collection. If you love it, you will know in one second – leave it in your closet. If you experience any hesitation towards an item, put it on the rolling rack.
  5. Ruthlessly edit until you are down to a collection that feels right. You will need an adequate assortment of tops, bottoms and outwear. Consider your lifestyle. Depending on the size of your wardrobe, you may require several rounds of edits.
  6. Store, repair, consign or donate the rest. Just do it.
  7. Repeat every three – four months, filling in gaps as needed.

As I listen to Jenn in awe, she concludes: “You only think you need hundreds of items. You don’t! I guarantee you only wear 30 – 50 pieces as it is. Closet reduction is an excellent exercise in defining your value system. If you read this and are inspired to act, you are ready. Take the plunge. If the idea doesn’t resonate at all or seems inconceivable, well someone has to keep the economy afloat, right?”

Right!

Resources to help you achieve this minimalist wardrobe:

http://jennmapp.tumblr.com/

@tinclosettonsofstyle

Project333.com

Theunfancy.com

Safe Sun

My two grandmothers, one from an Italian farming family, the other from a Swiss-German pastor family, did not agree on many things. But they did agree on one thing: too dark a suntan is borderline inelegant, and a sunburn is outright offensive.

My two grandmothers, one from an Italian farming family, the other from a Swiss-German pastor family, did not agree on many things. But they did agree on one thing: too dark a suntan is borderline inelegant, and a sunburn is outright offensive. Between them and my dermatologist father, with whom I have never been in so much trouble as when I sunburn my skin, I like to think I have perfected the idea of practicing “safe sun.” While this is something to think about daily, including in the dead of winter and on rainy days, it is particularly important during vacation season, which is upon us. If you are heading to the beach, the pool, on a boat, or anywhere else where you are planning on spending most of your summer days outdoors, keep this in mind:

  1. The safest way to be in the sun is not to be in the sun. In particular in between the hours of 11 and 3 pm, stay in the shade.
  2. Use sunscreen. Even if you are planning to be in the shade all day, sunscreen is essential. A body oil with SPF 2 does not count as sunscreen… UVA and UVBs are both harmful to the skin, so make sure your sunscreen says “broad-spectrum” (the SPF value only refers to protection from UVB). Keep in mind that SPF 30, which my father recommends for “beach vacation days” will protect you from 96% of UVB. A higher SPF will increase the protection by a few percentage points only: SPF 50 will increase it to 98%, and SPF 75 to 99%.
  3. Apply sunscreen liberally. Don’t think of it as applying your moisturizer or foundation – be generous, err on too much rather than not enough. The general rule of thumb is a shot-glass worth of product for an “average-sized” body.
  4. Re-apply after every time you get in the water. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen; the FDA does recognize the term “water-resistant,” so look for that word when making your purchase, and reapply.
  5. Purchase new sunscreen annually, at the very least. While you may not need a new bathing suit before every summer vacation, be vigilant about the expiration dates on sunscreens. The formulations are delicate, and do break down – an expired sunscreen will not provide the protection claimed on the bottle.
  6. Remember the ears, back of the neck, and top of the feet (where I have gotten some of my worse sunburns). Apply your sunscreen before you put on your bathing suit, to avoid getting a tan right around where your bathing suit meets your skin.

There are lots of great sunscreens out there, I tend to find a new favorite one every summer. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Nutritive Oil Comfort SPF 50+ and all Coola products are wonderful. Yet remember, no sunscreen is 100%. This means using an antioxidant product is key, both layered under your sunscreen and as a post-sun product, so that you instantly repair any free radical damage caused. Once again, there are many great antioxidant products on the market, my current favorite being the newest Alchimie Forever cream, Protective day cream SPF 23. As a first layer of protection, it is packed with antioxidants including blueberries, vitamins C and E, and edelweiss extract, and also has some chemical filters to help fight UVAs and UVBs.

Lastly, remember, you earn the skin you’re in! Protect it, and always practice “safe sun.”

Tips For a Successful Annual Family Meeting

A few years ago, we attended the INSEAD executive program on family business. It was a turning point for our family business in terms of identifying goals and best practices. One best practice that came out of this program was to hold an annual family meeting – we call it our Family Council meeting.

A few years ago, we attended the INSEAD executive program on family business. It was a turning point for our family business in terms of identifying goals and best practices. One best practice that came out of this program was to hold an annual family meeting – we call it our Family Council meeting.

The intended outcome of this meeting is to spend time together, of course, but beyond that it is to update those family members not involved in the day to day operations of the family business on the current states of our business units, and to benefit from their thinking, insights, and questions.

We just came back from our third Family Council meeting, held at Villa Verde Resort in Friuli, the region of Italy where our father grew up. Each meeting gets better, as we learn from our experiences. Here are our best practices so far:

Roxane:

  • Have someone take photos; these times are precious! My husband Guillaume is (one of) our assigned photographer.
  • If the work meeting lasts the equivalent of a full work day – which it should – make sure there is time to exercise or practice an outdoor activity before dinner. Your body fluids get moving again, your brain is oxygenated, and everything feels much better afterwards. I know I needed this time!

Rachel:

  • Do not schedule anything right after the meeting, as ours usually lasts longer than scheduled. We learned this the hard way our first Family Council meeting (we all had a train to catch): everyone left rushed and frustrated at not having been able to share everything we wanted to share (yes, we do talk a lot and the goal of these moments is to share, share, share). However, balance this with respect for timing and scheduling.
  • Set a clear code of conduct. I love ours – love, respect, no sleeping (see photo!).

Cyrille:

  • Organize some bonding time before starting the meeting. Reconnecting emotionally and tuning our energies towards one another makes the business discussions much more open, rich and authentic.
  • If one or more family members has a hobby they are passionate about, it’s great to include it in the schedule. Our dad loves golf, and so do some other family members. Thus, we set aside time to golf (see bonding time above). The rest of us were by the pool and that was superb too!
  • Include a festive and joyful together time after the meeting. Either a dinner – or even better, stay overnight and have some fun the morning after.

Ada:

  • Schedule “alone time” in the midst of all the “together time.” Without it, I am not very much fun to be around.
  • Include the children in the day as much as possible. Either in terms of them participating in the presentations and discussions (depending on the age), or in terms of them being present even if they are not actively participating. Per our Dad, it is never too early to start – and they learn by osmosis.
  • Think about all of the possible tension points that will surely come up during such intense family time. Plan for them. Figure out how to diffuse them before they occur.

We already can’t wait for next year’s meeting!

Professional photoshoot? No problem!

There are so many things I love about working with my sisters, the list is too long for a blog post. Very near the top of the list, however, is the fact that we do “sister photoshoots,” like the one we just did this week at the Lausanne Beau-Rivage Palace for OPEN Magazine. Over the years, we have gotten better at taking better pictures. It’s not always easy to get four girls to look good in one shot… Here are our tips.

There are so many things I love about working with my sisters, the list is too long for a blog post. Very near the top of the list, however, is the fact that we do “sister photoshoots,” like the one we just did this week at the Lausanne Beau-Rivage Palace for OPEN Magazine. Over the years, we have gotten better at taking better pictures. It’s not always easy to get four girls to look good in one shot… Here are our tips.

Roxane
– I sleep a lot – both before and after the photoshoot. Before, so that I look my best, rested, glowing. After, because photoshoots drain me – and I always feel exhausted afterwards. So I plan accordingly.

– I used to do my own hair, until once I didn’t – and noticed such a difference. I know this seems so obvious… it’s as true as it may seem obvious!

– I always ask the photographer to view the pictures as they are being taken. That way if I don’t like how I look, I tweak something (the decor, my position, the light, my hair…) as the shoot is happening.

Rachel

– Hire a professional makeup artist. Always. I have been working with the same makeup artist for a while, she understands my face, my features, my style. She enhances me but does not change me. I always want to recognize myself on photos. 


– Be patient and don’t overschedule yourself on the day of the photoshoot. It may take an hour, it may take three. Having an appointment a few minutes after the time the photographer told you he or she would be done is a bad idea.

– I always have a glass of champagne right before we start shooting! It loosens me up, but it’s not enough that I can’t focus and be professional.

Cyrille

– I pick outfits that I don’t usually wear, because the things that seem hard to wear for a “normal day” are easy to wear just in photos.  

– I put myself in a playful mood. It’s not always easy to smile on command, but I try to think about how lucky I am that someone is taking my photo.

– I love to document the “making of,” the behind the scenes part of the photoshoot. It’s great for social media, but it’s more than that. I look at those casual photos after the fact and figure out where there is room for improvement, so that I can be even better next time.

Ada  

– Chin up and out! It may not feel right, but it always looks better.  


– I try to put myself in the photographer’s shoes and try to make his or her job easy. I imagine how Cindy Crawford would behave and try to model (no pun intended!) that professional behavior. 


– I wear my every day clothes (sorry Cyrille!) to feel as much myself as possible. I am not playing dress up, I am playing me. 

Ada, Cyrille, Rachel and Roxane Polla embody the 2nd generation of “Forever” family businesses. Complicit and complementary, the sisters put their power of 4 towards the development of their three brands: Forever Institute, Forever Boutique and Alchimie Forever. They build the future on a shared heritage: audacity of innovation, value of work, passion for aesthetics.