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The Power of Simplicity: Powering up Maria’s Wardrobe

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

The Power of Simplicity: Powering Up Maria's Wardrobe

Mothers. The benevolent, omnipresent rulers of the household. Little human, you may think you have evaded her, but you should know by now that she can peer through walls and easily sniff out mischief like a spoiled runny diaper. Do not test this glorious creature. In the snap of her tongue she holds the power of life and death: raining down endless Nabisco snacks with the promise of more for good behavior or banishing you to the eternal land of Time Out if you dare defy her.

Yet in all her splendor and majesty, it seems a mother’s self-sacrifice often rewards her with the gift of sleepless nights and living in a post-apocalyptic Toys-R’-Us-era style living room: onesies shrouded on lampshades, toys that appear that they have given birth to second and third generations of plastic monstrosities, and diapers stretched across the living room floor.

But if you are a mother who has adopted and fine-tuned a love for simplicity, the landscape can be entirely different.

Maria from Literally Simple

Meet Mario – I mean Maria Halcumb, an acutely tidy delight of a woman who possesses the power of simplicity on her side.

When I first walked into her home for an afternoon of dress-up, toys were neatly tucked away in a corner and the living room was devoid of trinkets and the gobble-de-guck of excess. I was greeted by a plush and inviting couch that I suspect would have rocked me to sleep if I allowed it and a very spacious open living room that if time permitted could easily have been used for a very competitive cartwheel contest between Maria and I.

Maria is a woman of many talents: mother, blogger of Literally Simple, wife, tutor, entrepreneur, and simplicity connoisseur. She recently whittled down her wardrobe to create space for a simpler and more intentional life. Counterintuitively, the act of simplifying led Maria to discover her style for the first time at the tender age of 30. Instead of a smorgasbord of mismatched trends, Maria has opted instead for wardrobe staples with a simple yet multi-functional ability. This new outlook on style simplicity gave Maria the ability to use her capsule wardrobe to seamlessly transition from tutor to sexy mama-on-the-go and back again into majestic super-wife.

There is something to be said about the power of simplicity in style.

I will be the first to admit that when I first considered simplicity in style, nightmarish colors of off-white and words like “background”, “forgettable,” and “potato-sack-like clothing” came to mind. Contrary to my former dim-witted beliefs, simplicity is not bland colors and shapeless silhouettes with the goal to pass through the masses like an apparition.

Maria before styling session

The power of a simple style is that you are being intentional and deliberate with each piece of clothing that you choose to wear. Your wardrobe may be smaller, but you are forced to pick staples that can play nice with the rest of your wardrobe while simultaneously expressing who you are. There are no pieces that are off-key. Every piece has a place and every piece is used. Whittling down your wardrobe and ridding yourself of fillers and trends is much like taking all the “ums,” “uhs” and “likes’” out of your communication repertoire. Without these filler words, suddenly everything you say is powerful, deliberate and meaningful. The same goes for your wardrobe.

Although Maria’s wardrobe effectively consisted of foundational pieces suited for virtually any occasion, she felt that her wardrobe did lack a few staples that truly express the power of simplicity (see above for Maria's "before" picture). With Maria being a super mom to a 2-year-old, I wanted to find pieces that are powerful yet durable, comfortable, and most importantly, machine washable. With tan and intense leopard prints being the only “off limits” factors for styling Maria, the mission to help her look powerful yet refined was a simple task.

Maria wearing red blazer with button up top

Power Up with the Power Blazer

Maria is a person of substance. You know when you mutter something awkward under your breath in a crowd of strangers and you are certain no one heard you? Only to look up and see the one person who was paying attention in the room smirking back at you and all the glory of your awkwardness... Maria would be that person smirking back, quietly and astutely observing you and all of your glory while everyone else nods away. When you first meet Maria, you are immediately struck by her observant presence, her sharp, no-nonsense intelligence and her strong sense of self that is not hidden away by chitter chatter. She deserved some pieces to showcase the power that brews within.

Maria wearing black blazer with v neck and jeans

Enter the power blazer. A well-made blazer will make anyone look like a boss lady. The slight shoulder padding given to this coral blazer from The Limited defines and widens the shoulder line and instantly offers contrast against Maria’s waistline, making it appear smaller. We paired this fun blazer with a cotton blouse from Ann Taylor Loft and buttoned it up all the way to the collar to exude a metropolitan professional feel. And of course, to add a bit of flirt and fun to this look, we left the last two buttons of the blouse unbuttoned and double knotted it at the bottom to shorten the blouse and showcase Maria’s lovely leg line. The final result is a powerful yet playful look that can be worn to tutor and then paired with a set of sexy heels alongside cuffed sleeves for a date night with the Hubbster.

The power blazer communicates a message of competence and confidence to the world around you, something along the lines of “Don’t worry, Babies, Mama’s got this.” It can add instant polish to even a basic V-neck and dark wash jean. Here, Maria goes from casual mom-on-the-go to powerful Mama when she cuffs the sleeves of this classic black blazer and pairs it with a casual V-neck and jeans. The ensemble is the perfect blend of both comfort and power, as the slight shoulder padding broadens her frame and provides a bit of stature to her day-to-day look. Throwing this blazer over top of your everyday casual look is the easiest way to power up your style.

Maria wearing denim dress with booties

The Denim Dress Destroyer

There is nothing that epitomizes a bad ass mama like a structured denim dress. When I think denim, the word “rugged” and images of old western heroines and valiant horses come to mind. It’s no wonder the second Maria puts this dress on I watch her sink back in a bit of awe as she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. I can tell something along the line of “Hot dammmmmn… Mama looks good!” is forming in her internal dialogue. Who could fault her for making such an accurate observation? Certainly not me.

This jean dress is made for Maria. The crisp collar leads into a V-neckline that instantly elongates Maria’s petite frame. The belted waist sits just below her bust line and hugs the narrowest part of her waist, forming an hourglass frame. With a hem that hits just above the knees, Maria’s legline appears longer with just enough sexy daytime leg exposure. This dress is the perfect blend of casual and powerful.

Maria wearing denim dress open with skirt and v neck

With a little bit of styling, this dress can instantly be transformed and layered into a new ensemble entirely. I unbuttoned the dress and belted it in the back so that it would sit against Maria’s frame like a modern-day duster. We then paired this outfit with a fun sequined skirt, a neutral V-neck tee and a pair of booties, making Maria’s look instantly more playful while maintaining a powerful outline with the denim now serving as a top layer.

Literally Simple Style

With Maria’s final pieces of her wardrobe puzzle in place, her simple style now speaks volumes while remaining effortless to put together. Both of her new blazers and denim dress work perfectly with many other intentionally handpicked items in her closet, giving her a plethora of options to wear in her many roles: tutor, entrepreneur, blogger, wife and super mom.

If you are interested in pursuing a life of simplicity and minimalism, visit Maria’s blog Literally Simple to be more, want less and gain quality in your life. And if you live in the Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon area and your child needs a reading and/or writing tutor, check out Maria’s tutoring services. Maria has a Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) with specializations in reading, curriculum, and instruction, and she has 9 years of classroom teaching experience under her belt. Her tutoring might just be the power-up your child needs!

And if you are feeling like your current wardrobe needs a boost of power as well, schedule your free style session with me today and let’s get started!



Megan Kashuba
Megan Kashuba
Apr 29, 2019

I'm a sucker for blazers and denim is so classic!


Feb 18, 2019

Hey Meryl, so glad I may have converted you to the land of all things blazer. They are amazing, wear them once with your usual tee shirt and jeans and I promise, you will never go back.


Feb 13, 2019

Maria looks so gorgeous in her new style! I personally have never liked blazers for day to day wear, but the cuffed sleeves and pop of color have got me rethinking. Gorgeous work lady!


Feb 12, 2019

Hey Jindati, I absolutely love how even after you have owned a piece of clothing for a while, you can still discover new ways to wear it. I am so glad Maria's styling of the denim destroyer gave you a bit of style inspiration! Cheers!


Feb 12, 2019

Hey Veronika! So glad you love Maria's Black Blazer and bootie ensemble, it is one of my favorites on her!

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