02 November 2013

Simple Community: Erin

Source: Erin Depew

One of the elements I like about blogging is to discover like minded people through readers and commenters of the blogging community. Some are bloggers themselves, like Erin's Pixel Perfect. Working in tech and fashion, Erin offers a personal perspective on wardrobe simplicity, but also coding tips, photographs and beyond. I really would like you to get to know her work. I have asked her a few questions she kindly accepted to answer to for the nife's readers.

  • If you had 20 seconds to introduce yourself, for example, in an elevator, what would you say? 

I would say that I’m a 20-something living in Brooklyn, figuring out things as I go along. I was an aspiring oil painter who got lost on the way to class in college and wound up in the computer lab instead, so now I’m a developer/designer. I have a weakness for beautiful things, especially shoes. I believe that everything tastes better outside or on a stick. I really don’t understand watching sports, but I love to play them. I love sci-fi and fantasy novels and I never go anywhere without my kindle. Also that I’ll try anything twice, just to make sure that I really didn’t like it the first time.

  •  What are your wardrobe essentials and how did you find them? 

My essentials are knee length jersey wrap dresses, mid-rise skinny jeans, ballet flats, button down shirts, and scarves because they make me feel put together and comfortable. I learned what my essentials are by paying attention to what I throw on when I don’t have much time to get ready, and what pieces I keep digging out of the dirty clothes hamper (don’t worry, after a while I make a note to buy multiples).

  •  So, how does a New Yorker spend her free time? 

Doing a little bit of everything! Living in NYC I have a serious problem with FOMO, so every once in a while I need to pick a day and force myself to do nothing. During the weekdays after work I’m usually either attending a talk, going to a new art gallery, or at the gym where I do weight-lifting and boxing. On the weekends I meet up with friends for brunch at Ping’s Seafood for dim sum. It’s become a tradition and a great way to catch up with everyone. At night I’m usually enjoying one of NYC’s many night-life spots, although my favorites are the comedy clubs, burlesque shows, jazz clubs and speakeasies.

  • What camera do you use for your photographs, and how do you approach photography? 

I have a Canon Rebel T3 that has been my sidekick for a few years and I usually use a 50mm f1.8 lens. I’m definitely an amateur photographer, although I enjoy reading a lot of photography blogs. I’m a very goal-oriented person so part of the reason why I love photography is that I have to slow down and enjoy the process. I guess I approach photography as an excuse to take long walks outside and really observe my surroundings. I always have to remind myself not to overthink pictures, not to compare mine to the professional images that I’m surrounded by, and instead just photograph what I consider visually interesting, whether it’s the shape, color or composition, and not worry too much about what everyone else thinks.

  • You are also a designer and developer, can you tell us more about that? How creative is this activity? 

As I mentioned, I started out as an oil painter in school, then decided working solo wasn’t for me so I ended up studying graphic design and computer programming. My main languages are Python and JavaScript, and I usually design for the web. It’s considered very rare in the industry to be able to do both design and programming (we’re fondly referred to as unicorns) because usually people are either very left brain or right brain. There is also the argument that it’s in your own best interest to focus on either design or programming instead of just being decent at both, aka the “jack of all trades” argument.

However, I enjoy being the interpreter between both groups, and letting the heavy-weights focus on what they do best. Both mediums have different limitations but also different strengths, and it’s important for designers to be aware of technology’s abilities and it’s limitations (and vice versa) because in the end it makes for a stronger product and richer experience.

I would consider my work to be very creative, but in a different way than traditional fine art. While art is about expressing yourself or an idea, my work is more about solving a problem or telling a story. I currently work on a team that is essentially NBC’s in-house agency, so the brands come to us with their problems and we create a solution for them. I work with some incredibly talented and creative people and we’re encouraged to come up with innovative solutions and take risks, which makes the work very satisfying, even if for every idea that becomes a reality, twenty to fifty ideas are left on the cutting floor.

  • How and when did you start curating your wardrobe and style? 

I always was interested in fashion, but I really started curating my wardrobe and style during college. It was really more of a necessity, since sharing one closet with three girls doesn’t leave much space. However I started consciously curating my wardrobe after I graduated. I wrote a post for Be More With Less about the “why” behind simplifying my wardrobe.

As for the “how”, I just had to jump in. I know myself well enough to know that I can’t ease into a situation or do something halfway, so I spent a month not doing laundry and flipping hangers. After that, anything that was in season and hadn’t been worn went out the door. It was important to me that I get used to having a barebones wardrobe and to have the mental space for a while. It’s only really been in the past year or so I’ve felt like I have enough self-control and the ability to view my closet rationally, and so have started adding clothes back into it.

  • What benefits did you enjoy in simplifying your closet and life? 

The biggest benefit I’ve found from simplifying my closet is that when I open my closet I genuinely like everything that is in there. I also feel like I have saved so much time in the mornings, because although I enjoy fashion a lot, at the end of the day I just want to be comfortable and look pulled together. Sadly, I have found that I haven’t saved much money from simplifying, but at least my wardrobe budget has stayed about the same. Even though I’m buying a lot less, what I do buy is much higher quality and so is also usually much more expensive.

As for the rest of my life, it’s definitely a work in progress and a lot harder to simplify than my possessions. Decluttering is great, but the real changes come from simplifying your life. I have learned to focus on what’s important to me, to stop saying yes to people and things out of a sense of guilt, and instead of saying “I don’t have time for that” say “I don’t find that to be important”. It certainly put a lot of my day to day choices in a different perspective. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today without having simplified and focused my lifestyle.

  • What advice would you give to people who are starting to simplify their closet? 

Treat the disease, not the symptoms. I feel like I should have this mantra up on my wall somewhere, I find myself saying it so often. People are always looking for a quick fix but in reality any change takes time and work. It sucks, I know, but it’s just the way it is. So if you’re looking to simplify your closet it’s not enough to just go on a shopping diet or do a clean-out once a year, you also need to spend some time thinking about why you’re in this situation in the first place. Is shopping a way to distract yourself from bigger issues? Is it an emotional security blanket and a fear of being without?

For me personally I realized I was using clothing as a costume to pretend to be the person that I wish I was, instead of making the effort to actually become that person. Once I realized why I was using shopping as a crutch, and started making steps towards my life goals, simplifying my wardrobe was a natural result and much easier to maintain.

  • When did you start blogging and why? How to you choose the topics of your posts? 

I started blogging ages ago around 2006. I’ve had about three iterations of “Pixel Perfect” since then. Each iteration just came to a natural end, when they no longer fit my lifestyle and it was time to move on. I feel like this one is around for the long haul though. I wish I could say that I have some editorial calendar or a six month post plan or something like that, but I really just write about what I like to talk about. I enjoy remixing outfits, sharing local designers, teaching new programming techniques, or just ranting about something that’s particularly bothering me lately. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) I choose my topics the week before and tend to just write about whatever is on my mind.

  • What are the first posts you would suggest newcomers to Pixel Perfect should read? 

How to Have a Stylish Minimalist Wardrobe - A series of posts on how to edit your closet and find your personal style.

How to Create a Parallax Scrolling Effect - A simple tutorial on how to use JavaScript to create a 3D motion effect.

Fall/Winter Five Piece French Wardrobe - My shopping list and why I decided to only add five new things to my wardrobe per season.

Thank you to Erin for answering these questions! You can find the other side of the discussion, questions I answered for her, on Pixel Perfect.


  1. Kali,

    I have been reading your blog for a couple of months and I must say, you are very disciplined and organised - you post quality stuff pretty much every day, and that is on top of your job and other interests. Very impressed. Keep writing!

    p.s. what is your Goodreads nickname?

    Greetings from London


    1. Thank you very much for the kind word Katarzyna, I'm glad you like my posts :) My Goodreads nickname is Kaligolo, I think there might be a link somewhere in the "About" page.

  2. this is a great interview! such thoughtful, considered questions and answers - so great to be introduced to a blog which looks at both fashion and web development. hooray for ladies who work in tech! :) x

    1. That's great to hear! I love Erin's blog and I thought others might enjoy her posts as well. I also liked the fact that she works in tech and covers both topics in her blog :)

  3. Erin sounds like someone I'd love to hang out with, such a great interview! Off to read her blog now! :)

    1. That's great, I love her answers too ! I hope you enjoy her blog ;)

  4. 1: Yay, blog-inspiration! I have taken my simplifying process online as well and try to only read blogs that I feel really enlighten or inspire me in some way, instead of reading all sorts of blogs just to pass time. So it's rare that I actually find new blogs that "fit" me - I hope Pixel Perfect will become a stable on my Bloglovin' list!

    2: "For me personally I realized I was using clothing as a costume to pretend to be the person that I wish I was, instead of making the effort to actually become that person."
    I find this to be SO true of most people's approach to fashion. At least it used to be mine until I started critically reviewing and editing my wardrobe. I found out, that my answer to the question "What do I want to express with my clothes?" was never a style type like those in the magazines which are typically only based on looks and stereotypes. Instead, my answer to that question was always much more about personality and intellectual characteristics, like "someone who is well educated and creative, who knows about trends and aesthetics but can't be bothered by impracticality". I found that this kind of answer gives me an idea of both my personal style and which person I aspire to be (if not already am) - and so it inspires me to not fall into a rut on either the wardrobe side or the personal side of my life.

    To sum up: Your posts are always very inspiring!

    1. I'm glad to hear you like the idea of introducing new bloggers here, as it was my first guest post I wasn't sure how readers would like the idea!

      I have been thinking about the sentence you pointed out a lot as well. It is true that it is easier to put on a certain "costume" to create a certain image rather than making the actual change to really become that type of person. Erin's insight is really great on that kind of topic! When I realized two years ago that my external image didn't match who I thought I was it was the same, personality/ intellectual characteristics people associated with my looks that didn't match who I was (or who I wanted to be, who knows?)

      Anyway, thanks for the kind note :)

    2. I just wanted to say thanks Anne, great point about simplifying your online life as well and only spending time on blogs that truly inspire you :) It's so easy to spend huge amounts of time and energy online and not actually leave feeling inspired or satisfied. Thanks for reminding me of this!

  5. Thank you for the introduction to Erin's blog - just my kind of reading. And at some point, I will take on board all this information I've ingested about wardrobe curating AND personal style. I think I've been trying to find myself for a while and whilst I am very susceptible to a lot of what I see, I find myself steering back to plain basics (with a touch of whimsy).

    1. I'm glad you like the recommendation! I think I'm a bit like you when it comes to basic, when I started style-searching 2 years ago I tried to go for something more sophisticated or original until I realized basics just worked best with me. I've been trying to implement more colour in my closet lately though...

  6. Nodding along to so many of Erin's answers. Oooh heading over to learn more about you!

    1. I agree with her on many points as well. I hope you enjoy her blog :)

  7. Thanks for sharing Erins blog with us! I just discovered yours and and now I have two great new blogs to get to know better :)

    1. Thanks! It is always a little joy to have a new reader aboard, welcome :) And I hope you'll enjoy Erin's blog as well!