When I tell people that I was able to travel to eight countries on three continents in three weeks, the biggest surprise for people is that I did it all with a carry on. Armed with a hiking backpack stuffed to the brim, I set out on what was surely the adventure of a lifetime. Why then is the coolest part of the story about my luggage?

I had to admit that for most people, myself included, this seemed like a tall order. I wasn’t a minimalist, expert traveler, or anything else along those lines. I was simply on a budget. Using discount airlines, I did all my travel on the cheap. And I mean so cheap that I cooked my own pasta in Italy. I used to think that being offered a drink on the flight meant I was living in luxury.

How did I get this way? Well to tell that story, I have to look back at sixteen year old Josh, bad haircut and all. This is when I left the country for the first time on a mission trip in Panama. Like everyone else in my group, my luggage weighed in around 120 pounds. Most Americans would argue that was enough to last me the week…hopefully! With my suitcase in tow weighing almost as much as I did, I jetted off to a far off land. When I arrived I found the most humble of people. Not by choice but by situation. Most of the people I met owned one outfit that they wore everyday until they grew out of it.

This reality hit me like a truck. Like most of you, I enjoyed shopping. I enjoyed having nice things. It wasn’t until I realized I didn’t need all these things that I became a happier person. To the horror of my mother, I left most of my clothes behind with just enough to make it back to the United States without too much body oder. Don’t mistake my purpose; I’m not attempting to turn everyone into environmental hippie freedom fighters here, I’m just telling my story.

Last spring, my girlfriend Olivia and I set off to study abroad in Spain, and while that already sounds privileged enough, I should mention we lived on the beach. In a modern, Western country surrounded by the influences of fashion, I lived humbly with my host family in a bedroom the size of my walk in closet back home. Much to my shame, I will admit to you now that the first day living with my host family in Spain, I cried. Hard. I missed my stuff. The same suitcase that in Panama lasted me a week was now supposed to last me five months. How was I going to make it with only eight pairs of pants, sixteen t-shirts, nine button downs, and only one coat? Crazy I know.

Looking back I can’t help but laugh. After a few weeks I started to figure out how lucky, fortunate, and rich I really was. The opportunities I was being given don’t come around to most. I needed to capitalize on it in the most respectful way I could. For three weeks, Olivia and I traveled to seven different cities around Europe, and I only brought two pairs of jeans, four t-shirts, and one coat. What shocked me is that I loved it. I no longer had to pick out what I was going to wear the next day. It came down to what was clean, what was dry, and what the weather was like. 

I was liberated to then enjoy my time fully immersed into the cultures around me. While I indulged on occasion by shopping at the never ending buffet of fashion, I had one hard reality. If I wanted to buy something, I had to get rid of something else. I couldn’t bring myself to waste that kind of money. Instead I invested it in experiences like museum tickets, and activities like jumping off mountains.

My pitch is this; when you’re shopping online feeding the always hungry cart, stop and think about how the $7 sweater might just not be as good of a deal as you thought. Complete your simple wardrobe with lasting, high quality, dare I say expensive clothing. You’ll be surprised at how much less you end up spending, feel good because you took some steps towards sustainability, and get joy out of how bomb you look in that jean jacket. I will admit this may be easier for men that it is for women. That’s why I’m so glad that Olivia is passionate about the mission of finding ethical and sustainable clothing. Sometimes, it’s really not the amount of clothing you own that matters. Investing in pieces that last frees up your life for other things besides worrying about all the latest trends because you’ll be dressed in a way that is timeless. 

Josh

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I’m so excited to share a post that Jake from Navy Blazer Club wrote! He created a great look for my next installation of the Men’s Corner series that is perfect for this month’s chilly temperatures. While it can be quite cold at times, don’t let that put a damper on your excitement for the outdoors. Jake will be sharing all about his favorite fall hiking outfit today. I’ll let him take it from here…

I’m an avid reader of A Drop in the Ocean and everything Olivia puts out on social media, and as J. Kurtz Style approaches its one-year anniversary, I couldn’t be more excited to guest for one of the blogs that inspired me.

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One of my favorite things to do as the leaves roll into winter is go out hiking. I’m a huge follower of “style through functionality”,  and the hardy nature of autumn in the outdoors brings the best clothes out of my closet. While I was on Thanksgiving break, I grabbed my photographer/girlfriend/better Instagrammer and hit the trails.

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For outerwear, I picked the jac-shirt from Filson (Seattle, WA). I do not like putting too much thought into my outfits, and this plain, navy heavyweight is great for the “apathetically particular”-minded like myself. Made out of 100% wool and weighing 18 oz., Filson’s jac-shirt has weathered whatever conditions I’ve put it through.

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At the heart of my hiking outfit is the L.L.Bean tartan flannel. L.L.Bean flannels are as comfy as old friends or a Thanksgiving fire, and the rugged, yet refined, tartan patterns are perfect for the outdoors. Unlike its slimmer counterparts at urban stores, the L.L.Bean flannel is cut for a full range of motion. Nothing like a shirt that won’t fall apart when you ditch the coffee shop for the unbeaten path.

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To top it all off, I wore my 10’ Bean Boots in classic tan. L.L.Bean’s duck boots are at a level of popularity they haven’t seen since the 1980s, and I’m not complaining. The leather upper + rubber lower combo is PERFECT for crunching over rocks and branches.

That’s it from me, for now! If y’all are interested in keeping up with J. Kurtz Style, shoot me a follow on Instagram @jkurtzstyle or visit my home turf at Navy Blazer Club.

Have a great December! 

Jake

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Hey guys,

I’ve been keeping a secret for a while, and I’m so glad to finally be able to share it! Today is the launch of Men’s Corner, a new monthly column that will highlight the different trends in men’s fashions and styles that I’m currently loving. I think this will be a great addition to the blog and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Since I’ve been planning this for a while, I have a lot of fun surprises and giveaways in store for the future.

Last year, I wrote all about how I style my JORD watch. Now, that I’m introducing this column, I’m so pumped that I get to share how to style a JORD watch in men’s fashion, too! I’ve always been so interested in men’s style, even since before I started my program here at the University of Missouri, so now it’s been awesome to delve into a little more of my passion for men’s fashion and how to style outfits that work for them and all of their needs. If you continue reading there’s even an opportunity for you to win your own gift card to JORD below!

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Josh has worn the Frankie watch to a multitude of professional events, and been complemented every single time. It’s so fun to see how much it stands out. It’s also great to simply be able to look at your wrist and know the time, versus digging around in your backpack or purse for your phone to check the time.

Today, though, I wanted to share just a little bit about a typical Sunday afternoon that Josh and I like to have here in Columbia during the semester. The outfit that Josh is wearing here is simply just a classic button down from J.Crew and jeans from American Eagle, which is relatively low-key; the perfect outfit for a casual weekend afternoon. Then, it’s paired with the Frankie watch from JORD, in the Zebrawood and Navy style. The watch makes for such a simple addition to any outfit, but I think if you purchase a watch that stands out and is unique, it will always pull any outfit together!

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On Sunday afternoons, Josh and I typically go to our favorite coffee shops downtown Columbia, and then spend the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown and enjoying the breezy fall weather. On Sundays, parking is free downtown so it’s really simple to head there and spend the whole afternoon. When I first started going to Mizzou, I didn’t think there was much to do downtown at first, but wow have I been proved wrong. From record stores to bakeries to some of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at, downtown Columbia is jam-packed full of fun things to do, especially on the weekends! Lately, Josh and I have been doing a lot of shopping downtown for Christmas presents for friends and family! I can’t believe it’s already November and time to start thinking about presents…yikes!

I teamed up with JORD to help you shop for holiday presents in style, because everyone really needs a great timepiece. Especially for people in this stage of life, whether they’re applying to internships like me, or about to graduate from college like Josh. Wearing such a creative, unique piece on your wrist not only makes for a great conversation starter, but it also makes you stand out from the crowd.

So, click HERE to enter a giveaway for a JORD giftcard! Everyone who enters will receive an automatic $20 gift card to the website, and the winner will receive a $75 gift card! What a perfect time to win some money towards a timepiece that would make such a great gift for a family member or friend!

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I can’t wait to continue sharing different men’s trends and fashions that I’m loving in the coming months in all the next editions of Men’s Corner posts!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Much love,

Olivia

 

*This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches

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