I wrote a version of this article for a local blogger last year but I thought it may be worth sharing here on the L&C BLOG given the time of year (approaching Spring) and the feeling that these matters are somewhat coming out of the woodwork and into the stratosphere:) I’m certainly no expert on the topic of tidying or decluttering or as I say ‘Wardrobe Dieting,’ but i’ve been trekking on the ‘minimalist’ road ( to some degree) for a while now. Here’s some suggestions for getting started and how to curate and live from a wardrobe with LESS stuff in it.
Trekking Towards Minimalism
I‘ve been on this journey for about a year and a bit now. It started in my wardrobe. The moment I finally realised enough was enough was autumn 2014 when i looked inside the bulging beast of a wardrobe and couldn’t find a simple t-shirt. Yes i could see plenty of lovely frilly/ vintage-esque blouses, the ones i had loved about 5 years before, but since having kids and the accumulation of extra “things” that have come with that, I’ve been stripping things back gradually. Last autumn was crunch time, and i meant business. I was pretty ruthless about it, if i hadn’t worn it in a year, i set it into the discard pile, if it didn’t suit my post-preggo shape even though i still kinda liked it- discard. I vacuum shrunk a small bag of summer clothes and put them in an upper shelf but apart from that, there was nothing kept that i didn’t love or didn’t use. Things looked sparse in there. I admit, almost soulless. I can relate to what Drew Barrymore said when she did a similar wardrobe detox and wondered had she gone too far and was missing her old funky self. I write about this HERE.
It’s a hard place to be.. you have two options.. One, you can plan an immediate shopping spree to fill the space OR two, you can resist the immediate desire to fill the space and stay in the tension of having LESS. Whether it’s because we’re culturally or emotionally uncomfortable with not having a wealth of options, I’m not sure, but it was an interesting personal experiment to push through. A year and bit on, i can say it’s been well worth resisting my desire to fill the gaps. The wardrobe is not just as sparse, (it’s actually not all that tidy either,) but i have enjoyed the experience of dressing everyday from limited pieces and have developed the art of choosing clothing items that resonate with my personal taste and personality. Some outfit examples- If i’m going on a walk, it’s jeans, flannel shirt, Nike trainers or Boots. If I’m brunching, it’s jeans and an oxford shirt, Hudson boots. If i’m having a day working from home / school run, it’s- yoga pants, hoodie that might turn into jeans and oversized t-shirt and cardigan. It’s not glamorous but the point of the entire process is to take the thinking OUT of dressing. Don’t get me wrong, i enjoy style and playing dress up, but i’ve enjoyed the liberation felt by doing “stylish” minimalism more. Less stuff = less decisions = more space = more playtime and energy for things that matter to you. It’s an over-simplified view on dressing but there are nuggets of truth in there and personal benefits if you’re willing to push through the chaotic decluttering bit at the start. Some call it 'Decision fatigue' - the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. For me, I've started a business, i run a house with 2 school girls and my husband has various other businesses on the go- yes please, I'll take the removal of a few extra decisions please!! The idea is that it opens up more mental space for productivity throughout the day. Even President Barack Obama does it- He says, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” If it's good enough for Obama, it's good enough for me!
Some Tips on ‘Going Minimal’
Marie Kondo’s book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, an international bestseller, has probably been the most useful resource i’ve read on my journey so far. Some of the following suggestions are based on what i’ve found the most useful from her Kon-Marie method of tidying from her book and from my own experience:
- First things first- the obvious clear out session. There is NO way out of it and if you’re like me you might not love this stage too much. It’s SO much easier to read about this subject than actually DOING it! So take whatever momentum you have conjured up until now and run with it.
- Go category by category, starting with easiest to part with. Her “KonMarie method” encourages a category-by-category system, rather than the conventional little-by-little approach. I would say I’ve found this helpful although it’s best to just get started rather than getting paralysed with the correct “method.” The idea is to practice with the easier decisions (eg. underwear!) and move into the harder ones (like the party dresses you invested in but never wear!)
- Instead of deciding what to get rid of, focus on what to keep. “Do you need it and does the piece of clothing spark Joy?” This phrase has become quite a useful ‘tool’ on the wardrobe diet journey. It might seem a bit strange but with the Kon-Marie method, you take each item in your hand ask yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, then it stays. If it does not spark joy, then throw it out. Note: You must touch every item so that your body can react. This is NOT an intellectual process.
- Resist the urdge to immediately fill the space. Save some money. Live in the tension for a while. See if a new found creative or mental space is unleashed.
Your Capsule Wardrobe
Now is play time- your minimalist curation. This looks like whatever you want it to. Theoretically, a Capsule wardrobe (a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called "Wardrobe" in the 1970s) is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.
Some modern minimalists advocate having 37 items in your wardrobe, But basically, your new clothing collection is made up of a combination of items you already own and love to wear, as well as new, quality items that you can shop for once a season. I’m not fussy about how many pieces are in there, so long as it is moving away from the fast-disposable clothes mentality.
- Keep versatility in mind when slowly building your collection. Also think about a more neutral colour palette. Can you wear that blazer casually and dress it up for a more formal setting? Will this wash well? It’s helpful to look at your life and consider what you need for 80% of the time. These are the timeless, good quality pieces you may want to re-vamp if you are low in supply. My everyday wardrobe is the pretty basic. A few pairs of jeans that I feel comfy in are important items, many of mine are from River Island. For Autumn/ Winter you may invest in a few oversized knitted cardigans/ or jumpers and good quality cotton blend t-shirts or vests for underneath. You might purchase a new winter coat and a pair of boots. See below my staple black jeans & black Hudson ankle boots- had the heel repaired and still going strong.
- For Spring/summer you might indulge in a few simple lighter weight shirts and a trench coat depending on how bored you are with your current clothing levels or how many seasonal pieces you have since your wardrobe diet. See below a trench and black Fedora hat that became my uniform last spring.
- Next come- the flourishes- the way you stay YOU. I like to express this in the statement accessories, like hats or a splash of lippy colour or accessories. I'm so not against a striking a bold lip now and again, especially as my clothing colour palette is so muted.
- Family hand-me-downs are an important part of my collection, some are handmade jumpers or passed down jewellery pieces. I have a vintage shirt that seems to raise its head from season to season too. I'll never get rid of the hand-me down Aran cardigans family members have knit over the years.
And here's one of the twinny, Ruth wearing one of our family classic Aran knits in a photo shoot I styled for her band 'New Portals.' Can't beat a good hand-me down & it's so great when pieces like this are re-born. Check out their music HERE & see some of the other photos I've styled:)
Again, these are only suggestions to freeing up some creative energy in your life and limiting the anxiety that can arise with too much choice. The whole idea is to NOT jump back into old habits of spending and consuming. I’m really only learning about what it is to be a responsible consumer. I’m inspired to be part of a ‘slow’ fashion movement where we mindfully consider our clothing purchases and steer away from the fast-disposable fashion culture that is inevitably filling our landfills with non- biodegradable tat- Living with a collection of LESS is a great way to start in this.
I’ll leave you with some pinterest spring inspo of some wardrobe items that I simply love to look at and loads of helpful resources below to get your on your way in 2016.
Love Rebekah x
Here’s some helpful resources:
-Marie Kondo’s publication- ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective way to Banish Clutter Forever.’
- A Minimalist Family Blog- http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/
-The Minimalist Fashion Blog- http://www.un-fancy.com.
- A TEDx Talk. ‘A Rich life with Less Stuff,’ by The Minimalists, http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/A-Rich-Life-with-Less-Stuff-The- or http://www.theminimalists.com/start/
-Consider where your discarded clothes are going? Are they going to end up in landfills? Maybe someone could up-cycle or consider donating your leftover Pregnancy clothes to a local Pregnancy Care Charity. One local to Belfast is life.ni/pregnancy Matters charity shop. It's called 'Vie'- 183 Lisburn Rd. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vie-Charity-Shop.
-Drew Barrymore- Why I Put My Closet On A Diet (In 6 Simple Steps,)
-Netflix Documentary -The True Cost.
-http://www.peopletree.co.uk- a Sustainable and Fair Trade Fashion Company.