A familiar refrain. I’ve certainly said it my share of times: buy what you love, wear what you love, keep what you love. There’s no room in your life for things you don’t love…
But I’ve gotten rid of things I loved.
I’ve not bought things I loved.
I’ve not worn things I love.
I don’t think I’ve ever bought something I didn’t love. So, it can’t be that we should just all buy what we love, or else we’d buy everything. We can love a lot of things, it doesn’t mean we should own them all.
How, then, do you find the intersection of love and practicality in a thing? How do you decide that something you love is practical enough to fit into your everyday life, and that you should therefore add it to your wardrobe? And then, how do you decide when something isn’t practical at all, but brings such a smile to your face, and “sparks joy*” in your heart that you should buy it or keep it anyway? Is there a formula?
(no, I don’t think there is a formula, but there is a process, and a way to find balance)
What does love mean, anyway, when you’re referring to a thing? How do you measure it? by how it makes you feel? by how it makes you look? both? If you were like me after losing weight, everything looked good on my new body, I felt great in everything, and therefore…you got it, I bought everything. Where is all of that now? Most of it is gone. Purged.
I did love those things, once, and I think they served their purpose : they taught me that I don’t NEED to buy everything that fits, or that looks good on me. Which meant I could happily get rid of them.
But assuming you’re trying to keep a small-ish wardrobe, and avoid the overwhelming feeling of having too much – how do you avoid buying everything you love going forward?
Honestly, I’m not really sure – I’m still learning my way around this one, but I think the key lies in finding the intersection between
Buying what you love +
Buying what fits your reality
Love, I think, means that an item “sparks joy” (I can’t think of a better phrase than that, thank you Mari Kondo).
Reality, in general, is not only where you are in your life right now: what you are doing every day, the climate, your budget, etc., but also WHO you are right now. Do you only wear certain colors lately? Hove you stopped wearing heels in favor of flats? How has your style evolved over the last couple of years? As you purged your closet, what did you notice about the things you got rid of? And then, what did you notice about the things you decided to keep?
A personal example: I am very peculiar about wearing “colors” together. Generally, if I’m wearing gray in any item of clothing, I will make a point NOT to wear my gray shoes. Similarly, if I’m wearing an olive green sweater, or my military green jacket, I will probably not want to wear an olive green bag, or pair of shoes.
I know this about myself; it is my reality. I try very hard to fight against it sometimes, because I know it’s ridiculous. But I hardly ever succeed.
This was where I became stumped when I was trying to decide whether or not to get the PS1 in dark olive recently (yes, I know, world’s smallest violin…). I’d go through scenarios in my head where I’d want to wear jeans, a white t-shirt and my military style olive green jacket – would I wear the dark olive PS1? Or would I have to change it out for a black bag? If I would have to change it out, would I resent that I had to do so? Would I regret that I hadn’t simply gotten a black bag, so it would go with everything, in every situation?
Obviously this gets back to my anxiety about having the “right” things in my wardrobe – things that all “go” together. Things which, in theory, assuming I’d chosen correctly, I could pick a top, a bottom, and an outer layer from without even looking, and an outfit would come together “effortlessly.” <- Why would I want to even DO that?? This methodology has its merits, but at a certain point, becomes overkill, and my over-analyzation/anxiety surrounding whether or not to add a thing becomes exhausting, defeating the purpose of having a well-curated wardrobe in the first place. I KNOW I have a cohesive wardrobe of things that work exceptionally well together, EVEN with the addition of an olive green bag. And as you know now, I got the bag. And I love it. It also happens to work very well in my wardrobe. And so, in one last analysis, I devised a multi-step process to use to help me make such decisions about what to buy:
- identifying something I love that I might want to buy (either in person or online. If it’s in person, I’ll try it on, touch it, etc)
- thinking about it for a moment, determining whether or not I want to keep it on my “list” (in person, this happens after I try it on to see if it fits/looks like I want it to)
- sitting with it, letting it settle in (waiting to buy it – I usually implement a 24-hour waiting period…)
- trying it out in my head with the things I already own
- making a decision about whether to buy/keep or not (here’s where, if I buy online, I’ll wait until I receive it to make a final decision – but honestly, lately, I don’t buy a lot online that I’m not already relatively sure of, either having tried it on in person first, or being familiar with the brand)
- buy it, or don’t buy it, keep it or don’t keep it, but finally, letting go, sending any reservations or misgivings down the river in the canoe, peacefully, and never to be seen again…
As long as we are thoughtful, and intentional about what we choose to buy or keep in our wardrobes, we will be content. And feel like we are surrounded by things we love. It is when we stop thinking altogether, OR, when we OVER-THINK to the point of exhaustion, that our lives and our closets become cluttered.
Life is too precious and short not to be surrounded by things you love, and also to beat yourself up about your decisions. Let go. Move on, and enjoy the thing you chose to buy for as long as you can.
How do you make decisions about when to buy what you love, even if it tends to “go against your reality”? What is your process? How do you reconcile love and practicality if they conflict?
*I’m FINALLY reading Mari Kondo’s “The Life-changing magic of tidying up,” from which this phrase comes. I’ll have a full book review later…