Thank you to Elizabeth Holmes at the WSJ for featuring my journey and this series of articles in her piece today: “Fashion Brands’ Message for Fall Shoppers: Buy Less, Spend More“
Here’s the thing with us (lovers of fashion, clothing & personal style): things matter. And they always will. We love things. We love beautiful things we can carry, wear on our bodies & feet and use to adorn our necks. We admire excellent fit, interesting shapes, colors & patterns. We look forward to shopping for new seasons, trying on clothes, finding great jeans, boots we can live in…and then, some of use really enjoy talking about it…
But, as I touched on in my appreciation post, we (lovers of things) can also stand to learn that we don’t need to have all the things to appreciate them, and to love them. We must be more aware of the THINGS we acquire and only add to our lives the things that MATTER. The other things, we can admire from afar.
I have struggled with that. And do still struggle with that: I have moments when I want to buy something just because I can. And just because it’s there for me to buy. But then I ask myself what does this thing MEAN that I want to buy? Will it add enjoyment to my life? will it make me more free? or will it just add to the burden of stuff?
A recent example of this is the James Perse slim sweatpants I bought and sent back. I bought them because I thought I needed them, and because I had credit at Shopbop. I also tried them on in person and loved the way they fit. But when they came, I spent some time trying them on with everything else in my closet, wasn’t “wowed” by them, and decided to send them back.
If I’d kept them, I would have worn them. A lot. But then I wouldn’t wear my other James Perse sweatpants as often, or my Frame jeans, or my harem pants. Do I want to add another piece of clothing to what I already have, thereby taking enjoyment away from the things I already own and love? I decided not. (I might also be somewhat over slouchy crotch pants…but that’s beside the point!)
The old me would definitely have kept them, folded them up in the drawer and moved on to another thing. But the new me wants to be more careful about what I buy; more thoughtful, conscious and deliberate about the things I add to my now minimal closet. Those sweatpants just didn’t make the cut.
I want the things around me to matter. ALL of the things. Every piece I display on my desk or in my office matters; has some meaning behind it. The photos and pictures my husband and I display around our house matter, the books I’ve kept over years and years of moving matter. But up until now, a lot of my clothes/shoes/bags didn’t MATTER. Some were after thoughts, purchased on sale because the price was so good, or while I was under the influence of a friend at Zara.
Fellow minimalists may say that things shouldn’t matter – that we should devote all of our energy on “collecting” experiences and people instead of collecting things. I would say that we should take care to be aware of how much time, energy and money we spend on “things” and try to balance it with collecting experiences and enjoying time with family & friends, but who’s to say what SHOULD matter more to each person? Not me.
If I do know one thing it’s that we are who we are. We love what we love, and it’s much more productive (and fulfilling) to accept that rather than fight against it. I mentioned that in my Minimal Closet: Wardrobe Reality post; first have to accept reality before you can make changes and get rid of things – it’s the fighting against reality, and trying to be someone we are NOT that causes all the problems.
I’m tired of apologizing for my love of clothes & shopping. And I would certainly never ask anyone else to. All I will do is try to channel that love for clothes & shopping into being more aware of when and what I should buy, and only then buying the best, most meaningful things I can.
For those of us to whom things matter, the key now, I think, is to focus on only acquiring things THAT matter. Not things that are so cheap they might as well be free, things that we don’t love, things that were gifts but we really don’t care for, or things that we thought we could wear but can’t…
Seek out and buy things that add joy to your morning, beauty to your life, and a smile to your spirit. Those are the things that matter.
Read more in the The Minimal Closet series: