I’ve been blogging about shopping & personal style for a long time. I didn’t go back and count, but can you guess how many times I called something “perfect?” or wore something I referred to as “the perfect __________?” A lot of times. Too many times.
Here’s the thing I had to come to terms with when I realized I had too much stuff: there is no such thing as perfect; when it comes to our wardrobes, or anything else in life, really. There’s not a perfect jacket, or perfect pair of jeans, perfect tote, perfect boots, perfect ANYTHING. No body is perfect, no thing is perfect, no experience is perfect. There is no such thing as perfect.*
There’s “better than”, sure, but is there “perfect?” How can there be? And what happens when we do find the “perfect” pair of jeans? Will we have to stop shopping for jeans? Will we have to wear THAT PARTICULAR pair of jeans for the REST OF OUR LIVES? Are we only allowed to have one “perfect” pair of jeans? Who makes the rules, anyway?
And what happens when we do find the “perfect” pair of jeans? Will we have to stop shopping for jeans? Will we have to wear THAT PARTICULAR pair of jeans for the REST OF OUR LIVES?
Oh, right, Lucky, Vogue & Refinery29, that’s who. And don’t forget about Pinterest. It’s never going to stop, though, those articles and images featuring “10 perfect pieces for fall every woman needs,” or “how to build a perfect wardrobe,” because they feed into our insecurities, into our desire to think we can actually ACHIEVE perfection. Even though it’s impossible, and entirely subjective. I think we look for ways to disguise our own (perceived) imperfections by having stuff that is perfect. I did.
I thought that by having this “perfect” wardrobe of stuff that was “perfect,” that I would somehow become “perfect” too. That I could make myself perfect inside by creating an illusion around me, instead of actually working from the inside out. It seemed easier.
But it didn’t work, and as it happens, I love to shop. So my quest for perfection in my closet only led me to acquire too much stuff. So much stuff, that I was overwhelmed, and felt stifled in the end. Because I was also buying into the minimalist’s ideal (what I perceived it to be, anyway) that you need to have only one or two of any particular item, and that it must be “classic,” and that you’ll need to wear it for at least five years, or “forever”. So, naturally, each item must be “perfect.”
Because I was also buying into the minimalist’s ideal (what I perceived it to be, anyway) that you need to have only one or two of any particular item, and that it must be “classic,” and that you’ll need to wear it for at least five years, or “forever”.
A lot of pressure, no? And I tried, believe me, I tried. I shopped and bought and tried to find the perfect pair of black pants, but somehow ended up with 3-4 pairs of black pants that I love. Which is turns out is quite nice, and “perfect” for me, because I like to have different shapes, styles & silhouettes to suit my sartorial mood for the day. I would never be happy with just one pair of slim black pants.
But still I thought I could finally find THE PERFECT JEANS, and then be done shopping for jeans. Then I could move on to the PERFECT white t-shirt, and then be done shopping for white t-shirts (ahem. 26 “perfect” white t-shirts later..). Finally I would work up to building my perfect 10-piece wardrobe so I could be done shopping forever and turn my attentions to something else.
Ha! Why would I want to be done shopping forever? What was I thinking? Oh, right…I thought I found an easy answer to “fixing” my internal dialogue that I’m not good enough. I thought I could just buy all the “perfect” things and then I would be perfect too.
But here’s the irony (popular, not literary…) of the whole situation: all I needed to do was come to terms with the fact that I am “perfect” already, RIGHT NOW, and that the things I have left in my closet are perfect too. Ultimately I discovered these two things in tandem. My desire to create a more minimal closet, the budget constraints I placed on myself, and my willingness to do the internal work all worked together and helped me recognize that my quest for perfection was what was hurting me. Over and over again in every aspect of my life – I would strive for some unachievable goal of perfection, then get overwhelmed because I couldn’t reach it.
My closet = my life, and my life was reflected in my closet.
So, I had to step back, and realize that it was okay for me to create my own minimalist journey, my own minimal closet (without rules and “ten perfect things”), and then to accept that my life as it is right now, and the things/experiences/people I have chosen to fill it with are perfect. Because they are what IS.
In practical terms, though, what I consider to be “perfect” in my closet:
The things I already own
The things I can afford
The things I love
The thing that is right for right now
And that is my new mantra. I have also learned to be more grateful for what I have, and try to appreciate all the aspects of my life (including what’s in my closet) every day. That, I think, helps me to feel more “full” and satisfied with what I have, not wanting to keep searching for something else. Now that I have let go of the pressure to be perfect, to have perfect things, I feel free to be me, and have what I truly love.
I’m already thinking about the idea “settling” and buying the best you can afford…because that’s a whole other side of “perfection” I struggle with constantly. Next week!!
How do you deal with a quest for perfection? Do you have that desire to always have the “perfect” thing? have you found your perfect things?
*what is perfect is this moment right now. The jeans you’re wearing, the sunset you’re looking at, the home you’re living it, the life you’re living; they’re all perfect because they make up little bits of your life right now.