Minimalism isn’t for everyone, but for me, it is the natural progression of my desire to have quality pieces over MORE pieces, my financial constraints/goals right now (getting out of debt), and my overwhelming urge to just HAVE FEWER and more meaningful things.
This isn’t about being someone else, or that woman who owns all of “The Ten Things Every Woman Must Own” (even though she doesn’t wear half of them) – this is about making your life better by having fewer, better, more meaningful things.
But the hardest part, after admitting you may have a shopping problem, is taking that first step towards purging your overflowing closet, making it more manageable – and ready for adding a few new things if necessary.
I did it in several steps and it took years in total, but now, I’ve got it down to less than 100 pieces – all things I love and wear.
I don’t think I could have done this in my 30’s, or even just a year or so ago. You really have to be ready to make a significant change, and to do the work. It’s not HARD work, but it can be frustrating, and quite depressing, once you get in your closet and boxes of clothes to realize how much money you’ve wasted on things that you never wore as much as you thought you would, things with the tags still on them, or things you bought with your sale goggles on.
For me, the most important first step (and also the inevitable outcome), was stopping arguing with reality (I heard this term on Oprah radio. It’s perfect in this situation!). Before I even started to get rid of things, I had to face the reality that my life is much more casual than most, and come to terms with the fact that I needed to start dressing for my “every day” life – the life I have now – instead of the life where I own a small boutique and/or Pure Barre studio and hang out on the beach during my off time!
I work from home
Sometimes I work from home ALL DAY and don’t leave
I wear “home clothes” at home
I travel pretty frequently, but mostly to see family. Sometimes Leo & I take quick city vacations.
I have very few occasions where I have to “dress up” – none, really
I prefer flats
I wear black, white, or grey only
Honestly, what I would wear for my “fantasy” life isn’t that different than what I do wear now, I would just get to wear things more often, and for people other than myself. Which shouldn’t matter much, but sometimes it does. I do believe in dressing for yourself, and in what you love, no matter the situation (as long as you’re appropriate), but I also appreciate having a REASON to get dressed, you know?
Once I was firmly entrenched in my reality, I decided that I needed to get rid of most things I hadn’t worn in a year or more, unless they were seasonal, or special items. I don’t really have many of those types of things, but I did decide to keep a couple of special occasion dresses (cobalt blue ACNE dress for one) and a camel hair blazer that I don’t wear much.
Then, I finally had to part with things I love, but didn’t fit, or that I didn’t wear frequently enough like my beloved Goldsign jeans, Mociun dress, anything silk…
I also decided that I wanted to get rid of anything that wasn’t black, white or gray. Period. I didn’t own a lot that didn’t fit into that color scheme, but there were some things, and they went, without question. Also stripes or any pattern at all, even black/white or gray/black, except for one long, long-sleeve black/white striped top.
I found it helpful to do these things in steps, gradually. I took a long time, longer than I should have, but basically I put things in boxes or in a second closet that I didn’t wear much, didn’t like, or didn’t want anymore. If they were still there in a year, never having been touched, then they were the first to go.
Everything in your closet should be something that makes you smile AND that contributes to your being YOUR BEST SELF
I still have a box full of clothes up in my closet I’m still deciding what to do with. It’s full of t-shirts & tops I could layer come fall/winter, so I wanted to give them another season to see if I reach for anything. If I don’t, then they’ll be purged next spring.
Overall, that is what has worked for me – my journey has been long, and full of back and forths, and it’s not over yet! (hopefully it won’t ever be…). Maybe these suggestions will help you?
Stop arguing with reality – accept yours
What is your lifestyle? What do you like to wear for work? for play? Nearly everything in your closet SHOULD fit your current lifestyle, with only one or two items for special occasions. Unless you have special occasions very frequently (formal dinners, cocktail parties, etc., etc.,) and need more than one or two. In that case, then, your “lifestyle” is such that you need more “formal/special” clothes – and that is your reality. Stop buying jeans 🙂
Also, accept what you love. If you love to wear flats, then stop arguing against them, and wear them! If you love hot pink, wear it! If you can live in sweats, and you’re happy with that, then go with it! This isn’t about being someone else, or that woman who owns all of “The Ten Things Every Woman Must Own” (even though she doesn’t wear half of them) – this is about making your life better by having fewer, better, more meaningful things.
Get rid of things you haven’t worn in a year or more
unless they’re seasonal or “special” items. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if you have a casual lifestyle where you can pretty much wear everything all of the time, then you shouldn’t really own much that doesn’t get worn within a year. If you do, purge it.
Get rid of things that don’t fit or are in very bad shape
That goes for clothes that are TOO SMALL also; at least put them away – I always found that having things around that I was too big for was more depressing than motivating. Anyway, this follows from dressing for the LIFE you have now – dress for the SIZE you are now, not the one you want to be. Accept and love your body at any stage and have the right clothing to fit it.
Decide on your colors and get rid of things that don’t fit within those parameters
Also patterns. I got rid of all my stripes, except a black & white striped shirt, because I never wore them. Stripes are one of those things I enjoy more on other people…not me.
KEEP ONLY THINGS YOU LOVE AND THAT LOVE YOU BACK
Everything in your closet should be something that makes you smile AND that contributes to your being YOUR BEST SELF. when you wear it, you must feel like “you” not like someone else. You must feel comfortable in your clothes and happy in them. Invest in pieces that are the highest quality you can afford so you won’t have to worry about them falling apart, or replacing them next season. Anything that can’t give you those things, get rid of. Period.
*when I say “get rid of” I mean donate or give away or sell. PLEASE do not throw anything away, unless it’s really really gross. Also, you can get rid of things to a box up high in your closet if this feels better – temporarily of course. If you haven’t touched the box in a year, then get rid of everything in it.
**I am not an expert, and these are not rules to follow for creating a minimal closet. This is my journey, these are my experiences, and guidelines I’ve created for myself. I’m passing them on to you in case they’ll help you on your journey. That’s all. This is not meant to be hard.
I don’t think we’re meant to struggle so much with our wardrobes. But we shopaholics and fashion/style-lovers are constantly searching and looking at what’s new, what’s interesting, what’s different and we’re always tweaking/refining our wardrobes. Ultimately, this should lead to less, not more, but on the journey to less, we will inevitably acquire more. We ARE perfectionists, I think. In our wardrobes at least. And that is where we go wrong. It’s where I’ve gone wrong; searching for my perfect wardrobe. In the past, that never-ending search had always left me with too much and at the same time, not enough…
But more on that next week. There is no such thing as perfect. Right??
read more in the The Minimal Closet series: