A little over a year ago my journey towards a more “minimal closet” was featured in the WSJ (I’m still pinching myself, honestly). Many posts and all this time later, where am I on my journey? Is my closet “minimal?” What has changed, and what hasn’t?
If you read with any regularity at all, you know I’ve struggled quite a bit recently, trying to figure things out amidst life changes (what else is new??). Ultimately, I’ve kept my wardrobe rather small, in spite of adding some new things. And at the end of the day, I’m quite happy with my progress and the momentum going forward, even with all the bumps and detours along the way. Life never goes exactly according to “plan,” does it? (thankfully!) All we can hope for is to learn a little bit along the way…
Minimalism isn’t the answer
I knew this, of course, but still, one can hope for a quick fix, no? As I’ve written before, I thought that once I had all the “perfect” pieces in my wardrobe I’d be content, and never need to shop again. I thought if I got rid of all the excess STUFF in my life, I would never be afraid or feel sad again. I read all the minimalist blogs and saw all the clean, perfect images, meaningful quotes, and thoughtful essays and believed that that could be MY life. If only I pared down, and lived minimally, I would be “happy”. Finally.
Bullshit. It could be that I’m not “happy” because I’m NOT a minimalist (see below), but I don’t think so. Not that I’m not happy. I am. But I am not in that state of blissful freedom and perpetual contented-ness some minimal bloggers live in, or appear to live in, anyway.
I’ve said many times before, what works for some may not work for others. Take capsule wardrobes for example. I find capsule wardrobes anxiety-inducing and a general cop-out for getting to the real hard internal work of coming to terms with an overflowing closet if that’s your concern. But I can only speak for me, and based on my own experience. They work for lots of people, and they may work for you if you try one.
There is NO ONE ANSWER. And there is NO RIGHT ANSWER. The answer is whatever works for you; whatever makes you feel better, content, and like you’re moving in the right direction. The moment you start to move in the wrong direction, shift, and try something new, anything. Maybe maximalism? (I kid…)
I DO believe that the basic message of minimalism – we should live within our means, and consume mostly what we need and some of what we want – holds true, and I aspire to it. I DO now have fewer, better things. And my closet is absolutely minimal compared to where it was a year ago; I know what’s in it and each piece serves a purpose. When/if it doesn’t, I let it go.
So, minimalism is AN answer, but it is not the ONLY answer, nor is it a universal panacea. It felt right to me to move towards having fewer things. I appreciate having less stuff, and love having all my clothes in one place all the time. But don’t believe the minimalist hype, mine or anyone else’s. Embark on your own journey, minimalist or otherwise, figure out what works for you – gets you back in focus.
I am not a Minimalist
In case you haven’t read this post, or haven’t figured out yet, I am not a minimalist. I aspire towards living a more conscious lifestyle with fewer, better, things, but honestly, I abhor labels, so I’m not going to call myself anything. To me, minimalism is about having less (relatively-speaking), it’s not about capsule wardrobes, limited color palettes (although, yes, I do maintain a black/white/gray wardrobe), or depriving oneself of material pleasures.
Perhaps if I had another job, outside of my blogs and my consulting business, I would have a much more streamlined wardrobe. Perhaps not; I have always LOVED clothes, shopping, discovering new designers and interesting pieces. I continue to do what I’ve done for eleven years here on Grechen’s Closet – purchase things on my own and/or receive things from designers to review for you. My mission – my “job,” if you can call something I love so much that – is still to provide honest reviews and real outfit pictures with pieces I appreciate – and think you will too.
Sometimes this means I end up with more things than I need, and eventually most of those things find new homes. And yes, sometimes I do struggle with finding the balance between consuming new and being “content” with what I have. I also make mistakes (ahem. Black Crane culottes). I’m struggling less though, with my own judgment of myself and expectations for my wardrobe than I did earlier in the year, because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am who I am; I love to shop & share my finds here, it’s as simple as that.
As my journey progressed, and I learned more about my clothes, who makes them, and fashion’s impact on the world, it turns out I was no longer interested in heading towards minimalism for minimalism’s sake, I was focusing more on becoming a conscious shopper; being acutely aware of what I add/keep in my wardrobe and why.
Early on in my journey, my goal WAS to become a minimalist, in my closet first, and then my life. The idea of dressing with only ten items was appealing, once. But along the way, reality set in, and I realized that deprivation wasn’t the right path for me; it was never going to work. What DOES work for me is shifting towards simply being more CONSCIOUS of what I choose to add to my wardrobe and keep in my life.
Again, I’m a shopper. I appreciate things. I want to add fewer and fewer things lately, because I know everything I already have, the holes I need to fill, and I avoid shopping to fill emotional needs as opposed to REAL needs. My goal now, and what I want for everyone, is to simply be present when I shop. Shopping is no longer a passive activity, something I do just to pass the time, or fill an emotional void. I’ve done that, which is how I ended up with so many things I didn’t need.
For me, now, shopping is an active, conscious activity. I enjoy being fully in the moment while I shop. Which means I usually do it alone, and with an end goal in mind. All I aspire to is being more aware of why and what I buy. This also means I pay more attention to where my clothes are made, who makes them, and under what conditions. When I choose to buy something, I do it with my eyes wide open, fully aware of what my choice means to myself, to the environment, and to the people around me.
To be sure, being a more conscious shopper doesn’t always mean that I’m making THE RIGHT choice every time. But that’s not what’s important. I can aspire to making the right choice, whatever that is for me, but for now, I at least want to make a better choice, a more informed choice, and I want to OWN my choice fully & completely.
That is all I ask of myself, and all I can ask of anyone else.
If you’ve been following along this past year, and maybe are on your own journey towards a more minimal closet, what have you learned? What have you accomplished? Where are you now, and how do you feel about your journey?
If you’re interested in becoming a more conscious shopper and getting your closet under control, but need a little push, I’m available to help 🙂 Please take a look at my Conscious Closet Consulting services at Grechen Reiter!