Neutral cardigan and the absence of joy

I love Marie Kondo’s phrase of ‘does this spark joy?’ when reviewing an item, but sometimes think it’s overstating how I feel.  My raincoat doesn’t exactly spark joy but I wouldn’t be without it.  So, I’ve tended to use The Minimalists’ phrase of ‘does this add value to my life?’.  This suits me better and allows me to make sensible choices when deciding what to keep or what to de-clutter.

But I have found that there are cases when ‘joy’ describes what ‘value’ can’t.  That’s when I understand why Konmari uses the word ‘joy’.

Some time ago, I came across a cardigan in a neutral, stone colour.  I immediately thought, ‘this will be so useful – the neutral colour will go with everything – it will be (that holy grail item) a wardrobe staple’.  I also thought that it was a bit ‘meh’ but I sensibly tamped down this feeling!

I bought it, took it home and hung it in the middle of my capsule wardrobe.  I felt pleased with myself for my sensible decision and was confident that it would add value to my wardrobe.

But here’s the thing – it didn’t spark joy.  It felt worthy and sensible and practical – but I never looked forward to wearing it.  The colour didn’t suit me, I felt I had to shrug my shoulders constantly to make it sit right and it always felt a bit dull – and this coming from someone who wears black A LOT!

I valued the practicality over the joy and, on this occasion, it didn’t work out.

Now, I have a pair of plain, black trousers – I love them, not only the trousers themselves, but because they go with so many items.  They look professional for work, I feel pulled together when I wear them and they’re comfortable.  Others may look at them and think ‘dull’!  But they spark joy for me. 

I think joy and value are unique, individual feelings.  The cardigan has helped me to distinguish between erring too much on the logical side and being comfortable with a gut feeling.

So, I’ve let the cardigan go, with no regrets.  Are you ever torn between practicality and joy?  Which wins?!!  Have a great week 🙂

Fear and clothing in Hartley Wintney

You know when you’re so enthusiastic about something that you actually put someone off?!

I was talking to a friend last week – she complimented me on my dress and I thanked her.

‘Of course, you do that capsule wardrobe thing, don’t you?’ she said.

‘Yes’, I replied.  ‘I love it – I’d never go back to how I was before.  It’s so easy to get dressed now and I’ve got more time and I’m wearing all of my favourite clothes and ….’

‘I could never do it’ she blurted, with a look of mild panic in her eyes.  ‘I mean, it’s okay for you but it just wouldn’t work for me’.

Foolishly, I ignored the warning signals.  ‘But that’s what’s so great about it – I think it could work for everyone – although in different ways.  You could adjust it to suit your own lifestyle’.

‘No’ she replied firmly.  And then she started to list reasons why she thought it wouldn’t work for her.  She ended by saying she would dread the process and I could see she was genuinely fearful of the perceived disruption and loss that may accompany it.  At one point, I think she was afraid I would turn up on her doorstep with a roll of bin-bags under my arm and the light of battle in my eyes as I anticipated a massive clear-out!

But I was cross with myself that I’d put her in a position where she felt the need to explain and justify.

The poor girl just wanted to give me a compliment on my dress – she probably won’t do that again in a hurry!!

She thought I was trying to convert her but I felt I was just sharing my enthusiasm.

This is why my blog and my readers are so important to me – I feel I am connecting with like-minded people who share an approach to living with less and greater simplicity – all to varying degrees.  I don’t feel I have many other people like that around me, so my enthusiasm can sometimes get the better of me.

Tips for not alienating those around you!

  • Don’t evangelize! I didn’t embrace this process overnight so why would I think someone else would?
  • If others see me being more content with less, it may spark questions or an interest – but it may not and that’s perfectly fine.
  • Some people have a genuine fear of missing out, doing with less, regretting de-cluttering, missing a favourite dress, shopping less or what they feel is wasting money – these are all valid emotions and ones I have had myself over the last few years.
  • Show – don’t tell! Try not to impose a view on someone who has not shown a genuine desire to change.

Has your enthusiasm ever taken over?!  Have a great week 🙂

Image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.co.uk

Summer Capsule – 14 tops!

What was I thinking?! 

Some time ago, I wrote about my disquiet regarding this summer’s capsule wardrobe .  I felt it hadn’t gelled as well as it might have done but I wasn’t sure why.  I was also slightly bemused as to why I felt the need to include 14 tops (pictures of some below!)

I got some insightful comments in response to the couple of posts I discussed this in – especially from The Change Agent, Stay at Home Minimalist, Enchanted Outlook, Introvertomatic and Value Simplicity – sincere thanks to you all – check out their brilliant blogs.  They pointed out that minimalism is not the pursuit of perfectionism, but a journey full of learning and experiences.

So I ventured back into my capsule and reviewed it.  I had a pair of trousers that did not flatter me at all but were such a useful colour.  I had a perfectly nice, well-cut skirt that I hardly wore because I reached for the unflattering trousers instead!  And I had 14 tops!  Guess what?

Turns out I’m not wearing them all!

I know!  I can feel your amazement through cyberspace, as you throw your hands up in disbelief!!

What was I thinking?

You see, I loved them all.  And they were good for different occasions.  But one of my goals is to have my clothes cross over from a work to a casual capsule effortlessly and not exist in siloes.  Yet this is what I did.   Also, summer clothes are a bit of a novelty in the UK and I wanted to include everything, not knowing when I might wear it again.  Some of my other pieces I can carry from season to season, but pretty summer tops?  Not so much.

So my blogger friends helped me put things in perspective, re-visit my capsule, swap some things out and just chill.  While the number 33 is only a framework, I noticed I started with 35.  I changed to 31 and am so much happier.

Turns out less is not just more, less is enough. Have a great week 🙂

Capsules and special occasion pieces

Do special occasion pieces belong in a capsule wardrobe?

I mean those items I only reach for when I have a special event.  A pretty dress, a fancy skirt, an embellished top.  Not the workhorses of my day-to-day wardrobe.

I don’t have many of these events.  My normal social life is well-catered for from my capsule.  Also, I am loathe to have one of my precious, few spaces taken up by an item I may wear only once in a season.

So, I’ve created a tiny, occasion capsule.  This works for parties, fancy dinners and special evenings out.  It contains:

  • Two dresses – one red lace and one dark beaded number
  • One gold brocade skirt, that dresses up the plainest top
  • Two embellished tops
  • My beloved Mulberry shoes, bought for 10% of their original price in Bicester Village!
  • A pretty little clutch, picked up in a local charity shop

I don’t wear only these but I find that one or two of these pieces lift some of my more ‘ordinary’ clothes up a level and I feel more dressed up, which is half the fun of going out.

These clothes last and last because I wear them so seldom but I get the thrill of novelty when I put them on.   I don’t need to go panic shopping if I have a party or wedding to go to – I wear them so infrequently that they seem like new and I never mind repeating outfits!

This weekend, it’s Mr. Minimal-Lol’s birthday and we are going to go out in style to celebrate.  Fancy restaurant is booked, cocktails are featuring on the agenda and I will be reaching into my occasion capsule.

There are some who would reason that a capsule should be self-contained but this way works best for me.  I’ve noticed I have tiny capsules for jewellery, beach wear (worn once a year!), sleep wear and workout wear – these do not usually comprise part of a main capsule.   But I’m now so in the capsule habit that I have no desire to over-compensate in these areas.  The same principles apply.

Now, which piece to wear this evening?  I think it will be the red dress – always a favourite of Mr. Minimal-Lol’s – and it is his birthday!  Have a great week 🙂

 

Summer capsule – key pieces

Thanks to those of you who said pictures of some of my summer capsule may be helpful.   I have enclosed some of the key pieces that I find myself reaching for again and again.

Why these pieces:

  • Neutral colours
  • Lightweight materials
  • Classic shapes
  • Easy to style

However, I feel this capsule, as a whole, has not quite gelled for me.  I think I have too many pieces or maybe some are not versatile enough or I am not being creative enough!   Rather than angsting too much over this, I am treating it as an experiment and an opportunity to learn.

There was a time when a filled wardrobe would have led me to believe that I always had the ‘right clothes’ even though I used to stand in front of it, in despair at not finding something to wear.  Now, a half-filled wardrobe seems too full.  I believe I may have veered too much towards loving some pretty summer pieces, because they are a novelty in our climate, and not enough towards choosing versatile pieces, which earn their place.

I looked in my wardrobe today and thought ‘can I really call myself a minimalist?!’.  The answer is yes because all the ups and downs are simply another step towards a less cluttered, more meaningful life.  This is the beauty of minimalism.  It is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

When I feel overwhelmed, I often turn to other blogs which inspire and re-vitalize me.   Be More with Less and A Small Wardrobe never fail me!

A review of this capsule when summer is over should prove an interesting learning experience!

Is it just me?  Does anyone else feel they get setbacks when they thought they had cracked something?  I’d really love to hear from you.  In the meantime, have a great week 🙂

What’s in my summer capsule wardrobe

After all the planning and reviewing, my summer capsule is up and running.  I’ve taken stock of what I already have, bought a couple of new pieces, carried forward some from other capsules and dug some out of storage.  So, what have I included this year?

 

A few stats:

  • 8 bottoms (3 trousers, 3 skirts and 2 pairs of jeans)
  • 4 toppers (2 jackets and 2 cardigans)
  • 14 tops (of various sleeve lengths)
  • 2 dresses
  • 4 pairs of shoes (3 pairs of sandals and 1 pair of shoes)
  • 1 jacket (as outerwear)
  • 2 accessories (1 bag and 1 pair of sunglasses)

 

So 35 pieces in total – although 14 tops – hmmmm……. It’s only when I’ve written that down that it seems excessive.  When I was sorting out through my tops, they all seemed essential.  I’ll have to keep an eye on that and see the number of wears I get from each one.

Tips for a summer capsule:

  • I live in the UK and a range of clothes is preferable, due to the varying weather – it was cold and windy last week, it’s warm and sunny this week.
  • I’m a fan of Project 333 and it’s a brilliant framework, but it is a framework. A strict number of items is great when getting started but I’m a bit more relaxed about the numbers now.  I’m not going to worry about having 35, instead of 33 items (although those 14 tops …..)
  • Mixing and matching is what gives a capsule longevity and prevents boredom, so pick your neutrals with care. For years, I wouldn’t wear black in the summer, reserving it for the colder months.  But so many of my tops look great against a canvas of a black trousers or jeans.
  • Be realistic about how you’ll be spending your time. Dress for your real life – work, walking the dog, running errands, sitting outside – not a fantasy lifestyle.
  • If an item doesn’t work, swap it for one that does – it’s an experiment, not rules set in stone.

 

If anyone is interested in seeing pictures of the actual pieces, let me know in the comments below and I’ll include them in my next post.  In the meantime, enjoy your week 🙂

Summer 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

I’m creating a summer capsule wardrobe – anyone like to join me?

The days are getting warmer and my clothes need to be more summer appropriate.  Time to ditch the dark colours and woollen jumpers!

So, using the framework of Project 333, I’ve decided to create a small, carefully curated wardrobe of summer clothes.  I’ll include only clothes that fit me well, that I love and that suit my lifestyle.  I think I’ll end up with about 35 pieces – slipping in a cheeky 2 extra pieces – and see how I get on with that.  These 35 pieces will include all my tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes and accessories.

Why do a capsule?

  • I can choose clothes that I love and that suit me.
  • An edited wardrobe with a limited number of pieces is easy to choose from when getting dressed and that will make …..
  • Getting dressed in the morning simpler and quicker.
  • I already have a lot of clothes from last summer – re-using them will mean spending less money.
  • My wardrobe will not be crammed and over-flowing.
  • My ‘floordrobe’ will be a dim and distant memory.
  • Fewer clothes mean I will appreciate those I have more.
  • The clothes that make the cut are usually higher quality, as they will need to withstand greater wear and tear.
  • I’ll choose only my favourite items, so I’ll be wearing my favourite clothes every day – that’s a good start to a morning!
  • Less time spent fussing over my clothes means more time for friends, family and my own interests.

Some concerns:

  • I’m worried I may get bored with so few clothes – so it’s good to have it time-bound i.e. only one season, which is really only 12 weeks.
  • I don’t want people to think I’m wearing the same clothes all the time – so I’ll have to be creative.
  • I hope the extra washing and wearing doesn’t wear out my clothes too quickly.

Some tips:

  • Pick out colours that are easy to mix and match.
  • Make sure to have a good mix of clothes for work and home, especially if you work in a corporate environment.
  • Enjoy it! It’s just an experiment – if it doesn’t turn out exactly as planned, it’s only clothes!

So, I’m going to create my summer capsule this weekend.  I’ll take the clothes out of storage, try them on, select and discard, wash and iron – you know, all the glamorous stuff!

I’ll try it for 3 months and then review to see how well (or otherwise!) it has worked.  If you’re thinking of doing something similar, I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below.

Next week, I’ll write about what clothes I’ve chosen and why.  Have a great week 🙂