Letting go of clothes with sentimental value

I think de-cluttering is like a muscle.  When you’re not used to de-cluttering, it seems too difficult and even overwhelming to start.  I found I needed to build up gradually, although I know of those who cheerfully threw themselves in the deep end.  But the more I de-cluttered, the easier I found it.   My de-cluttering muscle grew stronger and more toned!  I could make decisions on what to keep and what to let go, quickly and without too much analysis or angst.  Until it came to a sentimental item ….

I’ve written before about letting go of clothes that no longer fit me and this was relatively easy to do.  In fact, when the reason I was giving them away was because they were too big for me, I did it with a sense of relish!   However, there was one dress I never wore but never let go.  When I was reviewing my seasonal wardrobe, I would move hurriedly past it, convincing myself that it still ‘sparked joy’.  I loved it but to ‘spark joy’ it needs to tick a lot of boxes and a lot of those boxes were empty.  It’s a pretty dress but it no longer fit me and was no longer my style.  I had few occasions to wear it and when one did come around, I would always reach for something else instead.

So, this time, instead of racing past it, I took a deep breath and took it off the hanger.  It sparked …. something … I just wasn’t sure it was joy.  I tried it on – it looked awful and I knew I would never wear it out of the house again.  So, why was I keeping it?

I bought this dress for my twin nephews’ christening ceremony ten years ago and the celebrations afterwards.  Every time I saw the dress, I would feel a warm glow when remembering the day.  But that’s what I was remembering – the occasion – and I didn’t need the dress for that.  I was confusing a piece of material with warm memories and the joy of being with family and the arrival of our two wonderful boys.  I am lucky enough to have three nephews and a niece but I don’t see them very often so all time with them is precious.   However, I need to disentangle the memories of time with them from inanimate objects. 

I have photos of the day and me wearing the dress and that’s plenty, it’s enough, it’s more than enough.  Letting the dress go does not mean letting the memories go.   I dropped it off at my favourite charity shop, hoping that someone else will create happy memories for themselves in it.

Summer 2017 Capsule Wardrobe – Plan

I want to be cautious about how I phrase this because I feel I’m tempting fate but summer MAY have just started here in the UK.  We’ve had some very mixed weather and a couple of very warm days and, as I’ve had my spring capsule for three months, I’ve decided it’s time for my summer one 🙂

My routine is a well-oiled machine at this stage!  I’ve reviewed my spring capsule to see how well it’s worked (quite well, actually) and pulled my summer clothes out of storage.  I’ve decided how many pieces from my spring capsule are going back into storage and how many I’m letting go (only two).  My summer clothes are a different story.  For some bizarre reason, I seem to have a disproportionate amount of these – it’s a combination of them being more fun to buy and there’s less wear and tear on them as summer is so short!  I was tempted to be a bit lazy and decide by eye what was going to form part of the capsule but previous lessons learned compelled me to actually try things on.  Twelve months has made a difference in preference, style and especially size and many pieces will not make the cut.

I will decide over the next week what I am actually taking forward into the capsule.  Another lesson learned is not to only choose light, summery pieces as layers can be essential to counteract cooler days and open windows (for those of us without air-conditioned offices!).   I need to review the capsule in its entirety and then see if there are any gaps.  I’ve only spotted one so far (a layering piece!) but think I will be letting go of over ten pieces from last year’s wardrobe, the majority of which do not fit properly any more and one or two which are no longer my style.

Summer always seems the simplest capsule for which to plan but also the easiest one to fall into a ‘fantasy lifestyle’.  In my head, I could picture myself wearing long, floaty dresses for picnics and days out, but of course, work and life will go on as normal and my wardrobe needs to be quite similar to previous seasons, just not as focused on keeping me warm all the time!   I’ll still need a combination of work appropriate clothes, along with more casual ones and the one floaty dress will probably be fine for my upcoming social calendar!

Capsule Wardrobe: Basics, key pieces and statement pieces

I was always a big fan of Anuschka Rees’ blog, Into Mind and was thrilled when she recently published her book called The Curated Closet.   It’s chock-full of useful strategies and ideas and one in particular, feels like a great way to view clothes in a slightly different way.

Anuschka maintains that the basis to a great wardrobe, which will allow a versatile mix of pieces and enable multiple different looks, is to have the right balance of:  Basic pieces, that form the backbone of your wardrobe; key pieces, that add versatility and encapsulate your own personal style; statement pieces, that will enable you to add variety and a little something special.

The great thing about this approach is that these pieces may be different for everyone.  What is a basic for me may be a key piece for you.  I feel this simple tactic is powerful because it allows me to see my capsule wardrobe in a different light.  At the moment, the basics and key pieces are well covered but I’m a bit light on the statement pieces so if I need one, I tend to go to my tiny ‘special occasion’ capsule and pull out something from there.  This is where I keep a couple of special dresses to wear to a wedding or a party, a smart pair of shoes, a dressy top or a sparkly jacket!  However, with Anuschka’s approach, by incorporating a small number of statement pieces into my ‘normal’ capsule, I can wear these special pieces more often and not keep them for the ‘just in case’ times.  It will also allow better mixing and matching and jazzing up a plain outfit to make it more my own.

I will be starting to think of my summer capsule wardrobe in a few weeks’ time so I’ve decided to use this approach for summer shoes, to dip a toe in the water first, so to speak.  I tend to live in flats in the summer and wear my heels far more in the colder months.  They also go better with my summer clothes.  So, I could view my black ballet flats, which feel like slippers after 4 years, as basics; my pointed flats which, because of their neutral colour, go with many combinations and are a key piece; and my pink flats could make a statement, with a more neutral outfit.  Before this, I think I may have been inclined to pair my neutral flats with neutral basic clothes – resulting in a ‘meh’ kind of look.

     

The other reason I love this approach is that minimalism is all about de-cluttering the excess and appreciating what we are so fortunate to have now.  Loving and using things on a daily basis and not putting them away for ‘special’ occasions seems a better way.  Every day is special, right?

Easter Meltdown!

Happy Easter to you all 🙂  Mr. Minimal-Lol kindly bought me an Easter egg to celebrate the day.  This is what it should look like – viewed in its pristine condition on the M&S website. 

However, in an effort to be super-organized, he purchased it early in the morning and then left it on the back seat of the car, on a sunny day, only to remember it some hours later.   Like my wardrobe, it has undergone some down-sizing and this is what I was presented with this morning!  Nothing like starting the day off with a laugh!

This will be shared between us and enjoyed in stages over the next few days.  There was a time when an Easter egg may not have safely made it to lunchtime, still intact.  I believe there is a real connection between minimalism, healthy eating and weight loss.   I began my minimalism journey about three years ago, when I badly needed to simplify my life, in order to deal with some extra pressures.  It’s a work in progress and I have a long way to go.  However, an unforeseen benefit has been the impact on my weight.

It started when I became interested in a capsule wardrobe.  I had some major de-cluttering sessions and I found a variety of sizes, for my weight spectrum.  First of all, there were the clothes that fit me at that time.  True, they were uninspiring and boring but they fit – that was the key factor that earned their place in the wardrobe.  Then there were my just-in-case clothes – in case I increased my weight, I had a mini capsule of clothes just waiting for that dreaded day.  Talk about creating the conditions for weight gain.  I had a real wake-up call when I realized that was why I was holding on to these clothes – as though it was outside my control if I gained such a significant amount of weight, that I needed clothes in a whole other size.

Then there were the tantalizing few pieces that ‘when I slimmed down’, I would fit into perfectly.  They never really acted as a motivation but it felt like a goal achieved when I started wearing them again.  But I found that many of them were tainted and heavy with the weight of hope and despondency, so they only sparked limited joy.  They were never going to live up to the expectations I had placed on them.  My transition to a more intentional way of shopping and indeed viewing my wardrobe is my long-term goal.

I didn’t so much minimalize my food as de-clutter the cupboard that contained the sugary foods and that made the most difference.  I realized that the simplicity I craved in my wardrobe could best be attained by achieving a stable weight, which would allow a wardrobe with fewer but better quality clothes that I loved and that fit me well.  So, I will enjoy nibbling on a small piece of the lovely (albeit transformed in a melted sort of way!) Easter egg that Mr. M-L bought me but, as in my wardrobe, less can be more satisfying than more, and way better for body and mind than too much.  Enjoy the break 🙂

De-cluttering by season

white-shirtThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is one of my favourite books and is invaluable in my ongoing journey to simplicity.  When I first read it, I did a wardrobe de-clutter and it was so satisfying.  I re-phrased ‘does it spark joy?’ to ‘does it add value?’ as it worked better for me.  My raincoat doesn’t exactly spark joy but as I live in England, it adds immeasurable value.

However, looking back, I fell into a silly and obvious trap.  If, for example, I de-cluttered three worn, ill-fitting or unflattering white shirts, I then bought a single white shirt in their place, that fit my new criteria, or so I thought.  I even felt a warm, self-satisfied glow, thinking I had replaced three items with one.  If that wasn’t minimalism, what was?!!  What I didn’t do, was ask the most basic question of ‘do I actually need a white shirt?’.  Having three shirts or one was not the problem.  Having one of any item that I don’t wear or have a need for, is not helping the simplicity journey!

While I am so pleased that I carried out the initial overall wardrobe de-clutter, I now carry out a seasonal, smaller de-clutter that works better for me.  When I transition my clothes from one season to another, I review what I loved wearing and why and what I didn’t reach for and why.   The majority of pieces are either carried forward for a future capsule or I let them go, in the hope that someone else will find a use for and a pleasure in them, which had eluded me.

I then try on every piece that I had put aside for the forthcoming season and subject them to the same scrutiny.  I find the overlapping review of seasons – past and future – is a better indicator, especially now, when I have been losing some weight over the past year.  Although a season is only three months, weight loss can make a difference – and far more so with bottoms, than tops, I’ve noticed.

I still read Marie Kondo’s helpful book and dip in and out of it quite often.  She does frame her method as being a one-off tidying exercise and, if done properly, it never has to be done again.  However, I see my seasonal weeding out as an ongoing review of what suits me and my lifestyle, rather than a significant de-cluttering task.  It feels like a mindful and intentional way of reviewing and appreciating the clothes I am so lucky to have.