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 🙂

Minimalism and shopping

So, I have three handbags:

  • Cross-body bag
  • Large tote
  • One with top handles which I got in the US about 8 years ago

I love that one so much that I rarely use it!!   I annoy myself when I write that.  If a friend told me about a bag she loved but didn’t use, I would be the first to tell her to use it, love it, enjoy it and not keep it for best.  Or even let it go, if it wasn’t bringing value or joy (which is not the case).

I am determined to use it and not just look at it from now on.

It’s a bag not an ornament!

However, my cross-body bag is showing serious signs of wear and tear.  It’s a few years old and the most practical bag I have.  I use it all the time and the cost per wear is pennies at this stage.  It’s so handy for the times when I want my hands to be free or my tote is just too large.

I wanted to replace it but when I went to shop for one, I felt guilty and extravagant.   I went home instead and took out my other two bags, feeling discomfited that I wanted yet a third.  However, my cross-body bag serves a defined purpose that the other two do not.   So I went shopping again.  This time, I approached it in a far more intentional way.  I defined what I wanted a cross-body bag for, when I would use it, how much my budget was and the approximate cost per wear.

I then felt that a second-hand bag was a more sustainable and ethical way to shop and more in keeping with what I am trying to achieve via minimalism.  I found a practical, hardly-used bag on EBay.  It’s good quality and I’m expecting it to last years.  I’m satisfied with my purchase and no longer feel guilty.

 

All this angsting led me to a few thoughts:

 

  • It’s fine to replace an item when it’s worn, once I know I still need it and will use it.
  • Many are minimalists through circumstances and not through choice and I am lucky – so I want to shop with intention and not mindlessly.
  • Shopping and consumerism are not inherently obstructions to a more minimal lifestyle – but for me, intentional shopping and conscious consumerism is the way to go.
  • Purchasing second-hand items extends their life and, for me, feels more sustainable and ethical.
  • I’m going to use and enjoy my new bag – it definitely sparks joy!

Have your shopping habits changed?  I’d love to hear back from you.  Have a great week 🙂

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.

Not Shopping

I felt a great sense of satisfaction recently, when I completed my spring capsule wardrobe.   Not only had I a well-rounded set of clothes, that were favourites and functional, but I don’t need to go clothes shopping again until the next season approaches. 

It’s not that I dislike shopping – very far from it – but one advantage for me of the capsule wardrobe is that I feel a sense of completion and contentment.  If I were to go shopping, what would I shop for?  I don’t need anything for this season and it’s too early to go shopping for next season.  I’m still losing a bit of weight, although within half a stone of my goal, so I don’t want to buy the wrong size.  When I plan my summer capsule, I will do a seasonal inventory before deciding if I need anything and then I will buy for the size I am at that point.

There is a word that I have noticed more and more, both within the minimalist community and elsewhere – ‘lagom’.  Apparently, it’s a Swedish word meaning ‘just the right amount’.  I’m not saying my capsule wardrobe is perfect, but it’s perfect for me at this moment in time.  Another two to three months will tell me what worked and what didn’t, before beginning the cycle again.  But for now, lagom sums up where I am with my clothes.

An added advantage is the feeling of falling back in love with some old pieces that haven’t seen the light of day for a few months, or even longer.  As I do four capsules a year, I don’t have enough time to get tired of any one item.  Unpacking clothes from storage (aka the chest of drawers) is like greeting old friends and gaining new ones, all at the same time.  Some pieces that used to be favourites, but now no longer fit me, I let go with little regret.  The main reason, at the moment, is that they are too big for me, so letting them go is a really easy choice to make.  And, as I mentioned in my last post, I am getting better at resisting the urge to replace them, in my current size, regardless of whether I actually require that item!

Do you do a capsule wardrobe?  Do any of the above points resonate for you?  Or perhaps you have identified different benefits.  It would be great to hear what they are 🙂