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

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 🙂

Holiday Packing

Does anyone else get excited about packing for a holiday? I’m going to the US for 10 days and cannot wait!!

 

I know that, to some, packing can be a chore but I love it!

I enjoy the planning aspect – it leads to anticipation and heightens the whole holiday experience for me.

I also feel that it is compulsory minimalism and I mean that in a positive way because:

  • It’s a brilliant time to try out a capsule wardrobe, if you were thinking of dipping a toe in the water
  • The clothes contained in your suitcase comprise your capsule
  • If you didn’t pack exactly what you wanted, then it’s a chance to be creative, not an opportunity to shop!

A bit of forethought and planning can go a long way.

I have a fair idea of what the weather will be like and what activities we have planned:

  • A bit of sight-seeing
  • Dining out
  • Time on the beach
  • A lot of playing with my nephews
  • Some chill-out time for Mr. Minimal-Lol and me

So it’s just a case of finding clothes that are suitable for all these activities and that can be mixed and matched. I have no anxiety when it comes to repeating outfits or pieces, which makes it easier still.

My planning self has developed a little cheat sheet to help me plan and pack. I want to wear my clothes at least 2 or 3 times each, with some pieces, like accessories, being worn almost every day. And it’s so easy to give clothes a quick wash, if they require freshening up – my summer pieces are light and dry quickly.

I’ll bring a small suitcase – ideally I would really like to travel with hand luggage only – but I won’t for fear of Mr. M-L fainting in horror. (Some day I will write a blog post about a minimalist living with a ‘maximalist’ – he may need a suitcase for his shoes alone!!).

I have tried to heed the lovely Courtney Carver’s advice – the founder of Project 333. She advises you to pack for half the number of days you are actually away. I don’t think I’ve quite hit that mark but maybe about 75%? Baby steps!

But I will be reviewing what I actually wore versus what I packed. I do this every time I go away and have ended up with quite a robust formula for a weekend away – just need to extend this for a slightly longer period of time.

Anyone have any words of wisdom for packing? Or for travelling in the US? 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 🙂

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 🙂

Why minimalism?

Three years ago, I went through a difficult time, when a dearly loved one was ill.  I felt helpless, angry, upset, out of control and frightened.  Then, I realized, it wasn’t about me.  My focus and energy needed to be channeled where it was needed most but everything seemed so complicated.  It wasn’t really or at least it was as complicated as I made it.  Fewer complications meant more time and energy available, which is what I needed, but I took the scenic route, not the direct one, on the way.

At first, I thought I needed to be ultra-organized.  I’m quite a structured person anyway (I’m a ‘J’ for those of you interested in Myers-Briggs!).  So, I organized.  I had a container for everything and if a container was ever empty, then I ensured I filled it.  Every minute of every day was planned.  Every article on every shelf was straight.  Funnily enough, this didn’t help!   But I didn’t understand why.

At some level, I knew I needed more simplicity and fewer distractions.  So I started to search the web.  My searches focused on ‘simplicity’ as I had never heard of the term ‘minimalism’.  But it kept popping up.  I stumbled across a site called ‘The Minimalists’ hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.   I read a few of their posts with interest and then saw that they were due to visit London, just a train ride away. 

On Wednesday 8th October 2014, I made my way to Parkgate Road in London, somewhere I didn’t know and had never heard of, a prospect that would have daunted me before.  (I’m Irish, living in the UK, so usually everywhere is different and new!).  However, different results needed different approaches.  That evening was a watershed moment.  By that stage, I had read many articles by The Minimalists and even had one of their books.  However, hearing them speak brought the whole concept of minimalism alive for me and more importantly, within my reach.  They also mentioned some of their friends, Courtney Carver, Leo Babauta, Colin Wright  …. I realized there was a whole world of minimalism and alternative views out there.

The weekend after, I looked around my carefully organized belongings and saw them with different eyes.  Yes, I was fortunate to have so much – but I also had so much distraction, so much anxiety and so much excess.   How much did one person need, for goodness sake?!  I saw the difference between organization and minimalism, which is probably quite obvious to many others, but as I said, I took the scenic route to this realization.

My loved one is now so much better than I ever thought possible.  And the dark days which I hated and feared at the time, showed me a less conventional but more satisfying life.   I’m still on a journey to simplicity but I know why I’m doing it.  As Jim Rohn says, ‘ When the why gets stronger, the how gets easier’.

 

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