I’ve been embracing a more minimalistic lifestyle for the past couple years. I started by downsizing my place a few times and getting rid of unnecessary things. Moving a lot means that you hold onto less and less. I am by no means a ‘minimalist’ as I have too many items for that, but I do think people would be shocked at how much I don’t have in my closet, comparatively speaking.
I’ve allowed myself to splash out in two areas – shoes and pajamas. Both of those were hard for me to downsize, and I think everything in life is about balance. But, that said, I’m not one of these bloggers who has turned a spare room into a closet. If that makes someone (or you!) happy, go for it. But, for me, the idea of having that much excess ‘stuff’ is crippling. I already feel overwhelmed at times with the things I have – and most of them I really really like!
When you stop buying and keeping unnecessary things, you not only have more space, but you have extra funds to buy nicer pieces. And more importantly you have more time. By having fewer items to decide amongst and organize you save yourself valuable time and mental bandwidth. Steve Jobs was truly onto something with his daily uniform.
I realized that the stress of having ‘stuff’ was wearing me down. Having excess stuff means having more to organize and more possibilities for clutter. I hated this clutter, yet I was constantly buying more. But why? Because I had a job that had me on the road five days a week and when I wanted a break I would pop into a shop, buy myself something cute, and continue on with my day. A certain recipe for collecting too much stuff, and not loving enough of it. Rinse and repeat. Many sat in my closet with the tags on until they were ultimately donated.
One day I realized not only how much I hated all this excess, but how much I wanted to finally do something about it.
So how did I do it? In waves. Wardrobe, kitchen, home decor, etc. For this post I’m going to write about how I specifically did it with my wardrobe.
First, I started going through my items and focused of what I really use the most. For example, last fall/winter I wore four coats the majority of the time. That may seem like a lot of coats to some, but in NYC when you have to wear a coat daily and are trying to remain stylish, be prepared for various weather scenarios, and not get bored with your outfits, four is a pretty small amount. My go-to’s were a long black wool coat, a 3/4 gray wool coat, a puffer jacket, and this gorgeously tailored black coat. All were purchased the winter before. The remainder of my other jackets and coats sat in the coat closet being used sparingly, if at all. That told me that they weren’t really necessary, or even useful. I’ll be going on my third winter with the same four coats. I’m still fond of all of them as they’re all quite simple in design and pair well year after year.
Secondly, I tried on all the items to see which ones fit perfectly and were good to keep as is. I realized that I was no longer loving the fit of some of these items – I’m not sure if my body changed, my taste, or the item, but it was an easy choice to let some of those pieces go once I tried them on.
Third, is it foreseeable that I actually use it? And soon? I had to question, am I just keeping it for sentimental reasons? There were a few items that fell into the category of holding onto incase I needed it ‘some day’ and those had to go. Holding onto the past can be crippling, but so can holding onto an uncertain future.
Fourth, don’t let having extra space fool you into filling it with stuff. Earlier in the year I moved to LA and into a larger space. I now have a sizable walk-in closet, and a spare bedroom (and spare closet!). It’s easy for people to see extra space and want to fill it – just look at most people’s garages! This is a very American thing, and one I’m not keen to partake in. Let that space remain empty and fill it only with things that bring you (and the space) joy!