Confession: I have a major obsession with simple, expertly curated capsule wardrobes. The minimalist color scheme, simple tailoring and seemingly endless empty closet space make my fashion bits tingle. I even have an (ironically expansive) Pinterest Board devoted to the divine simplicity of these looks.
With my impending move to Nashville at the end of this month I have been packing up my very non-minimalist wardrobe (5 boxes & counting), and testing my ability to live with just a few favorite pieces for a month. It’s more like two or three weeks, but each morning I find myself missing a certain skirt or necklace that is currently nestled in a box in the garage, waiting for its moment to shine again in Tennessee. And by few I mean just over 40 garments, not including the shoes. I’m a mess. Possibly a mini-hoarder.
I recently attempted to minimize my wardrobe after reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Myself and I’m pretty sure half the world have been reading about the “KonMari” Method and flooding nearby consignment shops with pieces that don’t “Spark Joy”. After starting my packing endeavors and viewing my remaining wardrobe fill box after box, I realize my contribution to online consignment site ThredUP has been merely a high tide rather than a flood. I don’t live within a 100 mile radius of a Buffalo Exchange etc, so if you haven’t heard of them, ThredUP is a godsend. I have already sent them 2 bags, and after I finish my purging the plan is to spend the proceeds from my donations on one or two irresistible pieces from their shop. There is already some Alexander Wang I have my eyes on…
Yes, I am ridiculously attached to my clothing, and yes I literally said “goodbye” and “I will miss you” to many of the pieces I boxed up for Nashville. I must have Shinto leanings because surely my clothing & possessions have a soul and I am not just slightly nuts. Insanity aside, with the remaining 43 garments hanging on a rolling rack in my room, it’s apparent how lax I was about selecting only items which bring me joy. i.e. quite a few pieces slipped through the cracks that really shouldn’t have. Staring at the items I couldn’t live 2 weeks without, I see the difference between the garments I like and the garments I LOVE. In retrospect, starting with clothing was way too emotionally charged. Kondo’s method starts with clothing because for most people, its easier. I even lubricated the process; after my first pass through my wardrobe sober I poured a glass (or two) of wine and forced myself to continue pulling out items which didn’t fit the look & personal brand I aspire to. The wine helped dilute the twinge of guilt and pain of parting with things like Rachel Pally maxi dresses that are barely worn but gorgeous. They were the softest, most luxurious modal cotton, but I rarely wore them. I felt too beachy and undone in them, when I prefer to feel polished and uptown chic. I have been going through this phase lately where I am really learning what style feels most “me”, even though it is challenging to let go of an item that is beautifully made, an amazing textile, by a favorite designer etc.. (I blame post sample sale guilt)
I have realized a few things. For starters, as much as I aspire to minimalism I will probably never be able to pull of a “same thing everyday” uniform a la Steve Jobs or Karl Lagerfeld. Enviable, but not me. Nor do I suppose I will be the proud owner of 40 or less articles of clothing, shoes included. That doesn’t bring me joy, and I am ok with that. I have accepted it doesn’t mean I am over consuming, over-complicating my life or destroying the planet. I have also admitted I am still holding onto many items which do not truly “spark joy”, and plan to use this move to my advantage as I unpack. A big part of my inspiration for this loosely formed master plan comes from Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists and his packing party. He packed up his entire house as if he were moving, then only unpacked what he used in the next month, and donated the rest. I will be living like a weird box lady for the first month in Nashville, and may be forced to shy away from house guests in September, but my aim is to use this move as a springboard into a lifestyle that makes me feel at peace with myself and my belongings. I can still drool over tiny houses, capsule wardrobes, & stark minimalism where all you have is a couch and a plant–but enjoyed from the safe distance of reality. I look forward to discovering the balance of the perfect number of belongings, and recognize that it is a personal, and unique number for each individual. I feel almost zen about that, but don’t want to betray my usual flip attitude, so lets keep that between us 😉
For everything going on in my life I feel unusually sane & centered. The calm before the storm? For instance, usually the news makes me frustrated or sad at the state of the worlds affairs, but I have been seeing things that have uplifted and excited me. I almost feel like the world is waking up, albeit slowly. Not perfection, but at least progress. Case in point: the KonMari method is inspiring people all over the world to reassess their possessions and consumption habits; consignment store owners & shoppers are surely thrilled. Perdue chicken is phasing out antibiotics and putting pressure on their competitors to do the same thanks to pressure from consumers. Kellogg’s is removing all artificial colors & dyes from it’s cereals and snacks by 2018, essentially saying goodbye to carcinogenic red food dyes and making us all wonder if someday there will actually be fruit in Fruit Loops. Textile mills in the American cotton country are reopening, bringing jobs to depressed areas (yay jobs!) and removing at least one overseas shipping step from our clothing’s supply chain. Admittedly they still ship the textile overseas to sew it, but it is still a step in a meaningful direction. And something that makes me feel less alone as a conflicted fashionista, more and more stylish men & women are swearing off fast fashion & trend chasing for more thoughtfully curated style. It may only be the upswing of early adopters so far, but a movement for being more thoughtful in what we eat, wear and possess is growing thanks to the ease with which we can spread ideas. Bless the internet age for this!
So really, what is the purpose of all of this poetic musing? My goal with all of this self discovery and closet cleaning is to live a more meaningful, purposeful, grounded life. To consume only mindfully; instead of dresses I only rarely wear, I can spend my hard-earned disposable income on flights to Paris with my SO, and AirBnB reservations in far-flung, exotic locations. My closet may not be as jam-packed, but my heart will be full and my experiences rich. For me, it is those life experiences, not tangible items, that truly spark joy. Oh, and I will still look fabulous. Duh.
Wandering Chic is now on Twitter! Follow me @wandering_chic. Curious where this fire against fast fashion began for me? Check out my first Rana Factory post here, and the follow up one year later here.