Minimalism and simple living really excite me because I might be the most domestic person on earth and just like Franz Kafka saw his room as an extension of his body and would not move out if he had unlimited supply of food, I see my home as an extension of my existence.
But being a messy person since my childhood (Mr. Messy Man will get my feelings), I’ve always found myself in the middle of a mess, no matter what I do. But finally I’ve realized, I don’t need any of the mess. If there wasn’t so much stuff around, why would mess happen? But is it easy to get rid of items you’ve been clinging to for all these years? Of course not.
Starting with clothes seemed like the appropriate idea and what Kondo suggested, too. And after a little research I’ve found out many movements that motivates you to declutter your closet. 10 item closet, project 333, capsule wardrobe are all very comprehensible and motivating, and seem to have a common purpose: To have a wardrobe that fits your style, and you can mix&match. To start the day without even asking yourself what to wear today. To realize what suits you best and don’t let the other clothes gather dust in your closet.
Crazy as it seems, many famous people actually do have a capsule wardrobe. When there is much to do, why would you spend money, and more importantly, time for choosing clothes? Einstein, for example, wore only a grey suit, while Obama doesn’t have suits other than in grey or blue. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are other popular examples. Okay, these are geniuses so they are not subject to the rules of the society, let’s say.
What strikes me are the examples of Micheal Kors and Vera Wang, who are leading fashion designers, but have a very limited wardrobe (99.9% in black). They lead the fashion but not interested in it.
So, how to live with fewer clothes?
Step 1: Think about your style.
Unfortunately, more difficult for women simply because there are more alternatives.
But not that difficult.
Simply think about your lifestyle and what you wear most. Looking at your laundry bag might also help.
Don’t think about the image of yourself quite chic, revolving heads and alike. Think about your now. I, for example, really liked going to shops and try out dresses and buy them. I ended up with many dresses that I never wore. It wasn’t buying the dress that I did, it was buying the dream. And the dream stayed in my wardrobe so long that it became dusty and forgotten.
My everyday style consists of sneakers, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt/blouse. Even in winter just add a cardigan. This is what I find most comfort in. Even if I plan to wear a dress or a skirt to work, I never find the motivation to iron the piece or find the matching (and not torn) stockings to go with it. What a torture! That’s why I really like the style of thetinytwig because this is just my style. An example:
After finding your style:
Step 2. Discard everything unnecessary and you don’t like.
As painful as it sounds, believe me it gets very enjoyable after a certain point. You will like to get smaller and smaller every passing day.
What you need to do first is walk around the house, gather every wearable item and put them on your bed and/or carpet. Even when I was taking some clothes from the closet, I knew they were going. They were so desperate. Anyway, I came up with a few simple criteria:
i. Every item that doesn’t fit me GOES. No item will wait for me to gain or lose weight.
ii. Every item that is beyond repair also GOES. Even if it has sentimental value. No exceptions.
iii. Every item that doesn’t fit my current style GOES, too. When I started to work I had to wear formal pants and jackets but now I don’t have to. I could if I wanted, but I never really feel like wearing formal clothes. So why keep them? Those formal clothes are very bulky, too. They take up a lot of your wardrobe space.
Kondo suggests going over your clothes all at once, but I managed to cover my whole wardrobe in a matter of two months. The reason it took so long was I wasn’t sure about some items in my third criteria and I clung to them. At the end I saw that they were no use to me, I didn’t love them at all and I got rid of them. Yet some items were ridiculously easy, and I wondered why the hell I carried them for all these years that I moved from city to city.
At the end I guess I got rid of 100+ items of clothing. This was over a year ago and I never missed them. The ones that were beyond repair became rags. Some good ones (or so I thought) I took some twenty of them to my sister, who was also amazed how I kept moving these clothes that I never loved for all these years. My shopping guru sister took only 2 or 3 pieces I guess. I donated the others that are in good condition to a local charity.
Now that we are left with only clothes we love,
Step 3. Have an organized wardrobe.
Marie Kondo just rocks here as well. She explains so vividly and functionally how a wardrobe should be organized. She basically suggests folding everything that can be folded and hang the others so they rise from left to right:
Last but not least,
Step 4. Shop less and shop mindfully and intentionally
This has to be a life style. I used to be an impulsive shopper, going to the shops, trying out the first thing I like and buying it. No more.
I learnt a lot about this from my husband and mother-in-law. She just says, for example, I am going to buy a trench coat. She decides on the model, and goes to the shops with that in mind. I used to go shopping for a trench coat and come back with a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans and a jacket, saying “I couldn’t find a trench coat again”.
Now I’ve learnt to set up some objectives at the beginning of a season. If I need sandals, let’s say, I only go to places where I might find it. So I spend less time in shopping centers and less money as well.
To conclude, I feel a great relief after saying goodbye to more than half of my clothes (I haven’t missed a single piece for over a year). I don’t have to have a seasonal wardrobe, I can see all my clothes once I open my closet. My end objective is to live with 20-30 items that I LOVE, never experience “don’t know what to wear” feeling again and use the remaining time and energy to what really matters to me.