Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Want to Be A Minimalist - But I Have Too Much Stuff!

Image via ArchitectLines.com

I am such a dreamer. My ideal self is a minimalist, and I savor photos of homes, closets, and shelves that are nearly-bare. I am so drawn to websites like Zen Habits, and The 100 Thing Challenge. I love to explore Apartment Therapy and see how couples live comfortably in 400 square-foot homes, untethered to mounds of possessions. And don't get me started on the opposite: I can barely look at the television show Hoarders without leaping up to clear out a dresser.

As far as home decor, I am fairly minimalistic. We don't own a lot of furniture, our home is small by modern American standards (two bedrooms, one bath), and we don't collect or accumulate much. We like to think of ourselves as on the lower end of consumerism (though I do love my iPad and my digital camera).  Living through the Year of the Hurricanes taught us that it isn't wise to become too attached to our stuff; it could all be gone in a strong gust or tidal surge.

Wardrobe minimalism, however, has always intrigued and eluded me. I have followed with great interest the various wardrobe challenges across the blogoverse. I contemplated, but quickly rejected as impossible, the Six Pieces or Less concept. That's just too spartan for me (except as a travel capsule). I have tried some varieties of the 30-for-30, and it's fun to try to live on a limited wardrobe, but here's the truth -- I get bored! I like change.

So I try to balance my love of simplicity with my drive for novelty. Here are some of the techniques I am using now:

  • I am pretty strict about one wardrobe item in, one out. Having small closets and small rooms is very helpful in keeping me honest in this regard. It also makes me a better shopper, as I must contemplate the exit of an existing piece . . . who's it going to be?
  • I shop at and donate to a couple of local charity thrift stores. I often see my wardrobe coming and going! This makes me feel good, as I get to experience novelty and trends, while keeping my total possessions at a manageable level.
  • I focus on good quality for certain categories of wardrobe items: shoes, bags, jackets, sweaters. I find I am quite content with three or four "good" purses in my inventory, and that keeps the closet looking neat. I have about 15 total pairs of shoes and boots, and I really, really love them and wear them to nubs.
  • I am less concerned with longevity for tees, casual skirts, jeans and accessories. I indulge in this category, and rotate through these more quickly. I don't need a big stash -- there are always more, lots more, out there to be had for a low price.
  • I have a staunch vow to not pay for extra storage space for clothing! Even if Sandy and I move onto a boat, I am determined to live with whatever clothing fits in my living space. My clothing is not going to have its own apartment.
  • I have also determined to love what I keep and keep only what I love. Life is too short for just-okay!
Where are you on the minimal - maximum scale? I don't think there are "better" or "worse" ways to live (save for the Hoarders!), just lifestyle preferences and comfort zones, and budgetary constraints. Do you crave the simpler closet, or the more-is-more?

8 comments:

  1. A dyed in the wool minimalist :). Actually I'm trying to branch out a bit.

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  2. I am a dyed in the wool maximumalist. I love things. I don't think I am a hoarder--at least nothing like the people I see on TV. I do however, love beautiful things. Just like some people get itchy when there is too much stuff in a house, I get itchy when there isn't enough.  I think we should all do what makes us happy. As long as it isn't too extreme. As far as clothing. I know I have way too much, but I love my clothes and jewelry. I do share with others both by giving to thrift stores and to a couple of similar sized friends.

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  3. I try to be minimalist too yet the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, ....very very weak, I just went to the thrift store and bought a lot of stuff...again after just one week of abstainence.

    love,mongsmythriftycloset.blogspot.com

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  4. love the title. #whitegirlproblems

    FRASSY

    www.befrassy.com

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  5. I used to store my summer wardrobe in 2 boxes, this year I reduced the boxed space to 1 box only. Which means the other box merges with the winter wardrobe (mostly T-shirts) which meansI had to reduce my winter wardobe, because the drawers were full.
    I plan on reducing to 0 boxes which would mean I would not switch summer and winter wardrobes but life out of one wardrobe. It is not easy maintaining a minimalist wardrobe when you live in a country with 4 seasons, including rain, snow, wind, heat, humidity ...
    Minimalising brings me the same joy shopping does!!

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  6. Oooooh! I've been working hard at this for the past year and a half! (I know, not a SUPER long time, but it's become something of an obsession for me). I'm a packrat by nature ("Should I throw this kitchy figurine with no sentimental value away? NAH JUST THROW IT IN A STORAGE BOX BECAUSE I'LL DEFINITELY  WANT IT SOMEDAY. IF I DECORATED MY HOUSE WITH MY EYES CLOSED") so I have accumulated a ton of useless trinkets. And let me tell you, ma'am, this is not a good thing if you alternate living in a dorm room and living at home in a room that is smaller than your dorm room.

    Starting at age 15, I really began to pay attention to clothing. Up until then, fashion was a dirty word that belonged to the "preps and cheerleaders". I was one of those kids that hated the color pink and thought that all girls wearing miniskirts were dumb bitches. BUT IT WAS NOT SO, I discovered, after being in a few classes with pink loving, miniskirt wearing cheerleaders who were not only very nice, but outperformed me on almost every test. I digress. Anyway, as I went through years of fashion transformation to figure out what was "me" (something that is still happening), I cycled through clothes like an insane apparel demon. Which left my closet MUCKY and OVERRIDDEN. A big problem. I was forced to steal hangers from my ten year old brother, and I had that terrifying "I have nothing to wear!" feeling every time I attempted to dress myself with integrity.

    Minimalism is extremely attractive to me, in part because it isn't part of my nature (or not a dominant part, at least). Constantly having to concentrate on the stuff around me JUST BECAUSE IT IS AROUND ME is uncomfortable and I think it only exacerbates my ADD (PS. I have ADD) because it provides more stimuli for me to be distracted by. Plus it helps that I have an intense love affair with neutrals when it comes to clothing.

    Woo! Bit of a lengthy post by yours truly. But this topic was like an INSIGHT INTO MY THOUGHTS. Crazy. Though I'm pretty sure you aren't psychic. Not totally sure though.

    ReplyDelete
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