I want to live simply. When I was staying with my grandpa a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the beauty of simplicity. In a small cabin, his possessions are pared-down, but sufficient. He has one tiny cutting board (pig-shaped, a family tradition) and one larger pull-out one. We have at least a dozen. Why?
Dave is often commenting about the quantity of our belongings. He longs for simplicity. His dream house would be a wide-open loft full of windows, devoid of furniture, with one comfy rug right in the middle to lounge on. I, on the other hand, like to be prepared for anything and everything, like a boy scout. For Dave’s birthday this year, I gave him an enormous box of books – books that I had taken from our bookshelves that I was willing to give away. He was thrilled.
When I notice a repeated inkling in my mind and heart, I’ve come to believe that’s something to lean into – to lean into with action. What can I practice that will take me out of my default way of living?
This time around, I chose my closet.
I am tired of my closet. The closet itself is ok, though the mirrored doors stick and I have a little trouble keeping my clothes in my half. It’s the clothes inside of my closet that are bothering me.
I do like my clothes. I have gotten almost all of them at thrift stores (thank you, Hollywood) and as hand-me-downs from friends at clothing exchanges. The only things I buy new are shoes, socks, and underwear. The benefit of cheap or free clothes is that I often try things that I wouldn’t normally buy; acquiring clothing this way has expanded my style. It also helps me stay within my clothing budget, and it’s good for the Earth. The trouble is, I end up acquiring too much. I pick things up because I like the color, but the fit isn’t quite right. Or, I hold on to something I haven’t worn, in case I feel bold enough to wear it one day.
Last week, inspired by some friends trying out wardrobe capsules and blogs like Unfancy and Dallas Moms, I decided to pare things down a bit. This was easier than normal, because my closet and dresser are currently filled with maternity clothes, so all of my regular clothes are in boxes in the spare bedroom closet.
I laid all of my clothes out on the bed, and organized them by category. Then I counted. I wrote down how many of everything I had.
I had twenty-five dresses. I love dresses, and I do wear them a lot (easy! comfortable! it looks like I tried!), but I do like to consider myself a minimalist, and over two-dozen dresses is not minimalist.
I also had fourteen pairs of pants, seventeen pairs of shoes (though I wear four of them), and forty-nine pairs of socks (not including nine pairs of tights). That day, I cut my wardrobe in half.
The idea of a wardrobe capsule is that you pare down your closet to just what you need. Ideally, you have items that you love, that are well-made, and that will last a long time.
Unfancy suggests a seasonal capsule (changed up every three months). Aside from accessories, pajamas, athletic wear and cocktail attire, she recommends the following guideline (but encourages readers to go with what “feels right”):
- 15 tops
- 9 bottoms
- 9 pairs of shoes
- 2 dresses
- 2 jackets
So I decided to attempt her method with my maternity clothes. I decided on only five pairs of shoes, but four dresses, and flexed little bit on the other numbers as well. I put fall capsule candidates at the bottom of my closet. I gave a few things away that I knew I wouldn’t wear. I packed up everything else in a bin to put in the garage, just in case this experiment turns out anything like my epic hair disaster.
Two weeks in, and it’s not bad! I think I’ll actually wear a wider variety, because I can see everything – I won’t just grab whatever is on top. I’ve learned a few things, like the fact that I like medium-grays. I was trying to pick a long-sleeved top to go with a gray skirt, and I realized that all my long sleeves are about the same color. For my next capsule, I need to work on some contrast.
The only way we ever become different, become better people, is by acting differently. I can believe I’m a minimalist all I want – I can think like a minimalist and talk like a minimalist – but unless I’m willing to act like a minimalist, I’m not a minimalist at all, am I?
This is an experiment. I’m not sure how it will end. But I know that I will be shaped by the practice, whether or not I stick with it exactly. Plus, it’s fun to try something new.