Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Minimalizing My Life

Since moving to Virginia in 2013, I have been on a quest to minimalize my life.  It started when we moved by selling half of our belongings, but it has continued since then. Even so, our little farm house is still packed to the brim with stuff.  I go through spurts when I purge and haul boxes to goodwill and consignment stores and sell on eBay.  That being said, I also want my home to be comfortable, so I will buy things and bring them home to make our nest more homey. I try to do the one-thing-in one-thing-out rule when I buy things for my home.  If I buy something that better fits our space, something has to leave and go on to a new owner. Sometimes it's more like two or three things go to new homes.

Example: our laundry room sits right off our kitchen and is open to that room; you have to pass through it to use the bathroom.  While the practical Rubbermaid laundry hamper that I've had for years serves the purpose for dirty clothes, it's far from attractive to look at when a guest is walking into my bathroom from the kitchen. I want to buy a more decorative hamper with a lid to replace it. This is not a need, but something I want that will make my home more attractive. Since I will be buying a new hamper, the old Rubbermaid one will go on to a new home, perhaps along with an extra clothes basket I have that just takes up space in the laundry room.

I still have decor on the shelves and pictures on the walls and love to decorate my home.  I'm sure that won't ever change, but I am leaning towards only having what I love and what works in my space, not just something to fill a space or for "someday." I'm still working how to incorporate family heirlooms into this mix.  There are many I LOVE, but there are many that are really not my taste. While I would like to purge them now, they lie in wait for my daughters to have homes of their own and perhaps take them.  If not, they will be passed on to other family members.

This minimalizing has carried on into my clothes; over the past year I have purged and whittled down my wardrobe.  I read many books and blogs on the subject and loved the idea of having basic pieces I could mix and match and easily find something to wear everyday.  Also, after years of being a shopaholic, this was one exercise I could do to help my addiction.  I use the same rule as I do in my home; keep what I love and get rid of the excess.  If a piece of clothing makes me feel unattractive or frumpy, out it goes. I have paired it down to what I feel is a good number for me, about 70 items that are interchangeable through all seasons. This includes clothing, coats, belts, and shoes.  It does not include sleepwear, workout clothing, or intimates. Those are paired down, too, and are only replaced when they wear out.

About a year ago I decided to start the capsule wardrobe concept. Basically it a a minimal amount of clothes per season that mix and match and are appropriate for all but the dressiest events. The number in my capsules is about 35 items each season. I shop my wardrobe first for appropriate items for the season. If something needs replaced or upgraded, shopping for a new item can be done the month before the new season starts . For instance, I will begin shopping for my fall capsule in August and I'm beginning to think about the kind of clothing I want to include in my fall capsule and a few upgrades I want to do.  My 1 pair of skinny jeans have seen better days and need replaced for fall.  I want to invest in a higher quality pair that will last for years to come, so I am saving my monthly allowance to make this purchase. I only plan on buying 2-3 new things for this fall and all will replace something that is already in my wardrobe that is either wearing out or no longer my taste. The old item will either go to consignment or goodwill.

I also have a dressy capsule.  Two pairs of heels, two dressier dresses, and coordinating jewelry for formal events.  This is not included in my regular capsule number. If a dressy event occurs, I wear clothing from this group.

I have always been a minimal jewelry wearer, and usually only get new jewelry if it is gifted to me. My jewelry box contains a few pieces I have bought for myself over the years, a few pieces gifted to me, and a few things passed on from my Mom.

Just like my home, I love fashion. So I will never be the person who only owns 2 pairs of pants, 1 dress, 3 tops, and two pairs of shoes. I admire those people who can look so put-together with such a small wardrobe, but it isn't for me. The capsule concept has really helped hone in my style, learn to dress well with less, and also to be content with what I have. It has also saved money since I only shop the month before my capsule and limit my purchases.  There is no comfort shopping now. I have months to think about what I want to buy, so there is no spur of the moment purchases I regret.

How about you, friend?  Does minimalism appeal to you?  Perhaps you are a minimalist without even trying.  Or maybe you are a shopaholic like I used to be and long to change. I'd love to hear from you.

My next blog post will cover the trip Chad and I recently made to NYC and how I was able to pack for 4 days in just a backpack.  Another perk of minimal living....you have money to travel since you spend less elsewhere, and you can travel light!

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