Being interested in the things that I am interested in – ethical shopping, simplification in life, thoughtfulness in spending, and, of course, fair trade kantha quilts! – naturally I have seen lots of internet murmuring on capsule wardrobes and minimalist fashion.
If those phrases haven’t appeared on your radar: a capsule wardrobe is a pared down collection of clothes, usually classic, timeless items or pieces that are very interchangeable to create many looks using few items. Sometimes the idea would be to augment the capsule with seasonal pieces, but many just stick to these key pieces to avoid owning excessive clothing.
I am no clothes horse, but I have the same kind of wardrobe as most of us have: a handful of items that I really like to wear (t-shirts that fit well, button-ups that look great when they are pressed, chambray shirts, fave jeans) and a LOT of other things that I… occasionally wear (when the tees are dirty and the button-ups aren’t pressed and the fave jeans have coffee spilled on them).
I think that most of these minimalist clothing projects started up in the same way: someone wading through a drawer (or closet) full of I-like-it-and-wear-it-sometimes-ish clothes and thinking, ENOUGH!
See, Wayne and I are both youngest children who are not particularly inclined to tidiness, so a solution over the years has been to keep our “stuff” count lower, so that this personal failing is not overly obvious or troublesome.
If tidiness is my weakness, laundry is my utter failure. And I had always thought that by having more clothes, laundry would be less of a problem: you have to deal with laundry less frequently.
Well, last week we had a race with our daughters over who could clean their room the fastest and I spent about 10 minutes sorting through a pile of clean (I think ;) clothes on our bedroom floor had been sitting there for way too long. When you pick up a t-shirt and think, “oh yeah, I totally forgot about this!” it is a sign.
That pile of forgotten (and, clearly, totally unnecessary) clothes was the reality check I needed. More clothes = more laundry (or, at least, more laundry management). If we didn’t have all of those extra clothes, there would be no pile! With a small wardrobe, you simply can’t afford for your clothes to stay unfolded in the dryer or waiting in the hamper – they are too necessary.
So, on Saturday, I pulled out a massive box leftover from a kantha blanket delivery and we sifted through our wardrobe. This was not just a regular, “what don’t I wear” assessment, this was an attempt to simplify our physical space and headspace when decision-making.
[*I put everything in a box, with no immediate intention to discard or give away any of the items. I figured it would be way easier to be bold as a kind of an experiment, without fear that our decisions were irreversible]
Joshua Becker wrote that it is easier to adios the clothes that you don’t wear; it’s harder when you go the additional step of paring down things you do wear to cut out the excess. Wayne literally has 4 navy blue cardigan-type sweaters/sweatshirts. I had so many jeans. It was difficult to put away something that I “might want to wear sometimes”, but having a transitional box made it easier to at least try.
Another interesting thing that came out was the fine tune of our clothing’s seasonality. Here, we basically have 2 seasons – winter for 8.5 months & summer for 3.5 months – so in our house, we just had one bin of summer clothes up in the closet. When we went through Wayne’s clothes, however, there were a number of great sweaters & long-sleeved shirts that he just hadn’t been wearing. When we talked about them, he said that they weren’t warm enough for this weather (when his uniform is a T with a warm sweater or cardigan), but were better for in-between seasons (people in other climates call those “autumn” and “spring”). Breakthrough! Why should they clutter up the hangers when there is zero chance of being worn for months? Up into an out-of-the-way shelf in the closet.
It’s only been a week, but I LOVE this new system. There is so much less busyness for the eye, more white space, less piling up in the laundry. It is like a breath of air and so far, I am so happy with this experiment.
One advantage of this, too, is that it reveals the gaps and really challenges me on how to fill the gaps with the least number of acquisitions. So, I’m saving up for my first pair of Blundstones…
The Enneagram is super popular right now as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. I am familiar with the Enneagram and while it hasn’t been a particularly impactful tool for me personally, I value the depth of the insight and the common language it provides.
Similarly, Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework provides definition and a vernacular to what is already present in ourselves. For me, this one has resounded like a deafening gong in my ears & in my life!
Over the last year or so, I've made a conscious priority to read books written by — or written from the perspective of — people different than me. As a white, rich person (and I have a job, a bachelor's degree, a house, 2 cars, and 3 computers, so that sounds pretty rich to me; maybe not in the 1%, but high enough), I have a pretty limited perspective. Also, our culture is essentially designed for me to thrive, so it's easy to take that all for granted.
Books, both non-fiction and creative stories, have a way of landing you right in the viewpoint of an other, and I am so grateful for that gift; it's one of the best things about reading.
Conversations about money can be awkward, but having uncomfortable talks, at age appropriate times, will set up our children's essential, lifelong skill in handling money well. Allowance is a key tool to teaching these money management skills.
Money, along with politics and religion, is often considered impolite conversation to have outside of yourself & maybe (hopefully?) your spouse. How much do we spend on groceries, gas bill, or date nights? Is this car payment normal? We are often afraid, or at least reluctant, to compare any of these details… R. Paul Stevens said the proverbial fig leaf from the Garden of Eden has moved from our naked bodies to our bank accounts!
Add kids into these conversations, and there is an additional layer of hesitancy: kids can be notorious loud-mouths!