I started thinking about minimalism when I was in Australia having had the tiresome task of downsizing all my belongings in the London flat I'd lived in for 5 years, the thought of which still makes me shudder. I started downsizing around 2 months before I left but days before I moved I still had to do nine (count them. NINE) trips to the charity shop with black sacks full of nearly new clothes, accessories and shoes. I decided in that moment that I would never let that happen again.
The transient nature of living in Sydney meant that it was common for people like me to sub-let from someone who had taken out a lease on a whole flat or house and therefore furnished the whole place already so I acquired very little in terms of household goods, namely a bed, shelf, chest of drawers and frying pan. Clothes-wise, the climate meant that I was shopping a lot less and the awesome market and garage sale scene meant that it was as easy as sitting outside my flat with a rail of clothes and a sign saying "for sale" to offload a few things I no longer needed or wanted if my wardrobe was getting out of hand. That being said I still moved back with about 4 suitcases of stuff when I arrived in March this year, which felt like 2 suitcases too many.
I stumbled on The Minimalists podcast when I was looking for new things to listen to while working from home and it reinforced what I already knew - I wanted to have fewer things. Less stuff, less clutter and a clearer head. Fewer clothes, fewer choices and a simpler life. Right? Not to mention a better bank balance or at least more money to spend on experiences rather than 'things'. But working in fashion and especially being back in London with its inspirational retail environments, competitive pricing, mega fast shipping when you buy online and most importantly a consistent stream of creative people with amazing individual personal style, it's taken some time to find a balance and a version of 'minimalism' or at least reduced consumerism that works for me.
1. One in one out
This has worked out far better than I'd hope as Macmillan drop these handy bags through our door around once a month. You just fill them up, put them out in front of your house the night before your allocated collection day and Macmillan come and collect them by 2pm the following day.
2. Make money, to spend money
As well as giving clothes to charity, I've made a commitment to selling newer or (embarrassingly) unworn pieces in order to fund things I want or need. I've made enough money in the last week to buy these shoes I've had my eye on, although now I've become so good at questioning whether I need every purchase, I'm not convinced I really need them anymore! Putting some distance between the thought that you want something and the action of buying it gives you some space to work out whether you really want it or whether you're just caught up in the initial flush of excitement you get from owning something new.
3. Think about replacing rather than doubling up
Last week I decided I simply had to have an orange jumper in &OtherStories so I forced myself to sell the orange jumper I already had in my wardrobe which I love but admittedly hardly wear (it's this one if you're interested!). I've already worn the &OtherStories jumper at least 5 times so price per wear it has worked out to be a good investment.
I do have exceptions to this rule: I have 3 black bomber jackets - two are everyday jackets that I wear to death (one lightweight, one heavy), the other is slightly dressier. The key if you are doubling up in your wardrobe, is making sure each piece has a different end use.
4. Invest in good quality/designer pieces
For the most part I now tend to spend a bit more on clothes not only because they last longer but also because if your style moves on, better brand names have a higher resale value! I rarely buy costume jewellery anymore, I tend to wear the same signature silver pieces and I invested in a quality leather handbag that I love and it's just the right size for day and night so no need for a separate selection of 'evening' bags (why why why try and put the same amount of stuff in a bag half the size just because the sun has gone down anyway?).
5. Make everyday a special occasion
I can remember my Mum asking me what I wanted to wear to school, I must have been about 8 and I chose the newest thing in my wardrobe (it was a pink sweater dress) and she told me I should save it to wear somewhere special the first time. I picked it out every morning until she eventually let me wear it to school. I've obviously never been the type to save things to wear on a special occasion! As long as I'm leaving the house, that's good enough for me. If I haven't found somewhere to wear something new within a week or two of buying it, it's going back to the shop.
5. Love everything you own
No more 'just in case' or 'might wear again one day' pieces that stay in a dark corner of your wardrobe. First of all, this means having a big clear out and then it might mean lots of trips to return things when you buy something you thought you loved but turns out it was just lust. Eventually it will become second nature to only leave the store with something you love or leave with nothing at all. In the last 8 months, I've found that I've become more tuned in to my own personal style, I can tell the difference between something that's really me (black bomber jackets) and something that I feel like tagging onto in the moment but probably will go off at a later date (anything with a heel).
I know to a hardcore minimalist this still sounds like I own and buy a lot of stuff and I do in comparison to them but as a fashion creative, I needed to find a way of reducing my consumption whilst also staying inspired and continuing to express myself through the way that I dress. These small steps have helped me cut my wardrobe in half and curbed my continuous need to shop. Unfortunately I went a little too far earlier in the month and gave away all my Winter coats not thinking that the temperature would drop so quickly, however a notification just told me that I've got another eBay sale, so at least I can feel good about buying a new one (somewhat), guilt free!