I tore my place apart this week. I started with cleaning out my closet, taking out clothes I haven’t worn in more than a year and pieces almost nine years old that are waiting to be trendy again. That started a firestorm, leading me to pull stuff from here and there in a scatterbrained manner until the floor of my room was covered in piles of donate, keep and trash. It’s amazing the amount of stuff I accumulated in nine years. I wouldn’t call myself a packrat or hoarder but a sensible human being with good stuff that I could use “someday.” (That’s what I’m telling myself anyways.) Someday didn’t come soon enough and I’m in the midst of downsizing my belongings.
This isn’t totally out of character for me. I’ve purged my belongings several times in the last nine years but this time, I’m coming from a more intense mindset. I’ve been connecting more with minimalism this year, and it’s not what I thought it was when I first heard about it. In the most visible and tangible category of minimalism, it’s getting rid of the abundance of clothes and physical items until you’re down to the very essentials. But it’s much more than stuff. Minimalism is being conscious and intentional in what brings you happiness. The Minimalists describe it well: “Minimalism is the tool that helped us simplify our lives by stripping away the excess so we could focus on what’s truly important.” Ultimately, by stripping away the excess, they found more simple yet meaningful and happier lives.
I’m not going to the extremes of minimalism, but I am putting more thought into how I can make small changes here and there to achieve a simple, meaningful, and happy lifestyle. It still involves goals, ambition, and owning stuff, but it’s all more intentional. So, I’m starting with the physical stuff. That includes stuff I don’t use, wear and need, and it’ll all go to donation centers or the trash. (It’s going really well so far!) Then, the next phase is buying better. I know when it comes to buying, I would rather spend my money on travel and good food. My priority isn’t physical items with a shelf life. To help guide me, these are my minimalist rules for mindful owning and buying.
1. Buy things I love and will put to good use.
If I try on clothes and say “I could make this work,” I won’t buy it. I’ll buy pieces I know will go with something I already have, that fit well and that make me excited to wear. I’ll buy household items, including party supplies, I can put to good use.
2. Purchase things I really need.
Do I need another tank top when I have 10 other versions at home? No. Do I really need the cute tablecloth that would be perfect for a fall-themed dinner party I may throw someday? Probably not. (Yes, these are the party planning desires I go through when I shop.) Eventually, after the stuff is used up by me and second and third owners, it ends up in a landfill and I can choose not to be in that cycle.
3. Choose quality.
Although my clothes tend to last for a long time (even the cheaper Forever 21 pieces), I want to invest in better quality yet still affordable clothing. This may mean not buying trends, choosing more classic and neutral pieces, and choosing pieces that can transition through the seasons. Buying quality is a no-brainer when it comes to physical stuff!
4. Practice gratitude and get creative.
Many times, buying something comes from the “need” for something new. When the newness wears off, it’s still stuff, and there will always be new things that catch my eye. But remembering the above guidelines and what I already have and being grateful for those things can help curb the desires. Also, getting creative by mixing pieces of clothing up or refreshing a physical item with a DIY project can give me something new even when it’s old. Thank you, Pinterest!
Interested in reading more about minimalism? The Minimalists’ 21 Days guide is very thought-provoking and their website is filled with insight. Specifically relating to clothes, check out the capsule wardrobe, a habit where people downsize their closets to 37 (or whatever number they choose) pieces per season.
What do you think about minimalism? Do you have any tips and tricks to mindful living and buying?
*Photo by Death to Stock Photo