Sunday, October 26, 2014

Minimalist Guilt

I'm on the bandwagon. The one that's traveling from the land of stuffed closets and overflowing drawers to the land of zen like organization and the simplicity of having far fewer things. It's been the trend now for the past few years, and it's increasing in popularity. Run a search for "minimalist lifestyle" and you'll come up with dozens of blogs and book reviews. From all that you're quick to learn that apparently the French (especially stylish Parisians) have this whole minimalist thing nailed -in that they live with less stuff. In particular with less clothing.

I can tell you this, in my experience spending time with friends in Paris - they have to. A typical apartment in Paris is tiny. I mean really tiny. Kitchens are often the size of a coat closet - containing a small two burner stove oven combo, a sink and a square of counter space. Bathrooms are small as well. Several are fun, in that the toilet is in a separate "water closet" and not in the same space as the shower and sink. As for closet space? You're lucky to have one closet.  So you have to get crafty out of necessity. You learn what you need and you parse out all the things you can live without. It's also the lifestyle, they're more likely to spend money going out (a lot) and on travel - experiences have more value than things you will eventually grow tired of, and that in the end - end up worn out and of no use.

It's been a year almost to the day since I was last in Paris. When my husband and I came back home we decided to make a change - that notion lasted for just a few months before we ended up right back to our old ways. I had to assess why.

Strangely enough we don't go out a lot, most of our friends do not live in the same city, so it's hard to make plans to go out. We also work a lot - we have to - to pay rent, bills, student loans - so it's actually cheaper for us to stay in and not go out. So I buy books, drawing materials - he buys video games, movies and we both buy music. We end up with more stuff. So there has to be a balance and change. We got out one night a week and try to download things rather than purchase physical items if possible.  The library is a great resource for movies and books and music.

For me the largest thing to tackle was (and still is) my wardrobe. It's not easy for me to weed through and part with items I've had since high-school. I have packed and shipped and carried these things across the country and abroad. Why? Sentimental value? I guess that's why I still have my senior prom dress. The worst part of trying to slim down my wardrobe is the guilt (maybe you have had the same qualm with closet clean-outs) I have so many items that are recent purchases (from the last few years) that still have tags on them, items that are in great condition but for some reason I never wear. And yet I feel guilty getting rid of them.  So I've been selling my items on Poshmark and Tradesy in the hopes that someone else will need them and wear them. But then there is the stark reality of resale value-You will only get back a fraction (a teeny-tiny fraction) of what you paid. Even if the item is brand new and never worn - the perceived value from buyers is low. So more guilt. Worse still, I have all of these items and I don't have items that actually would need to wear for meeting with clients like a nice white blouse and a pair of black heels. More guilt - why did I buy all that other stuff for?

I'm trying to make a change, but it is a slow transition. I'm slowly shedding the superfluous items from my wardrobe, slowly gaining a sense of age appropriate style, slowly shying away from impulse purchases. I was aiming for this elusive goal of attaining the perfect minimal wardrobe. The perfect gleaming example of French chic meets zen minimalist. But I realized that I don't need to set those specific goals. I don't need the perfect wardrobe, just one that I can feel less guilty about. And, it's not an easy journey.

Current Closet

Morning Café Crème  in Paris

1 comment:

  1. It is so hard to pick exactly the clothing you will need or feel comfortable in for every occasion. I agree re resale but I feel like if the clothing is going to someone who will actually use it, good enough, I guess.