Among the bloggers I follow, it is a common occurence for people write about how they are clearing out of their stuff and are paring their wardrobe or belongings down to the essentials. And when I read this kind of stuff I am filled with admiration.
I love the idea of all this ‘simplify your life’ stuff. The 50 piece capsule wardrobe including everything. The tiny studio apartment in which everything has its place. The being able to fit everything you own into two suitcases, so you’re always ready for new adventures. It sounds amazing, it really does. The minimalist, sleek me is one of my favourite fantasies. A fantasy in which I can get ready in 10 minutes flat in the morning and still look perfect, in which I never have to do any dusting, because there is no stuff for dust to gather around. In which enjoyment comes from people and ideas and experiences, not things. It sounds magical.
Handmade stuffed cat Gloria a wedding present from Julia of Materialised
And I’m bought into it in many ways, here’s a lot of decluttering advice I wholeheartedly support and will give myself. I take things out of my wardrobe and house to donate all the time. I haven’t had a big clear out for a while, but I am pleased to report that I have got myself into a state of mind where I declutter as I go along, and I give a bag (not a bin bag, mind!) full of stuff to the charity shops maybe every couple of months. I am far beyond the stage of holding onto stuff that doesn’t fit, or that I would need to alter massively. Once something is gone, I mentally let go of it and never miss it. I am also very conscious about stuff I buy, and if something’s not quite right I will leave it for someone else, even if it’s in a charity shop and costs a pound. But I realise that this by no means adds up to a clutter free life.
Because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t want a pared down life at all. Not truly. The minimalist fantasy is just a fantasy. I’m happy to admit that I LOVE STUFF. Love it. The things I own that stand about in our house and look pretty, even if they serve no function, even if they increase the time it takes to clean exponentially, make me happy. They really do.
The big vase rescued from a storage cupboard in my parents’ house, small vase from the car boot sale, candle holder thing from the charity shop. Yellow bowl from an antique shop in Berlin, photo by Diana of Our.city.lights
Often while sitting about in our living room, I will zone out and look at a vase or whatever and think how nice it is, and how happy I am that we have created a home where we are surrounded by things we love (I should point out that Dave is much worse in his love of stuff than me. Compared to him I *am* minimalist). What makes me even happier is that a lot of this stuff is inherited, bought on holiday or rescued from a charity shop or car boot sale see the descriptions under the photos). It has meaning.
Same goes for my wardrobe. I own a lot of clothes. I fear saying 200 items might be an under estimation. My wardrobe is about as full as it can be without becoming completely unmanageable, even with the regular culling.
One of the things that often precedes decluttering advice is that we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. And that is kind of true for me. I do have a small part of my wardrobe that is in constant circulation, my work wardrobe basically. A small number of neutral basics that I use like a capsule wardrobe: I wear them all the time, they all go with each other (it’s a black, white, purple, blue and red colour scheme), I add interest with accessories, and when stuff gets worn out I generally replace it with something very similar. I could function with just these clothes and it would be more efficient.
But that does not mean I want to get rid of the remaining 80%. I love the remaining 80%, and I think (hope!) you do too, because that’s what I wear in my outfit pictures. These items is what I wear when I want to dress up, when I express myself, when I feel interesting (in my view, interesting is a much better compliment than pretty). I can do a competent work capsule outfit, but I can do an amazing mix and match weekend outfit.
I have a largish collection of mainly vintage dresses (33 of them, I just counted) that I will maybe wear 2 or 3 times a year only (I also have three dresses that are in the constant rotation). But they always get compliments when I wear them, and the fact that I don’t wear them all the time makes them special. And like the homewares, most of my clothes have a personal story attached too.
And so I keep them, and my other stuff. Because I love it and it makes me happy.