Over the years I have become increasingly interested in minimalism; in simple living, in making the conscious shift towards slow,and in having more with less.
I suppose this initially came about through my upbringing; we moved house quite a lot, and my mum has always been a big advocate for culling – only allowing my sister and I one small box each for sentimental items. We weren’t allowed to hold onto material possessions – mostly clothing and toys – if we were no longer using them; and general clutter had to be kept to a minimum.
Growing up, I thought this approach was brutal. I liked to hold onto things because ‘they might come in handy one day’. It doesn’t take long to realise that ‘one day’ very rarely comes, and you end up with endless ‘miscellaneous’ drawers and boxes that remain taped, but move from place to place… just in case.
My own personal preference for minimalism came back in 2010 when I decided to pack up my life and simplify it down to one suitcase and four boxes; to move to London. I gave away the majority of my possessions; clothing, furniture, home wares, books, art supplies and even some of my own art works. I found the purge incredibly cathartic. Sure, I had also just gone through a break up at the time; but it wasn’t the feeling of letting go of the past that appealed to me, it was that I suddenly felt lighter and, in a way, more open. I had just what I needed and a handful of ‘treasures’, and that’s it.
So I spent three years based in London, but essentially ‘gypsy-ing’ (around Europe mostly). In that time, I called six places home, worked from three studios (and multiple cafes), had five exhibitions, and took twenty-eight ‘holidays’. I hadn’t accumulated all that much, and when I decided to move home at the end of 2013, I returned with one suitcase, five boxes, a coffee table, a guitar and a few pieces of art.
Settling into a small studio slash one bedroom apartment that is around forty-five square metres, I made the decision to continue living the simple life… but, when you are staying put and setting down roots, it is something that does require some effort, at least in the consumerist culture we live in. To keep it all going, I have a few basic rules, or guidelines really.
Use what you already have.
If you don’t need it, or absolutely love it (really love it, none of this lust nonsense), do not buy it.
Shop small, try to support local and opt for quality rather than quantity.
The other strategy that I’ve adopted is Project 333, which is the minimalist fashion ‘challenge’ that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. The rules of this challenge involve setting a ‘capsule’ wardrobe every three months with only thirty-three items of clothing, accessories, outerwear and shoes, but doesn’t include sentimental pieces of jewellery, underwear, sleepwear or gym gear. Any surplus or off season pieces can be stored, or ridded of completely (if you’re feeling bold).
When taking on this challenge, I took two giant garbage bags of clothes to charity, went down to forty items (thinking the seven additional pieces would be enough for the studio… but within a couple of weeks, I accepted that I needed to add studio clothes, because they get very dirty very quickly), and stored a bag of clothes I wasn’t ready to part with.
What I’ve found is that you live quite easily with what seems like a ridiculously small selection of clothing, and I actually find it means that I feel better wearing the clothing that I do have, because they’re only the pieces I love! In the last six months I’ve only had one moment of ‘having nothing to wear’, as I had to go to my first ever black-tie charity event, and I definitely did not have an appropriate dress in my wardrobe. I don’t feel like that really counts though.
Coming into winter now, I’m due for another wardrobe sort, so I’ll keep you posted.