Why Have a Minimalist Wardrobe?

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In my journey toward living a more minimalist lifestyle, clothing was the area I was avoiding.  It’s not like it’s complicated.  You can throw clothes away, sell them, donate them – all simple.  So simple in fact that I decided not to make this a “HOW To Have a Minimalist Closet” post.  Because I think we all know how to toss, sell, or give away.   It’s the WHY behind it that’s a bit more difficult.

Clothes.  We need them.  We love them.  Seriously love them – the clothing market in the U.S. brings in 225 billion dollars.  Boiled down to their simplest nature, they’re intended to protect, keep warm, and hide “inappropriate” body parts.   But they’re so much more than that, right?  They are our main identifiers.  Clothes tell a lot about a person’s gender, sexual orientation, culture, economic status, likes/dislikes, cliques, age, or religion.

We are either in or out based on the shirt we pick out for the day.  Clothes are not just tools in our world.  No.  It seems as though, in our world, clothes are us.  Right?  If you don’t have cool clothes, you’re not a cool person, right?  If you don’t have beautiful clothes, you’re not beautiful, right?  Clothes have a lot of power.

It’s a hard spot to be in when you love being fashionable, enjoy purchasing clothes and putting outfits together, and still don’t want clothes to hold so much mystical power over your life.   But that is why having a Minimalist closet is so important.  You get both.  Here’s why:

Why Have a Minimalist Wardrobe?

1. A Minimalist wardrobe saves you money

You show your priorities by how you spend your money.  If a large chunk of my income goes straight to clothing, I’m showing the world and MYSELF that my outward appearance is that significant.  Now, in no way do I think it’s not important.  I love presenting myself well.  But just HOW important is it?  Are there things I value more than yet another pair of shoes?  Traveling comes to mind.  Great date nights and girl’s days.  Paying off debt.

2. A Minimalist wardrobe forces you to choose the pieces you really love

If I’m only going to have a small closet, I’ll need to choose wisely.  I’d rather have 7 outfits I can’t get enough of than 100 outfits I forget about most of the time.  You can pick and choose statement pieces and get rid of the other clutter.  That means everything I slip into has a purpose: either fashionable or functional.

3. A Minimalist wardrobe reminds you where to find your worth

No number of clothes, no matter the price tag, ever adjusts your worth as a human being.  We forget that.  I forget that.  Sure we can buy lots of clothes that make us look like artsy creatives, modest mothers, powerful CEOs, or sex kittens, but none of that actually makes us good at being creatives, mothers, CEOs or sex kittens.  Clothes are inanimate objects.

Maybe try letting go of the clothing you don’t need or care about anymore.  Maybe slow down the buying sprees.  It doesn’t mean stopping, we still need clothes to cover our bodies.  And we can have cute ones.  Remember: A Minimalist wardrobe can still be totally on-point. It’s just not 1,000 articles of on-point.

Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge

More in the #MillennialMinimalist series:

Minimalists, Millennials, and Me

How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist

How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist

How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist

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I like looking pretty and enjoy trying a new beauty product, technique, or style.  When I took a salon receptionist job as a teenager, I learned that I really loved makeup, hair color, and the perfect skincare/hair products.  I think nothing about this is wrong!  But just like all good things, it can be taken to an extreme. For me, this can happen in two different ways:

1) I can buy (literally BUY) the lie that there is no such thing as natural beauty, that women need the latest and greatest to be considered beautiful.  When cosmetics become my NEED instead of a way to enhance what’s naturally there or express personality, I’m going down a dangerous road.

2) I can take my purchasing habits to a materialistic extreme.  How much money am I willing to part with over mascara? moisturizer?  What else can I use that money for?  Buying these items is not bad; I use both every day.  But I don’t use 50 of them at a time.  And I don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars.

Also, I can’t travel frequently with so many products.  I pack a small cosmetic bag for trips and am completely satisfied – why should home life be different?  Tackling my beauty products was my first step in striving for the minimalist life.  I attempted a “realistic” approach since I still truly enjoy using lots of beauty products.  Keep in mind, I just downsized in February before a move.  This was 10x worse a couple months ago! Yikes.

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1. Take Inventory

My makeup drawers were overflowing, so was the cabinet under my sink.  It wasn’t until I pulled it all out that I realized how many products I actually had.

#MillennialMinimalist Challenge: A good way to take inventory is to “pack” one cosmetic bag as though you were going on a trip.  Use only what you packed for a week.  See what you missed and what you didn’t.  If you never missed it, do you really need it?

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*not pictured: shower products and my lipstick collection*

2. Create Throw-away and Give-away buckets

Throw away anything past its prime or empty. If you’re like me and have a handful of younger female family members, you can easily put the good stuff you no longer want/need in a bag and pass it along.

3. Get Rid of the Duplicates

Slimming down on the repeats is an easy place to begin if you don’t know where to start.

Exhibit A: 8 shades of blue nail polish.  Painfully unnecessary.  I cut it down to two.beauty_minimalist

Exhibit B: 13 Eye shadow palettes and 4 singles.  I cut it in half.

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4. Put all the near-empty items toward the front

I still had some high-quality cosmetics that I enjoyed using, but were almost empty.  Throwing them away would be throwing away money.  Instead, I placed these items toward the front and committed to using them first.  In a month or so, my collection will be even smaller without waste.

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The outcome:

Ongoing!  But I managed to throw/give away over half of my products.  I went from my makeup not fitting into five drawers to fitting comfortably in three drawers.  My nail polish now fits in one small container, my shower products take up a tiny corner of the shower, and my hair care bin is half the size.  Once I get through my almost-empties, samples, and my “I can’t believe I bought this, it’s so unnecessary, but I’m going to use it up anyway” products, I’ll have a collection that’s more manageable for me.  While still having fun cosmetics to play with.  I’ll post an updated picture once that happens.

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Other steps I’m taking:

– Replace expensive products with cheaper and more natural options, like coconut oil as a makeup remover.  And use essential oils I already have for beauty boosters.

– Stop buying things I already have.  I don’t need to buy lip products for 37 years or so.  I have enough.  STOP THE MADNESS!

If any of my other fellow Millennials are minimalists, or are in the process of minimizing (like me!) – let me know! I’d love to hear your tips and possibly even link up to your work!

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling face. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Life your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. – Ashley Smith

Reading Resources For Minimalism

Click on the links before to learn more about my favorite books on minimal living.

1. Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life

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2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

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3. Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

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**Some links may be affiliate links. This means I can make money at no extra cost to you. As always, I only recommend products/books that genuinely adore.**

Minimalists, Millennials, and Me

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Millennials are becoming a growing group of minimalists – and I will gladly step aboard their “let’s not have lots of things” train.  My favorite definition of minimalism comes from the blog, The Minimalists: “Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”

It’s not difficult to find out why Millennials are giving up possessions and trading in luxury to become minimalists. Millennials watched the generations before them give up everything – to earn everything – only to lose everything. The heartbreaking irony. Gen-X and Baby Boomers slaved away to earn money and gain possessions. It was not helpful that mass media shoved consumerism down everyone’s throats. So they followed the rule: If you work hard, and earn a lot and buy a lot and give your children everything they want, one day you can retire and live the life you always dreamed. Except there was this thing called a Recession. Millennials got a front row seat to the “You Don’t Always Get To Keep Your Hard-Earned Possessions” show.

Many Millennials see large-home-buying, new-car-buying, “fill your massive home with every piece of furniture and gadget known to man” buying as a big gamble. It takes a lot of time to earn that much money. And it takes such little time for the economy to crash, or for your boss to lay you off.   This is not a gamble a lot of Millennials are willing to take. Marijuana? Maybe. Working your life away for lots and lots of things? Not as much.

Me? Well I’ve already experienced losing most of my possessions (which you can read about here). And though I have moments where I miss this or that, it’s been the most freeing feeling to not have my name attached to so many things – things that I have yet to need.  But getting rid of all my furniture was not enough. I am still surrounded by things I don’t need.  Clutter.  And I’m not into it.  I want to own less, so I can do more. I believe that a smaller life can actually provide me a bigger life.

I’m going to go through every area of my life and begin downsizing. Cutting the clutter. I don’t have space for it. Literally and figuratively. And I’m going to document it in a new series “Millennial Minimalist.” From small items – purse, wallet, cosmetics – to bigger messes – wardrobe, paperwork, books (English major!), etc. I’m figuring out what works and what doesn’t and then sharing my tips and my tears as I part with things I’m way too emotionally attached to.  It will be great fun.

My motto throughout the entire event will be: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris. Even if I know something to be useful, I probably don’t need 329 of them. Like eyeshadow. Lord knows I have too much eyeshadow.  WWMD? (What would the Minimalists do?)

If any of my other fellow Millennials are minimalists, or are in the process of minimizing – let me know! I’d love to hear your tips and possibly even feature your work!

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How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist

Image via Flickr

Be a Gatherer of Friendships and Experiences; Not a Gatherer of Things

I used to be a Gatherer of Things. The first few years of my adulthood were spent collecting objects by trading in the money I made working hard day to day. Pretty furniture, techy electronics, beautiful art, useful kitchen gadgets. An old-fashioned radio, a blender, bar stools, a flat screen TV. And cute containers to hold all my Things. Things. I gathered them for years. Then, a few months ago I stood before a 10’ by 10’ box that held my Things, and I shut the door knowing I wouldn’t see them again. There was no sadness. None. Things are incredibly and surprisingly easy to let go of. That lamp that I just NEEDED from Target did not mean anything to me anymore.   That wall-hanging that cost a week’s worth of working suddenly became insignificant.

I learned such a valuable lesson when I shut that door on my storage unit of Things. Things matter so little. It was amazing that I had spent so much time working so hard to buy so many Things that didn’t matter. If I’m being honest, I probably bought most of it to impress other people. I suddenly knew I couldn’t spend the rest of my life, my time and my money, as a Gatherer of Things. It was literally pointless. This January I decided my New Year’s Resolution would be to become a Gatherer of Friendships and Experiences instead. My time and my money would now invest in people and making memories.

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Amazingly, a third of the year has passed and I have a chunk of time to reflect upon my new pursuit:

~ Going back to school has been an incredible experience to gather. This time around I’m not checking off boxes. I’m invested. I damn well better learn everything I can. I’m soaking it up. Enjoying what I can and accepting the difficulties as part of the experience.

~ As an introvert, being a Gatherer of Friendships is a little unnatural for me. I am a hibernator.  It has taken a lot of feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. It has worked out beautifully. I have deepened old friendships and made new ones. Sometimes it really is as simple as saying “Hi, cute shoes.” Like magic.

~ I find myself saying “yes” a lot more and then following through. When concerts, events, parties, vacations, or get-togethers are offered to me, I try to make it happen. I used to say “yes” to everything I didn’t want to do. It’s wild how fun and enjoyable life can be when you say “yes” to the things you love!

~A lovely friend suggested the iPhone app “Day One” (GET IT!) to me and I have been documenting my experiences and friendships. You post a picture each day and write a little about it. It’s a personal photo-journal on my phone. I can scroll through the days and see all these precious people in my life and the incredible experiences.

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I know some Things are necessary. Let’s be real. I sleep on a bed. I have a toothbrush (you’re welcome). I have more shoes than I need and an overabundance eye-shadow (maybe shoes and eye-shadow are not completely necessary). I will undoubtedly buy beautiful art and techy electronics once more.  Things will be a part of my life. But I will be damned if I allow my life to be made up of Things. Things leave. Things are nothing. But people. People mean a whole lot. Experiencing the world around us, that means a whole lot.   Be a Gatherer of Friendships and Experiences. Maybe be a Gatherer of Family (kids are fun to make, I hear), a Gatherer of Knowledge, a Gatherer of Laughter, a Gatherer of Kisses, a Gatherer of Memories. A Gatherer of Life.

So here is to tea with a new friend, vacations, watching the rain, musicals and sporting events, holding hands, family dinners and board games, bar-hops and art shows, watching Netflix way into the night with a sweet friend, new restaurants, walks with the dog, deep conversations, funny conversations, and simply sitting to listen to good music!

Or in the words of the poet Mary Oliver:

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. 

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument. 

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
-Mary Oliver