Am I a Bad Person?

Well, how’s that for a dramatic post title?! Granted I don’t think it’s THAT bad with me (yet?) but the more I read, hear and watch about minimalism, ethical fashion and zero-waste movements the more I feel like maybe I’m not doing enough. I know (and it’s important to always keep in mind) that minimalism isn’t a competition and that it’s not perfect. But my inner perfectionist? It wants to be perfect. So badly. So whenever I take a step forward I feel like the goal I’m striving towards is also moving further, and I’ll never get there.

One of the first measures I’ve taken when becoming a minimalist was to consume less especially given clothes and other fashion items. I was feeling more free, I was spending less and was helping the environment through it too. But then I came across articles and documentaries (e.g. The True Cost) and I realized that maybe alone consuming less wasn’t enough, I also needed to consume in a right way, in an ethical way. So my euphoria over consuming less was quickly dimmed by the realization that I nevertheless wasn’t consuming ethically. And that is something I still struggle with. I want to be good to this planet and its people, but I’m also a student trying to become financially independent from their parents. And let’s be real, ethcial brands ARE more expensive than fast fashion brands. OBVIOUSLY. They use better materials, they pay better wages, the list goes on. And in theory that is what I want. I’m an idealist. I regulary have some kind of breakdown because of how unfair the world seems to be sometimes and how much greed is destroying. But I’ve also grown up this way. I’ve grown up always looking for the cheapest price and that is hard (way way harder than I ever expected) to get away from.

So yes, I want good conditions and fair wages. Yes, I want eco-friendly methods used. I want all of that and more. Yes, $40 for a shirt makes sense given all those circumstances. But to a person growing up spending $5 or $10 on shirts and not earning much it’s sometimes still really hard to spend those $40 on a plain shirt, even though I understand all the reasoning behind it and even support it.
Writing it down like this it sounds even more horrible than when I just whisper it in my head. But it is the ugly truth. While minimalism comes fairly easy to me, ethical consumption (and the price of it) doesn’t. It is a hard battle, that as of now I still often (mostly, okay) lose, but it’s better than not fighting at all. Some day I’ll get there.

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Closet Decluttering for the (Aspiring) Minimalist, and Everyone Else

This is a topic that is discussed a lot, and I feel like it is because it is what is easiest to start with and where it’s easy to see an impact. While minimalism or decluttering is always a continuing activity, I think that it is especially the closet that needs a lot of work, I know that it is so with mine. I started my (concious) minimalist journey with decluttering my closet, so maybe this can help kick off your journey, or just leave you with a nicely organized closet.

I would recommend to do all these steps section by section (e.g. shirts, sweaters, dresses…), but if you’re anything like me you’ll want to see your closet empty anyway and put everything on your bed/the Floor, just to have to put most of it back again without having had a proper look at it. It’s your choice though, really.
All of these steps aren’t meant to be done in one day. To be perfectly honest, it’s a constant effort. Take as much time as you need, and you have.

Where do the sorted out items go?
Think about what you want to do with the clothes you don’t want to anymore. You want to donate it all? Prepare trash bags. You want to sell some of the stuff? Add a seperate box to put these pieces in. Maybe you want to have your family and friends have a look over your stuff? Add another box.
Prepare accordingly.

Check Condition and Fit
This is a step that you should have in your mind during the whole process. Does it have holes, is it uncomfortable, is it too big or too small, is the colour washed out, are there weird wrinkles or bulges that don’t go out through washing/ironing, etc.? Then it goes.

Choose Your Favourite and Least Favourite Pieces
This should be fairly easy. Go through your chosen section and pick out the pieces you wear a lot, like a lot, you enjoy wearing, are comfortable and you would basically just want to wear all the time. This should be fairly intuitive. Put them back in your closet.
Now do the same with the pieces that you secretly wanted to have gone for a looong time, we all have them. Maybe it feels like a chore to wear them, or the material is scratchy, or you just never really liked the style of it. Again, go with your intuition. Put these pieces in their box (donate, sell, pass along).
It doesn’t matter how many pieces you sort out in this step it’s just to get you started.

Try and Error
Try the rest on. How does it feel? Do you feel comfortable? Is the material comfortable? Does it fit your lifestyle (e.g. can you wear it to school/work/…)? Does it fit your current style?

Repeat Steps With Every Section
Chances are you’ll still be left with quiet a lot of stuff. If you want to minimize and optimize further, try the following steps (and remember: you can do this in the span of weeks or months).

Create Outfits
Now go through all your pieces one by one and try to create outfits. Try new combinations you’ve never tried before. Ideally a piece can be combined in a lot of different ways and styles, e.g. a summer dress can also be worn in winter with thights and different sweaters/cardigans over it, in summer it can be worn with different shoes (elegant, sporty,…), and it can be up- and down-dressed according to the occasion. As I said, this is ideally, but it is totally okay to have some pieces that maybe can only be worn in one way, if you still really like this pieces and you enjoy wearing it. However, if your goal is a well-curated closet, try to minimize those pieces.

Store Pieces Out of Your Sight
If you’re worried about regretting giving a piece away, store it in a box somewhere out of your sight. When the season’s over, let’s say it’s a sweater and winter is now over. Chances are you’ve never thought about the sweater and haven’t missed it. You can now dispose of it. If you did have a moment where you thought “if only I had that sweater…”, well you’re in luck. Get that sweater out, it is a keeper now.

This is a constant process that isn’t done after one decluttering. As you evolve, you’ll have to sort out other pieces and get new ones. You’ll have to change your attitude and views on consumerism to maintain your new closet. But this might be a topic for another post.
But for now you’ve done the first step and I’m sure you’ve done a hell of a good job!

If you have any more tips share them in the comments!

Minimalism: Lifestyle vs. Style

If you tell someone you’re a minimalist, they will most likely think that this is how your closet looks like and the rest of your living space too. Now, that can be how a minimalist lives and dresses but it doesn’t have to be. The confusion of minimalist lifestyle and style is what created most of these clichées about minimalists.

Both of these concepts are related, both strive to simplify and eliminate the unneccessary, and yet they are quiet different. I would say that minimalism be it in art, fashion or architecture has strict rules, or maybe not that strict rules, but there are rules. The fashion style has to be slick and clean, without any chichi and without much colour or patterns, since they don’t really have a use (except for maybe originally the army print). You can’t wear a shirt with a leo print and ruffles and call it minimalist. But you can wear it and still be a minimalist.

The wonderful thing about minimalism as a lifestyle is that it really can be and is for everyone since there are no rules. As far as I’m concerned, there are as many forms of minimalism as there are minimalists. You can love colourful clothes, you can be a collector of things, you can have knick-knack all around the house, you can have yellow walls and green furniture – you can have all of that and still be a minimalist, IF all those things bring you joy and don’t ever make you feel overwhelmed. You can take minimalism and make it your own.

In a perfect (and maybe a little boring) world every minimalist would also adopt a minimalist style. I mean that would make perfect sense, wouldn’t it? But this world is chaotic and it doesn’t always make sense. In this world you can wear all the ruffles and sequins and prints (and mix them) and still be a minimalist. Or you don’t. Maybe one day, you do feel like going for that black and white, sleek as hell look. And maybe that one day is also every day. Anyhow, how fun with it. No one ever said minimalism had to be boring!