Monday, February 27, 2017

Sentimental

As I sift through my stuff, I struggle the most with two categories - items that need repair/making/redoing and sentimental items. 

Take, for example, my grandmother's tea cups. She passed away just over a year ago, and I miss her all the time. A part of her personality was taking great pride in her possessions. She definitely did not own lot, but what she did own she used and talked about with such pride. Afternoon tea with my grandma was something of a tradition. You couldn't be visiting without having afternoon tea. And when she used her lovely tea cups from around the world, you knew it was a special tea. 

She used to collect them during her travels
My cousins were asking where those tea cups went to, and I wasn't sure, until I came across them today as I was going through some of my boxes. So what do I do with those tea cups? I am not sure I'll display them, and will likely use them very infrequently, but they hold such a strong sentimental value to me (even though they were in a box in my basement and I didn't know where they were - the irony is not lost!)


For the moment I am going to keep them, but I am worried that this will start to unravel my minimalism. In The Minimalists' TEDxFargo they talked about taking photos of items and then letting them go, allowing others to use them. But I'm not sure I can do that yet... 

For now my solution is to put all of my sentimental items (because a tea cup is not the only one) in one box. If I have more than one box worth of items, I will go through them and pick the most sentimental items in order to restrain the collection to one box. One box of non-minimalism. Is it possible?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Capsule Wardrobe

As I listed in the last post - I have built myself 2 Capsule Wardrobes. 

While doing the MariKondo Method over a year ago, I really paired down my wardrobe, and it felt awesome! I loved that I had only a few things to wear when I went out, deciding what to wear was much easier (not to mention I spent less time putting away clothes!)

But over time, I started to buy items again and I had a bit of a hayday with all the sales in November and December of 2016, so I wanted to bring myself back to a paired down wardrobe. But I couldn't figure out how many items to remove. And then I started to read more about Capsule Wardrobes. Others have been chatting about it too - here, here, here, and here. It was inspiring to see that it has staying power - Unfancy has been doing it for over two years! 

So I started to remove items from my wardrobe. It was difficult - there were many things that I could not part with permanently, so I put them in my storage area so that I could add them to my next capsule wardrobe. 

So here are my two capsules:

Work  
This one is not that exciting, I essentially already had a capsule wardrobe. I have several pieces by the same brand that are all the same fabric/colour/cut and can be mixed and matched.  
  • 3 pairs of pants (same suit)
  • 4 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 8 blouses
  • 2 pairs of heels 
  • 3 suit jackets
Lifestyle  
This one is a bit more fun, so I photographed some of the items. It includes:  
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 blue & black pair of leggings
  • 1 black pair of leggings
  • 2 plaid shirts - white and blue and reds
  • 2 sweaters - pink and grey
  • 1 tank top - lace
  • 1 black long sleeve T-shirt
  • 1 black short sleeve T-shirt with leather detail
  • 1 grey short sleeve T-shirt
  • 1 chambray shirt
  • 2 silk long sleeve shirts both black with patterns
  • 1 black jumper
  • 3 open sweaters 2 grey and 1 black light grey shirt
  • 1 light grey skirt
It is hard to take photos of clothes not on people or hangers!
I've noticed a few things about the items in my capsule. There is a lot of black. I shop at mainstream (and fast fashion) stores. I am agnostic to expensive or higher quality items. Once I like something I repeat (my jeans are the same cut and brand, just a different colour).

Eventually I would like to have a wardrobe full of independent or local and ethical clothes but I'm in no rush to convert my wardrobe. Honestly, I love everything in my closet. When I look at my capsule, it brings a smile to my face and I can't imagine changing out any item, even though I am sure those sweaters will be a little warm come summer. 

The funny thing about this view is that before I made a capsule, I didn't love each item in the capsule - the pink sweater wasn't the exact pink I was expecting when I ordered it online (there is some rust in it), I like to JCrew chambray shirt more than the Gap one I am wearing and so on. But now that they are part of my capsule, I love them. I cannot begin to describe what has changed my view of my items, but I really like it!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Corporate Minimalist

I have been watching the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. The first time was two Fridays ago, and then I watched it again this weekend. It is quite the hit on Netflix.  Ironically, the first time I watched it instead of creating my capsule wardrobe... (don't worry I made it back to my capsule) But I found the documentary inspiring, and it put together many pieces of minimalism I have been pondering over the last year or so. (as seen here and here and here oh and here)

The focus of the documentary is figuring out what drives us to consume and how that affects our lives. It also provides a glimpse of what our life may look like without all the material items. It is summed up like this: "We spend so much time on the hunt, but nothing ever quite does it for us. We get so wrapped up in the hunt that it makes us miserable." ~Dan Harris. 

The parting words of the documentary provide a guide to living minimalist: "Love people and use things, not the other way around."

But there is also an underlying theme in the documentary, that thoughtless consumption is synonymous with corporate employment. I think that most of the individuals in the documentary hated their jobs and bought stuff to compensate. Many of them quit their office jobs to become a blogger/writer/traveler promoting the minimalism movement. I can definitely see the association between the two, especially if your goal of employment is to gain money. But what happens to people like me, people who don't want to become bloggers/writers/world travelers? I've done the former and it's lonely. And while I may not love the job I come to now, I definitely like coming to an office, working with people, solving difficult problems and having structure in my life. 

Via Apartment Therapy
I definitely see how minimalism and a less corporate employment fit well together, especially if we are working with the purpose to acquire money. Removing the need for money, removes the dependency for the corporate job. And if we hate our job, that can be very freeing. 

I am going to try and argue that a minimalist lifestyle in a corporate job can work well together - just as well as becoming a minimalist to quitting the corporate 'rat race' fits together. See in my corporate job, I have limited free time.  I would like to spend that time doing things, connecting with people outside of work, getting into nature, not buying or taking care of material goods I own. So the less I own, the more time I can spend doing the things I love. 

So here is my experiment - not giving up my day job (which takes up my days and nights), but giving up the shopping. I predict this will have a significant effect on my life, because I find myself spending large portions of my free time researching, hunting, buying and storing material items. I am interested and worried to see what I spend my time on when I don't spend it on the hunt. 

So in the last week and a half, I have taken some steps down the corporate minimalism path:
  1. Returned ~$1,000 worth of clothing, I somehow bought over the past two weeks ($500 of which I only took home to 'try on', so was going to be returned anyway)
  2. Built a Capsule Wardrobe - Well I have built 2 capsule wardrobes. Because I wear suits to work and there is no crossover between work apparel and lifestyle apparel, I had to create two separate capsules. Both are less than 30 items. (more on that another day) 
  3. Made a pledge to not buy anything for 3 months. This is not confined to clothing, rather I am going to attempt to not purchase any material item that is not consumable and immediately required (ex. I am not going to buy my 10th bottle of body cream). 
  4. Unfollowed instagram accounts that are selling me items
  5. Went through 1/2 of my kitchen and removed items that did not "spark joy". I filled two medium sized boxes and kept quite a few items (I'm definitely not strictly following the Mari Kondo Method). Despite the limited reduction, I feel decluttered already
Via Apartment Therapy