As I wrote about last fall, I have a long and dirty history with the act of accumulating stuff. Having a style blog for a few years was a crippling blow to any efforts I made to keep this bad habit at bay. Because I primarily shopped at thrift stores and resale shops, I could justify my purchases easily with "What a deal!" and wanting new / different outfits for the fashion events and mixers I attended and... ugh... just for the sake of the blog itself. It all seems so petty when I put it down here in writing, but that's the truth of the matter.
And things got better-- much better! -- in 2011 when I wrote and published a promise I made to myself to start shopping more thoughtfully. Having a shopping philosophy, for the most part, has kept my spending and my shopping in check since.
But here's the piece of the puzzle that I haven't really written about: I'm having a lot of trouble decluttering. I still have a lot of stuff.
And for the first time in our 11 year marriage, Chris and I are forced to share one walk-in closet (first world problems, I know), and the thing is, we both have a lot of stuff.
I'm getting ready to write something that my dearest friends all know, but that my internet friends maybe don't. I'm not proud of this at all, but it needs to be said so you can get a grasp at how crazy the situation that I'm now in is. At our Texas house, I had my own walk-in closet, used the entire reach-in guest room closet, had a full rolling rack of clothes in the guest room, had sweaters in my office closet, and coats in part of a hall closet. My garage and car always had bags and bags of neglected clothes strewn about, too. I had a problem. (And this only touches on clothes, shoes, and accessories. We'll talk about office supplies and craft supplies some other time).
When we moved to Georgia, I got rid of a lot of it. Two entire truckloads of clothes and shoes and house goods, actually. I could have opened a thrift store with just my belongings on those trucks alone.
But here I am in Georgia, coming up on six months in this new house, and my clothes cover every inch of floor on my side of the bed and are piled to the bar in my shared closet and take up the bed in Chris' office. I also use the entire guest room closet again. I got rid of two truckloads of stuff, but I still have another truckload I could stand to part with. In other words: I still have a problem.
And here's the kicker: I've been doing an undocumented capsule wardrobe for the entire six months that I've been here. (If a style blogger is doing a capsule wardrobe and doesn't blog about it, does her capsule wardrobe really exist? You tell me.) For nearly six months- October, November, December, January, February, March (except for at SXSW, TxSC, and Alt Summit) I've been wearing the same 15 items:
+ 2 pairs of jeans (one black, one dark blue)
+ 3 blouses (one cream, one peach, one gingham)
+ 2 sweaters (one gray, one cream)
+ 2 cardigans (one leopard, one cream)
+ 2 pairs of comfy pants (one black pair of yoga pants, one pair of gray joggers)
+ 1 skirt (tan leather)
+ 1 blazer (black and white striped)
+ 2 t-shirts (on short sleeved gray, one long sleeved black)
And up until March, I only wore five pairs of shoes:
+ TOMS wedges (tan)
+ Gray converse
+ Black Nikes
+ Brown DUO boots
+ Leopard loafers
That's 20 items TOTAL for FIVE entire months.
Before you applaud me or ask me to take photos of all the combos of those 20 items, please know that this was an accidental capsule wardrobe. These are the few fall / winter items that I packed to bring with me from Texas to Georgia (that were not on the moving truck) and / or items I purchased since moving here. I didn't do a capsule wardrobe because I planned to. I did one because it took me a really long time to unpack... and I'm lazy! Essentially, these were the clothes in my suitcase by my bed for all these months.
Was it hard? No. In fact, I mainly wore the jeans, cream blouse, and TOMS sweater when I'd go out to dinner or church. Otherwise, I'd wear the yoga pants and gray t-shirt and tennis shoes when I'd run errands. It was utilitarian at a time when I was spending most of my days at home working on TxSC stuff or just running to meet my buddy Sully at Target. It's nothing revolutionary.
This post is getting long. Golly! It was just supposed to be a simple outfit post, but I'm writing all this commentary off the cuff here. Stick with me.
ANYWAY! Back on topic! (That stuff is related, I swear!).
Marie Kondo. Not going to lie: I had to Google Marie Kondo when Caroline mentioned her on her blog. I didn't give Kondo a second thought until it came time to pack for my Texas trip. Then suddenly, there I was, sitting in a mountain of mainly chiffon blouses and polyester dresser, trying to decide what to pack for SXSW and TxSC, and I, once again, found myself asking why and how I came to own so many things. Things that I hadn't worn in months.
I was able to pack for Texas last minute (like I always do), but when I got home, we had to haul butt to ready our house for guests for Lucy's first birthday. I was silently berating myself as I dismantled the rolling rack in the guest room and tried to shove the clothes from it into the already stuffed closet. I resigned myself to not cleaning my bedroom, and just keeping the doors shut in shame.
I could desperately use a Kondoing (yes, that's a verb now!), but I just don't think that's going to happen. I have the tendency to try to do these home organizational things and then about 25% of the way in (after being full gusto with it initially) I slack off and throw in the towel. After a nice pep text with Sully (who is my complete opposite, and therefore one of the most reasonable people I know!), she said something that is still rattling around in my brain days later:
if you keep giving up, then it's not a true priority for you, and you're feeling external pressure to be or do something that isn't inherently "you"
So what is me?
If I reach back into my earliest memories, I think about all the shelves and stacks of books I owned as a child, my habit of collecting any and all Pez dispensers and baseball cards, my preschool memories of painting my nails hot pink and always wearing the loudest, brightest clothes I could get my hands on.
I'm just going to type it so I can stop trying to make it happen: I am never going to be a minimalist. Right now, I so want that Kinfolk aesthetic, I want crisp white walls, and spotless furniture, but it's just not me.
Likewise, with my clothing, I'm not very happy when I'm sporting gray joggers and a cream blouse for the fourth time that week. However, something that makes me even more unhappy is the amount and mess of my stuff. It overwhelms me.
Kondo writes from a positive space and says that each belonging should spark joy. Therein lies my problem: I am the girl who has liked every job she has ever had. I try to legitimately befriend nearly every woman I have a conversation with. I am really, really great at glossing over the bad and holding up the good. So in that same regard, almost every single item of clothing I own makes me smile because I've attached a memory to it or I at least remember why I bought it (or how it came to me) in the first place.
My biggest takeaway from the book summary was not so much the mantra that every item should spark joy (because do possessions spark joy, really? Or is it the memories attached to those possessions and therefore the PEOPLE associated with those items? Because honestly, PEOPLE > BELONGINGS!), but rather if you need to declutter but you're having trouble doing it, it's because you're stuck in one (or in my case both) of two places:
1. The past // the nostalgia of it all and the value of your sentiment is misplaced on the object itself rather than the memory (or in my interpretation the people)
2. The future // if you hang on to things because you think that you might need them one day, you could likely have a scarcity complex (this is the case with my craft and office supplies, for sure).
I don't like how Kondo personifies belongings. She essentially says of the decluttering process: "Thank your items for their service to you and honor them by releasing them from service", which I think is a little hokey. I do, however, appreciate the sentiment of it. I needed to adjust it a little for my own life.
At SXSW Bethany Joy Clark gave me a Giving Key that says GRATEFUL on it, and I worn it every day since. It's a small thing that reminds me to be thankful for everything.
I'm at the tipping point here with my belongings. I am grateful that I've had them, but I know that I'm going to be more grateful to have a cleaner house-- a house where I can host gatherings, a house that I'm not embarrassed by its mess inside. I am grateful for the people in my life more than any item of clothing or jewelry that I own, and I want them to have a comfortable, clean place to stay and to enjoy my home.
Plus Chris and I have been pricing dressers online, and wowzers! They ain't cheap (for a solid wood one for as large as we want. This is the one I can't stop thinking about)! Rather than plopping down $1700 for a dresser, wouldn't it be much better to commit to only owning as many items as will fit in our shared closet and the small Ikea dresser I already have?
Man, that was a lot of commentary for what was just supposed to be a simple outfit post. I haven't done one in ages (because I've been wearing a very bland accidental capsule wardrobe), but for Jude's Easter party, I let him pick my outfit. This is what happens when your four year old picks out your clothes (he specified that he wanted me to wear a bun on the top of head, too, which I happily obliged):
KEEPS // jewelry, hat, shoes
CLUTTER // dress, sweater
THE DRESS // This dress is the nicest thing I own, but I have only worn it one other time: during the TxSC March Mixer at Neiman Marcus. I was gifted this dress for hosting the event, which was a crazy surprise that just dumbfounded me. It reminds me of the incredible community I was a part of for so long and being able to zip it up last week made me do a victory dance around my bathroom. I like it because Jude loves it.
SENTIMENTAL VALUE (on a scale of 1-5): 4
RETAIL VALUE (on a scale of 1-5): 5
NEXT DESTINATION: will sell online (I hope it can be someone's summer wedding rehearsal dinner dress or departure / honeymoon dress).
THE CARDIGAN // The sweater, first seen here, is now worn and pilly on the elbows. It was one of the very first courtesy items I got from a brand after I adopted my I Shop With Heart guidelines. It came to me at a time when other two brands I had worked with for over a year severed their ties with me after I decided to focus on shopping more thoughtfully (which was a big blow to the ego). I know it seems like something so small an insignificant, but at the time, this sweater was a little symbol of "It's going to be okay. Your blog is going to be okay if you do this thing!". Plus bright yellow is my favorite color to wear.
SENTIMENTAL VALUE: 4
RETAIL VALUE: 1
NEXT DESTINATION: Goodwill
I don't know if this SENTIMENTAL VALUE / RETAIL VALUE / NEXT DESTINATION thing is going to be a thing I do here (what do you think? Yea? Nay?) but like PurchaseMyLife[dot]com, I'm ready to let go of my stuff. Plus I'm saving all my pennies (489,500 of them) for this leather sofa from Restoration Hardware, so maybe if I sell absolutely everything I can stand to part with I can make a downpayment on one in a couple years? How many used dresses do you think it will take?