"Oh my word! All my clothes are mom clothes!"
Chris didn't have much sympathy as I screamed this from the inside of our modest shared walk-in closet, but he also did not disagree.
In my year of subtracting things out of my life while trying to get answers to "WHO AM I? AND WHAT AM I DOING?!", my closet took a huge hit. This was a big deal for a thrift store lover and former fashion blogger. I really, really thought I could be a minimalist. When I first moved to Atlanta, I lived out of my suitcase and relied on 20 items for five months. Then I limited myself to 30 items for 90 days and whittled my closet down to a respectable capsule wardrobe. Then last February, I took the biggest plunge: I kind of KonMari'd my belongings (I have to say "kind of" because I didn't get rid of the things I thought I could actually sell for good money. Instead I shoved all that into plastic tubs and shoved all those into the guest room... where they still sit 11 months later. *gulp* I swear I'm going to get it all listed on Poshmark one of these days!).
As I was reading Chasing Slow last week, something Erin wrote deeply resonated with me regarding my closet and my belongings and my last year and all this:
... without grace, pursing the slow life is just as exhausting as pursing the fast one. Without grace, minimalism is another metric for perfection.
[note: Chapter 18 "Patched with Gold" is my favorite!]
Here I was, desperately trying to live with less, but I kept finding that stripping things out of my life wasn't making me feel any better about my life.
And worse! Something that once brought me a lot of simple joy (putting crazy outfits together, thrift store shopping, or wearing fun jewelry), was gone. My animal jewelry was packed away for my daughters' teenage years, and my wardrobe became a dull collection of sensible gray and beige and black and white. I had to wonder: did a bland wardrobe cause me to become a bland version of myself or did a bland version of myself cause my wardrobe to become bland?
So as I stood there in my beige underpants, trying to decide which of the buttons downs I should wear with my high waisted jeans -- the white, the grey, or the black?-- I had an ah-ha moment. By throwing out so much of my stuff, I threw out my progeny. My grandmother, who raised me, had opened a thrift store with the things she had amassed, and my love of treasure hunting had come from her. My mother, who I thought of as one of the most stylish women ever, used to provide me with clothes I couldn't get in my small town in Indiana-- flashier things like floofy skirts and neon leggings and Guess jeans. My love for unique personal style came from her.
I thought I didn't want to have a personal style blog anymore because I had grown tired of what blogging had become: the monetization, the fauxtoshoots, the constant social media upkeep, etc. And maybe that was part of it, yes, but perhaps I didn't want to have a personal style blog anymore because in cleaning out my closet, I had cleaned out all the fun of getting dressed.
I am still the woman who wrote this piece on why I think shopping and thrift store exploring is so great, and I don't know why I tried to silence that part of me for the last year. That changes now. I still need to keep my shopping habits in check and make time to keep a clean house, but I'm done watering myself down. I don't know what this means for me as a blogger or a writer or even as a woman and a friend, but I can't keep editing myself to my own detriment. And, hey! If you're watering yourself down, too, can I urge you to stop it as well?
Since high school yellow has been my favorite color to wear. It's so unexpected and so hard to find the right, bright, lemony -ZING!- of yellow that I like. Three years ago, my friend Nicole, who has synesthesia, said she sees me as yellow (and incidentally another person with synesthesia has told me that!). Nicole also wrote that pantone got it wrong in choosing a sucky shade of green as 2017's color. She sees it as yellow. I'm going to take that as a sign that this is the year that I can add more sunshine to my closet and start getting back some of the joys I kicked out of my life.