This post was originally written for and posted on The Minimalist Wardrobe.
You’ve decluttered your wardrobe over and over again until it was just down to your essentials. Your closet now brings you joy and makes sense for your lifestyle. You’ve watched The True Cost documentary on Netflix and have educated yourself about how important it is to shop ethically, or at least to buy less and more intentionally. You are proudly a part of The Fashion Revolution. But you still want all the things. When is enough truly enough? It took me living out of a suitcase for a month to sorta start figuring it out.
It’s a lot less glamorous than you’re probably imagining. I didn’t travel very far. I’m currently house-sitting for a family about 9 miles from my home. I’ve been here for the past month, happily enjoying their air conditioning and large kitchen that could fit my entire apartment in its space. Despite having three bedrooms and two dining spaces, the one thing their guest room did not have was a closet so I have been quite literally living out of a suitcase for the last month.
I realized that I needed a lot less than I thought I did. Even after letting go of 70% of my wardrobe over the last year, this month taught me how truly little I actually needed (and how much I need to get a place with a washer/dryer in the unit). The start of my staycation conveniently aligned with the start of the Summer 10×10 challenge, so I packed my 10 items along with a few more basics like extra tees and t-shirt dresses. I sailed through the challenge and I was feeling good about making my tiny capsule work for the rest of the Summer. That is until my eyes started to wander, and my email inbox was dinging with order confirmations…Enough suddenly was not enough.
Instagram is my greatest source of inspiration and of insecurity. It has the power to motivate me to maximize my small wardrobe, and to question whether I have enough. One photo can make me wonder whether my collection of black tees is enough. Whether I need yet another basic black dress. Whether I can pull off that jumpsuit or a midi skirt. Whether I should try pulling off mustard yellow when I’ve transitioned my wardrobe to be mostly black. It also doesn’t help that I want to support all of the wonderful and amazing ethical fashion brands that I stumble upon, and just following them and liking their photos doesn’t seem enough. This seems to be my catch 22: Shopping from slow fashion brands is not enough. I need to actually shop slowly from them too.
When I find myself wanting more, I force myself to see less. I take a break from Instagram and start looking at what I do have, rather than focusing on the things that I could or should have. More often than not, I realize that I already have enough. More than enough actually. And once I realize that I in fact already have a flax linen top that fits me well, the one online seems less shiny and desirable.
I focus on what I do have rather than what I should have. (This was especially hard being away from my closet for a month.) I know that spreadsheets with wear counts aren’t for every minimalist. It’s definitely not for me, but what I do have is a very loose closet inventory of how many t-shirts, dresses, pairs of jeans, sweaters, etc. I own. It gives me a framework so that I don’t buy excessively. When I see that I already own 6 cardigans, it makes me that much more hesitant to buy another. I am therefore reminded that I already have (more than) enough.
I also then return back to my why. Why I chose to live with less. Why I chose to have a mostly black wardrobe. Why I chose to start shopping and living more slowly. It’s because I know that I can live better with less. It’s because I am the most confident when I wear black (and if it’s not black, there’s a high chance that I won’t wear it). And it’s because I want to support fair-living wages for garment workers and reduce my waste.
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Now unplugging, looking at my closet inventory, and/or going back to my why doesn’t always deter me from clicking “place my order,” but it has helped me choose better and buy less. After all, minimalism is not living without; it is living with intent. So when we return to our whys and let that guide our decisions, we are living intentionally and therefore minimally.
“Once we realize we already own enough, we are freed to pursue more worthy endeavors than the accumulation of excess.”