I may be able to trim down a bit, but I’ll never be no minimalist.
I was reading the Miss Minimalist blog the other day.
I like Miss Minimalist and enjoyed her book The Joy of Less, though I do also find myself shaking my head and thinking: ooh, you’re very young, aren’t you? (No proper seating, only floor cushions? – try that in a draughty medieval farmhouse on a stone-cold terracotta floor when you’ve got arthritis, love…).
Anyway, the other day I read a blog of hers about a capsule wardrobe – see pic. I like her style a lot, but as she fully admits, it won’t suit everyone’s life, and sadly it wouldn’t come near suiting mine – it’s too smart and would get dirty too quickly. But it set me thinking about my wardrobe and why it’s not quite as streamlined as I would like (this is a slight understatement).
At this time of year, I pretty much live in the following:
* Climate Control thermal underwear, consisting of the Five Seasons Superwoman poloneck top and longjohns.
* Corrymoor socks.
* Fleece polonecks from Lands’ End.
* Pull-on bootcut denim jeggings from British Home Stores.
If the day’s a bit colder, I’ll top that with a fleece gilet. If it’s a bit warmer, I might wear a cashmere polo instead, and in milder weather I lose the thermals and just wear the jeggings with a long t-shirt, with or without a gilet or a long cardi on top.
I can get away – just – with wearing the same jeggings and top all week if I had to, though both would be pretty grubby. But the thermal top needs changing every single day (this is why I have six sets, plus other types of thermals). Does Miss Minimalist not sweat, I wonder?
However, cleanliness aside, major problem arises because I’m a tad schizophrenic about clothes and also I do love a bit of variety. In summer, I love a flowery linen dress, but with the weather so unpredictable, I’m still often in jeggings and a teeshirt (always long-sleeved and I’ve recently thrown out all my short-sleeved ones).
But the jeggings aren’t really smart enough to go into town with, so I also have proper jeans – these days most have been dyed navy. But the jeans aren’t comfortable enough for working at a desk in, so once I’m home, it’s back to jeggings. Or Kiwis, if the weather’s colder. Or fleece-lined trousers if it’s bitter.
In summer, meanwhile, I might fancy a sleeveless top, but my arms are past it, so that entails another clothing layer of cardigans, shrugs and wotnot, especially since hot flushes mean layering is essential – I like a cardi that I can undo and get some air in there (far better than a teeshirt). And a dress and cardigan both need to be changed every day or again, they get frankly stinky.
Shoes are a now nightmare – a constant compromise between what I can actually wear with my whisper-thin soles (Crocs, Uggs, walking shoes from companies like Columbia) and what I’d like to wear (my 3in pink suede stilettos from Laura Ashley). And just try finding an elegant, comfortable shoe that you can wear with a dress – all summer long I live in FlyFlot sandals, which fortunately suit my casual life.
But I also look at Miss Minimalist’s wardrobe and think: doesn’t your life contain more variety than this? She admits this selection doesn’t include specialist clothes (swimming, hiking, etc) but where are the clothes for parties or for slobbing out at home, for instance? If I wore the same clothes at home as for going out, I’d be done for – my home clothes get covered in animal hair, fire ash and mud pretty regularly, whereas I do try hard to keep my ‘going out’ clothes a bit cleaner and smarter. In fact, I use my rare occasions of lunch out or my writers group meeting to wear precisely the things that I can’t wear at home – such as blouses or v-neck sweaters (both too cold in this stone house, even in summer).
However, the big no-no that stands between me and the idea of true minimalism is that I would just get bored to death by a wardrobe this small, to be honest. I’ve tried the two-colour idea, and the one-colour idea, and the tonal idea and none of them is me. I hate looking the same every single day, and I do find too that ringing the changes with accessories doesn’t quite work for me as they get in the way – I loathe rings and bracelets, and can’t be doing with necklaces or scarves flapping about the place, so my basics have to do the duty of accessories.
Even Miss Minimalist’s indulgences are modest – her turquoise wellies, for instance. But here, I have two pairs – one for winter (neoprene lined, dark green, heavy) and one for summer (bright yellow and lightweight). Neither pair could possibly do duty for the wrong season – believe me, I’ve tried.
With a wardrobe quite this minimal, how do you cope when you don’t wake up in a ‘black’ mood? Some days I feel bright, and want to wear red or turquoise or orange, and other days I feel quiet and want to wear beige or grey. It would feel wrong, all wrong, to have to dress in the wrong colour – I had enough of dressing like someone else when I had an office job.
And finally there’s the difference between what suits you and what suits your life. My soul may be girly and all powder pink and baby blue, but that would last about five minutes in our brown water, or when when wood chopping or looking after animals, so the backbone of my wardrobe remains navy (black being too harsh for the country).
Oh la. The wonder is that one ever manages to get dressed at all…
One good tip I picked up from the comments on her blog, though, was to try Icebreaker t-shirts which are in merino and elasthane. Apparently you can get away with two, just alternating them all week, as they’re antibacterial and don’t smell. At 69 dollars a pop, that would be a hell of an indulgence, but it’s certainly a solution to the stack-of-not-quite-right-t-shirts problem.
And with that, I’m off to somehow get dressed. So, what to wear for a day that involves cleaning the house, moving furniture, a trip to the skip, recyling, making lunch, and doing hair and makeup for a glam photo shoot? Jeggings it is, then…