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minimalism is a state of mind… but it started with a grey t-shirt
I think I should preface this post with two (other) disclaimers – the first being that this title was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. And the second that when I first came across the term minimalism I immediately associated it with monochrome. And buying all my clothes in COS and most of our furniture from IKEA.
True (cliched) story.
And whilst I’m now growing my understanding of what it means to me (and that would definitely include it being a state of mind), I’m still ALL about the white black or grey everything… that won’t change any time soon.
Monochrome and me? We’re forever. I only cheat on it with beige, camel and the occasional bout of navy blue.
Monochromatic obsessions aside, I get the distinct feeling that minimalism might soon be (or perhaps already is?) in for a bit of a backlash. Just like anything that pops up and gets carried along on a euphoric tide of social media enthusiasm (avocado anyone?), it eventually gets knocked off it’s (Eames) pedestal with a resounding thud.
We love to build up and tear down in equal measure don’t we?
I guess at this stage I should ask, if I said the word minimalism to you, what immediately leaps to mind?
Kinfolk magazine? Scandi inspired clothing/interior design/cuisine? Artfully placed cups of coffee in hand-crafted ceramic vessels? Eucalyptus stems? Crisp white bedlinen? Muslin drapes billowing in the breeze? A simple outfit of jeans, t-shirt and blazer?
If you check, I’m fairly sure ALL of these have appeared in my Instagram feed at some point. Again with the cliches… I am one and relish the thought.
Minimalism in its visual form is all these things and a whole lot more of the same ilk, just waiting to be discovered via a gazillion glorious hashtags. But take away all the aesthetics (actually please don’t), and it basically comes down to one simple phrase for me… make it count.
I’m somewhat loathe to quote Jack Dawson’s verbal seduction of Rose DeWitt Bukater here because “Make it count” was a phrase that lead me into quite a bit of trouble in my youth. The less said about my heart-lead inspirations taken directly from an epic movie about a sinking ship, the better.
But minimalism for me is just that – making it count.
After all the editing of both material possessions and matters of the mind, it’s about making sure that what’s left is the stuff that’s of true importance.
And I feel that in order to be continually of use, the editing process never stops and should roll on with us as life morphs and changes. What served me ten years ago may no longer float my boat now. I’ll stop with the Titanic references soon, I promise.
Despite what you might read, there’s no one size fits all prescription for minimalism. One person’s Mansur Gavriel tote is another’s Pom Pom beach basket and all that.
But if you want to know what mine is, read on…
Having gone though my wardrobe like a woman possessed and eliminated all the pieces that no longer worked for me, what I’m left with makes me feel a lot calmer and happy.
That said, I know my limits, meaning that having a really small capsule wardrobe wouldn’t be for me. Not now anyway but in the future, who knows? Check back and I’ll be sure to share!
That elimination included vastly reducing the number of handbags I owned and also laying to rest once and for all, my desire to own “the bag of my dreams” one fine day. It used to be a Chanel 2.55 and then it morphed into the CÉLINE Box Bag.
The realisation that neither would drastically improve my quality of life and “My, wasn’t that a lot of money to spend on something I’d already changed my mind about once!”, bought with it some relief. I’m sure my bank manager would feel the same if he knew.
I also recently emptied all the crap out of my current handbag whilst fully accepting that I still have to carry around at least two different hues of red lipstick. Because you never know when you might need a good red lip to step up to the mark.
And when it comes to shoes, minimalism equates to a small collection of flats, flats and more flats. Comfort is cool, Converse is queen and unworn taxi heels are a thing of the past.
If I think about minimalism in our house, once I remind myself to not take offence at the scorn that The Teen pours on my penchant for it, I think our bookshelf is a good example of the ebb and flow of what stays and what goes.
From an aesthetic point of view, all books on the shelf have their jackets removed. I know… precious. But they look so much grander without. And yes, I am that person who one Holiday Season, decided to sort them into colour hues (read: white, black and grey) within their shelves. It’s what those days in between Christmas and New Year were made for if you ask me.
But enough of the manic monochrome tendencies and back to books. The books we read that mean something get to stay and the others are donated. A year or so on and that might change – those that previously made the cut will then get passed on to make room for new arrivals.
But at any one time, I look at the bookshelf and it makes me happy. It’s not over crowded and it doesn’t have rules attached to it. Well apart from the tonal arrangement rule.
As for the rest of the house, I find myself often wandering from room to room, subtracting the things that distract and giving the rest room to breathe. Mr OS almost claps his hands with glee when I do this. He’s not one for “too much stuff”.
Clear the clutter to see the simple.
In terms of work, about two years ago I found myself in the position of always chasing “What’s next?”
I blogged, I Instagrammed, I went to press days, I attended events, I co-hosted workshops, I spoke at events, I provided one to one consulting, I pitched to brands, I did some freelance writing… but still I kept asking what’s next?
Then I stopped and instead asked which of those truly made me happy (I almost gave into the urge to type “sparked joy’ there). In all honesty, not many of them. So I stopped, re-evaluated and began again.
In doing so, I found a sense of calm I hadn’t felt in a long time. In fact it’s a sense of calm I’m not sure I ever possessed about work before – in this job or any other.
I’m still under-going the evaluation process now, even more so in a time when we all need to be careful about the influence we exude over others and how we go about it.
I heavily equate minimalism with finding joy in the simpler things. Possibly because taking stock, slowing down and continually embracing some sort of evaluation process gives me the time and headspace to look harder, notice the stuff of life and appreciate it much more.
The seasons and nature feel more important to me now. Is this an age thing or a minimalist thing? Either way, I’m into being outdoors – fresh air is all.
When it comes to self, I’ve very deliberately become more selfish with my time. I no longer give freely to find I’ve yet again sacrificed my sanity. And there’s no guilt attached to this version of the word selfish… I’m simply putting myself out in front.
And here’s where the whole “minimalism is a state of mind” thing really comes into play.
I was a born worrier. Worry about the future. Worry about having change inflicted on me. Worry when I’ve just realised I’m not worrying about something. I know… this probably describes me and a gazillion others.
When you can learn to let go of what you can’t control, it feels pretty liberating. I’m still working on this with a long way to go. I realise I just can’t minimalise my worries and pack them away in a neat little box, never to be seen again.
But with unnecessary stresses out of the picture and a clearer head, I can rationalise things a lot better, take away some of the “fear” power and retain some of the control.
This moving piece by Joshua Becker gets across exactly what I mean in a manner far more eloquent than I’m managing here.
So that’s my take on something that started about six years ago with an obsessive love for a grey COS T-shirt but has since become something that now informs the majority of my daily decisions.
It might be considered a buzzword, a trend or even a bit woo-woo (I’ve been longing to get that word into a blog post!), but its a set of principles and ideals that I feel completely at ease with.
And I still wear and love that grey T-shirt…
What do you think of when you think of the word minimalism and is it something that appeals to you as a way of life? Drop me a comment or an email – I’d love to hear your take on this too!
Some other *really* great reads on what being a minimalist means:
Photography: Charlotte Bryer-Ash
S T Y L E N O T E S :
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