I really really REALLY am much happier and more at peace when my home/wardrobe/makeup/lifestyle is uncluttered, pared-down, smoothed-out. Thus I have simplified and streamlined over the past ten years, and have had to perform a few 'do-overs'. Once simplicity is accomplished, family, friends, jobs, neighbours, and the cosmos itself conspires to undo all of your work and mess up all that tidiness.
Mind you, simplicity is more than tidiness or minimalism. It is a state of mind that says 'this is enough; I don't need more than this'. Face it. Nobody NEEDS more than two dresses, a skirt, a pair of trousers, a pair of jeans, four tops, and a blazer. Heck - nuns get by on way less than that even, but most women in the west would be horrified to make do with one outfit and one spare. A few good scarves, about three pairs of shoes; flats, pumps, and sandals, will take care of most situations to which the modern middle aged woman is likely to endure.
The big problem with me is that I am always catastropanicking which is NOT a word so don't use it! The 'what if they stop making this dress and I have to get something else that I really hate?" enters my mind and POW! I get three more of them to store "just in case". There goes simplicity. The closet is minimal but the storage cupboard is chaos. Eventually, with enough of this kind of thinking, the wardrobe can become unwieldy. It is a constant battle to keep myself from that propensity to stock up on things that aren't food. In an emergency, cans of soup and bottled water will save me. Four identical black dresses will not.
So, what is a good semi-minimal wardrobe for a woman like me? For winter: a black three quarter sleeved dress in ponte knit and also a grey one, a black wool blazer, black ultra-suede skirt, grey and red cashmere cardies than can be buttoned and worn as a pullover, four tunic styled T-shirts with my favourite three-quartered sleeves, a couple of hats for church - plain, and to vary the look of everything there are scarves, fabric flower corsages, bows, and collars. This works so well that a lady recently marveled at my magnificent hat collection! Of course I own a decent pair of jeans but I don't wear them often. I also have black maryjanes, pumps, and boots. There are a few more shoes than that because they are my weakness.
For summer: one grey long tank dress, one black knee length tank, both a black and a white cotton jacket, four tunics, three tees, and two pair of cotton pants. Two straw hats with bendable brims, and a really cute raffia sailor I got in Lunenberg last year! Black slides, red slides, and red sandals round things out. This summer I am carrying a chicken purse. Note however that I have a tasteful black leather fold-over bag/clutch as well. The chicken will not be heading out to a good restaurant.
|Of course it is ridiculous, but that is why I love it!|
The tunics, tunic styled T-shirts, tees, and cardies can move back and forth to span seasons and offer up more variety.
I learned a long time ago that if I get a dress in a really fashionable style, colour, or print, that after I have worn it once or twice it becomes trite. It also is not something that can stick with you from year to year without looking dated and pathetic. This is why I stick to black and grey and use colour and pattern in the accessories. A red belt and red/black/grey/cream/ patterned scarf draw the eye away from the LBD that is the same day in and day out.
|Could become tiresome...|
As for traveling, well I cannot stand to carry about and worry over a lot of stuff. I want the absolute rock bottom of contents in my little suitcase. However, laundry is a concern especially with socks and underwear and they don't always dry overnight in hotel bathrooms. Enter the superb Tilly company of Canada. I am building a minimal travel wardrobe of high-quality items that should last the rest of my life. They will be used for our trips, including our many weekenders we plan to take. Tilly guarantees that two pair of socks and two pair of underwear will take you around the world and last three years! They are quick drying so a quick hand-wash in the evening with Woolite or Euclan is all that is needed.
To this I shall add a black dress that also is wash and wear and can be stuffed into a corner of a backpack and still be free of wrinkles, and ditto for a pair of slacks.
|The amazing traveling dress|
Two tunic tops and one shawl jacket will complete things and with a few colourful accessories and two pair of shoes, take me anywhere I could possibly wish to go. The Tilly stuff isn't cheap but it isn't outrageously expensive either and they guarantee their products. Good enough for me. I should be able to literally travel with a little carry-on or a backpack, yet be free of the jeans and tatty hippy image of the minimalist traveler.
I will report back in a year on how this all works.