WHY MINIMALISM IS A STATE OF MIND...
… And It Started With A Grey T-Shirt!
When I first came across the term minimalism many years ago, I immediately associated it with the hues of black, white and grey; brutally stark architecture, furniture from IKEA, polished concrete floors… and buying all my clothes in COS. True (if a little cliched) story.
As I delve further into understanding what minimalism means for me, it definitely is a state of mind… one that advocates calmness and clarity in order to clear space for what’s important. So I get the connection with a mostly monochrome palette, the occasional trip to everyone’s favourite Swedish home emporium and the fact that yes… I should probably have taken out shares in COS a long time ago. Because being surrounded by that kind of vibe makes me feel calm and promotes the clarity of mind that I’m seeking.
So it’s no surprise that I was drawn straight toward the Instagram-lead trends that brought us the likes of Kinfolk magazine, artfully placed cups of coffee in hand-crafted ceramic vessels and a whole host of Scandi inspired clothing and interior design brands. Eucalyptus stems, crisp white bed linen and muslin drapes billowing in the breeze are my jam. A simple outfit of jeans, T-shirt and blazer is a sure fire wardrobe winner in my book. And if you check, I'm fairly sure all of these have appeared in my Instagram feed at some point. Again with the cliches... but if I’m to be labelled as such, I actually relish the thought in this instance.
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 comes down to one simple phrase for me... make it count.
I was somewhat loathe to quote Jack Dawson's fictional seduction of Rose DeWitt Bukater on the Titanic at this point because "Make it count" was a phrase that just so happened to lead me into some 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 all count.
When the editing of both material possessions and matters of the mind is complete, it's about making sure that what's left is the stuff of true importance. And in order to be continually useful, the editing process shouldn’t be a one time thing but instead carry on as life morphs and changes. What served me ten years ago may no longer float my boat now - Goodbye Online Stylist, Hello simply START living for example.
Despite what you might read, there is 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 my formula is, read on...
Having gone through 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 when it comes to streamlining - 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 if it changes.
That elimination included vastly reducing the number of bags I owned and also laying to rest my desire to own "the bag of my dreams" one fine day. Many years ago that would have been a Chanel 2.55 and over time it morphed into the CÉLINE Box Bag. The realisation that neither would drastically improve my quality of life and the fact that I’d already changed my mind twice about what I perceived to be The Ultimate Bag bought with it some relief. I'm sure the bank manager would feel the same if he’d known about my plans too.
My rails and shelves now proffer up grey, black, white and beige in varying hues and gone are all the influencer purchases that I found myself making time after time. 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’ve reminded myself to not take offence at the scorn that The Teen pours upon my penchant for it, I could probably write a gazillion interiors posts that would provide a clue as to my love for the subject. In fact, come back next year and I probably will have. But oddly enough, I think our bookshelf is a good example of the ebb and flow of minimalism and making it count.
The books we read that really hold a lot of meaning get to stay and the rest are donated. A year or so later and that might change - those that previously made the cut will then get passed on to make room for new arrivals.
And here comes the potentially Monica from Friends aesthetic bit. All books on the shelf have their jackets removed - I know that sounds precious but they look so much grander without. And yes, I am that person who one Holiday Season, decided to sort them into colours (read: white, black and grey) within their allotted shelves. It's what those days in between Christmas and New Year were made for if you ask me. Obsessive editing and arranging tendencies aside, any time I gaze at the bookshelf, its contents make me feel calm and comforted.
As for the rest of the house, you’ll often find me wandering from room to room, subtracting the things that distract so that the rest can breathe. Patrick claps his hands with glee when I do this - he's not one for "too much stuff" either. Clear the clutter to see the simple… because it's the simple that matters.
In terms of work, about this time three years ago, I found myself in the position of chasing what I thought was my definition of success. 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 myself what's next? Then I stopped (probably just short of a burn out episode I suspect) and instead asked which of those truly made me happy. 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 for that matter. In a time where we need to be mindful of the influence we exude over others and how we go about it, further evaluation lead me here to simply START living. Perhaps it was the clarity that comes with another life chapter but I’m more than happy to be doing things the way that I want to as opposed to how I feel I should be doing them to keep up. Keeping up is highly overrated.
I 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 everything.
When it comes to self, I've very deliberately become more selfish with my time. I no longer give freely to find yet again, I’ve sacrificed my sanity and put my own priorities three steps below someone else’s. 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’m a born worrier. I worry about the future, worry about having change inflicted on me and worry when I've just realised I'm not worrying about something. I know... this possibly describes me and a billion others too. When you can learn to let go of what you can't control, it feels pretty liberating. In all honesty, I'm still working on this and have a long way to go. I realise I just can't minimise 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 sometimes rationalise things a lot better, take away some of the "fear" power and retain a modicum of 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 there you have my take on something that started about six years ago with an obsessive love for a grey COS T-shirt but has since become the thing that now informs the majority of my daily decisions. It might be considered a buzzword, a trend or even a bit woo-woo 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...
Some Other Really Great Reads On What Being A Minimalist Means…
Photo Credits: Death To Stock