Outfit 25 (Part 3)

So, it’s fairly obvious from my Instagram feed that we jetted town last week, a spur-of-the-moment adventure that didn’t involve scheduled work for either of us, which basically never happens. I don’t know, maybe Ken and I are growing up? Maybe we’re growing wise and gray and the next step is another minivan or maybe crossword puzzles? I mean, here it was mid-February and we’d found ourselves rummaging through the house to gather a random assortment of travel-sized deodorant and might-be-spoiled-when-we-return cauliflower and clean socks, throwing it all into the back of the van just in time to get the heck out of dodge before the great Midwestern blizzard arrived.

The trek was a success (sunshine, I miss thee), yet it did require bending my own Wardrobe 25 rules a bit, for comfort’s sake. Mock turtlenecks and snow boots simply won’t do in 70 degree weather, will it?

Funnily enough, I pulled just four summer items from storage and mixed them into my current winter wardrobe, and poof, packing was finished. Perhaps minimalism begets minimalism. Perhaps this Wardrobe 25 experiment is sinking in for me.

Anyway, we’re home now and the lower-than-low temps are back with a vengeance and I’m writing this by the fire to thaw my toes while a pot of chili bubbles on the stove one room over. Want to see this week’s winter-friendly line-up of outfits? Much obliged:

OUTFIT #16: 004023 / 011
OUTFIT #17: 014008 / 020 / 009
OUTFIT #18: 003 / 012 / 017
OUTFIT #19: 018006 / 010
OUTFIT #20: 002 / 007 / 009

And OK, here’s the deal with these posts, this Wardrobe 25 thing. My hope is not that these photos, these outfits, these clothes will set a standard; some unspoken expectation for a uniform that begs homogeneity or a heightened bar. Instead, I know this, from where I sit:

Less, for me, has become a path to so much more. It has become a path to less laundering, less purchasing, less numbing, less managing. It has become a path to more, and when I talk about how I rid my closet of 80% of its excess, I’m often asked how that is possible, especially for those with a love for personal style or wardrobe creativity. What does it look like? How does it work?

And so, these are just a few examples of more, from less. It’s a case for maximizing; for making the most with what we have so we can free the excess; rid the extra. It’s a statement, a simple song that declares, there is enough.

I often wonder if this new minimalism trend could have possibly taken root if our generation had lived through the Great Depression. Last week, I chatted with a family friend who lived in a household where everything was saved, collected, re-purposed, stockpiled. It was a time of not enough. It was a time of without. And now that there is enough, that there is too much, she feels frozen with fear, one rash decision or market crash or curveball away from without.

Ashes to ashes.

My own mother was/is an excellent purger. She’s ruthless in the sense that she is on a continuous quest to eliminate clutter that has no place in her home, or life. I learned from her. I learned the golden rule of organization: Everything has a place; everything in its place.

Dust to dust.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that I don’t think any of this matters. The amount of things we keep, the amount of dry goods we store, the amount of shoes that line our entryway bench. We all peer at life from different perspectives and we all have natural tendencies to collect baggage as we move through life – some out of fear, others out of habit.

Less has been freeing for me, in a lot of ways. Mostly it’s kept me from spending precious time on the meaningless: shopping, amassing, stuffing.

But also, it’s something else. It’s a practice of intention, of choice. Of deciding that I have enough, and of carving out white space and fiercely protecting it from little black dresses.

I like to think I’ve learned. I like to think that – next time I have a free Saturday afternoon – I won’t hightail it to Target to pick up hot dogs and wind up with three throw pillows and a new shade of nail polish.

But I know that’s not true. I know I am flawed, and selfish, and that there is an undercurrent of greed and desire running right alongside my heartbeat.

And so, my hope is that these posts will be reminders, for me mostly, that boundaries offer creative leaps. Less can amount to more. Fewer can be better. And that restrictions, and restraints, and small bouts of self-control can awaken quite a bit of unseen beauty; unrealized simplicity.

Ashes to ashes.

Dust to dust.

p.s. To see the 25 items I’m wearing all winter long, click here. First week of outfits here; second week here.

  • I just recently started following your blog and I am so glad to see these posts! In the last year or so I have minimalized pretty much everything else in my life BUT my closet. It’s too scary. I buy and hoard so many clothes that I haven’t worn in years and it makes getting dressed everyday just too overwhelming. Picking 25 things seems like the perfect amount. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • I agree with your thoughts on minimalism. It’s something that I’ve been moving towards in the last year, and while I am not as decluttered or minimalistic as I’d like, I’ve found the journey illuminating and peace-inducing. It’s also freeing to just wear my favorite clothes–ones that make me feel good. I used to have this mentality like I should “save” my favorite clothes and just wear things I didn’t like all that much. Seems sort of crazy, but it’s true!

    • Ha, I’ve had that mentality, too! As if I’ll ruin them by wearing them out, as if the magic will wear off. ;) Silly, silly!

  • Such a great mantra, Erin. I have enough. We don’t say it nearly often enough. My husband and I are planning a move from Dublin to Houston this summer for a one-year sabbatical and I’m thinking a pared down wardrobe like this will help stop the impending panic about what to pack!

  • I find as I’m going through the process of culling my closet that I don’t mind the quantity as long as it feels GOOD. I’ve let go of several skirts I like the look of but that didn’t feel good to wear (too fussy, pleats don’t lie flat, always felt a little sloppy), a shirt that always prompted a little voice in my head – “that’s what your grandma would wear on a cruise, really?,” and socks that filled me with dread. I’ll still shop for fun clothes but I’m trying to pay more attention to how I FEEL not just how I look in that mirror. xoxoxo Erin!

  • Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!

  • You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

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