Life without a Little Black Dress

It’s been two and a half months since the start of my efforts to reduce all the stuff in my life. I’m happy to report that I have not regressed back to my old hoarding ways. I have even been recycling old pickle and peanut butter jars instead of washing them out to use as tupperware. It makes my soul hurt a little every time I don’t upcycle or reuse, but I’m doing it for Future Me, who will one day have to pack up the contents of my current apartment to move. She will thank me when she won’t have to first sift through the apartment to decipher crap from keeps.

When I was frantically removing the clutter from my life back in August, I decided on some best practices for the term I (might have) coined called Minimum Minimalism. I was essentially avoiding serious commitment to the word “minimalism.” Labeling myself as a minimalist would mean a lot of justification and explanation and defensive arguments with people who don’t think I’m anything closely resembling a minimalist (because I’m not). Despite my lack of expertise and experience in the small world of minimalism, my best practices have served me quite well:

  1. Read other blogs.
  2. Start small.
  3. Use logic, not emotions.
  4. Set realistic goals.
  5. Keep the clothes you wear.
  6. Don’t keep multiples.
  7. Make a list of the spaces that seem cluttered.
  8. Take a deep breath and keep going.

After following these “rules,” I ended up getting rid of more than 300 items in less than a week. It was like removing uncomfortably tight jeans after an overindulgent meal. I felt like I could breathe again and I loved having more free space. I have successfully maintained that free space and I have even created some more of it! I don’t even want to use the space for anything, I just want to look at it because it’s pretty. It has become somewhat of an addiction to get rid of stuff. I will be sitting in my apartment reading for class and all of a sudden I get an urge. And all of a sudden I’m standing on a chair going through one of my storage cabinets removing all the Christmas ornaments that I no longer need. And let’s be honest. I never needed those damn things. I’m a Jewish girl in the South and I just wanted to fit in.

I’m officially on a mission to own less stuff. I can only wear one shirt at a time–why do I need 30 of them? I can only bake one batch of cookies at a time–why do I need two cookie sheets? That concept used to be so foreign to me. Instead, my mindset was always “I got it for free, so why not keep it?” This attitude is how I ended up with an apartment full of meaningless, useless stuff.

Reducing the clutter has been so fun for me. But after going down three sizes and removing the clothing that didn’t meet my rules, I was left with few staples that I needed to create a functional wardrobe. I still don’t even have a Little Black Dress. Ladies and dress-wearing-gentlemen will understand why this is basically a fashion tragedy. My new mission is to replace the missing staples in a way that doesn’t go against my developing minimalist values.

The first effort to replace clothing began in thrift stores, naturally. I have a few nice tops that I found for super cheap and I love them. A month into shopping about once a week, thrifting wasn’t going very quickly and my pants were so baggy that gravity could “pants” me. I needed to make some moves to do some mainstream shopping… in a store that had clothing with tags and accurate sizes. Plus, I wanted to see what size my new butt was (it’s a 6/8, by the way… Hell yea!).

I made plans with my friend Lauren to go to an outlet mall because a) real malls are stressful, b) it was really pretty outside and we wanted to stroll in the sunshine, c) I can’t really afford to buy things for full price, and d) it must be repeated that real malls are stressful.

I had some big ticket items on my shopping list:

  1. Flats
  2. Jeans
  3. New bras
  4. Winter clothing from a women’s department (I had a little problem with buying baggy men’s v-neck sweaters from Old Navy)
  5. Underwear that doesn’t fall off if the wind blows too hard

After a full day of shopping and some incredible support from the ladies of the Gap Factory Outlet, I walked away with a whole new wardrobe of quality, versatile items that will last me a long time. I bought: 3 pairs of jeans (and yes, my butt looks amazing in them), 2 pairs of flats, 4 sweaters, 2 long-sleeve shirts, 1 pair of cute pajama shorts, 4 new bras, and 10 panties that stay on my butt. I spent $350 on everything and I felt every dollar as it disappeared from my bank account. But I have to say, I love everything I bought. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t actually need to replace. I didn’t buy anything that didn’t fit me exactly how I wanted it to. And since those purchases last month, I have worn everything I bought at least once.

In the month since I purchased all these great pieces, I have reduced some more items after realizing that I won’t choose my old, ill-fitting clothing over my shiny, new stuff. I want to have the kind of wardrobe that has easy staples. Throw on a pair of jeans and a sweater and leave the apartment. Throw on a dress and a jacket and leave the apartment. Throw on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt and go eat junk food to cure the hangover. You get the idea.

I have some work to do to get my wardrobe to where it has to be to be simple and minimal. In the next couple of months, I’m going to search for some more staples:

  1. Strapless bra and more regular bras (I accidentally went down a size since my last purchase)
  2. Slacks
  3. Little Black Dress
  4. One fall/spring jacket
  5. Boots

I also have some big plans to clear out even more stuff over my upcoming winter break. I have lofty goals of clearing out the rest of the stuff I can definitely live without, having a place for everything to be put away (instead of being out on my counter or hung over the arm of one of my couches), and storing the clothing for other seasons in a logical space. We will see if I can actually achieve this goal without getting distracted by Netflix.

I’d love to hear some more success stories from people who have been reducing or minimally minimizing. Anyone out there have a good tip from a recent or not-so-recent experience?


3 thoughts on “Life without a Little Black Dress

  1. For sifting through your closet, consider turning your hangers backward…whatever you wear, switch the hanger around the correct way. After your desired time period, get rid of anything still hanging backward 😉

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