But I have nothing to wear… (Minimizing the closet)

Well, the kitchen is done, and we are eight days away from moving to a new home, with less than 1/3 of our dishes, gadgets and appliances. But along with a lack of kitchen cabinets, the new apartment has a decided lack of closet space and bedroom storage  Where we currently have a closet and dresser each, and keep overflow in the spare room, I will be sharing a closet and a 3 drawer dresser with my husband. I have no idea where to put everything, and can’t possibly bring all of it. Which is fine, because like most women I know, I have a tonne of clothes, yet never have anything to wear. Clearly something needs to be fixed.

There are a few things that I just won’t need and so I am leaving them behind: fancy dresses bought for weddings or other events, the extra winter coat, etc. But then there is just a lot of stuff I know I don’t need and so should really just toss.

I started the process last week with the initial culling of the closet and dresser. All the things that were easy to toss. The things that didn’t quite fit right, or weren’t flattering, or were no longer in style. The stuff I just hadn’t bothered to toss yet. That was two large bags worth of clothing. Cringe-worthy. Especially because I know I am not done.

Phase two starts tomorrow. Maybe even tonight if I finish procrastinating researching. The next decisions will be tougher. As I did with the kitchen, I have been online, looking for tips on building the ultimate minimalist wardrobe. There are lots of tips out there, usually complete with helpful images:

Could I live on just 30 items? Maybe. But limiting myself to one Batman shirt will be hard.

Could I live on just 30 items? Maybe. But limiting myself to one Batman shirt will be hard. (Source: The everyday Minimalist: http://www.everydayminimalist.com/)

Could I live with just 22 pieces? Less likely.

Could I live with just 22 pieces? Less likely. (Source: A Geek Tragedy http://www.ageektragedy.net/)

Could I live with just six items? A bit extreme for me - though I would love to try the one month challenge!

Could I live with just six items? A bit extreme for me – though I would love to try the one month challenge! (Source: The Dernier Cri http://www.thederniercri.net/)

My first realization is that I will not meet any of the definitions I found. Mostly, because it would require tossing perfectly good clothes to replace them with neutral basics. If I were starting from scratch that might work, but I am not. I have to work with what I own. Also, most post which suggest a limited number of pieces are not designed for the Canadian climate. I can easily justify another 5-10 items for seasonal variances. My life requires a down winter jacket for the really really cold months, a regular winter jacket, a dressy winter coat, a fall/spring jacket, a spring/fall dressy coat, a rain coat, and a summery jacket/coat.  I also have a running jacket. And that’s just outerwear. Then there are summer vs. winter dresses. Lined wool trousers and linen ones. (I walk to work, in all seasons. I have summer pants and winter pants.)

If nothing else, the research has been fun and inspiring. I will be applying it to my closet tomorrow, to see how close to 30 items I can come. This will not include shoes, underclothes or accessories, though I am trying to cut back on those categories as well.

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Minimizing

Life is funny, isn’t it? Last time I posted here we were finishing amazing renovations to our house. We made it bigger. We made it prettier. We had it custom designed for us. It was awesome.

And now, just 18 months after the renos are complete… we are moving. It’s a temporary move, but a move nonetheless. I can’t believe I am leaving my fabulous new house.

But I am leaving. And not only that, significantly downsizing. There is no point in renting a 3+ bedroom house for a couple who are moving to another city for only a year (barring extensions, but that’s another story). So the challenge ahead of me in the next two months is figuring out what I want to take with us. What does a couple, in a one bedroom apartment, actually need to get by. And the flip side, what can go into long-term storage, and not be accessed till we move home.

At first, I found this daunting and stressful, but I am beginning to see it more as a challenge. Despite our best efforts not to be cluttered, we have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. We first noticed this when we had to move out for the renovation. We did our best to cull the excess stuff at that time, but when we began to unpack after the reno, it became clear we hadn’t done as well as we thought. There are still unpacked boxes in the closets and basement. If we haven’t used it in 18 months, why do we still own it.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to seriously cull our belongings. Ruthlessly. Why do we need 5 spare pillows? Multiple sheet sets for the spare bed and futon? 8 different types and sizes of wine glasses? Don’t get me started on mugs and teacups. It is out of control. While I am sure that given our personalities, we will never be true minimalists, I know we can do much better than this.

Tonight, I start with the kitchen. Single-use gadgets: be afraid. Be very afraid. I will report back soon.