Hi, my name is Kellie and I’m a recovering fashionista.
Those ten words were the start of my ethical fashion blog, the theme of my minimalist journey and a wake-up call.
Throughout my early twenties, shopping was more than a hobby – it was a coping mechanism. I bought clothes nearly every week, from street style darlings like J. Crew and fast fashion powerhouses like H&M. I bought clothes when I was sad, or stressed or insecure (which was a lot of the time).
Despite my burgeoning closet and my shrinking wallet, I never had anything to wear.
So, I bought more clothes.
Upon the realization that my wardrobe now occupied an entire spare room in our modest apartment, I knew I had to make a change.
It started gradually, with some research and a growing interest in responsible fashion brands – then occurred more rapidly, when a health issue inspired me to live in a way that was more consistent with my values – and fast.
If you’re reading this, you likely have also decided that living in a more minimal way aligns with your values.
Starting with my closet (well, spare room…) felt like the best place for me to start, since it was the biggest source of clutter and overwhelm in my life. I find this is the case with most people.
Deciding What to Keep
Deciding which clothes to keep in your wardrobe is a key topic in the minimalist community. For me personally, it hasn’t been that difficult. Which is funny, because there are entire books written on this topic.
The biggest thing I learned by through every clothing item I owned was that I had a lot of clothes that were for someone I used to be, or for someone I hoped to be one day.
But I didn’t have a lot of pieces that were appropriate for who I am: someone who works in a casual office, someone who doesn’t go to clubs or fancy restaurants, and, most importantly, someone who cares about who made my clothes.
I had so many pieces that were too fussy, too fancy, too occasion-specific, or that otherwise didn’t represent who I am.
So, I only asked myself one question when it came to deciding what to keep. I didn’t ask what brought me joy, or what I hadn’t worn over the last six months, or any of the other things the books I read told me I was supposed to ask myself.
I asked myself the only question that I think really matters.
“Does this piece of clothing celebrate the person I am today?”
If the answer was no, the item was bagged. During that first closet cleanout session in September 2017, I filled nine trash bags with items that didn’t align with who I am. Since then, I’ve filled five more.
So much of what we buy, I’ve realized, is because we think clothing can help us be someone. But we are all already someone. That’s why I was able to let go of those, “Just in case” or “I might wear this if I go to…” pieces.
Figuring Out What to Do With the Rest
I’m not proud of having discarded 14 bags of clothing. When I think of all that consumption and waste, it makes me cringe.
But I am proud that I worked hard to dispose of those items in the best ways I could.
That meant letting friends go through my clothes and take what they liked, consigning pieces and donating or recycling the rest.
Disposing of those 14 bags has taken far longer than cleaning my closet did, because minimalism and responsibility go hand-in-hand. I still have four bags in the upstairs hallway of my house, waiting for their new life.
I still have more work to do, and I’m sure you do too. That’s why we are all here.
But if I’ve learned nothing else, in both minimalism and in life, it all starts by asking who you are.
Once you know, the rest is easy.