Following on from my previous post on my simplified wardrobe, here’s the last piece of the puzzle: shoes! I know I only have 6 pairs of shoes so I probably should’ve realised this earlier, but getting them all together to take pictures was the first time I realised that they’re all monochrome/grey except for the wellies! I remember as a teenager, my shoes were almost exclusively grey. I had an aversion to black (look at me now, teenage me!) and white poses the problem of always looking dirty, (which I’ve now largely embraced) whereas grey was the perfect balance. It goes with everything, which is probably why I subconsciously decided it would be my colour scheme for shoes. I know many minimalists apply this to their entire wardrobe, but I couldn’t do that myself. I need a bit more variety than that. But for shoes it works perfectly.
I will point out that while these shoes are perfect for 99% percent of my activities, I do borrow the odd pair of my mum’s for certain occasions such as weddings, interviews, or random days when I just feel like a change. Like I said, it is quite rare, and if we weren’t similar sizes I’d just make do with mine, but ain’t nothin’ wrong with sharing it around sometimes!
Similarly to the wardrobe this is my winter collection, but it’s almost identical to the summer one, except that I wear the boots a lot less and add a pair of sandals and flip flops into the mix.
If you thought the stuff on my rail was literally all I wore, then you’re either as gullible as me (read: very) or optimistic. Those are what I wear on a daily basis, but there is a vital part of the picture missing.
Say hello to the cheeky chest of drawers. It homes all the things that can’t be or shouldn’t be hung up! Let me take you through it all…
1x spare set of bedding, 1x spare towel, 1x spare set of pyjamas
Seasonal stuff: summer clothes (to be revealed later on this year), Christmas jumper
That’s it, not super interesting, but I know it’s always intriguing for me to see other people’s set ups (partly out of nosiness, partly because it’s useful to compare their approaches in order to work out your own). As always, numbers don’t matter, and it’s useless to strive for a number or hold yourself to someone else’s standards; I just put the quantities of everything for transparency’s sake 🙂 Have a good day!
Hello friends! This is gonna be a smug post (sorry not sorry) because I’m so happy with my teeny weeny make up collection! Disclaimer: I’m not a big make up person anymore. Some days I go completely without, some days I just whack a bit of lippie or eyeliner on; I rarely use all of it at the same time. So that helps massively.
It suits where I’m at right now, basically. When my last mascara ran out, I thought maybe I wouldn’t replace it; it’s my least-used product, and seems a waste to spend money and resources on something I don’t use very much. But I have found that on the odd day when I do want it, I really want it, and nothing else really does the job. Maybe one day I’ll stop using it, but for now it’s there. At least the little LUSH bottle means it matches all my other mini things, and comes in glass 🙂
Let me take you through my collection…
LUSH ‘The Kiss’ lip balm – My brother gave me this for my birthday 2 years ago actually! Initially I wasn’t too keen on it; being quite militantly anti-plastic at the time, and not thinking I suited bright lips, I used it rarely- if at all- until a few months ago. For whatever reason, it has now become an essential! It’s really nice and moisturising, and adds a subtle but noticeable colour to my lips, I’m sold 🙂 When this runs out I reckon I’ll buy a lip tint that comes in a tin or see if I can refill this container with a homemade concoction.
LUSH ‘Eyes Right’ mascara – This is my second bottle of this particular mascara. My first lasted about a year, (see my review here) then I tried my hand at making my own out of activated charcoal and other ingredients to reuse the bottle (see here). In the end, it irritated my eyes, and didn’t last nearly as long as the LUSH one, so for now it’s the best option for me. It took me a while to get used to the consistency and short brush, but I’m not into heavy mascara anyway, so this one is perfect 🙂
Eyebrow powder and brush – In order to whittle my collection down, I removed one shade of a cheap eyeshadow palette into a tin to use as eyebrow powder. It was pretty much all I was using that palette for, so it makes so much more sense to now only have to use this tiny tin. When it runs out, (which will likely be in a few months) I can either refill the tin with bulk cacao powder which is basically the same colour, or purchase this eyeshadow refill pan which has the benefit of being compacted so that it’s not so easily wasted by putting too much on my brush. By the way, the brush is from Eco tools, gifted to me by my mum and cut in half by me 🙂 (similiar here)
LUSH ‘Lust’ solid perfume – I think I bought this perfume about a year and a half ago and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! It’s the perfect scent for me: heady, a bit like incense; sweet, but not sickly. Some days I just rub a bit on my neck, others I go a bit nuts a rub it behind each ear, on my wrists, behind my knees, in the crooks if my elbows- What can I say, I’m obsessed! Despite my ridiculous usage, it’s still only about a quarter depleted! The only annoying thing is that for some reason LUSH have decided to change their packaging for this and gone for a smaller glass jar with a plastic lid. Literally have no idea what was wrong with the tin…
Eyeliner pencil – I got this eyeliner pencil in a chemist a long while ago. Like years ago. I used to be more of a liquid eyeliner fan because it’s more precise, but I used to keep a pencil for smudging purposes (priorities haha). Since trying to be more eco-friendly, I’ve ditched the plastic liquid eyeliner pens and made do with just a pencil. But I’ve learned that if you keep it sharp and practise, you can get a neat, thin line. Also when I occasionally want it to look more gel or liquid-like, I only need to hold a lighter a few centimetres away from the end and it softens enough to get a bolder look! (see the ‘2-in-1 eyeliner’ section of this post) Boom. Multifunctional.
When bored of the word ‘minimalist’ or sick of the cliché connotations, I’ve noticed bloggers like to go for ‘simple’ or ‘simplified’. Today I am all of those bloggers (fight me!) I’m at once grateful and resentful of labels like ‘zero waster’ and ‘minimalist’ and ‘vegan’. They obviously represent decisions and lifestyles that I am proud of, and it means you can search these terms and find like-minded people to inspire you. On the other side of the coin, labels come with stereotypes, expectations and criticisms. Sometimes you also get caught up in being that stereotype or label, rather than caring about the root issues. But anyway..
The point I was trying to make before I got sidetracked, was that it makes a lot more sense to me to use ‘simplified’ in this case. Because that’s what minimalism means to me. Having less clothes makes everything simpler. It has never been easier to choose what to wear, I have never loved my clothes more, and this is also probably my comfiest wardrobe to date! I used to have clothes I loved, was indifferent to and hated- all in the same place! I had items that I bought cos they looked great on other people, items that would’ve been great in another colour, or a teeny bit longer, or looser (so basically exactly what they weren’t). It’s taken over 2 years of mistakes and learning to realise what I value in a wardrobe and stick to it. And I know the journey is not over, but I like to think I’ll only be making small changes a few times a year from now on.
Here’s a run down of what’s in my winter wardrobe. This is what simple looks like to me:
key: (e)= ethically made (v)= vegan (n)= natural fibres
If you haven’t guessed from the title of this post, I’m going to be posting with a focus on minimalism this month. And where better to start than by defining the term! (can you tell I’ve been a student for too long? Killer essay starter right there..) You probably have an idea about what minimalism is by now. I don’t blame you, it gets bandied about a fair bit these days. Here are 3 misconceptions about minimalism and 3 pitfalls that people can fall into when trying to achieve it.
You’re not allowed to have a lot of stuff– minimalism means different things to different people. Yes, it generally means having less items overall than the average person, but if you really like shoes and all of your pairs make you happy- keep them! Ditto books or Star Wars memorabilia (I don’t know what you’re into!)
You have to like white EVERYTHING– it seems that when you search online for minimalist interiors, the vast majority look very similar: white walls, neutral/white furniture etc. I think the reason is that it attracts light, and highlights the lack of objects which is enjoyable for a lot of people. However, this is just a general preference, and by no means is the right or the only way to do things.
Minimalism relates only to possessions- I have to admit I’m finding the slightly less tangible side of minimalism quite tricky, so you lucky people get to watch me struggle with that this month! But you can apply minimalism to technology, your diary, cooking… Practically anything. It’s about paring it down to only what you need, only what makes you happy. More on this later 😉
Racing to the finish line– by this I mean trying to clear out your belongings in one fell swoop. Yes, some people find that this is the way to go, and prefer to just have it over with, but I am of the opinion that it can’t hurt to take a little time. This is because sometimes when you’re too hasty to chuck things away, you might find you’re making way harsher decisions than you need to in order to achieve your desired amount of belongings. This could lead to disposing of an item you actually cherish, or the dramatic increase in space in your home- both of which can cause you to want to buy more to fill the emotional or physical void. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t hurt to take your time. If you declutter a space, then a week later you’re still not satisfied with it then by all means work on it again.
Focusing on numbers– you’ll find a lot of blog posts and videos out there entitled ‘my 30 item closet’ or ‘this man lives with only 102 belongings!’ and it’s easy to get fixated on the numbers, thinking they are obviously doing it better than you. But you know what? Fore some people it works, and that is their ideal amount. Others need more and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would recommend focusing on how much is ideal for you, regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Not addressing your emotions- Items are inevitably going to make us sentimental, and thinking we can plough through regardless is unrealistic. For me at least, shopping is emotional. I do it when I’m bored or feeling low. Keeping things makes me feel safe, and sometimes it represents a time or person in my life I care about. It’s not as simple as getting rid of things. Sometimes you need to deal with some baggage first (yay.) But it all leads to a place of being more in touch and in control of your emotions (genuine yay!)
Stay tuned for more minimalism this month. Thanks for reading!
So this week 2 has been a considerably more pleasant experience! I mean it can only go up from forgetting that you’re actually doing a no spend challenge! Anyway, I’m letting go (if I say it that makes it true, right?!)
Saying that, it was my birthday on Wednesday (23, would you believe!) Obviously that meant a few presents. I got such practical but still fun gifts, thanks family! Sewing supplies from my siblings, a couple of basic tops from White T-shirt Co. from my parents, to replace the bobbly, rubbish ones from H&M I’ve had for years 🙂
Other than that, I’ve noticed myself feeling the urge to shop when feeling down. I’ll add that to the list of situations which seem to trigger my spending, like boredom, and being paid haha! Also, I think a social media + email purge is in order. Even just a few emails or Instagram adverts about January sales are enough to make me feel like I’m missing out on some mysterious bargain!
In more positive news, I’m feeling super satisfied with my wardrobe. I’ve pared it down to the perfect size and I love all my items. It’s taken me a good couple of years since I started this journey and without the temptation to buy anymore clothes, I’m getting the chance to really appreciate them! Nothing can seep into my consciousness if I can’t even see it 😉
Just a short post this week, but I’m feeling optimistic about the remainder of January 🙂 Stay tuned for another post in the week!
I read this article from the Guardian that articulated something I hadn’t really thought about before. Materialism and Consumerism are so often used interchangeably but they are quite different. These days our society is dubbed more materialistic than ever, when actually the bigger issue is the excessive consumerism.
Materialism= preoccupationwithoremphasison material objects,comforts,and considerations (link)
Like the article says (better than me by the way) is that they are both linked and both relevant to the Western lifestyle, however consumerism has gotten to such a level that for most people the owning of an item almost means nothing after the novelty of the purchasing it has worn off. The fact that you can buy another [insert product here] means that the one you have always pales in comparison to the shiny advertised one.
Richard Denniss argues that we could do with a bit more materialism to be honest! (Or at least value of our belongings) That way we would seek to repair, maintain and use our things until the end of their lives before replacing them.
In light of this reading, I got to thinking about how my mindset is slowly shifting (although that damned consumerism still eats at my brain far too often). I wanted to share a handful of items with you all that I treasure dearly and intend to keep for as long as I can…
1. Wool cardi– I bought this hand-knitted wool cardigan from one of my favourite vintage shops little over a year ago, and to be honest, I didn’t really realise how much I was going to love it. When I tried it on I loved how classic it looked and thought it would go with my wardrobe (all true) but the reasons I love it now, go so much beyond… It doesn’t have a label in it, so I’m inclined to think that someone hand-knitted it, which is a lovely thought. It is hands down THE WARMEST THING EVER and puts every other cardi I’ve ever owned to shame *AND* the buttons are made of wood which is both adorable and means that the whole thing is biodegradable. Need I go on?! (I’ll spare you)
2. Fountain pen– I’d known of the brand, and whilst I’m not immune to branding, I had no real desire to own a Parker pen. I chanced upon a market stall one day selling new and used fountain pens, and explained to the man that I wanted one you could refill with ink from a bottle. He showed me a range, from about £20 to the one I eventually bought for £140. I sooo wasn’t planning on spending that kind of money on a pen (I have since had many a horrified look from friends and family upon hearing this) but I’m glad I invested in a good quality, good-looking and not plastic pen. I look forward to writing now and take more care when I do it, which for me has been a unforeseen bonus!
3. Duffel bag– travel has been a regular and important occurrence for me for the last five years, and knowing your bag will stand the test of time makes me grateful. Mine is waterproof, worn like a backpack, the largest size you can take as your carry on with every airline and is made of sturdy stuff. It serves me well on any trip of any length for any purpose meaning it’s the only travel bag I need and there’s nothing I love more than simplicity 🙂
4. Bike– as I type this, it’s been just over a week since I got hit by a car, meaning my bike has prematurely reached the end of its life.. I’m very sad, because my plan was to repair and replace parts as needed and not have to buy another one for a long time. This was my first adult bike, and I’ve ridden it practically every day for about 3 years. It represented my freedom and I loved it. It was secondhand when I bought it, so I expect it’s had a good run at least. Looks like I will have to replace it, but the point still stands that a bicycle is something I can’t see myself being able to live without, so it definitely deserves a special mention on this list.
So it’s been a week of not spending money on stuff + clothes. These diary entries kind of sum up what it’s been like so far…
So far it hasn’t been too hard. I’ve been busy with work all day, and I have also had some bits arriving in the post from purchases I made in late December (all sensible purchases, but exciting nonetheless).
I have felt the urge to browse internet shops a few times when bored in the evening- that’s my weak time- so I am going to try and introduce more activities into my evening so I have other ideas to turn to.
Damn it, I just failed and I didn’t even realise! A raincoat (I don’t really need it, just prefer it to the one I have) that I was watching on Ebay was ending today, and I got an email saying that bidding was over in a few minutes. The price was good and no one had bid yet, so I immediately went on and won it. It took me a further ten minutes to remember that I am not supposed to be buying stuff this month. Forget what I wrote this morning about it being easy, I obviously have a problem.
…So, yeah. It would seem that buying things and browsing shops online mindlessly is something that I do. This is gonna take some real effort to stop. In December when I decided to do this challenge I did not realise how far gone I was! I don’t think it sunk in until that second diary entry that things have regressed for me. Hopefully that slip up will be enough to make me remember that I’m actually doing this challenge! *facepalms*
I was that close to saying, ‘maybe January isn’t a good time to be doing this’. My birthday is coming up (which’ll mean more things) plus I’ve messed up already. But you know, if it was easy I wouldn’t need to do it. Even with my birthday and my accidental ebay purchase, I’m I’ll still find it hard enough!
Basically, I’m hanging in there. Stay tuned for updates 🙂
So in October 2016 I challenged myself to spend no money on clothes or items (see here for details of the rules, and here for my reflection on how it went at the end). Just over a year later and I’m back again with another one! Generally I think I’m in a better situation in terms of resisting consumerism and owning less, however I have to recognise that this is something I have struggled with and continue to struggle with. A regular check and yearly challenge can only do me good!
This time, I figured it was necessary as I’ve felt the Christmas shopping madness seep into my consciousness and I’ve been indulging myself in the thrill of buying new things for myself a lot more than usual. I recently watched this video by Minimalist Ninja about relapsing from minimalism, and it’s inspired me not to beat myself up too much and to get back on the horse! (is that a phrase? I use it all the time, so I hope so…)
So for the entirety of January I’m going to do the challenge! My rules are quite simple:
Unlike last time, I’m going to document my progress a lot better in January, posting updates and excerpts from a diary I’ll be keeping specifically for when I’m struggling with the challenge (which will be often I assure you!)
Hopefully I’ll get more out of it and I can move forward with this thing. Hopefully someone will find my observations helpful. Alright, that’s enough for today 🙂
So I recently finished this amazing book. You know when you read or hear someone speak, and it puts into words all the fragmented thoughts you have about something and pieces them together, but even better than you could, ‘cause they have more information and understanding? Well this book did that to me.
Carl Honoré’s book follows him as he looks into ways that we can live more slowly, interviewing people and trying things out for himself to give his honest opinion. By slow, he doesn’t necessarily mean taking ages to do everything; he describes it more as a way of life, of making connections with people and what you’re doing. It’s about living at a pace that best serves the environment and us. I picked three sections of this movement that most stood out to me and commented on them…
Food plays an important role in the slow lifestyle. Looking at the current climate, it’s not difficult to see where we went wrong…
‘It is speed and convenience which have turned farming into the abusive, heartless place it is nowadays. Even plants are pumped with pesticides and synthetic fertilisers to boost and speed growth. Every scientific trick known to man has been deployed to cut costs, boost yields and make livestock and crops grow more quickly’
‘Produce is picked before it’s ripe, shipped in ice, then artificially ripened at the destination. This messes with the life-span, taste and quality of our food’
‘Two centuries ago, the average pig took five years to reach 130 pounds; today it hits 220 pounds after just six months and is slaughtered before it loses its baby teeth’
‘In 2003, researchers at Essex University calculated that British taxpayers spend up to £2.3 billion every year repairing the damage that industrial farming does to the environment and human health’
Reading this makes you realise that the rate at which food makes its way to our plates currently, is wreaking havoc on the planet, animals and our bodies. Buying and eating locally sourced food in season is part of living within nature’s speed and rejecting the constant availability of modern convenience. Investing in organic food and rejecting processed, GM food (as well as boycotting McDonalds and the like, who are known to fly in the face of efforts to responsibly produce food) are all massively important ways to vote with your money. Spending time waiting for the dishes to be prepared in the proper time it should take, enjoying the company, and not feeling rushed to leave a restaurant sounds amazing- it does require a mind shift however.
We are taught early on in life that time is money. Honoré writes that as soon as that link was made, a race was begun to maximise profit and cheat time. Ironically though, it does come with a cost. Many individuals and companies are learning that more time spent ‘working’ does not translate to better productivity. In fact, limiting working hours makes you more likely to be focused. The payoffs for working less hours include better wellbeing, more family time, freedom to commit to other interests, and time to reflect on work things so that you make better decisions when you are there. Coined downshifting, it is essentially about being ‘willing to forgo money in return for time and slowness’.
Small, local business ties in with this way of life. The larger the company, the more likely (generally) it is to become impersonal and strive for profit. With the world the way it is, it’s easy to forget or to downplay small business, but there is something to be said for being able to work at a manageable pace on a smaller scale, and still making enough to put dinner on the table.
‘Pleasure before profit, human beings before head office’
When it comes to free time, slow activities can reap a bunch of benefits. For instance, knitting is a personal hobby of mine and I’ve picked it up again recently with more determination than ever. I learned as a child to knit (thanks Mum!) but I have to say, I felt quite frustrated that my creations would never look very neat and that it took so long to see results. It’s tempting to only take up hobbies that yield instant results or that, to put it bluntly, aren’t very difficult. That way you can’t disappoint yourself and can create the illusion of being more productive. But the thing is, hobbies don’t need to be productive. What I now love about knitting is exactly what frustrated me about it as a child! I don’t stress about how long my projects are going to take, because I can enjoy the process and I know it’s going to take a while. The repetitive movement is therapeutic for me, and requires me to be absorbed in the process, allowing my subconscious to mull over anything I need to.
Reading is another gem of a practice to weave into your every day. Taking as little as 10 minutes to read a book can calm me a hundred times more than several hours of Netflix-watching could. It has made a huge difference to my wellbeing in recent months. Even reading In Praise of Slow and taking notes on it for this blog post has deepened my appreciation of the content. I was forced to stop and consider every section carefully which allowed me to reflect on the points, work out which ones resonated with me, and decide how i might make changes in my life.
That is by no means an exhaustive list of slow leisure activities- beit writing, exercising, gardening or sitting in cafes… whatever it is that makes you happy, that you can focus on, that you enjoy so much you don’t care how long it takes, sounds like a winner. You deserve to give yourself enough time to practice those hobbies, because they are just as important as your job.
The main point I’ll be taking away from this book is that things take as long as they take; you just have to accept that. If it’s important enough, you will be able to ‘justify the time’ and won’t begrudge yourself those activities. As a consequence, I’m especially invigorated to spend more time in the kitchen preparing food, making and growing things myself. That way I can connect to my food, be healthier and appreciate the length of time it takes to grow things.
It’s also made me think about who I want to be, and what I’m going to have to compromise in order to achieve that life. I don’t want to be someone always thinking of buying things. I don’t want to be surrounded by stuff. I want to spend my money on food and experiences, and I want to have the option of working less hours because I would rather have more time than money. So that means I’m going to have to keep struggling with that constant itch to spend and consume.
Sorry this post was so long! This was the very edited-down version! As you can tell, I enjoyed it 😛 I would highly recommend In Praise of Slow, and would love to hear what you think about it, and what other areas struck a chord with you.