Updated: Apr 23, 2019
My second Happiness series post is about minimalism, especially in regards to fashion, and how you can benefit from it. Minimalism can be an important way of finding peace within yourself and, at the same time, minimising the waste created on our planet.
What is minimalism?
As opposed to my last blog post about meditation, it is interesting to see that dictionaries don't really have the definition that I'm looking for here. Instead the dictionaries focus entirely on the minimalist aesthetic within the arts.
According to Cambridge Dictionaries, it means
'a style in art, design, and theatre that uses the smallest range of materials and colours possible, and only very simple shapes or forms.'
However, we can take something out of this defition. Minimalism does not mean that your style needs to be 'minimalist' in the sense of 'simple shapes or forms' and using 'the smallest range of materials and colours', you can be as colourful and crazy as you want.
Let's focus more on the word 'simple'. Simplicity is what we are looking for in a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism means simplicity in life. It means to live with only as much as you need in your life. It's a realisation that you make about how owning a car, a house, clothes doesn't define who you as a person are. Instead, you start seeking internally for happiness and therefore realising that external objects don't define you.
I came across Minimalism when I was watching youtube one day and since then I've subscribed to a couple of minimalism channels (I listed them in the resources section below). I've also watched Minimalism: the documentary about the important things which really inspired me.
As a teenager, I thought I needed a lot of clothes and so I bought a lot. I thought buying new clothes would make me feel pretty. You go in shops to make yourself feel better about yourself and in the end you realise that actually now that you have those new clothes or other items you don't feel any different to what you felt before. People fill the gaps inside of them with new items that they can 'own'. This is a vicious circle because after they feel empty again, they have to fill up themselves with new items. It goes on and on and doesn't stop. What we tend to forget is that buying new items is external and temporary joy. Acquiring new items is external, there is no internal permanent peace that you get from it. This needs to change. Every time you feel the need to buy something new just 'as a treat', take your journal and reflect on your life and how you feel right now. What do you feel? Maybe you need to take more time for yourself. Do things that you love. Find activities that you love and new ways of taking care of yourself and spending time with yourself. When we change internally, we can change our external circumstances too.
That being said, our external world and by this I mean your home, your room, your surrounding, influence how you feel. I, for instance, feel very chaotic and confused whenever the living room is messy. Your home reflects your inner state and vice versa. Both work together so make them work in the most positive light for yourself.
As the minimalists Joshua and Ryan (who made the documentary that I mentioned above) declare, minimalism leads to freedom.
'Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom' (Millburn and Nicodemus, theminimalists.com ).
So, minimalism leads to happiness and coming to terms with who you are. It guides you to your internal world and makes you think about what YOU want to do and who you are in life. At the same time, you escape the consumerist trap of constantly buying new things which, in turn, makes you richer. And lastly, you will contribute to a less polluted planet.
How can you be minimalist?
1. Declutter your wardrobe If your wardrobe is exploding, you should really get rid of some clothes.
Make 3 piles: the first one is the 'love pile', these are the clothes that you always wear. The second pile is the 'unsure pile' which includes the clothes that you like but you don't really wear them. The third pile is the 'hey I'm gonna get rid of you pile' which, as you can probably tell, are the clothes that you rarely ever wear. Put the second and the last piles in two separate boxes. Put those boxes away, out of your wardrobe, for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, see whether you have missed any of them and if you ever took an item out. The rest is pretty straight-forward. Whatever you didn't wear during those 6 weeks can go away.
BUT. there's a big but there! Don't just throw them away in a recycling container. Resell your items on a website / app like Depop, donate them to your local charity shop, to friends / family, attend or organise a clothes swap or repurpose old tshirts as rags for your kitchen. There's plenty of things you can do without throwing them away. Upcycle, don't recycle!
2. Stop buying items you don't need Don't just buy new items. Yes, it's as simple as that! Stop buying items you don't need. How can you avoid that you might ask me now. It doesn't get more complicated. Avoid shopping malls and fast fashion shops like Zara, H&M, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, and so on. Also, delete your ASOS account and other online clothes shop accounts. Not looking at all those clothes will increase your happiness, I promise!
We all need less than we have. This is exactly the same with any items you own, not just clothes. Stop buying things just because they are reduced or because somebody else got them. Ask yourself:
D o I r e a l l y n e e d t h i s ?
And what do you need it for? If you are unsure about this, go home, sleep on it, and if you feel that you need the item, then purchase it. Most of the time you will notice that you don't need the item.
3. Timeless and ethical wardrobe You probably have plain black or white or one coloured items that go with everything. This is perfect to create a timeless look for you. You can combine different 'timeless' clothing items together in different ways. However, if you're into patterns and love combining them together, totally go for it. Make sure your clothes go together and that you're 100% happy with them.
I think it helps to get yourself quality items that you are really happy with like an ethically made bra that is definitely more expensive than an H&M bra but therefore sturdier, vegan and definitely not made by child hands or people treated like slaves. I feel that minimalism goes hand in hand with acting more consciously and really thinking about the choices that you make. You have to remember that you pay with your pound/euro/dollar. If you buy an H&M bra, you essentially have human slaves working for you. This sounds extreme but it's just the truth if you really think about it. Paying for anything is a political action.
This doesn't mean that you have to get rid of all your current clothes, and get complete new ones. No! It means to act consciously when you are in need of a new item, like underwear.
4. Swap items
Swap items like books and clothes with other people. Go on a swapping event or organise your own. If that's not an option, then thrift and for every new item, give one away or sell one. That way you will never accumulate too much.
5. Replace your shopping habit with a healthy one
Whenever you catch yourself looking at an online store or wanting to go in the shopping centre, think about what you need the most at that moment. Maybe it's human contact, maybe it's actually switching off and taking your day slower. Have you had stress at work recently? Well, maybe it's time for a relaxing bath, yoga, meditation, baking a cake, seeing a good friend or even getting a new job. Believe me, all of these will make you feel much better than simply buying something that you won't need anyway. Get out of that vicious circle of distraction. Face your problems, and face what you need. We all need to switch off during our days. It's just normal. Read more about meditation here.
6. Don't go into shopping centres or shops for no reason Stop going to shopping centres just because you think you might find something. It will make you buy things that you don't need. Shops know how to lead you in the consumerism trap. You see the latest trends and immediately want to buy those clothes in order to feel beautiful. It's a trap! It won't make you any more beautiful than you are.
Shopping centres = stress and chaos. Why? It's busy, there's not of people around, noise, artificial light, loud music, and the list goes on. Nature is what we humans need more of. Being in nature calms us down for a reason, it's simple. Simplicity is what we all need in our lives. Slow living, taking breaks, enjoying every moment.
Use your time (and money) wisely. Draw, go to gigs or the theatre, do a nature walk, bake, cook, hug your friends, read a book, watch a film, the possibilities are endless.
7. Other reasons that make you feel like you need more
Is it people you follow on instagram? Unfollow them! Friends who drag you into shopping stores? Suggest that you could do something different instead. If they are true friends, they won't be mad at you. Your opinion matters as much as theirs. Explain your choice of going minimalist. Maybe they will find it interesting too.
8. Job / Hobbies
Lastly, let's talk about items you need for your job and hobbies. Are you an artist and are worried about all the art supplies that you own? Minimalism isn't about living with a set amount of items, it's about decluttering your home from items that you really don't like or never use. This doesn't include items that you're using regularly, like your 200 fine-liners, acrylic colours, or gouache sets that you have. Whatever your job and passion is, if you use those items regularly please keep them.
To sum up, embracing the minimalist lifestyle helps you to act more with intention. You are more conscious about your own needs and therefore less needy in other ways, like going shopping for no reason.
This in turn, makes you more aware of what really matters in life: the internal values, your internal happiness and beauty. The minimalist lifestyle can bring real happiness and peace within yourself.
You will realise how you were trapped, like so many other people, into capitalist consumerism of valuing possession over human relationships and your relationship to yourself. Living with less will make you happier, it's as simple as that. Through this seemingly external change, you will experience a much needed internal change.
Possessing less also means wasting less and therefore being a conscious consumer and citizen of planet earth. Future generations will thank you for this.
As I said before, I used to go to fast fashion shops a lot. I stopped a year ago. I have not been into a fast fashion shop since then and I've never felt more beautiful and more fulfilled in my entire life. I just realised that there is so much more that counts in my life than getting new clothes and looking good. I now feel good, and not just look it.
In my blog post about meditation, we learnt that we are not our thoughts. Equally, we are not our bodies or the objects that we own. And this is freedom.
Much love, Viki xx
A small wardrobe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnofNUJuSu42XfiI9cI0JTQ
Matt D'Avella: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrf_dMnatW0
Madeleine Olivia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViAG8aNT_jY
Pick up Limes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjZwTDWxhbg