Saturday, September 14, 2013

Answers on Basics

Hi there! I promised to answer a few questions for Kate. Sorry I'm a bit late, my husband was away on a trip for a couple of weeks and I just felt like I had my hands full... We did some fun things like staying overnight with my brother and his wife and digging in their potato garden! Our time alone, just the two of us, actually went really nicely. We prayed for help in being kind and patient towards each other, and it helped :)

As for the questions, here they are:

minimum clothes items?
toiletries what are the basics?
jewelry how much is too much?

First off, I must say that this is a difficult question because each person has different needs and lifestyle. I am in no way an expert, so take this as one person's experience and opinion.
For clothes, it depends on the climate you live in, your hobbies, how often you do laundry, and how often you can stand to shop. Yes, I've come to realize it is also one factor. I've lived with very little clothing for almost one and half years, so I'm staring to have some new insight into this. The thing is, if you have two pairs of pants and five tops, you are constantly wearing the same thing and they wear out quickly. You may end up feeling like you are always having to replace some item, be it socks, panties, a t-shirt, whatever. 

Right now my only pair of jeans have a zipper that will not stay closed at all. Replacing  zippers in jeans is notoriously difficult, so I am putting off trying to do it.. But I have also been putting off buying a second pair of jeans. 

And my only pair of sweatpants have several small holes in them. 

So while you can easily live with very little, say, 15 items, in the long run it can get tedious because not only are you having to keep up with doing the laundry constantly, but also having to shop for replacements at times when you really don't feel like it, or when you just can't find the thing you are trying to replace, if it's something specific, like comfy underwear or pants that fit you well. You may end up having to only wear a tunic top with your jeans so that the open zipper doesn't show, and when your tunic top is in the laundry, you can't wear the jeans either :)

I have come a long way from a person who liked to shop for entertainment... I prefer buying things on-line, and using the local equivalent of ebay for secondhand kids clothes. (Just yesterday I bought leather sneakers and gore tex winter boots for Indiana there. We are about to take her too small winter clothes and a few other things to the refugee arrival center.) But yesterday I went to an actual brick-and-mortar shop, with the hope that I would actually find several clothing items in that one place. And I did!  I bought two pairs of corduroy pants, two jersey tops and one long sleeved dress. I'm totally becoming a person who wears clothes from a couple of different places only, because it's so easy. So what if majority of my clothes comes from the same place.. who cares. I'm way past trying to "express myself" through my clothing. I just want it comfortable and simple and practical.

A quick look at my winter clothes now reveals that I have

2 corduroy pants
1 black wool jersey slim leg pants
2 tights
1 velour lounge pants
7 jersey/knit long sleeve tops 
4 blouse/tunic tops
1 checked flannel shirt
3 dresses fit for winter
2 cardigans, one thick and one thin

Not counting the hole-y sweatpants and jeans with a broken zipper ;)
So that's 23 items now and I feel like it's a pretty good amount and I feel like I have some variety and I have enough to not have to worry about running out of clean clothes all the time. 

So around 20-25 clothing items excluding outerwear. I would not want to go for much less than this, for the reasons I explained, though someone else may be happy to.

I didn't include summer clothes because we have such distinct seasons here. (And it's amazingly nice beginning of fall this year, I'm so happy about the warm sunny weather!) We need a separate wardrobe for summer, but I have a little less of summer clothing because summer is so much shorter, and some of the "winter" stuff is really all-year stuff.. 

For outerwear, it really depends on the climate. I need

winter boots
walking shoes/sneakers
sandals for summer
ballerina flats for fancier occasions

thin water repellent coat
thick winter coat
outerwear pants for outdoorsy stuff in winter time or in rainy weather


For this summer I had 

4 dresses
1 pair of cut-off sweatpants 
1 pair of clam digger pants
4 t-shirts/short sleeve tops
3 tank tops
1 thin long sleeve blouse
1 linen-cotton cardigan

So that's 15 pieces of summer clothing.

The key to living with a small wardrobe is making everything mix together, and multi-functional items. A lot of patterned colorful pieces just won't work. Make most of your wardrobe solid colors and limit the patterned pieces. A patterned dress is okay, but if you only have patterned tights and a patterned cardigan as well, and to top it off all of them are in different color schemes, then you will always have trouble coming up with outfits. I'm not saying that minimalists should only dress in black and grey. If you love bright colors, and you love all of them and don't want to pick just two, then you could, for example, have only neutral colored bottoms and have a rainbow of colored tops. Solid colors can work in a surprising combination, but patterns are very hard to mix.

I have noticed the same goes for kids' clothes as well. Indi's favorite color is red and she has a lot of red clothes, but also other colors, mostly solids, some stripes and a few patterned tops. I know a lot of children love clothes with prints and pictures, but I've never noticed that to be a major factor for her, so I don't feel like I'm a boring mum who only gets her boring clothes. For children who are not peeing their pants three times a day anymore, but are still making a mess of themselves occasionally, I'd say seven pants and seven tops is pretty good amount. No more than ten, anyway. A couple of dresses for girls, or even more of course if they are girls who like to wear dresses every day. Then just have less tops and more dresses. 

As for toiletries, then..

A deodorant
Conditioner (if you use any)

I would say those are the essentials. However, many people prefer to wash their face with something else besides soap, and a lot of people need moisturizer, especially in harsh climates. I went over a year without any specific facial cleansers, but my skin was suffering a little and a few months ago I got a cleanser, toner and moisturizer, but I don't use them all every day. Mostly because I'm lazy. I have a small bottle of almond oil that I use on my skin and hair as well (it can be some other oil as well, like avocado or coconut, I just happen to have almond oil right now).
I would not count make-up as essential by any means. I hardly ever wear make-up anymore, but I do have a concealer for dark under-eyes, a make-up powder, blush and two lipsticks. No mascara because it inevitably goes bad before I get around to using it more than a couple of times and makes my eyes itchy. I'm getting more and more used to going bare faced. Indi doesn't like me wearing lipstick either, and she says I'm prettier without. The under-eye concealer is my most often used make-up item, and the one I will probably keep using occasionally even if I give up all other make-up. 

And jewelry, how much is too much, huh?

If the question was similarly about the MINIMUM amount of jewelry, the answer would have been easy! None, that is. Except your wedding band if you are married. Because we all know that jewelry is not necessary at all and there is no minimum amount that we should have! 

Again, this is highly subjective. I wear two simple silver bands on my ring finger, and a pair of small drop diamond earrings that I inherited from my grandmother and which I love because they are comfortable to sleep in, and a silver cross necklace. 

But I have more than this stored in a small box.  I like to wear the same jewelry all the time and only on a rare occasion put on another larger piece.  I have two bigger necklaces and a large silver ring that I can wear to make a simple outfit more special, and I have some old inherited jewelry that I'm keeping to give to my daughter and nieces later. 

As for what is too much, well, if you don't wear it or if it is not special in some way (for example inherited) that you really want to keep it, then it's too much. Also, if you already have a lot and are still buying more, then it's too much. If it doesn't fit in a shoe box it might be too much.

Too much of anything is when it's not being used or worn or appreciated, or when it is rather a hindrance than a blessing.

A minimum is an amount that is helpful to your life, not limiting it for a lack that is consuming your time and thoughts.

I would still say this: It doesn't matter whether you have fifteen pieces of clothing or fifty. 

What matters most is the attitude you have. Appreciate and use what you have. Be thankful. Be willing to part with it too if you don't need it but don't end up in a cycle of shopping and discarding, that is a crying shame that we westerners engage in way too much... There is pleasure in actually using up a piece of clothing so that it's good for nothing except a rag. And I don't mean those cheap, poorly made clothes that barely last two washes that we should not buy in the first place.

I hope some you found this helpful :)


mamaof3 said...

Oh Vappu thank you sooo much! This is just what I was needing! Just a guideline to go by. Someplace to start. I appreciate you taking the time to do this! I cant wait to get started! Love Kate

Vappu said...

You are welcome, Kate! I'm glad I could offer some help /inspiration :)

Little Miss Know-it-all said...

A very good and interesting article - thanks.
I enjoy your take on things!

Netti Byrd said...

"Too much of anything is when it's not being used or worn or appreciated, or when it is rather a hindrance than a blessing.

A minimum is an amount that is helpful to your life, not limiting it for a lack that is consuming your time and thoughts."

Perfectly put...because what's right for one person may not be for another. I too have pieces (jewelry, and other "artifacts") that are of historical value to my family, each carrying a story that I love to remember and tell to my children. I remember the stories being told to me, holding the items in my hand, and almost feeling like I was going back to that place and time. These things have value beyond decoration and status. In contrast, the latest pattern for curtains that only have use for a season or two...that's just consumption.

I have similar ideas to yours when it comes to clothes...just enough so one has something to wear that is practical or professional...but not endless excess driven by fads or the need to be perceived certain way...It was such a relief to come to this point! Why did I waste so much time and money shopping, only to be left with the feeling of needing more? This is something I am trying to pass to my kids, as well.

Thank you so much for posting.

Anna Davis said...

I love the point you made about clothing that gets washed twice and is then history- wether due to poor quality or made it shrinks an entire size or more after even one wash. I actually just told myself that I would stop buying clothes for myself at a very popular American "big-box" store because they are NEVER consistent in sizing, quality, etc. I actually find my favorite articles of clothing at the thrift stores (charity shops). Maybe it's because they are pre-shrunk, already loved, and stay out of the landfill!
That's for the words of wisdom as always,
Anna in California;)

Anna Davis said...

*Thanks* for the words of wisdom;) Auto-correct...ugh!

Merry said...

This post was very helpful to me. I have donated some of my clothes recently, but still feel like I have too much. What would you recommend for basics? :)

Love your blog by the way! I read it before you made changes to it.


khan951753 said...

A very good and interesting article - thanks.