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i only own 139 things so do i know what is a minimalist now?

Why the hell did I try to become a minimalist anyway? I can barely remember when I was diagnosed. Just as text messages really do seem like a good idea while colorfully inebriated, so too did minimalism seem like a good idea to try at the time. Somewhere in between becoming a vegetarian, for like, the third time, and wanting to be the next Adele (my shower voice sounds like doves crying...and I imagine that's a good thing) it seemed like a logical next step in my quarter-life crisis.

But doesn't this minimal style thing seem like a co*kblocker to the good life? I mean lezzbehonest, a house isn't a home unless it wreaks of shit you don't need. Hoarding and conspicuous consumption extends way beyond granny's attic. Who doesn't love a good sale? You know the ones, where you come home with yet another set of glassware, two pairs of ballerina flats, and a gift bag filled with deluxe beauty samples that will sit and expire before your eyes. The linens upon linens, because well, just in case is much better than having only an adequate amount. Life isn't about adequacy, its about excess! Like at Thanksgiving when you go in for a fourth serving because you CAN, and the unjustifiable gassiness and burping is not sexy but who gives a damn, because you just conquered life in that moment, you showed life whose boss, all while gaining five pounds unnecessarily. The freedom of choice is to be abused, duh. All hail materialism! The real religion of this country. Except. Mama didn't raise no fool. I pride myself on intellect and having it be upstaged by peer pressure, cultural norms, media, propaganda, and down right clever advertising campaigns would be such a shame. What kind of legacy would I leave behind if 70% of my time is spent consuming?? Think about it...

It's not rocket science. And you need not be immersed in the fashion industry so densely as I am to come to. Minimalism and the fashion world's never-ending “seasonal looks” can seem like opposite ends of a warped spectrum that dictates our daily consumer-driven choices. As someone that loves the individualistic self expression that can be cultivated through clothing and accessories, I still find myself constantly plagued by the little voices inside my head that pluck on the heart strings of my insecurities. 

Do I look frumpy or out of date? Will people take me seriously if I wear this? 

And all other forms of superficial bullshit that, at times, has dragged me down into a money sucking hole of needless spending. Like no joke. Though, I am unequivocally not alone in the scenario of unpacking at a new apartment and wondering why on Earth I still had my food processor and black mini skirt from 1998, since neither fit my life after a decade because my ass only gets bigger and blades can't travel on planes now. So can I blame the fashion industry for my personal spending habits? No. But let's not pretend that every product or company has my best interests in mind when they drop down their new set of “must haves” for the coming months or execute subliminal messaging via radioactive television sets so masterfully, Picasso himself would be jealous, (remember when Macy's hired Martha Stewart to invite her friends Diddy and Jessica Simpson to persuade us to buy more crap every December? Good times!) It's the reason my own personal RSS feed of blogs no longer includes tall skinny hangers who sell themselves to fashion brands without an original thought to share worth a grain of salt, and instead has limited space for Jess, Kali, Anuschka, and Ivania among a few others. Don't believe me? What was the last fashion blog you read that did not feature that Zara skirt? See, don't even have to describe it because you know exactly which slutty little skirt I mean. It got around.

Embracing minimalism was one of the many things I did to reduce my mental and physical clutter - and it is a choice that I still have to remake every single day like a recovering heavy metal addict. Starting a minimalistic lifestyle is not easy, but weeding out your possessions, taking care of the things you love, and saving your hard earned cash for experiences over material objects is definitely a life-affirming confidence booster. Truly, less is more. Think of it this way - you may have less items in the house but that also means you have more space, more time to do the things you love; a hassle-free closet and effortless style.  

If I still haven't convinced you to seek out a minimalist lifestyle just for kicks and giggles, can I at least offer you a challenge? Grab a notebook, a pen, and start counting. 

You heard me. 

Count the items in your home. 

Count everything- shoes, books, coffee cups, office supplies. If you are anything like me, you are quickly going to realize that you own WAY MORE than you ever thought was possible for such a tiny post-college-cant-get-a-worthy-job-enter-hustle-city-name-here apartment. As I looked over pages and pages of possessions, I started to realize why I felt so burdened at times. I started to cross items off and circle my essentials. A few days later, with packed boxes and garbage bags full of donations and giveaways- I could finally see the floor at the bottom of my closet and now I own much less. Dorky as it sounds, it became a metaphor for the new life I wanted to lead. And by the way, my closet floor was mad dusty. Small details like this are eye openers, because I yearn for a wardrobe that is meticulously coddled in a closet as precious as a Chanel boutique. When you own twenty one tees from Forever21, its easy to not give a flying squirrel about the state of your closet. #justsayin

Here, I will start with my count excluding my boyfriend's. You little lazy bee you.

29 items. Notebooks, pens, iron, bedding, random nonsense like umbrella and wrapping paper and tons of books.

56 items. All my makeup, hair tools, cleaners, bathing goodies, skincare, and good old fashion toilet paper.

8 items. Printer with cords, macbook with cords, iPhone, internet boxes, mouse and a power surge protector.

7 items. Pared down to just a folding table, couch, kitchen island, sewing table, chair, hamper, and bed.

I chose not to count this because I'm too American, my kitchen is my Achilles heel, more so than fashion, and by living with someone else, the count wouldn't reflect my desired minimalist kitchen. Let' just say I suspect the pantry and fridge and island have over 300 items of mostly my boyfriend's collectibles. Good God.

40 items which surprisingly includes all my knickers, shoes, tops, bottoms, dresses and socks. I'm in heat. Clearly. Yes I still do laundry bi-weekly. No, its not impossible to create enough combinations of outfits, so close your gaping mouth.

Now, don't get me wrong - minimalism didn't change everything about who I was or who I wanted to be in the future. I still LOVE beautiful clothes the way other women love Ryan Gosling, as well as flipping through fashion magazines, and visiting my favorite local boutiques. But, I reconciled my new and lighter lifestyle with the fact that this all could actually work in my favor. In fact, if I wanted to be a more mindful person, my clothing choices were the perfect place for me to start. 

Adapting my new “less is more” motto went hand in hand with my new project - building a capsule wardrobe. Much like a recipe has key ingredients, capsule wardrobes build off key items you love that can be interchanged to create outfits that express your personal style. Sound difficult? In theory, it can sound overwhelming but in practice it will totally simplify your life. To start, ask yourself: 
  • Form and Function- what types of clothes do I need and what sorts of ascetics do I like? 
  • Size- How many items do I need to get through my week/month? 
  • Inventory- what can I get rid of and what is going to stay? 
  • Uniform- what outfit could I wear every day that expresses my personal style? How can I create variety off this concept? 
  • Laundry- how do the clothes get washed and can I afford dry cleaning? 

Delusional is the word that people often use when I tell them about my wardrobe vision right after they sigh with empathy. They say that its crazy to think so “small” or work so hard to have less. And to them I say, “Beats being a statistic.” My possessions have stopped defining me and, because of that, I am the only one that drives my creativity. It's not easy and lord knows I am not perfect, but taking a physical inventory of my life has not only kept me honest, but in a newfound state of happiness and gratitude. So, what are you waiting for? It's time to free yourself up as well.

are you up for the count? tell me in the comments! and please feel free to share this post to challenge some hoarding friends of yours


  1. Anonymous11:47 AM

    I really enjoyed reading this. My wardrobe is the one thing I have a difficult time dealing with.

    1. That's great to hear, glad you liked the post! Hope that these and future tips will make tackling your wardrobe less difficult. Email me anytime as well.

  2. And I thought I had really pared down my closet with 100 items!! 40 is WOW!! I'm impressed! Like you, I have grown tired being such a consumer! I'm ready to be creative Woman who doesn't need a large quantity of things to be creative but rather just her imagination and a good eye.

    1. Oh no no, you should be proud of your 100 count! My 40 is wow. Like a little too wow haha. Its just the count for my bare minimum capsule wardrobe and all my under thingys. But I still have everything else packed up in bags waiting for donation pickup that I still dabble in and rewash, because ultimately once I finish the capsule and app some Spring pieces, I'd like to be around 100.

      I was indeed tired of consuming too, but it should go from tiresome to having it return with a vengeance and be empowerment. Now I know who I am and what my standards/values are so shopping is a joyful challenge. But I love your point. Creativity is a gift not everyone is blessed with, so it should never be burdened. Would have loved to see your declutter process!

    2. You inspired me to go even a bit lower! Ha! Seriously, I went back through my closet and purged more.....My declutter process is simple and a bit brutal. Two questions: 1. Do I LOVE it? If I can't get a quick yes, then it goes. I want my closet to be full of items I LOVE....only those can make outfits I LOVE, you know? 2. Do I wear it? I am now listing (I'm an online seller) two leather pencil skirts that I love but so very rarely wear. I work from home and just have not many opportunities to wear leather pencil skirts. So they will be sold off to someone who can give them the wear they deserve. I have held onto them with bare knuckles, but I am beginning to really understand that lifestyle should have a huge influence on my wardrobe. If not, then I still end up with a closet full of clothes I rarely wear and the discontentment that comes with that.

      I'm trying to take on this philosophy with my home as well. I read a saying to the effect that we ought not to have anything in our homes that is not practical or what we believe to be beautiful. This really narrows things down and I've been surprised at how many things in my home I can pick up and realize that they fall into neither category. This just won't do!

      Anyhoo, since I have found you, I find myself always looking forward to what you have to say! Preach on girly!!!

    3. So we might have even numbers soon darling! Haha. You are too funny. But what's not funny, rather coincidental, is that i have the EXACT same declutter process. Its like you took the words right from my mouth. I ask the same questions and do the same things. Small world. And moreover, I read the same exact quote a while ago maybe last year or 2012 about not having things in our home without purpose or love. Might have seen that on Twitter ;)

      Okay but what I really need to get at are those leather skirts girl! Fork it over. Where are they listed? I have been trying to find a leather pencil skirt I love and would actually wear for a few years. I totally hear what you said...and I promise to give them a good break in!

  3. I don't want to count right now, but I'm always minimizing. Minimalism definitely is about "you doing you," there is no right and wrong way and you don't have to answer to the minimalist police :) You do you and never apologize for loving expressing yourself through fashion while also being minimalist.

    1. Exactly! If you do end counting, let me know. So curious about Ms. Sarah's number :)

  4. Oh, Letitia. Posts like these just remind me why I love your blog so much! I'll definitely have to go through this process and declutter, I realised a few months ago now that I had way too much 'stuff' in my room alone. And I have to admit that every now and then I'll discover something that I forgot I had... Your post also made me realise how possessions and consumption has such a big place in my life, which is also reflected in my blog - something I'd never thought about before. Definitely an eye opening read, thanks for writing so well and so beautifully as always!

    1. Ah Emily, you are too kind Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. I do this blog for no other reason than my readers so glad you enjoy the writing so much, and even more so the take aways.

      That whole discovering things you forget you had is the main reason I started this experiment, because its silly we behave this way when people allot more unfortunate would cry to be gifted that backpack or pair of shoes or old cell phone we discover at the bottom of the bin. We should only have what we need and desires are important to, but they should play an active role in our life, not that of a forgotten step child. If someone absolutely loves Louboutin shoes and collects them, each pair should be worn, if not, maybe they should seek out a position as a museum curator instead ;)

  5. Such an interesting post! I love it! I can't claim to be a minimalist, just as I can't claim to be materialist. I think I'm a good in between - yeah, I buy a bunch of crap that I end up not using anyway, but at the same time, I think that for the majority of the time, I buy things based on whether I really need them or not. I think I'm pretty balanced. I have never tried to count my stuff, but that would be a good project one day! The good thing is that I have 2 roommates, so I don't have all that big stuff - all kitchen and living room items are theirs, so when I move out, I'll really have nothing but what's in my bedroom! Then that will be an excuse to go on a shopping spree :) Happy Friday!

    1. Jessica, such a great point actually! That was maybe my positioning behind this post, is that infact I am not sure I am a true minimalist yet but I know for sure I am in no way a materialist because I value experience over goods ten fold. I don't buy crap anymore though, I buy experiments. So I will buy things knowing I might have to toss or donate, but only in search of brands to become loyal to or discover cost per wear ratios, etc. I'm a Libra, so i guess for those that believe in it, they know how balanced we are. Glad to see you are too!

  6. I am so glad I found you (er, or that you found me!). I've always been a pretty minimalist person but my closet is my personal Achilles heel. There are so many items in there that I don't wear. I'm afraid to get rid of them, though, because I fear I'll lose variety with my wardrobe. I wasn't particularly strategic with my purchases from the beginning (i.e. finding versatile pieces that can mix and match). If I finally get rid of those items, I feel like I'll be left with nothing and will have to spend $$$ to re-stock the right way. Oy. There was a similar article in March's O Magazine so between that and your blog (which I feel like was serendipitous!), I'm totally inspired. I'm diving in this week. Wish me luck.

    1. Hi Katarina! Oh goodness so sorry for my late reply! I was so excited to see your comment and am dying to know how it went with your count and taking stock of your wardrobe? Also definitely gotta hear about that O Magazine article, sounds like a good one ;)


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Letitia Elizabeth is the author of EUROPE NOMAD, the travel blog for daydreaming fellow travelers who love cheap countries in Europe, beautiful countrysides, and magical quality of life. Here you'll receive packing lists + guides, Europe travel tips, digital nomad working life advice & living in Europe as an American stories. Welcome!