Capsule wardrobes, 80s outfits and my favourite jeans

The benefits of owning less

People often ask me if I have a capsule wardrobe. If I fold Marie Kondo style. If I’m a minimalist. How many items do I have? Where do I buy from?

So let’s talk about wardrobes. One of the first things you have to do in the morning is get dressed. If you’ve got an overloaded wardrobe full of things you don’t like, it’s going to make for a stressful start to the day. But if you’ve culled it down to items you love and use, there’s one less decision to stress over as you begin your day. Less chance of decision fatigue later on.

Capsule wardrobes: inspired by the matchy-matchy craze of the 80s perhaps? I think they have something going for them. While you might not want to have matching family tracksuits these days, having a wardrobe of items that go together well, and that you love, takes a lot of morning decision making angst out of the equation.

 

Nathan and I, 80s style at our joint 40th birthday party. 80s matching really is hard to beat. And no, this isn’t part of my usual capsule (but the shoes are!).

Steve Jobs wore the same outfit, a uniform of sorts, because it removed decision making and gave him headspace for the decisions that matter. So did Barack Obama, and many other prominent leaders. With a far wider array of wardrobe colours, styles and options available for women compared to what menswear sections tend to offer, a narrow uniform style isn’t so straightforward (or appealing, if you love variety). But still, aiming for a reduced level of options has its many benefits.

Some purist capsule wardrobe types aim to have a certain number of items. If this works for you that’s great; rules can be a great place to start. But sometimes too many rules can become legalistic, making us a slave to them rather than working for us. I’m not a minimalist. I don’t try to survive on the fewest items. I love beautiful things and they bring me joy, so I aim to have what I love and need, and no more.

The main thing is to focus on the mantra that I continue to teach: Only keep what is truly useful and beautiful to you. If it’s neither of those things, get rid of it. Be ruthless.

You will know when you’ve arrived at a wardrobe that works for you. It should contain items that you feel comfortable in, that you love, that suit you, that fit you well. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be in there gathering dust and stressing you out.

If you’d like ways to fold your clothes beautifully, Marie Kondo focuses on that. This works for some people, not for others. I fold most of my clothes in the way she teaches because it’s a simple, and efficient way to keep my wardrobe organised.

If you’re curious, here are some of the basics that make up my current capsule-ish wardrobe:

1. Knitwear: I generally buy NZ made knitwear, because it’s ethical, and beautifully made. I often get Juliette Hogan and Kate Sylvester merino pieces in near new condition off trade me. It means I get beautiful quality pieces for a fraction of the price.

2. Jeans: I bought a pair of Madewell jeans several years ago, and I love them. They’re the perfect cut, size, shape, and super comfortable. So now that I’ve found them I stick with them. I’ve got a black, grey and a dark blue pair in this style.

3. Shoes: I live in white sneakers. I wear them with jeans, dresses, shorts, activewear, everything. My current go-to are these Reeboks. I walk a lot, and they do the miles without giving me a sore back.

4. Tops: I aim to buy all natural fabrics: merino, silk, cotton, linen. I’ve become far more fussy over the years and can’t stand to wear polyester. It doesn’t tend to wear well, and can look cheap and worn pretty quickly. Many of my pieces I’ve had for years, and I still love them. I choose carefully and try to buy things that will go the distance. Over time I’ve gravitated to a small colour palette that go with most of my other pieces. Most of my tops are white, navy, blush pink, grey and black. They’re colours I’ve worked out that suit me, I feel good in, and that go with other items in my wardrobe. [If you’re trying to work out what colours suit you, notice what colours you feel the best in, and also what people compliment you on. You’ll tend to get compliments on things that naturally suit you.]

So if you’re keen to go and attack the wardrobe, remember my simple process:

1. Take everything out of the wardrobe.

2. Go item by item and ask yourself, “Is this useful or beautiful?” and ONLY keep the items you say yes to.

3. Put each item into one of 3 piles; keep, throw away, give away.

Happy Tuesday everyone 🙂

The importance of decluttering; life beyond sock-folding

Well hello, I’m back. I’ve had a long hiatus from the blog side of things. A season of quiet.

I struggle with the noise of the internet. With more people saying more things just to try and shout the loudest and get heard and build their business and sell more of whatever they’re selling. It’s not my style. I want to say something because I’ve got something to say.

So while the blog has stayed quiet, my mind has been active, with thoughts, dreams, ideas.

There’s so much to learn when we dial down the noise (some noise and chaos is just part of life, I get that, but much is there by choice, or because we let it creep it unintentionally). When we get quiet enough, we begin to hear our own inner voice and connect with our true selves. And there’s so much the true self has to tell us. That we don’t have to be productive to have worth. That we don’t have to have a job title to have worth. That doing “nothing” in the eyes of the world doesn’t make it a waste of time. That building relationships – with our kids, our families, our friends, our communities – is the richest, but often most undervalued work, we can do. In many ways this has been a richer season of growth and development for me than any season, however difficult I’ve gone through before.

I initially thought my desire to remain quiet for a season was a problem, that it felt like giving up. But I have not given up. Far from it. There’s so much I’ve learnt from this season that I want to teach. I just want to say it for the right reasons. In the right way. At the right time.

I’m still passionate about simplifying. About getting rid of all the clutter that crowds us out and weighs us down. There’s been a recent spike in interest in decluttering thanks to Marie Kondo, and several people have asked what I think of her methods. She’s got some helpful tips to get people started on their decluttering journey, and these may be just the motivation you need. However, there’s a greater purpose to decluttering than pretty homes and nicely folded socks, and sometimes this purpose seems to get forgotten amidst the obsession with just how to fold your undies. I am about that greater purpose. About the life that you can discover when you remove the clutter that is crowding out that gold.

I’m going to keep on telling this story, keep encouraging you to remove what shouldn’t be there, so that what remains brings you life, joy, energy, hope, connection, love.

It’s good to be back xx

Why simplicity is the answer to our destructive culture of consumerism

Simplicity vs Consumerism

The entrenched culture of consumerism we Westerners live amidst, reaches its tentacles far further than just the physical stuff that we buy.

We consume entertainment. We consume experiences. We consume social media. We consume news feeds. We consume relationships (to the point that we throw them away and get new ones when they no longer work for us). We consume holidays. If we can find a way to consume it, we will.

And this paradigm of consumption is destroying us.

It’s rendering us stressed, unhappy, unfulfilled, discontented, and always in pursuit of the latest thing to consume that will fill the gap.

We know none of these things will. But we continue to live as if they do.

The more I continue on the journey towards simplicity, the more convinced I am that this is the way we were designed to live. To embrace being as more important than doing.

How do we navigate through our culture of consumerism, towards the pursuit of a life of simplicity and meaning?

Simplicity vs Consumerism

Start with your stuff

When you deal in the tangible and the concrete world of your material possessions, you can see the results of living with less. You feel lighter, more peaceful, less stressed by clutter screaming at you on all sides.

But don’t stop there. Once you’ve dealt with your stuff, it often compels you to look around at what other intangible clutter you’ve accumulated in life.

Resist Busyness

Why are you so busy? Until you’ve addressed the why, there is no point tackling the how. Ask yourself what is driving your pursuit of more. Generally it’s a combination of the sense of importance you get from being busy, and being so addicted to busyness that doing less feels uncomfortable, even painful.

But start to sit in this discomfort. Force yourself not to run from it. If you find yourself with a moment of having nothing to do, resist the urge to pick up your phone and fill the void. Sit. Wait. Breathe. Notice what’s going on in your body. In your head. In the world around you. Because it’s in these moments that we can retrain ourselves that it’s ok to stop consuming. That waiting is ok.

It’s in these moments that our souls have a chance to breathe. And we can start to listen to our very selves. And begin to hear the story of our lives speak.

Happy Monday everyone xx

Decluttering hacks: how to overcome the excuses and get started!

The benefits of owning less

When the topic of decluttering comes up in conversation, most people are quick to tell me they’ve got a garage / kids bedroom / storage cupboard / [insert messy overwhelming space here] that is on the to-do list, but they just haven’t managed to tackle it yet. Sound familiar?!

There are common stumbling blocks to getting started on the decluttering journey, but by identifying them, and arming yourself with some key strategies, you can take the bull by the horns and begin the journey to a simplified life. It’s so worth the effort.

Here are top 4 things standing in the way of you and a zen home, and tips to overcome them:

 

1. No time

This is the number reason for most people. I get it. We lead busy, often overloaded lives. And the simple answer to this, is to make decluttering a priority and schedule it in to your calendar – it could be an evening a week, a weekend day a month or whatever time you can carve out. If you’re serious about tackling your clutter,  you’ve got to prioritise it.

Along with scheduling time, start using those little pockets of time when you might otherwise be checking social media, or email, or doing something else that’s really not a priority. If something’s enough of a priority for us, we’ll find the time.

 

2. Not knowing where to start

When our stuff reaches overwhelm point, it’s easier to do nothing than to do something. The key is not to start with the hardest, most overwhelming space. The size of the task will overwhelm the size of your motivation, and you won’t start. Pick a small area – even just the kitchen junk drawer if you have one. If you can do one small area from start to finish, the sense of accomplishment just might motivate you to tackle a bigger space.

If you’re game to start with a bigger space, start with your wardrobe. Being stressed and overwhelmed by your wardrobe, and struggling with decisions about what to wear before the day’s even started is not conducive to a productive day. Starting the day with a decluttered wardrobe that contains items that you love to wear and feel good in, makes such a difference to your state of mind and the way you tackle other decision-making throughout the day.

 

3. Thinking we can do it on our own

Often people don’t call on others for help with decluttering, based on the premise that they can do it themselves. But decluttering can be a harder, more emotional process than you anticipate; it requires making a whole heap of decisions. With every item you have to decide whether to keep it or part with it, and if you’re sorting through every item in a wardrobe, or a garage, or any other cluttered space, that’s a lot of decisions.

Getting someone in, whether it be a friend or a professional, who is not emotionally attached to your stuff, can help you to be more objective, work through the many decisions, and actually get the job done.

 

4. Fear of letting go

The most common line I hear: “I might need this one day.”

Emotional attachments to our stuff, and the fear of letting go, so often stand between us and a simplified home.

The only way through this one, is to accept that, yes, you may get rid of some things that you may need one day, but buying (or borrowing) the very odd thing that you happen to need down the track, is far better than hanging onto everything “just in case”. You won’t need 99% of the stuff you get rid of ever again. It’s not worth the stress of a cluttered home for that 1% of stuff that you may or may not even need. I’d far rather get rid of it all, experience the peace and simplicity of owning less, and accept the small cost of needing to replace the odd thing occasionally. Since we’ve been living this way, we’ve never looked back.

Listen to your emotions, and try to identify what is standing in the way of you and letting go.

We have to learn to let go and trust the process, as we head towards the sense of peace and freedom that lies on the other side of our clutter.

Have a good week everyone 🙂

Rachel x