On Minimalism

The other day someone asked me how I was doing on my 30 item a year resolution, and I realized that I actually had no idea. I have to admit that 2016 so far has been such an adjustment for me – especially on the parenthood side – that I’ve been quite indulgent, probably far too much. I haven’t really kept track of my purchases at all – partially due to time but also probably because some part of me doesn’t want to see in one place, all the damage I’ve done!


I’ve realized over time that while I love the idea of what I’ve always thought of as “minimalism” – that beautiful closet with just a few gorgeous items hanging, all crazy expensive but it’s OK because I’ll wear all the pieces forever – I can’t make that concept work for myself in real life, at least not all the time. I love buying fun things, trying out new colors and shapes and trends. And sometimes, I indulge in a few more fun pieces than I probably should…but I’ve chosen to accept this, at least this year, because the act of culling items, or just deliberating and picking that one perfect piece, has been even more tiring. It’s so much pressure! Is this piece the one? Will it look outdated ten years from now? Even if I love this item, shouldn’t I get another that’s much more versatile, that I could wear tons of different ways?

After a while I just realized I was too tired…and isn’t shopping supposed to be fun?

I have a friend a little older than me, who always, always has the most classic items and taste, and I once asked her how she decided what to buy. “I ask myself if Jackie O would have worn it,” she told me. I tried this for a while and I did end up adding a few very expensive, solid black items to my wardrobe. They are classics, and I’m glad I bought them. But after a while, I felt very constrained. I really wanted to buy these Ann Demeulemeester lace up booties, and I texted her for advice. “Get them,” she said.

“But they’re not Jackie O?????” I wrote.

“So what?” she said. Apparently it wasn’t a guiding principle for her at all, just a trick that she used sometimes, to help her find what worked for her. And I totally took it to heart. One of my favorite purchases of the year has been the flowered Fendi strap above (reviewed here). This is most likely not a classic piece, and Jackie O most definitely wouldn’t have worn it. But in my friend’s words…so what?? I love it, and it brings me great pleasure right now.

By the way, I still plan on updating how my resolutions went early next year, and I still want to give myself a goal of the number of items I want to buy in 2017. I never just want to purchase willy nilly, and end up with tons of items I won’t use. But for now, I’ve accepted that I’m not a minimalist…not as much of one that in an ideal world, I’d like to be. I just want shopping to be fun for a while, so for now, I’ve stopped counting.

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  • tata
    September 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Oh I totally agree!!! it’s a fine balance between the two… And especially with little kids/babies you can’t just have a closet of very fine expensive clothing. you don’t want to be worried all the time when they come running up to you for a hug with nutella covered fingers!

    • Katherine
      September 13, 2016 at 8:14 am

      Thank you Tata! Yes I understand completely about the nutella (my son has just discovered peanut butter!).

  • Tracy
    September 12, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Ooh those Ann D. boots. I first saw them on unbelievably a decade ago, so yeah, I think they’ve earned their classic status.

    • Katherine
      September 15, 2016 at 8:43 am

      Hi Tracy, I didn’t realize they’d been around for that long!

  • K
    September 12, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    It’s great that you are honest … To yourself, at least! I am basically a minimalist, even more so as I get older. It can be liberating, also confining. Don’t be so difficult on yourself about your lively wardrobe additions. You probably need some at this period of adjustment in your life!

    • Katherine
      September 15, 2016 at 8:43 am

      Thank you K!

  • Maria
    September 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Did you ever get those Ann D boots? I’ve had them for several years now. They are timeless and give an edge to basic outfits. I’m of the mind that items like these keep our closets from becoming too “expected” and somewhat dull.

    I recieved the embroidered Rebecca Minkoff strap you reviewed and absolutely love it! It adds that said “edge” to my staid Cocoan Chèvre Kelly and Black Boxcalf Bolide. Thank you so much for helping me find it.

    • Katherine
      September 15, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Hi Maria, they’re on my fall list! I love them. Both of your bags sound classic and gorgeous…I bet that Kelly is CDC too!

  • S
    September 14, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Kat, I fantasize about a capsule wardrobe but just can’t do it in real life!

    Ps – Hi Maria! I recognize those bags 😉

    S in HK

  • Sarah
    September 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Great post- thank you for the Jackie O story and it just goes to prove nothing is set in stone. I don’t count how many things I buy,though I don’t really think its much. Also I think 7 years is about he limit for me to keep items in the wardrobe, not into the ‘forever’ spil. After all lifestyles change, we change, things wear out.😃 Even bags! Downsizing my Kelly collection, never thought I’d say that….

  • ahhhsoneo
    September 14, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    I try so hard to be a “minimalist” whether with clothes, accessories or beauty products. But typically find that periods of abstinence usually lead to some sad binges. So now i try not to label the phases. Like your friend say “so whatt?”. Its just clothes, we should enjoy them without restriction. great post. Hope baby Feather is doing well.

  • Mercy
    September 14, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    This is a pretty Fendi strap, it may not be classic but like you said we need colours and definitely beautiful varieties.

  • Jane
    September 15, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I love this post! Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve been trying to downsize my wardrobe quite a bit, but I’m not a minimalist by any means. After reading the Marie Kondo book, I decided to keep only things that I loved and/or that were useful to me. It’s been really liberating to let go of things that I felt I “should” keep because they were expensive or beautiful — but just didn’t serve me any longer. I also enjoy keeping track of my purchases for fun, but budgeting doesn’t always work for me because I shop consignment and sometimes something comes in that is just too good to pass on! I just blew my fall budget on Tuesday in one fell swoop!

  • irina
    September 19, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Good morning! i’m sure you saw this article already but just another opinion on minimalism:)

    • Katherine
      September 19, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Thank you Irina, I hadn’t seen this! I am going to share this on a future weekend update, thank you!