30 Jan Quality Over Quantity
I sometimes feel like minimalism is a lifestyle of cliches – less is more, a place for everything and everything in its place, or today’s cliche: quality over quantity. If only these cliches weren’t so darn true, I wouldn’t use them, but alas, those ancient cliche-makers knew what they were talking about! (And many of them were minimalists, I bet!)
So how am I putting this minimalist value into place in my home? Mainly with my shoe collection. I’m a girl who loves shoes. Before embracing minimalism, I shopped for shoes in this manner:
1. Enter store out of boredom or as an activity with girlfriends/sister. No real plan.
2. Browse aisles, eventually wandering back toward shoe clearance.
3. Notice racks and racks of extreme markdowns on last season’s styles. Heart begins to pound.
4. Scan, scan, scan, trying to find “the deal” that will make my shopping trip successful.
5. Impulsively choose two pairs of sandals. (One pair’s a bit big, but I’ll wear them on hot days when my feet swell a bit; the other pair doesn’t really match anything I own, but maybe I can find an outfit to match before I leave!)
6. Pay, noting smugly the “deal” I just landed.
7. Leave, trying to suppress nagging comments in the back of my head: Do you really need these? You already have 14 pairs of sandals at home. You didn’t even plan to buy shoes today. What are you going to wear those green ones with?
The sandals ended up in my overflowing closet, maybe worn once or twice, but never becoming favorites. And since they were probably cheaply-made, trendy shoes, they were forgotten for several seasons, until I eventually donated them to make room for their ill-fated successors or gave them a “guilt wear” to justify their existence.
Let’s talk about “guilt wear” for a second, shall we? “Guilt wear” happens when you buy clothes, not because you love them or find them particularly useful, but for some other reason (they were on sale, you were pressured by a salesgirl or friend, you felt stressed and thought the purchase would make you feel better, etc.). When you get home, you realize you don’t love your purchases, but you feel guilty about buying them, so you “guilt wear” them to try and make yourself like them. It’s kind of like going on successive dates with someone you don’t particularly like, hoping their well-hidden stellar traits will suddenly emerge. As well all know, with clothes and with dates, this rarely works.
In any case, this is how I ended up with a closet full of shoes that were rarely worn.
Paring down my shoe collection has been my most challenging minimalist task. I can toss kitchen gadgets in my donation box with no remorse, but shoes, ah, shoes are much harder. Here’s a pic of my first minimizing attempt, when I eliminated 7 pairs of shoes (along with some sweaters) from my closet:
Since this initial purge, I’ve added a pair or two each week to my donation box. For some reason, this slow but steady shoe decluttering works better for me than one big purge. Its less painful. It gives me time to come to peace with a smaller shoe collection, time to let go. Even now, I can visualize the next pair or two that will probably end up in the donation box. It has gotten much easier. Shoes that I would have never put in my initial purge I can now release freely.
But, of course, I have to wear shoes, right? That’s where quality over quantity comes into play. I’m giving up only buying shoes because they are on sale. I’m spending weeks or months looking for high-quality shoes that I love and that I can wear for many occasions. I’m not feeling guilty about them, because they are planned purchases. Here’s an example:
I bought both of these pairs of boots at Clarks. They are high-quality boots, and the most expensive shoes I’ve owned. But here’s the important part – I wear them. Several times a week. Every week. These boots can be worn to work. They can be worn on dates. They can’t be worn to do yard work, but I hate yard work anyway, so who cares? It was hard for me to buy boots that weren’t on sale, but in the long run, I will probably save money because I’m not enticed by every $20 pair of zebra print pumps that comes along.
And here’s the coolest part! For the first time in my life, I actually have open space in my shoe organizers! (Yes, I have two of them. Yes, I hope to have just one some day. This is a process, people!) I used to stuff one complete pair of shoes in each slot to try and accommodate my immense collection. Now my shoes can breathe easy!
My total shoe collection (including heavier shoes that can’t fit on these organizers) includes 24 pairs. I don’t know exactly how many pairs I started with, but this is a significant decrease. Could I pare down to 20? Sure. Fifteen? Maybe. Twelve? Let’s not get too crazy! Although who knows, maybe a year from now I’ll be cruising around with just a handful of pairs of shoes… free and easy… living the dream. We’ll see!