Crunch Time: Love it or need it.

In less than a week I start on a whole new journey. I move out of my home for the last three years, the city I have lived in (mostly) since 2002 and say goodbye to a life time of clothing, furniture, household goods, art, mementos, letters and erm … stuff … carefully but often enough carelessly amassed over the last 25 years.

There is a certain Facebook group that has helped to bring me to a place of not only acceptance but willing excitement about letting it all go. Let me know if you’d like to be introduced to my 9,000 new friends, aunties and friendly neighbours via the maddest, sweetest and strangely intimate and touching Facebook group ever. I am extremely grateful for discovering that group via this most sensible and life changing blog. Finally, I finally clicked on the link to this story as each time I’d seen it before I thought she was explaining why she had gotten rid of her wardrobe and just wore yoga pants! Turns out the opposite is true … her wardrobe is perfect now.  I wish I’d taken some photos of my packed to the brim double wardrobes and piles of shoes and jewels pre-cut and burn.  I have sliced at least a third out, and sorted the summer/post baby clothes that I love and need into storage. My beloved jewellery was been reduced to the most loved, treasured and valuable pieces.  I’m going to keep going. I thought I was sussed with the pregnancy clothes by simply buying size 14s from Glassons, until I read this and decided to give that cheap and cheerful chain a wide berth. Not my actual wide berth – that I will still need to clothe, but friends have been so wonderfully generous in lending me great pieces that I am finding I’m able to stick with my year of no new clothes, shoes and accessories without too much slipping.  There have been some temptations for sure! But having a rule makes it so much easier to keep to my standard and ultimately, that is good.

I have sold a fair bit, and loved seeing both sold and items simply given away going to the homes of people I know … somehow appreciative homes always seem a bit easier than chucking it in the bin – but that has been happening too!IMG_2687 IMG_2686 IMG_2688

A recent early furniture movers/open home fiasco resulted in my bedroom looking like a tip … seeing it all like that and realising that I’d probably be happier if it all simple went away has been quite motivating – okay, deflating at the same time.  Thank God for good friends and my mum who have come over and encouraged and helped.

As I work through the stuff I simply ask myself “Do I love this? Do I need this?” If the answer is not “yes” to one of those questions then out it goes.  I have let go of inherited stuff, old stuff, new stuff, things I thought I should keep around “just in case” and one of the hardest – stuff that is worth money or cost me money and therefore is kept because “it’s a waste to chuck it out”. No – it’s a waste to have that stuff dragging me down and restricting my movement and freedom.  Let it go. Cue singing – I know you already are.

And baby makes three …

Yep.  And as for that other caveat – the “if I become pregnant” one? Well guess what … 14 weeks and counting so as expected, expecting presents a few challenges and of course, exceptions to the No Shoes, Clothes and Accessories For A Year vow.  But having done the best part of three months where the only two purchases have been a second wedding dress for the celebration party and a floral  head band for the actual wedding ceremony … I’ve gone off acquiring clothes anyway. Really. And then there is the recent development of having to spend the next seven months living out of a suitcase at other people’s houses (yes – that does include the period in which I am expecting TO GIVE BIRTH to this child), due to taking a short term contract in another city (thus giving up the current rental house) and my husband working in Australia but me wanting to deliver in New Zealand.

Should be interesting.  So not only am I paring down to essentials, they are winter essentials that I can wear as my bump expands.  And I’m really not interested in spending money on storage so some major purging is in store for what is left (which bodes extremely well for my girlfriends!). And when I say essentials for winter that can accommodate my bump … erm, I’m not entirely sure I own a lot of those so inevitably, there’s going to be some shopping.  So far so good – a stretchy black tube skirt that should last the duration and I’m not going to get away with my current bras for much longer … seriously! What the heck happens to your boobs?! Friends have kindly given or loaned me some stuff, oh hello pregnancy skinny jeans.  Can someone tell me why we don’t wear these all the time? They were EXCELLENT over easter and all its associated gluttony, pretty much accommodating my chocolate/focaccia/pizza/steak dinner/hot cross buns bump. If not my actual baby bump.  My husband thinks it is a biscuit bump.  Scans do confirm there is a child in there too thank God.

I bought some sunglasses. They were $5 from the dollar store. Mine broke and were glued back together and … and … well I’m sorry, but they just looked stupid! I live in New Zealand – we have glare. Mini fold. But I’m okay with it.

What is interesting about the way that live works is that due to current yet unforeseen circumstances there has not been a better time in my life to be NOT acquiring more stuff, indeed, to be stripping back instead.

I can’t believe I’m moving to windy and cold Wellington for the winter and won’t be able to wear my beautiful vintage Burberry tweed coat. Oh well, the bump will keep me warm right? Right?FullSizeRender[1]

Wed

Um well remember how I had a bit of an exception to the no clothes, shoes or accessories rule … namely if I got married? Well guess what? We made the decision on a Monday, confirmed it on Tuesday and eloped and wed on Saturday 14th February 2015.  Four days later.  The no stress, no debt wedding!  It wasn’t completely impulsive, we had spoken about eloping since December last year and the right opportunity just came up and we took it.

But what does the woman who’s been pinning wedding dresses for three years straight wear to her own wedding when she’s “allowed” to buy something? Turns out I borrowed a dress from a dear dear friend and it was glorious.  I allowed myself to hit the mall in search of some thing to decorate my head and was surprised at how off putting I found the whole experience.  I had “permission” to spend and I could barely bring myself to.  After 6 weeks of shopping detox the pointlessness of it all was a bit overwhelming to be honest. So so far so good.

My friend is so very tall and I’m so very not so I had to wear towering platform high heels as to not drown in the dress, not the gold glitter ones I had squirrelled away for my wedding day (yes much like Dorothy’s but gold).  So I wore blue suede shoes and funny, so did the bf as that’s what he had in his wardrobe. He only proposed 20 hours before the wedding so in my mind, he was never my fiancé, he went straight from bf to husband. Rock and roll.

I’m focusing on decluttering too.  If you could see my room now … it is not fit to share with a husband – it looks like one thousand girlfriends came over to raid my wardrobe, makeup and the rest of my life and left everything out all over. Luckily he’s in Brisbane for work so I have a week or so to get it sorted.  I’m pulling all sorts out of the cupboard and re-wearing it, but at the same time, getting rid of stuff that HAS TO GO.  There is a strange duality to both not buying more and wanting to get rid of the stuff that is unnecessary and dragging me down emotionally and physically – I don’t have room for all this extra stuff.  It’s remarkably easy not buying any more clothes, shoes and accessories.  Who knew.

Ahoy

I have two nautical themed events coming up.  I want one of those silly captain’s hats. It’s fancy dress technically so I guess I could let myself off … but I had an extended conversation with an acquaintance yesterday on the nature of alcohol and narcotic additions. No, I don’t think I’m addicted to buying clothes, shoes and accessories … but … the bargaining and excuse making, dreaming up exceptions … the process for addicts sounds so similar to the process of excuses and justifications I’m trying to come up with so I can go buy the stupid $10 hat from Look Sharp.  Which was almost certainly made in a sweat shop … out of caustic materials.

So no, I’m not going to buy it dammit! But I might hire one from a costume shop (will probably cost more, sigh).  But I’m not contributing to the death of the planet with another anti-environmental tiny cut. And it will be one less thing gagging my wardrobe space …

I have a baby blue and white striped maxi dress.  It feels nautical.  I’m wearing that.  There, first event “passed” – in theory.  I’ll post a photo of the outfit I guess.

I might buy some sailor type temporary tattoos. No they do NOT count as accessories – shush.

Apart form that – so far so good, I hauled out the summer clothes that still hadn’t been incorporated into the wardrobe, I must own 30 dresses.  It occurs to me that I must be doing something right that I can wear dresses that I’ve owned for years, in that at least the quality and style have endured. I have a wedding mid February but am pulling out a beautiful dress that I bought on the Kings Road in London in the late 90s. It was FAR FAR too big for me then but it was 20 pounds and the fabric is was exquisite I couldn’t let it go.  Now if only I bought those old Gucci and Louis Vuitton clutches sitting in a basket at Steinberg & Tolkien for 10 pounds each …

Something’s gotta give.

Last year I started toying around with an idea, one that totally freaked me out yet also felt like it gave me a glimpse of the promise of a kind of freedom.  It still freaks me out.  What if for an entire year, I committed to not buying any new clothes, shoes or accessories?  I know.  First world luxury choice.  I quite understand if you think this is a puerile or shallow thing to blog about – that’s okay with me.  This little blog is for me, a way of forcing myself to be accountable.  My sister and probably my mum and step-mum might read it.  There may even be someone else out there who finds it mildly entertaining or encouraging.  Certainly one of the influencing factors behind this decision has been reading about people who have taken on similar journeys.  So back to the rest of the tinterweb for those of you Who Do Not Approve.

Why do I need so much stuff?  And when I say stuff I mean specifically clothes, though I’m sure ‘stuff’ is in for a bumpy ride this year too.  I mean outfits.  Fashion.  Jewellery.  Shoes, oh darling darling shoes.  Sigh.  (See?) At the same time, when do you ever have enough? Let me explain what I mean by that. So I managed to get myself addicted to gaming last year. No I’m not ready to tell you what the game was *hangs head in shame*, but the reasons for starting were genuine enough (really).  It was the realisation that I was never, ever going to “win” that game that ultimately  caused me to stop.  That and the ridiculous amount of time I was spending zoning out, engaging in escapist behaviour and not reading books.  Well the fashion game is kind of the same.  Not that I would call myself particularly fashionable, I just like dress ups.  I don’t paint or write music. Dreaming up outfits and getting dressed is creative expression … for me.  I love all things sartorial.  And I have collected a lot of clothing, jewellery and shoes.  Hoarder? Maybe. That’s another post. Anyhoo – how is fashion the same as gaming for me? Well its the never-ending pursuit of something that is never going to be complete/done/achieved.  There is ALWAYS a new event or party.  An idea, trend, cut, colour, fabric, designer, shop or … sale.  If not that, there is always a new season to dress for.  Or a holiday. Let’s not ignore the blatant “oooh, look at these pretty new things …. you should have them, your life will be better, this is the must-have item” that every magazine pushes with their thinly veiled agenda i.e. BUY MORE STUFF.  Viva this morning for example. The pink Marc by Marc Jacobs wallet with gold trim.  Sigh.

I adore my wardrobe, I count my clothes as friends (cue much eye rolling from anyone I admit this to). I see it as a curation.  I seldom have throw outs because most of what I acquire is so considered.  But I love new additions! I love to dream up outfits!  I like the pleasure of wearing them.  Receiving compliments and comments. Yep, that too.   I don’t buy big ticket items, I spend very little on one item (with exception, but I’m talking NZ$200 – that is A LOT for me!).  But spend I do.  Acquire I do.  Financial death by a thousand tiny cuts.  And amongst the various piles, there is literally a hip height pile of clothing in my room right now! Clothes EVERYWHERE, piles and on hangers and stuffed into drawers and under the bed … ugh.

So what if I put the breaks on all that for an entire year?

The rules: no buying of any new clothes, shoes or accessories for a year.  So that’s until December 31st 2015.  This is about shopping.  I can receive gifts but not ask for them.  And no second hand shops neither. Which is a bit of a heart breaker because I love discovering treasure for $4!  Second hand clothes can be gifted to me.  Hey – it’s my year, I’m making the rules.

I am adding a three point caveat.  Because I can.

  1. I should have bought a new pair of sports shoes for running and the gym about a year ago … so when I finally get around to it, they don’t count. And IF I get
  2. married or
  3. pregnant in the next year – there may well be exceptions relating specifically to those events. And I won’t be writing more on any of those unless they actually happen.

This is about other things too.  More important things.  Like finances – what if I got real about my credit card debt and savings and stopped frittering money away on … stuff clothes.  Gulp  -did I just admit that?  Because I’m not a big spender I kid myself that its not a waste of money.  What if I become a student this year? My first world heart would break at not being able to have all the pretty things … a No New Clothes, Shoes and Accessories (C,S & A) rule would actually make life easier.

And what about the 80% of people who live on this planet with me who survive (and don’t survive) on less than US$10 a day?  The 3 billion on less than US$2.50?  How gross am I that even thinking about not having new C,S & A for a year is a hardship for me. Seriously? I’m ashamed of myself.

Where do all the clothes get made?  Who got exploited so I can have a fab bikini for $40? Am I contributing to the exploitation and misery of humanity by always wanting … just. one. more. thing?

Another theme of the last 6 months has been the nature of addiction.  Gaming yes.  My alcoholic father’s death in September 2014, yes.  My sister, step mother and now the gorgeous bf all stopping drinking entirely.

Am I addicted to acquiring new clothes, hats, shoes, jewells?! Ugh, how distasteful.  And wasteful.  And ultimately selfish.  I can think of a bunch of better places for my money. And on that point, its not my money! It’s God’s money, He has chosen to bless and entrust me with it, and I’m going to stop spending it on stuff he doesn’t care about clothes, shoes and accessories for a start.  He cares about me and that should be all that I need.