Four years ago, I decided to completely change the way I shopped for clothes. After years of trying to aimlessly keep up with trends, purchasing fast fashion, collecting vintage and blogging my outfits, my life changed dramatically in 2012 and in the process of grief and healing, I realised how overwhelmed and ashamed I was by all my clothes. In January 2013, I made a decision to only buy ethical, secondhand and handmade clothing. I made my pledge for a year and when 2014 rolled around I realised there was no going back the way I once shopped. Once I become more conscious of shopping ethically and mindfully, I began to take my journey into ethical fashion even further. I started asking questions to brands and shop owners. I began assessing my wardrobe, looking at what I loved and wore and what was hanging in the wardrobe collecting dust. Last year I decided to take the next step and gave my wardrobe a minimalist overhaul. Today I have about 40 items of clothings, a few scarves, two belts, two bags, two hats, ten pairs of shoes and I have never felt happier, calmer or more organised in my life.
Before we go any further, I must tell you I adore clothes. I studied textiles and fashion theory at University and truly appreciate many of the beautiful, creative aspects of fashion. There is however a very dark side to the fashion industry. If you would like more information on this area, start by heading over to Fashion Revolution and check out the film, The True Cost.
The environmentaland ethical impacts of fast fashion were the reason I chose to minimze my wardrobe and my impact. And when I was looking for 'minimalist wardrobe' inspiration on Pinterest, I noticed a recurring theme... every item was either black, white or grey. Now don't get me wrong, if you love that vibe that's great, but that's just not my style. I've always dressed quite eclectically and had no intention of changing my personal style to fit into any particular minimalist category. So I set about making my own rules, that allowed me to keep my style, whilst finding simplicity and shopping ethically.
I've had many people ask me questions about my wardrobe since I posted a picture of it a few months ago on Instagram, so I thought I'd share some tips that have really helped me to curate a minimalist wardrobe of unique, ethical clothing I love, on a very small budget.
Define your style - Try defining your style in three words. Mine would be, eclectic, free-spirited and conscious. Make a list of what you need depending on your location and lifestyle and items just really love. Decide how many pieces you realistically need (I try to stay under 50 items of clothing) and what you wear most. From here you can begin to see the gaps you need to fill and maybe breath new life into pieces you had that you'd forgotten about.
Analyse your wardrobe - Pull everything out and really analyse what you own. What do you have multiples of? Why do you choose specific colours? What have you never worn? Try things on, make some notes and be honest with yourself. Now is the time to look at labels and see where your clothing is made.
Take Charge - Be ruthless, let go, sell, share, donate, swap, do whatever it takes. Slowly get back down to the bones of your wardrobe, the things that you really love and wear all the time. This process will be very different for everyone and often it can't be done in one day. For me that it took about twelve months, of looking, wearing, thinking and letting go a bit at a time. It's especially hard with pieces that hold sentimental value, but often the trick there is to remember that the memory of that special occasion, person or overseas trip, is always in your heart, not in the item itself. Wear it one last time, give it a nice farewell and say goodbye.
Do your research - Now you've paired down, you might start to think about what else you really need. Before you jump in and start buying, do your research. Don't be afraid to ask shops, send emails and use the wonders of online shopping to find out what products are ethically made, where and under what conditions. This is also a good opportunity to measure yourself, read reviews and ask like minded people wear they shop. If second hand and vintage is your thing, I can’t stress enough the importance of trying things on. Make the time, I promise it will be worth it in the long run.
Plan for the seasons - Creating a transitional wardrobe is really important if you are wanting to downsize. Make your clothes go the distance by layering and working cohesively together. I live in a town that gets very hot in summer and can be quite cold in winter, so when I make a purchase, I always consider if I can wear the piece all year around.
Build consciously - Build up pieces you love slowly. Really consider your purchases, think about whether you need it right away. Make a wish list. Wait for sales. Don't get sucked into trends and marketing. Buy at your own pace. Most importantly, find small, ethical brands that you love, trust and truly want to support. Make sure you reach out and tell them you love them too. It will make their day!
Get Creative - Make, swap, buy second hand and alter, shop closets on Instagram, mend, upcycle. This will ensure you and creating your own style and finding pieces that no one else has. And it’s fun!
Ask Yourself Questions - Most importantly before any purchase, really ask yourself, do you need it? Is it the same as something else? Could you.. use what you have, alter something, borrow, wait until it's on sale. Curate with love and remember your wardrobe will always evolve with you over time. Allow this pace to be slow and beautiful rather than fast and frantic.
I hope this might help you on your way to rethinking your wardrobe. Remember it is a process, it's forever changing and it's all about enjoying the journey of mindful, positive and beautiful self expression.
My stash of leaves, bark and branches collected on our afternoon walks waiting for the dye pot.
By the door, his and hers summer hats, handmade, well worn and loved.
Little projects to decorate home, to keep my busy hands happy.
Sunday's painting drying in the veggie patch, ready to become wrapping paper.
Beautiful pumpkins getting a little bigger each day.
Colours of the outback. Eucalyptus dyed wool drying on the wheelbarrow.
Enchanting summer sunsets, full of inspiring textures and hues.
When I began slow my life down and decided to free myself from conforming to the 'standard' expectations of society, something magical happened... I began to truly connect with the magic of the everyday. By making conscious choices to avoid main stream media, shopping centres, the 'buy and consume' mentality and instead spending time in connecting with Mother Earth and turning inward through journaling, meditation and yoga rather than looking elsewhere for fufillment and happiness, a whole new aspect of life began to unravel itself. It was there all along, I has just made myself too 'busy' to notice.
It's taken three and a half years to get to this point and there is no turning back. The more vegetables I grow, the more sunsets I meditate under, the more ways I find to tready lightly and more in tune with the planet, my passion is fueled to dig deeper, learn, share and connect more, so that we can all revel in the real magic of the everyday.
One word, one word is all it takes to refocus, to guide, to begin. Finding that one word isn't always easy, after all, there are so many beautiful, inspiring words. For 2016, I knew I wanted my word to be a word of action, a word I had to be present for and dance with throughout my year.
During the last week of 2015, I set about my cleaning, detoxing my home and body, letting go, decluttering and refreshening for the new year. I also made sure I took a little extra time each day to journal and meditate, to listen to my soul and contemplate my journey. The word that kept appearing to me each time I thought about the new year was 'Create'. Over the past three years I've chosen the words, Embrace, Nourish and Light and for 2016 I felt so much that what I wanted to do was create.
I was pretty sure I was set on my word, it seem to fit in every area of my life, but for some reason, I just felt like it didn't have enough breadth. You see in 2016 I wanted to do more than just create, as lovely as that idea was, I felt that there was more to my journey, but I wasn't sure what that meant for me or how to put it into a word.
It was New Year's Day when I was gathering some bits and pieces for dinner from the garden that my word appeared in my head, like a flash of lightning, one of those moments of inspiration when you feel your body tingle and you know something has aligned. I wanted to to more than create, I wanted to Cultivate. I giggled to myself as I took my bunch of parsely, a tiny zucchini and few spring onions into the kitchen, wondering what dictionary would define cultivate as. I was sure it wasn't going to be my whimsical, metaphoric definition. After a quick google seach and a little navigating past the traditional farming terms, I soon realised why this word felt so right.
Cultivate - To grow, encourage, create, enrich, inhabit, farm, raise, pursue and foster.
Along with so many words that bought a smile to my face and a song to my heart, there was my inital word 'create', amongst the synanom list. This year I choose to cultivate my life and in doing so, I choose to cultivate happiness, gratitude, creativity, kindness, compassion, peace and love. I choose to grow my business, grow myself, grow my garden, raise my vibration, pursue my passion, foster and enrich our family life and create new plenty work, both written and artistic. I am ready to spread my wings and soar and stand behind everything I know to be real and true.
'Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day in the year' - Ralph Waldo Emerson
As the first week of 2016 unfurls, I'm so excited looking to this the possibilities of this beautiful year ahead. This will be the fifth year I've created a list of goals and as I look back over the years, I feel so blessed to be able to see how I've been able to develop and grow a little more with every list. What started as a fun way to make some goals, has now become an important aspect of regaining freedom from consumerism, better understanding myself, my environmental impact and ultimately living a more humbling, conscious life.
1. Live from the heart
2. Plant a natural dye garden
3. Create a zero waste kitchen
4. Take a farm stay holiday
5. Publish some of my words
6. Exhibit some artwork
7. Learn more about herbalism
8. Consume less, create more
9. Connect with the stars & seasons
10. Learn more about permaculture, biodynamics and lunar planting
11. Work in our family gypsy wagon
12. Create an online portfolio
13. Grow flowers for Spring
14. No longer colour my hair
15. Practice yoga, meditation and walk daily
16. Only buy the essentials
17. Make, trade & share
18. Practice gratitude daily
19. Walk in nature often
20. Live simply and consciously every day
I can't wait to begin these goals. This year more than ever I feel like they are so important to helping towards our families future hope and dreams. I'll be sharing more about a few of these goals throughout the year on the blog and Instagram too.
Have you created goals this year? I'd love to hear about them. Leave a link in the comments if you've written about them so I can pop by and check them out.