Friday, 2 February 2018

Perfectionism and a Minimalist Wardrobe

Being a perfectionist can make a lot of things difficult.  It's not an easy trait to drop; it takes work to let go of or loosen one's grip on the ideal.  For me, it's a constant challenge and one area where I might be keeping my head above water is in terms of my clothing.  It's easy to get caught up in the idea that if you are going to create a capsule or a minimalist wardrobe that the goal is for it to be perfect.  After all, you are going to have less, concentrate on fewer but better.  It's true that is the goal, but better is not the same as perfect.  Perfection is a myth and my true goal is to aim for perfection in the hope of achieving betterment.

I have spent quite a bit of time studying colour, line and proportion as they relate to dressing the human body and most particularly as they relate to mine.  In order to understand my own I needed to understand the big picture, the principles underlying the theories and to have a good visual concept of what different lines or colours look like on different people.   When considering what clothing suits an individual’s particular shape, lines and colouring there are ideals and there are the best matches, but in real life these are not always easy to find.  It depends on how well you match up to the most popular, and thus most available styles and colours,  and there have been moments when I briefly wished I did not have this knowledge about myself because my best options are not the most easily found options. 

However, I also remember that before I had this knowledge I was frustrated because I knew something was off.  It was knowing this that took me on a journey of learning more about clothing lines and colours as well as about myself, and that path lead to another one, the path of abundance. 

For some people abundance of choice is a very joyful thing.  Sometimes ignorance helps with that.  If you do not have a concept of certain options looking best and wanting to rule out the rest, you automatically have more choice. Having preferences that allign better with what is available in shops also makes abundance an option and so does sewing your own clothing.   If you are struggling to accept anything less than best, you have significantly less choice in many cases, though not all.  For me, it certainly works out to be much less choice.  This means I have to accept good enough.  Possibly I also have to accept ‘not the worst’.  The last one is difficult for me and probably does not lead to any sort of joy or peace of mind. 

I have a list of ten must-haves for clothing and one specific set of shoes I look for.

1. easy to move in

2. colours that are medium in value and very warm  ( yes, there are partly warm colours )

3. body skimming, slightly tailored or structured, non-waist defining, simple  lines.

4. medium weight and softness, neither gauzy very draped nor thick/rough. stiff

5. no have dangling, flapping. seemingly superfluous bits

6. fit my extra height ( including legs, arms, torso, rise, sleeves )

7. no  high or stiff collar

8. well made

9. natural materials-sometimes a blend is acceptable

10. solid colour or minimal, graphic pattern in low-medium colour contrast

Shoes should be medium-light golden browns, flat or 1 inch heels, oxfords, loafers, ankle strap flats or pointy/almond toed mary-jane style

When I shop the majority of the time I don’t find what I am looking for and that has both pros and cons.  It keeps me from purchasing what doesn’t work, it keeps me from spending too much on clothing I don’t need, and it ensures that I make far fewer purchasing errors.  On the down side, it can lead to a bit of frustration because as I said, more often than not I don’t find what I am looking for.

I live in these shoes and they are showing signs of wear so I am beginning to panic about ever finding something just like them again.

Here’s OOTD without me in it-the only way I am likely to take such a photo now.

Today’s outfit, contains compromise.  The light weight knit is a good colour for me and stripes are okay, though I think narrower spaces between the stripes is better.  The stripes are an ivory colour and so is the blouse I am wearing underneath.  Ivory is better than white but cream is better than ivory.  Cream is more difficult to find so ivory is the compromise.  Ivory reads as white on me whereas cream is a different colour and obviously not white.  Sorry about the blurry photo.  I've not got the patience to re-take photos.

 I wore this with the blouse and sweater tucked slightly at the front and the cuffs of the blouse folded over the sweater sleeves giving a balanced but casual vibe, I hope. 

Jeans are a challenge for someone looking to wear only warm colours but the more the denim leans to a teal blue or a turquoise blue the better it is for reading as warm.  I over-dyed these ones and they are not as dark as they appear here.  Other denim I own is very dark blue and reads as a neutral the way dark denim generally does, but isn’t technically warm enough.  I wouldn’t wear dark denim blue near my face. 

And speaking of warm blue, this is my daily bag.

Not pictured is the muted gold scarf I usually wear at this time of year and the olive coloured parka-style jacket, my watch and earrings.

Change the top,  swap boot cut jeans for straight leg, add a camel coloured wool coat instead of the parka but basically this is my uniform.  

I find compromise difficult to accept and I suppose most perfectionists do,  but I prefer to be happy and not dwell on what I can’t change.    When shopping for clothing I am looking for too many non-standard qualities so I simply have to accept compromise since my goal, after all, is to get dressed and get on with life, not to give a second thought to what I am wearing.   Yes, I do come home from some shopping trips empty handed and grumbling, but this is better than wasted money and a closet full of things I don't wear.


  1. Ooh I love your brogues! If you know the brand and your size, could you try online? Risky I know. I just found a rare pair secondhand. Been looking for years!
    It's frustrating to come home empty handed. But as you say, better that than a wardrobe full of failures. At least you know enough to leave it at the shop.
    Since I started down sizing, I'm spending a lot less time shopping. One or two items in each category does me for the season. It's freeing and more boring, little for the magpie in me to feast on! :-D xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Phew! Because you commented I caught some of my typos. Terrible for a perfectionist to have typos. My shoes are Hush Puppies so I just might be able to find them online. Good idea! I guess I am lucky not to have the magpie instinct although I am not completely cured of wantingto shopping as a form of entertainment. Now, I sometimes shop to entertain myself but don't buy things. LOL I am really happy with less, and though not finding what I am looking for is very frustrating, buying things that are not what I am looking for would not solve that problem. I had a beautiful pair of brogues bought second hand, amazing quality and I let them go. Stupid! I went through a phase several years ago where I thought I was not being feminine enough. I tend to like a dash of menswear, especially brogues, waistcoats and tweed jackets. :-) xoxo

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  3. I wonder whether man's shoes department would be of any help? My challenge is mainly with shoes because I have wide feet, and the options are much more limited compared to regular width. But even though I find most of my shoes at a discount store (so my choices are whatever is in there), and I don't shop regularly at all, I still am able to build a pretty decent shoe collection, but it takes time.

    I think modern clothing is compromised on quality, period. I mean, typical mass market of course, which is what;s affordable to me. As a minimalist, I am sure it is easier to wait and save up and come up with a higher quality clothes, which is a huge plus. Don't make it a task - approach it is a fun game, a treasure hunt of a sort. You'll never know what you can find just around the corner!

    Lots of love!

    1. I had the thought about men's shoes too though no luck yet in finding any that fit. I need the smallest possible men's shoe and usually men's shoes are wider then womens' shoes and I don't have a wide foot. Still, it's not impossible. I have duck feet-narrow heel, regular foot. LOL

      Modern clothing sure is lower quality than it used to be, and I'm a bit fed up. It isn't easy to wait because I am not a good waiter. I am one of those I know exactly what I want and I want it yesterday sorts of people. LOL but, you are right in that I am not at all bothered by having a small and limited wardrobe and I don't really like shopping. I tend to panic about not being able to replace the things I really like. xo

  4. I accidentally discovered your old blog yesterday and spent hours devouring it. I enjoyed reading all your posts about minimalism, simplicity, etc, but found your journey to find your color season the most fascinating. We never see ourselves as others do, and I could relate to your search which took a few years to find your seasonal home. It is so obvious that you look good in warm colors, and I especially liked the SSA period a lot as they seemed to balance you so well and your face was so changed from the summer colors you wore for a while. I myself have been interested in color analysis all my life and have also experimented with different seasons. People always told me I was a summer season, and I suppose I could be, but my heart belongs to the autumn season. Now I have silver hair, and find it very frustrating that the experts all tell me to wear cool summer colors. I do not feel at home in them.

    1. Hi Clean Living Gal, thanks for commenting! My colour journey was definitely popular so I guess it's something people can really relate to. I had an online analysis done recently and was given the results of warm autumn in a 16 season system where warm autumn is actually a sort of spring/autumn blend. No wonder I was confused. I am definitely warm but I do tend to favour the softer warm colours and often these are colours that people on Pinterest think are Soft Autumn. I own a SA fan and there are cooler mauves and pinks in the palette which really don't suit me and when colours are greyed they look a bit off. But I think there is a slight softness to my colouring that works better with the softer versions of purely warm colours and I am better with light-medium colours than with dark. Keep in mind that the photos on my blog are not always very accurate-I frequently wrote of my frustration at photographing colours and getting something a bit too dark or cool compared with reality. I think grey hair can confuse people into thinking you need cool colours. Maybe you are a light spring. Those colours are sort of a Summer-Spring blend and they would give you some of that warmth which appeals to you and yet also have the summer look people are associating with you. Just a wild guess.
      I suspect I will write about colour again soon. I can't seem to help it, but my own colour journey is mainly over. I know still make mistakes and buy things that are too bright, but I have a pretty good idea of what I am after now. There is a website called Style Me Confident and while I think she misrepresents the 12 season analysis and I initially thought the tonal system she offers was too imprecise I came to realise it may be helpful after all. In the tonal system I am just a Warm. Whether the colours are muted or brighter is less important and that is probably why I couldn't quite figure out if I am an Autumn or a Spring. Both of those seemed good but not quite right-with Spring too bright and Autumn too dark at times. Other tonal palette options are Muted, Cool, Deep, Bright, Light. Maybe the light palette would work for you, combining some of summer and some of spring. I would say by your thumbnail photo that Autumn would be too dark or muted for you but of course some of the experts say one little photo can't tell us anything. You are wearing a mint green shirt, I think, which could be summer or spring and it looks as though it suits you very well. Trust your instincts. :-)


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