Minimal Living and Slow Fashion

A jean jacket hanging up on a hook
I suppose I've been a minimalist for years.

Maybe not in all things, but in quite a few areas of my life. My brain works best when there is less around me (i.e. a clean desk to write) and because of that, it's trickled into other areas. I've been a "neat" person since I was born, and that's just how I am. A place for everything and everything in its place.

But, when did it really begin? When did the "less is more" concept take over my life? I think my minimalism mindset kicked in hard when I turned to vintage as a career and a way of life. I've been selling vintage clothing online for over thirteen years. That alone changed the way I viewed clothing and how horribly our entire world manages this "need." We have become a throw-away society, and I'm not just spouting what I've read. This is 100 percent true.

I am in thrift stores at least three days a week sourcing for my shop. About 99.9% of this clothing is probably within five years old. But maybe closer to two. Two! Why do we have so many new clothes in these stores? 

I'll tell you: we want more.

Many of the clothes I maniacally swipe through looking for vintage are the fast-fashion chains of the mall: Zara, Target, Forever 21, etc. This is a fast-fashion approach to living and for some, that's their way of life. That's fine. I see why because I used to be this way. Target was my best friend. What's a shirt here, a bathing suit there? 'Tis nothing.

Well, actually, it is something; it's a whole closet full of things I don't wear. So then I donate some. And start again. Just like the rest of the world. It's a vicious cycle.

An expensive vicious cycle.

But it's mostly us thinking we need more. When really, we can do so much more with less. I heard that 85% of thrifted store clothing never sells and is sent to landfills. This makes my skin crawl. I loathe myself for even thinking I needed tons of new clothes - every year - back in the day. 

But, this is where vintage changed me.

Vintage clothing is made differently. It is quality materials with quality craftsmanship. They are items meant to be worn for a very long time. Years ago, pieces were handed down to family members; denim was repaired over and over again; you wore the same jacket with patches and holes in it because it was "still perfectly good."

So, where are those people anymore? 

I guess for a good chunk of us, this isn't even an ideal to strive for. We aren't attracted to owning less. We want new and we want to flaunt it. For me? All I want is a good pair of jeans and a real wool cardigan. I want real fabrics that are well-made. There are a few manufacturers still in the business of creating quality. But they are rare. And those who like it -- the "buy less buy better" folks - are just as rare.

Except in the vintage/heritage wear community, which is where I fit in. The desire to own less, to own quality is heavy on our souls. We pride ourselves in not having to buy copious amounts of new clothes, and if we do, we buy quality heritage wear (clothing we could pass down) or vintage clothing. 

"So, this is all nice and dandy," I can hear you say. "But, it's not for me."

Okay, that's fine. Minimalism isn't for everyone. But, what really pushed me even more into a minimalist lifestyle was when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. To "manage" this disease, I had to change my stress load. When I was diagnosed, I was working four different jobs (plus being a wife and mom.) Something had to give.

Actually, a lot had to give to regain my health. And I'm still working on it. That journey is a long one, but to even find the impetus to get going that way - to become healthy again - I had to give up two jobs. This simplified my life tremendously. Subtracting two work emails from my phone was life-giving. Then I cleaned out my closet. I mean really cleaned it out. To where I have empty shelves and only wear what I love and love what I wear. Then I cleared out the photos on my phone's albums. Have you done that lately? It's like a wave of water has washed over me and I'm reborn. I got rid of apps I don't use, and closed down social media I don't want.

I only sell vintage and write freelance now. And I could not be happier. My life is de-stressed.

I'm enamored with my emptier days. There is freedom in an open schedule. I only worry about things that I want to worry about. Things like, "I have a vintage Pyrex collection. Do I still qualify as a minimalist?"

Being a vintage lover with an illness has made me a minimalist because I only hold onto what I love and what is well-made. I'm keeping things in my life that mean something; the true things, the real things. Things like friends and family. Like my senior dog, Sierra, who prefers to nap 20 hours a day. My garden. Yoga classes. Thrifting for vintage Pyrex and drinking hot coffee on the patio in the morning knowing I don't have to rush anywhere or be somewhere at some time. Talking to God.

Deep breathes.

It's about slow living instead of fast living. Slow fashion instead of fast fashion.

I only have to worry about things that really matter. And if that's all it takes to be a minimalist, then I'm in it for life.


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