5 Things I Kept While Going Minimalist
Anthony and I went full-on minimalist over the summer.
Or, as we've been calling it: Full Yippie.
It's a portmanteau of Yuppie and Hippie, which sums us up pretty accurately these days. We live in NYC, love everything about the fashionable, glam city life (Yuppie), and yet we also geek out on owning as little as possible and aspiring to the "slow life" movement while living in Manhattan (hippie).
In June, we got rid of probably 50% of our belongings. I donated most of my clothes, purses, and shoes. We purged our kitchen down to just a few plates, a couple glasses, and pared our cooking supplies down to only the bare minimum that a cookbook author (Anth, so not me) needs. See ya pasta machine, big food processor, stand-mixer, serving platters, loaf pan, etc.
In addition to all the stuff we donated and gave away, I'm a little embarrassed by how much junk we threw out—bags of useless crap that I am determined never to rebuy in the name of "quit filling up landfills with your BS, LL."
But actually, this blog post isn't about what we got rid of. It's about what I kept. I read Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up years ago; long before the Netflix special, so I've gotten pretty good at keeping my possessions limited to those things that spark joy.
However, with this latest purge, I wanted to take it a step beyond just the “does this spark joy?” Because even though I could pick up most things in my apartment, and say that I loved them, I still had the sense of too much stuff.
Minimalism is a pretty broad concept; it means something a little different to everyone.
For me, this summer, I defined the process of going “full minimalist” (for me) as looking at every single item I own and asking not just “does this spark joy?” but also, “does this spark more joy than the joy I get from feeling free of clutter?”
In other words, I have to love an item more than I love than the light feeling I get from having emtpy shelf space, an airy closet, and plenty of empty space and clear surfaces. And I love that “spacious” feeling a lot, which means I was pretty ruthless! I was surprised to find that plenty of Kate Spade items I’d thought of as beloved were donated to a different home because I preferred the simplicity of not having multiples of anything, or keeping something solely because it was cute/pretty.
In practice, it looked like this:
“I love this lipstick! But I love the completely uncluttered makeup collection even more.”
“Sure, this notebook is adorable, and I love the idea of journaling it in some day. But I already have this notebook, that does everything I need it to do, and fits into my purse and can be used for everything.”
“These shoes are amazing; but I hardly ever wear them.”
In the end, I whittled down my closet, my makeup, my skincare routine, and my office supplies to the absolute bare minimum.
But. Because I think a lot of people think minimalism requires all sorts of crazy sacrifice and giving up the simple pleasures of life. Absolutely not. I want to share some of the total non-essentials that I surprised myself by keeping, or the small items that were able to replace 10 other items in the role they played in my life.
5 Things I Surprised Myself By Keeping
I love skincare as much as the next gal, but it was getting out of control. As I did this most recent purge, I wined a little at how many night creams, serums, eye creams, etc, that I’d accumulated simply because they were “nice.” I did like all of the items, but I just felt that my skincare system was needlessly complicated. Not to mention, we have a tiny bathroom, and shelf space is limited. But as I was cleaning everything out, there was never any question that one specialty item stayed (alongside cleanser and moisturizer): my Dennis Gross daily face pads.
I've talked about this miracle worker before, but I've been using these pads for years now, and my love affair only increases. I'm 36 now, and maybe it's wishful thinking, but I feel like my skin looks better now than at 30, all thanks to these face peels. Every time I use one, I'm blown away by how different my skin feels. My lotion absorbs better, my foundation applies smoother, my face just feels better. (PS: they're meant for daily use, but they're pretty expensive, so I only use them 3x a week or so.)
I've recently graduated to their Advanced formula, but if you've never used them before, I'd recommend starting with the regular ones. I really feel like my skin glows more because of these little guys.
Like most writers, I'm an office supply junkie. Me walking into any office supply store with a credit card is a seriously dangerous situation. Sticky notes, pens, notebooks, notecards, binders, planners, pencils ... somebody hold me back!
But it's notebooks that are my ultimate weakness. It's probably the writer in me, but I've never been able to resist the appeal and promise of a perfectly blank journal. But. I've changed. I had a good long talk with myself, and let myself acknowledge that I can only ever write in one notebook at a time. Thus? I only need one notebook.
Once upon a time, I had an idea notebook, a paper planner, stickers, color coded everything, notecards for brainstorming, etc, etc. Now I have one notebook for everything, and a lone black pen to write with.
I use it for planning, scheduling, brainstorming, journaling, to dos, etc. I keep it in my purse, so I no longer have an “office supply” drawer (or let’s be honest, chest of drawers). With the exception of a single pad of sticky notes for the kitchen, postage stamps, and a box of stationary for handwritten thank you notes, the rest of my office supply collection was gently removed from the home.
Which notebook did I keep, you ask? It’s Rhodia's SoftCover notebook in dot grid. I prefer the dot grid because I can use it for bullet journal purposes, or I can simply use it as a regular lined notebook for journaling, etc. Why this notebook out of all the notebooks? Because Rhodia paper is exceptional. Try writing in a regular spiral notebook, or even a fancy Moleskin or Leuchtturm1917. Then use the same pen, and write on Rhodia paper. If you even remotely care about the way a pen on paper feels, I bet you’ll swoon.
Slight gripe, if I’m being all the way honest: I wish Rhodia used the same white paper in their SoftCover notebooks as they do in their other pads. The paper itself is the same buttery smooth texture across the Rhodia line, but the SoftCover notebook paper is a little more ivory in color, as though they were trying to mimic the yellow-ish paper of Mokeskin and Leuchtturm rather than the bright, cool white they use in other Rhodia pads. If anyone knows of a bound journal that uses 90gsm paper that’s also pure white, I’d love to know.
My family got me a Tiffany & Co a couple years ago, and it remains one of my favorite possessions. As mentioned, I got rid of nearly everything in the kitchen. Most of our fancy glassware, serve ware, etc. We kept only the essentials (4 white plates, 2 white bowls), and ... Tiffany mugs. Anth uses this one, I use this one. Could we find a mug for a fraction of the cost? Of course. Would it bring me as much joy every single morning as my perfect Tiffany mugs? I doubt it.
My candle collection was a surprising victim of my purge. I guess “collection” is a strong word. I wasn't a candle hound or anything, but I did have more than I realized, because ... who doesn't love a good candle? And yes, most of the candles I had around the apartment did spark joy.
But again, what sparked more joy was that feeling of having very little stuff; of seeing a shelf or surface with nothing on it. So, I went full minimal and kept only my white GlassyBaby votive holder in Celebrate. I love the clean simplicity of it, and I love that I can drop either a plain white tea light into it ambiant lighting during happy hour or dinner, or if I want a scented candle in the morning while writing, I can drop a Yankee Candle tealight in there.
I used to have a smattering of decorative items on my coffee table/sideboard and wine rack; fancily attractive coffee table books, Jo Malone candle, pretty dish, etc. Now, the coffee table stays entirely clear, and the only thing on the wine rack is my GlassyBaby, fresh flowers, and our Sonos speaker. In addition to GlassyBaby's being wonderfully minimal, elegant, and handmade, I also love their mission.
Sam Edelemen Hazel Pointed Toe Heel
I'm no Carrie Bradshaw, but I do like shoes. Specifically, I like high heels. In fact, in spring and summer, you'll find me either in Adidas Superstars or stilettos. I add boots into the mix in fall and winter, but you're unlikely to ever find me in sandals, flats, or flip flops. In fact, I haven’t owned flats in years. I don't like them.
The fact that I really only ever wear boots, Superstars or high heels means that I already had a pretty streamlined shoe collection. Which made it all the more surprising when I found myself deciding to give away almost all of my stilettos. Because I had some really cute ones! But I realized I reached for the same pair about 95% of the time: My black leather, Hazel heels from Sam Edelmen. If you hate high heels, I'm not going to try to tell you that you're going to find the 3.75 heels comfortable. But if you do like wearing heels, these are by far the most comfortable I've ever worn. I like them so much that I bought a second pair to have a spare, andthey're not that expensive. They're a fraction the price of my Stuart Weitzmen heels or my SJP ones, and so much more comfortable, so the other ones got donated via ThredUp.
Why should you care that I kept any of these things? You shouldn’t.
But if you’ve been playing around with the idea of a minimalist lifestyle, but are trying to wrap your head around what that actually looks like, I hope this post provided at least a little inspiration!