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Exploring Minimalism: Doing MORE With LESS

Caroline ZookCaroline Zook Caroline ZookCaroline Zook

Written by

Caroline Zook

Exploring Minimalism: Doing MORE With LESS

As you guys know, I’m no stranger to life experiments. 

Whether it’s a 30-day lettering challenge or trying out veganism for a month, I’ve always been a big fan of making big intentional changes in my life to see where they might lead.

It’s always been my theory that if you want feel a big shift in your perspective, you have to make big shifts in your daily existence.

Well, here I am again, ready to make a shift.

Last week, as I was catching up on one of my email newsletters, Jess Lively mentioned something at the bottom of her email that caught my eye:

“Recently I read a (new to me blog) called Un-Fancy from start to finish – something I haven’t done in a loooong time. I’m obsessed with Caroline’s capsule collection concept of living with a limited number of clothing pieces each season.”

I was intrigued. And wouldn’t you know it, the link brought me to a cute lil’ blog called Un-Fancy, where I devoured post after post of Caroline’s documented journey to maintaining a “capsule wardrobe.” I had never heard of a capsule wardrobe before and I tore through each post with a deep fascination. I felt like Jack The Pumpkin King in The Nightmare Before Christmas… ♫ “What’s this? What’s this? There’s style everywhere…” ♫ (Any fans in the house? No? You’ll have to excuse me… I think that’s the October talking…)

Anyway, after some extensive Googling/Pinterest searching, I found that the specifics vary slightly in terms of number of items, what counts/doesn’t count, etc. but in general a capsule wardrobe is the concept of narrowing down your whole wardrobe to under 40 items for a season. In Caroline’s case, she goes with 37 pieces, including shoes. The idea is to have pieces that you absolutely LOVE and then you can mix and match them to create an endless slew of different outfits. The creative in me loved that part especially, and I appreciated that on Un-Fancy, Caroline shows each daily outfit so you can see how her 37 pieces can translate to different outfits/occasions.

So it got me thinking: how many pieces do I have in my own wardrobe (hint: a lot) and how many of those pieces do I actually wear on a regular basis (hint: not a lot.)

We all know how overwhelming it can be to look into our over-crowded closets and think to ourselves I have NOTHING to wear. Umm… that’s never actually true. It’s just that with all the options, it’s hard to really SEE what we have. It sounds strange, but I suddenly realized that less options = more creative room to build outfits.

Sometimes by taking things away you make the space to gain something else. 

And so this whole idea of minimalism started making a lot of sense to me.

But keep in mind, Jason and I are no strangers to the idea of minimalism. We had the great fortune of meeting and befriending two of perhaps the most visible minimalists in the country, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Known simply as (surprisingly) “The Minimalists,” Joshua and Ryan run a blog all about their journey with minimalism, and we’re lucky enough to call them friends. We have heard both of them share their own personal stories about what led them to build a life with less, and over the past two years they have inspired several conversations in our household about what it means to live a more minimal existence.

Among some of our changes, we’ve tried to stop giving gifts on special occasions (and instead we opt for trips or experiences) and we now think much more critically about our purchases. The key question we ask ourselves (at The Minimalists recommendation) is “Does this thing bring me value?” It’s not an exaggeration to say that that one question has changed our lives.

See, minimalism isn’t about being able to fit all your worldly possessions in a backpack. It’s simply about conscious, intentional consumption, whatever that looks like for you. It’s about being mindful of the things we acquire.

As many of you know, Jason and I are moving to San Diego soon. The first step in that process is selling the house, and so we had our favorite photographer Laura Evans come over to shoot the house yesterday. To prepare for the shoot, we did a deep clean and clear out of every room in the house, and I have to say, I was kind of appalled at how much STUFF we had accumulated over the years. When you see it all out in the open like that and you realize that’s how much money you’ve spent on things that you don’t even use on a daily basis, it puts things into perspective for you. I kept thinking, How much money could we have saved? How many more trips and experiences could we have had? 

All of this swimming around my head, I finally decided to bite the bullet and try my hand at the capsule wardrobe thing. First step, I whittled my wardrobe down to only my favorite pieces (about 50) and I sold the rest of it. I still have some decisions to make (I’d love to get that number down to about 35-40) but I already feel so much better. It’s amazing the mental and emotional weight holding on to things can carry with us. This morning I felt lighter somehow and unbelievably excited as I faced my refreshingly sparse closet.

Anyway, I’ll keep you guys updated on the experiment, but in general this week I wanted to encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself:

What’s one area of your life where you could use a little LESS?

Maybe it’s something related to your environment, like me. Maybe your closet needs a good clean out, or it’s finally time to de-clutter that desk of yours. But maybe it’s deeper than that.

Maybe your minimalism extends to social media, like Jason, my better half, who is currently going social-media-free for the month of October.

Maybe you could use more minimalism in your commitments. Could you benefit from saying “No” a bit more so you can go deeper and give more to the things you’re currently doing? Could you take on fewer clients for more money, less complaining for more joy, maintain fewer acquaintances and enjoy deeper friendships?

Whatever it is, this week I challenge you to shed the excess. 

And feel free to share your experiences with me by replying to this email. I’d love to know how you plan to do MORE with LESS.

Have an awesome week, you guys! Remember, life is a gift, so let’s show our appreciation accordingly.

Exploring Minimalism: Doing MORE With LESS

(Big Fat Takeaway)


This article written by

Caroline Zook

She/Her | Artist, designer + writer passionate about helping soulful creatives grow into their brightest selves. Lover of bright colors + even brighter people! One half of the crazy duo running these parts!

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