Becoming Minimalist: Thoughts On Mindful Shopping

Embracing minimalism started with my move to London two years ago.

As I wrote about, there's nothing quite like the task of getting all of your items from a rented apartment in Brooklyn to a rented flat in southwest London to really make you think about what you own. Picture many, many suitcases, a shipping drop-off center, a waiting period, a van driver's buzz at the front door, and a girl answering that door and dragging her belongings up the stairs one...step...at a time to her new second floor flat.

If that doesn't convince you to clean up and clear out well then christ, not much will.

Favorite new shorts cut from my husband's old pants; beloved Chinti & Parker striped top purchased at a Notting Hill sample sale in my early London days

Minimalism had to do with my big move, definitely. But the desire to reduce my number of belongings is an emotional choice as much as a practical one. I plan to carry much less with me when I head to North Carolina at the end of the year. And with fewer physical items, I have a renewed sense of clarity.

Quite frankly, there's just not room up there for all of that clutter.

The slow embrace of minimalism is not just about letting go of what you no longer want, need, or use, it's also about changing the way you view consumption in general. 

Let's go back for a minute. While I won't bore you with details, let's just say that I used to shop...a lot. I mean, every girl under the age of 25 shops a lot, but my love for fashion and desire to work in an industry where you "need" to look good, paired with that full, pre-recession consumerist lifestyle and shows like "The Hills" and "Rich Girls" convinced me that I needed to shop, shop again, and then again.

And man alive, it felt good.

But that good feeling that I used to get from over consuming was shallow and fleeting, and left me wanting to buy something again the next day. Which I did.

As I've aged, I've shed that desire. I believe this change to be a product of the post-recession embrace of all-things local and genuine, my personal growth, and my desire to only own things that I truly value.

Favorite black crewneck that I've worn for years; new earrings from a sweet friend at Formula

This desire to own less and enjoy more is one that's constantly evolving and growing.

Nowadays, when it comes to shopping for material goods, I try to purchase from independent designers and retailers as much as possible. It's a cliche at this point, but there really is something to say about the feeling you get from purchasing something from a favorite designer found online or that independent card shop down the street. It's the connection, and the feeling that you're doing something good for someone who will appreciate the help.

I'm lucky that my line of work occasionally leads me to these people. In fact, one of my favorite things about writing women's magazine market stories is the research aspect – I love finding small shops and new designers, meeting them, and following them as they build their businesses. I had a jewelry line with two friends in my early New York years, so I get genuine joy out of learning about small businesses, hearing the stories, and helping to spread the goodness of quality products around.

I aim for everything in my closet to either come from a maker that I know or to at least have a good story behind it. It's a goal I'm slowly working toward. Getting rid of (most of) the bigger, less-fulfilling pieces, and focusing on the smaller, more important ones.

My wear-every-day vintage Adidas sneakers bought at a Saturday market near our second flat in London

That's my definition of minimalism. It's not just clearing out your closet and stopping consumption altogether, no sir.

For me, minimalism is about getting rid of anything that doesn't mean something real, and giving the things that do a place to shine.

What's your favorite place to shop? It can be a small business or a large business – no judgement here. Leave a comment and let me know!

This is the third installment of a multi-part series on embracing minimalism. Read part one here, and part two here.