Posts from the “Style” Category

Gift Guide : Books on Simplicity

Posted on December 8, 2017

Good Books on Minimalism

He said :

“You read an excessive number of books on minimalism. What an oxymoron ! ”

She said.

“There is a certain kind of music that helps you deeply experience the silence.”

We, the humans, try to simplify for different reasons. We care about the environment. We live in tiny spaces. We are allergic to clutter. We choose quality over quantity. We don’t want to participate in the game of consumption. We found equilibrium and peace. We found happiness elsewhere. Yoga. Community negated the need to look for happiness in things. We want to be frugal. We are saving up for a better life. We are preparing for a calamity/war. We have been through a recession. We want more discipline  …. For what ever reason, I will always argue that there is a lot to be gained from this school of thought. Books about minimalism needn’t be a discourse on our relationship with things. It can be a philosophy on living that eventually leads to minimalism. That kind of wisdom is a more fool proof than a decluttering methodology. Those are the kinds of book I adore.  If I were to design a curriculum, it would look like this :

Stage 1 :

FOR THE UN-INITIATED. PLANT THE TREE.

Minimalism is not about things we don’t have or have. On the outer shell, yes, our relationship with our stuff needs to be addressed. Yes, the shell has to be broken into to get to the more substantial part. Its a start. These books try to crack the shell.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. 

I personally don’t like this book. If I read it 3 years ago, maybe I would have found it useful. It screams throw, get rid & let go. The after math of this book has been the interchangeable usage of words : decluttering / minimalism – which I find dangerous. But to the people who don’t have a habit of parting with anything and think of donating an unused item as a loss, this book might help. To the people who are overwhelmed by their stuff, it might give a fresh start. I believe there is a lightness of being that comes from less possessions. Once you see the benefits, its hard to go back. This book gives us the permission to part with things.

I would gift this book to the people in my life who are hoarders and to the ones who are terrified to declutter.

Goodbye Things, by Fumio Sasaki.

This book speaks at a very low level and uses every day anecdotes to convey the message. Its a story of how the author’s life improved after he stopped buying, stopped upgrading, stopped making decisions ONLY for the sake of money, stopped hoarding, started decluttering …. It’s minimalism 101 with lot of practical advice.

I would gift this book to the ones who are curious as to why the “M” word is trending but are too afraid to dig into it.

Lessons from Madame Chic, by Jennifer Scott.

This would be a great starting point to any un-assuming soul. There is something in there that strikes a chord for even the most materialistic person. The author chases quality of life and learns to say ‘NO’ to clutter. This book was my first. If my introduction to minimalism was from a view point of a spartan life that resembles poverty, I would have run the other way. She packaged it as a high quality life and I immediately signed up. I wanted the nice (second hand) things that come at the expense of buying less.

I would gift this book to the upper middle class/wealthy people in my life who live the typical consumeristic lifestyle. The ones who love their stuff and would never give minimalism a chance.

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did not Buy, by Sarah Lazarovic. 

This book is like a walk through a museum. The walls have these pretty paintings. Each painting has a message. The message is loud and clear, without being preachy. Its thought provoking. Its inspiring. Its relatable to all of us.

Sometimes, we consume out of a habit. That is what we are used to. That is what we see around us. We are a product of the people we surround ourselves with after all ! This book addresses the habit.

A perfect gift for the pre-teens/teens. Bleed them early.

Stage 2 :

GROW THE ROOTS. BOOKS THAT BECOME YOUR FLESH AND BLOOD.

If we are still talking about things – buying/getting rid, its still scratching the surface of it all. But sitting down to figure where else to find the happiness is the crux of the solution. Without that, you could relapse and fall into a buy&cull pattern of consumption masquerading as minimalism. These books address the core of the issue. Digs deeper. Take us to uncomfortable places. Asks those hard questions. Shows us alternate lifestyles :

Sustainable Happiness

I LOVE this book. I would gift it to each one of you if I could. The title is incredibly cheesy, but … 12 authors, 12 chapters, pure wealth. If I were to recommend only one book from this list, let it be this one. Its easy to read. Each chapter genuinely made me happy and taught me something. It put emphasis on human relations. It had amusing stories dug out of the history books. You can read the introduction here. Tell me if you are not intrigued.

Art de la Simplicite, by Dominique Loreau.

Florie of La nife en l’air, one of my favorite blogs, now retired, would reference this book a lot. Said she was inculcating it chapter by chapter. I was stuck in a decluttering bubble for an entire year. When the english translation of this book dropped, I could discover a whole life/lifestyle philosophy for myself. It covers each aspect of a lifestyle and talks about finding the essentials that improve the quality of it. Concentrates on what is, instead of what isn’t. If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, this book really tries to help.

An Abundance of Less, by Andy Couturier.

Stories of 10 individuals celebrating life by following their passions. We dont hear such stories anymore because they would have been branded as not worldly enough and simpleton. This book reminds me of the lives lead by my ancestors, as I remember it. They keep the good aspects of rural living and live rather modern lives.

Stage 3 :

WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY, THE TEACHER WILL APPEAR.

Minimalism is not always packed as a decluttering technique or a spartan life. It can be a by-product of finding a passion that consumes you so much and gives you infinite happiness. A great happiness that makes stuff irrelevant. Makes it easy to let go and do the needed. I am ready to learn. I see the philosophy embedded in all of these books as a background score.

Explained through pursuit of knowledge : Razors Edge, by S Maugham.

This is my favorite book of all time. I re-read it and will never get over my love for the protagonist, Larry. He is an ideal human, in my landscape. The M word is never used, but we see Larry’s life change as he lets go of layers of needs that the society taught him he needed. What’s left is a man who pursues love and knowledge.

Explained through living one with nature : Walden, by Thoreau.

Thoreau was on the extreme end of the spectrum. Some even speculate that he died young because of malnutrition. Its definitely not a text book for living, but if you love nature / hike / camp, you can identify with what he writes. Its a classic for a good reason. He managed to slow down time to an extent that he gets to single out and meditate on the beauty of a single raindrop from the storm.

Simplify – Year 2, Reflections

Posted on December 1, 2017

( Forgive my blurry photos. I forgot to pack my tripod. )

 OOTD : Navy cashmere Sweater – Everlane. Leggings – J. Brand. Boots – Churchs.

Currently Listening : The Waking up Podcast, Sam Harris 

To the Moon and Back :

A few scientists in the Silicon Valley believe that in our lifetime, we, the common folk can visit a neighboring planet or a satellite. While I talk about sustainability on Earth, they talk of colonizing/inhabiting other planets as the future of mankind. Space travel should be something I can put on my bucket list and realistically save money for, they tell me. “Earth is so beautiful, why should I bother”, I ask. “Don’t be that person who refuses to travel outside your country out of some tribal sense of pride. To be curious, to experience, to explore, to invent, to collaborate and to create, is our learning pathway”, I get told. I got a taste of what its like to live in a NASA photograph while camping out at Joshua Tree National Park. The millions of stars visible to the naked eye, the big rocks, the topography, the cold nights, the vast emptiness …. A night at the Indian Cove Campground felt like a visit to the outer space. Nothing could have prepared me for it. No photograph nor my words can capture what can be experienced. I could really see the milky way !!! We lit a fire under the rocks and ate supper staring at the sky. We tried to stay awake and stare at the moon window of our tent for as long as possible. If you fall asleep, its gone and you got to wait another day to experience it again. The daytime is a different reality – dust, sand, wind, cactus, rocks & the sun. Please go if you can !

 Left : You get your own little cave under the rocks. A camp fire never felt this primitive and raw. 
Right : The stars visible from the moon window on top of our tent. Lay in silence and stare till you fall asleep. 

SIMPLIFY, YEAR 2 REFLECTIONS

It gets easier.

Simplify – Year 1, reflections.

I am thankful that I am not a refugee with no home & no future prospects. I am living a normal happy life. I am an immigrant. The news hints at how quickly the status quo can change given the times we live in. I am very thankful for the circumstances, ideologies and the nations that make it safe for me.

“What do you have enough of?” My answer would be really really long. I bought and bought over the years … and ran out of things I need. The FOMO is subsiding and I am okay with not collecting backups. I like what I own very much and there is only so much I can use+appreciate. I am okay with admiring beautiful garments I see in stores/runway and walk away with one thought – “isn’t it stunning?”. I need not attach the lines “I need it” to every item I find attractive.

Wearing a uniform has liberated me from the trends and temptation. I look at garments with a navy blue filter fitted to my eyes and can weed out most of the options. I can look at a stunning coat and tell myself that ‘my navy blue one looks great on me. I want to wear it more often’. If I spot a beautiful navy blue shirt dress, I can tell myself ‘mine is perfect. It has 2 more years of heavy use left in it. I am sure I can find the exact dress by Stevan Alan or something similar after 2 years. I don’t need to buy this one now.” Durable and practical clothes work on my behalf and give me good returns for the money spent.

I never formally did a capsule wardrobe other than put away the linens during fall and the woolens during spring. The right fabrics/silhouettes for the right season is my method. A capsule wardrobe is a frame of mind, rather than a set of clothes. You know how much you can realistically use, wear and love. You stick to the tried and tested formulae. You buy clothes that are easy to pair and work for everyday. You are trained to say ‘enough’ more often than ‘I need ___’. Its a frame of mind, not a count of garments. You do capsules and your brain automatically rewires itself on the concept of what a closet should look like. Once you see the benefits, its hard to relapse into excess and consumerism. An area of excess in my closet is my shoes. Instead of making me feel (rich with options)/(happy), they remind me of my greed. I can no longer revel in excess. I am overwhelmed by it.

Failures : On that note, I don’t know what to do about my shoes. They have become a case of concorde fallacy. That being said, I cant stop buying more. It will take me 20 years to wear out all the shoes I own.

There is a happiness when you can make decisions based on your priorities and aren’t zombie walking a prescribed path. It has been a relief. ( I dumped my Zara stock and can finally bash fast fashion without implicating myself. It wasn’t a smart financial move but its too much of a conflict of interest with what I write on the blog. ) I am proud of the zero waste habits I could inculcate. Just like you get used to the conveniences, I learnt that you get used to the inconveniences pretty quickly.

A tiny home has been working great for our family in terms of space. Our friends are pretty laid back people. I have made a few of them sleep under the dining table with our camping bedding/outside in a tent during sleepovers, and it was fine. Its not easy when the elder in the family visit. They are used to a different lifestyle. Harsha does experience some embarrassment when people visit. I, on the other hand, am the one reading about minimalism and the zero waste blogs, think this should be the normal. Its my theory that you get used to the inconveniences rather fast and we still live a very privileged lives. We will find a middle ground in the future, I hope.

I gave up eating lamb and beef. We cook chicken at home once every 10 days. The craving has definitely reduced. When we go out to restaurants with a group of people, I seem to go straight for the meat dishes. Going cold turkey on meat has always back fired on me. I am hoping that the consumption slowly reduces with time. Or atleast till Silicon Valley makes lab grown meat.

 

Hobbies were another area I scaled back. No, I dont really sketch or paint anymore. No, I wont become a food scientist. I dont need all the circuits I have to built at-home devices. I dont need more tools. I don’t need to cook food for all the cuisines of the world. Keep it simple. Pick one hobby and get good at it. I pick photography.

We slept in the forest under the stars for 22 days this year. Great conversations and the great outdoors is what I crave the most.

Exercise is the cure for lot of ailments in life. It’s more sustainable than buying stuff to catch happiness/escape the hardships of life.

The society we live in does not make it easy. ( I am no saint here. I link products on my blog. ) There is a constant chatter of what to buy next and whats on sale. Ethics are always “ethics”. Sustainability is always “sustainability”. Science has become “science” to the climate change deniers. If you decide to do things differently, its not an easy path from then on. But it all gets easier with time.

The profit from this year’s blog affiliate income has been donated to hurricane relief for Puerto Rico. Harsha and I went there on our honeymoon in 2012. The people were wonderful to us. On one of the islands, we rented a bike instead of a car at the airport. Riding the uphills with our luggage on a bike was a struggle. Passersby stopped and give us a ride to our hotel in their truck. There was another island where our car broke down in the middle of nowhere. A dozen strangers stopped by to see if they can repair the car. When that didn’t work out, a magnanimous stranger drove us to the airport which was 10 Kms away. We missed that flight. The pilot gave me a big hug to calm me down and managed to put me on the next flight out. I was a militant vegan back in the day. At one restaurant, they had nothing on the menu for me. The waiter took me into the kitchen and asked me to point at the vegetables I liked. The chef then made a stir fry. They made jokes about taking me to the farmers market the next morning and letting me pick out my vegetables, if I wanted to come back for dinner next day. I can easily write down 10 other stories of how help came to us when we didn’t even ask for it. If you clicked on the links through this blog, please know that you contributed to the relief fund. Thank you !


(Very important) Question of the week :

What do you have enough of ? Do you ever ask your self this question ?

( Should we keep it to closet talk or extend it to life in general ? ) 

 

White Noise : November Edition

Posted on November 24, 2017

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Art work by Jenny Kroik

WTF ?!!!! ( this is apparently a joke on the logo mania )

Quote of the month :

Dont only practice your art. Force your way into its secrets. For it and knowledge can raise men to divine.

– Beethoven

While the mythical French woman is revered, this French lady who is fashion royalty has been enjoying the laid back elements of American dressing.

Discovered a Style Advice Column : The Essential Man.

I wish I wrote this post. This is exactly how I think but it never translated into words when I write my posts. His leather jacket  buying guide is state of art. All of us bloggers should aspire to understand the garments and process when we write reviews. Or not write reviews at all.

These tumblr accounts : 1 & 2 .

The environmental cost of free two-day shipping.

This bottle brush.

Dinner jackets : black & pinstripes.

Modest Dressing, as a virtue ?

195 commonly propagated climate change myths and their explanations with references from peer reviewed scientific journals.

On Feminism. By Sam Harris.

This fantastic kitchen shelf.

This house tour.

I watched this video on vintage shopping in New York City and wanted to book a ticket right away. Same with Paris.

Clothes in which you can move. I predict that practical clothing is the only kind that will survive time as we evolve.

Can I swap lives with this creature ?

Should we kill animals to conserve them ?

Tribute to Azzedine Alaia : by Prima Darling, by Classiq, by The Guardianby Vanessa Friedman, by Vogue,  by Dress Like a Parisian. by i.D Magazine.

Which type of minimalist are you ?

Aesthetic : They don’t necessarily own less, but they certainly have less on display.

Essential : They are obsessed with using less, having less and paring down their belongings to only the ultimate basics.

Experimental : You might also call them “backpack” minimalists for their ability to fit their entire life into a bag and be ready for anything.

Sustainable : Their focus is on green living: reducing their dependence on, consumption of and harm to the environment.

Thrifty :  the end goal is about spending less rather than using less. They embrace minimalist tendencies because of their financial mindset.

Mindful : They practice sensible moderation not for any particular financial, ecological or aesthetic reasons, but purely in search of their own peace of mind.

What type of minimalist are you ?

 

Letters to Santa

Posted on November 19, 2017

People in my life who once used to spoil me are now terrified to get me a present !

Thanks to my ruthless decluttering tendencies, an idea of minimalism that I am pursuing and my disapproval of goods not ethically made, I have made sure that nobody gives me gifts anymore.  I sometimes go to my father and ask for things on my birthday – because he is the only one will oblige me.  Harsha believes in tough love and does not think I need more things. All in all, considering how much I own and how much I don’t want to own, I am glad things are not being showered upon me. But if they were …. here is a letter.

santa

Everlane black denim. ( 98% cotton, 2% stretch, my ideal composition. Jet black. Made responsibly. 11oz. 68$, too good to be true. My black jeans are no longer black. They are ashy. But I cant throw them out for a newer pair. I will wear them till they are usable. I hope Everlane keeps this style around in their permeant collection. )

Le Chameau Rain boots. ( We currently live on the country side. I wear my regular shoes in the mud which has been not that big of a hassle but its not good for the shoes. I keep putting this purchase off thinking I will move away from here into a more urban landscape soon enough. Also, ankle boot length might be more appropriate given where I live.)

National Park annual pass. ( We get this every year. We would spend way more money if we were paying at each park’s entrance. )

Bradley Mountain backpack.

Waste & Want, A social history of trash. ( Don’t know why I need to read this but I do.)

The Cooking Gene, A history of African American culinary from old South by a respected food historian. ( Now that my sister lives in Baton Rouge, I get to try out the food. I might as well learn something about it before my next visit. I want to be that annoying prick in the room who tells the locals how their beloved food came to being. )

 


 

Okay Santa, get to work now. You know where I live. I prefer the books in a digital format. If you can also get me a rescue dog and somehow convince my landlord to let me adopt Cinco, I would be very grateful.

Outfit : Navy Sweater

Posted on November 17, 2017

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Outfit : Everlane sweater. R13 denim (secondhand). Church’s Boots. (secondhand) Vintage YSL scarf

Currently Reading : An Abundance of Less

Mood : Is it the Thanksgiving weekend yet ?

Tune on Repeat : What Heroes Do.

Little Victories :

This is the first year as an immigrant where I am enjoying the chilly outdoors. Cashmere sweaters help.

This is the first November where I haven’t skipped on my exercise routine or scaled it back because of the weather. Jackets and socks help.

Little Pleasures :

A good hot dark dark drinking chocolate as soon as I wake up.

Tea candles in a lavender oil diffuser in the evenings.

Tea.

Camping socks.

A scarf every single day.

Extra sleep under a warm blanket.

I feel rich :

My stack of sweaters. I have 3 !! Red, Navy and gray.

We got a beer advent calendar for the holiday season. The word got around and our friends are dropping by to “check out” the calendar. Cinco, the too-curious-for-his-own-good cat, the cardboard box connoisseur, is not allowed near it.

An upcoming road trip to Joshua Tree National forest and San Diego. We are loading up on our playlists and podcasts for the drive.

Winner of the Cuyana Clutch 

I’ve made many of the mistakes you mentioned and hopefully have learned and trip up less frequently. But…just this past month I got impatient because I couldn’t find what I was looking for and just bought something that neither serves the right purpose, nor makes me feel good. Pants. For the love of all things holly, why are all the pants theses days cropped, stepped and shark bitten, flood water high, cutting the calf in half, ripped, distressed, made to look vintage (thanks very much but I can wear my own damn clothes out over time), released hem, etc. Cropped wool pants? Wtf? I do wear ankle bearing pants in the spring and summer. But in the fall and winter, I want warm ankles. I just want a pair of wool, lined (who am I kidding—even expensive designers send unlined pants to the market!) straight leg pants. So yea, I made the mistake of falling victim to the trends instead of having to really hunt to find something suitable and long lasting. Oh, and no, I don’t live in a big city with access to good thrift shopping or good department stores. Truly, the environment would thank us if we just removed the word “trending” from our vocabulary!!!

– Debi


Question of the week :

Should the outfit/garments NOT be common place for you to derive pleasure from it ?

 

A blog post by The Scarlet Window that puts forth the term ‘mass manufactured with no individuality’.

Is homogenization of personal style same as ‘mass manufactured with no individuality’ ?

 

 

Outfit : The Zero

Posted on November 11, 2017

Before the last of the leaves fell off the only tree in our yard that has fall colors, I managed to get a picture with it. I wore my plainest clothes to celebrate this occasion. I see them as my way of fitting into nature. I do not want compete with the beauty of it with imitated prints and catchy colors. Nature does it best. (Alexander McQueen’s creations deserve an honorable mention.) I want to be the noir canvas. My role is to – observe, enjoy, blend, photograph and be in sync. Ofcourse, I don’t stand under a tree all day or prance in nature all the time. ( I wish I did ! ) Plain clothes fit well in all the places I dwell and add the much needed negative space to the visual clutter that surrounds me. The natural fibers offset the plastics, traffic, pollution, florescent lighting and electronics that surround me. My clothes shield me from the dust of the world. An all black outfit is my ‘I am here to see, not to be seen‘ sign.

Cat, trees & pants : c/o (Saint) Fernando, my landlord. 

Outfit : Raw denim : R13. Wool turtleneck : Cuyana (1, 2, 3, 4). Flats : Jil Sander square toe ballerinas. Lip Color : Clinique Black Honey. (Plan to switch to this cleaner alternative once done.)

Mood : Deadline on Monday. Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock. 

Tune on Repeat : Neeye 

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Style Notes :

Taste is what you buy. Style is how you wear it.

For layering t-shirts : Merino Wool > Second hand Cashmere > Wool Cashmere blend.

Colder months is when I enjoy wearing jewellry. Dark navy blues and black turtle necks form the perfect canvas to host them. One absorbs light, other reflects it – compounds the effect.

A pair of rose gold studs would have been that little constellation to this outfit.

I own a long station necklace that loops around the neck with tiny stones that reflect just the right amount light. I see that hint of sparkle when I look in the mirror or when out in the sun.

My rule with jewellry : The stones should sparkle like the stars in the night sky, tiny and subtle. The metal should exist in harmony like the moon in the night sky, luminous but muted. Sparkle, not glare. Subtle, not catchy. I wont let shiny metals and stones be the first thing one notices in my outfit. No statement jewellry for me. I prefer to do my own talking, thank you very much.

A thin neck scarf on top of the turtle neck would make it evening wear ready. ( Alexa Chung showed me how. ) Extra point if its knotted on the back with a bow at the nape of the neck and hair tied up in a bun.

Block heels would have given me better proportions, but my feet come surgically attached to ballet flats.

All black outfit and a small dusty pink bag is my idea of colors paired well. I like this outfit paired with a beige tote bag – makes it humbler. Looking humble and simple deserves to be celebrated too, like the society celebrates looking expensive and glamourous. ( Bay Area understands this sentiment ! )

A brown belt would have grounded the outfit. A black belt with a muted gold buckle would have been the most organic way to include metal into the outfit.

My preferred way of dressing up any outfit is by wearing more interesting shoes – mary janes, colorful shoes, printed shoes, lace up flats, ….

Currently Reading :

THE ABUNDANCE OF LESS

The Book. ( Recommended by Classiq ).

Not a single line in there is about throwing out stuff or looking down upon things. There is no counting of things and a rush to own the least amount possible. Because people in there haven’t bought much to begin with. Its about lives that revolve around finding sustainable happiness instead consuming things to catch happiness. The author interviews 10 individuals who have created a life of a different kind of luxury, that an un-initated person may look down upon as poverty. They all chose to improve their Gross Happiness Index by designing their life around their passions.  This book is intense. Makes most other book on minimalism that I have read  – a simplified map for tourists to latch on to, for a brief period of time while touring. Some lines :

The way of tea is one of humility and poetic sentiments, not of grandiosity and gorgeousness.
I get scared when I am busy. For one thing, I might get in a rush and forget something and have an accident working with my kiln. But even more importantly, if Im too busy, I might overlook something magnifieicent and splendid, like a rare mushroom in the forest ... and who knows when I might see such an amazing thing again ?
We all live with contradictions. You have to decide which contradictions you can abide with and which you cannot. For me what cannot be tolerated are the things that threaten the kiseki of life itself.
Ever since I was a child, I always looked at the hills behind where we live and wanted to know what was on the other side. Many people are satisfied with where they are and with what they have. I don't jude that at all, but for me, as soon as I was able, maybe seven years old, I got on a busy by myself  to see what was in the next town. As I got older I would go farther and father away. Eventually I had seen a lot of Japan, but I still wanted to know what was beyond. By that time I was working and had a steady income, but I had the same yearning. I wanted to know what was on the other side of the ocean.
A craft persons job is half meditation, half creation. It takes creativity to design whatever you are working on, but it takes meditation to do it right. Making things with ones own hands cultivates a certain generosity and openness of the heart. It nourishes that state of mind in the craftsperson themselves, which is intimately connected with an entire way of life.
What is beautiful ? Everyday things; things that are used in daily life by ordinary people. The beauty of usefulness.
I ask Nakamura what he usually does on days like today. "Sometimes I carve woodblocks, or read, but mostly, when I have nothing to do, I just stare into the fire" ... "Do you feel that you are living a life of luxury? " Luxury ? No, not luxury. Its an ordinary life. But I do feel an abundance, a sense of plenty. A hundred years ago, I would not have been able to choose what kind of life to live, I feel very lucky to be living in this age."
With the flurry of stimuli that is this world, sometimes its hard to know whats important. The ten thousand distractions hold out their promises and we forget what we really need. How can we avoid getting lost in the supermarket of diluted ideas that is our modern culture ?

To be updated as I read along … This is not a book to be rushed into.


Question of the week ( from Women in Clothes

Do you consider yourself photogenic ? When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think ?

Style Mistakes from my 20s

Posted on November 3, 2017

Style Mistakes

America is soon going to slip into a shopping frenzy. Maybe its a good time to introspect and learn from the past. The wiser people who write quotes that go viral often write :There are no failures, just opportunities to learn. Alright, alright! But we still have to discuss the mistakes to learn. As I write this, I realized that I have made them all. I almost qualified for the click bait title ’20 shopping mistakes to avoid in your 20s’ but it felt too eeek to go through with it. I was the cliche they talk about before the discourse on the benefits of a minimalist closet begins. Here they are :

1. Not having a plan

I am an immigrant. America and Western civilization was a fresh start with respect to dressing. I wanted to wear everything I saw on campus. Everything I could never wear in India. Everything that I fantasized about. Everything I saw on MTV. Denim shorts. Tube tops. Tank tops. You could wear sweatpants to class. Coming from a more rigid traditional society, I wanted to swing to this extreme and try everything out. I never once sat down and decided that I needed 3 pairs of jeans, 10 shirts, 1 jacket and 1 coat AND STOPPED THERE. It was all haphazard. I accepted all the free tshirts and hand me downs that came my way. ‘Buy when something is cheap without looking at the bigger picture’, was my plan. “How much do I really need” & “How much can I really wear”, was never honestly answered. I was in this mindless accumulation pipeline while under the impression that I was being frugal. I could have greatly benefitted from Project 333 back then.

2. Confused Identity

After I emigrated, my identity became – ‘brown girl’. To my fellow Indian immigrants, I became ‘another immigrant trying to make it’. Most of my peers who came fresh off the boat with me would go to Aeropostale/American Eagle/Gap/Polo and buy clothes with logos/brand name splashed on top. A preference towards – bright printed tops and blue jeans. I didn’t like that style of dressing and maybe I saw a need to stand out but keep the Indian influence. Free People came to the rescue. They had Isabel Marant-esque clothes in Indian fabrics. It had interesting shapes that are not the ‘boring tshirt’. I experimented a lot and was buying clothes not suited to my lifestyle. It led to a lot of wasted money.

3. Clothing sizes

When I landed in America, everyone around me would tell me that I was lucky for being a size 0. It was unfortunately the first thing people saw when they met me. I think I took it as a compliment and smiled when I heard it. I would go to the stores and only try on a 0. It would fit okay, and I would walk out with the garment. I never even tried a size up to see how it fits or if its more comfortable. I thought you were meant to buy the smallest size you fit into. I now know that clothes look better on me when I size up. It puts less stress on the seams of my clothes and gives me a relaxed fit. I can bike in them. I can work in the garden wearing them. I can take a nap on the couch and stretch. They last longer. I know that I can continue to wear them even if I put on some weight. Get over the numbers, understand fit.