Marie Kondo inspired me to quit shopping. Here’s why
Words Emma Vidgen // @emma_vee
I love Marie Kondo. I love the idea of only surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy”. I love that she has started a global conversation about our relationship with “stuff”. But as a defective disciple of her flock, I’m not sure things are all that rosy on the other side of Kondo cull.
Let me explain. For the past five years I’ve been transitioning from being a full throttle maximalist to a reluctant minimalist. It started with wanting to reorganise my kitchen. I am a sucker for anything methodical (hello Virgo Sun and Capricorn rising) so when I heard about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up, I was all in. And so it began.
My clothes went next. At least 10 garbage bags filled with designer clothes, all banished to the Cat Protection Society op shop. It was exhilarating and scary and as I piled the bags into my car I laughed like a woman possessed. Throwing things away was so liberating! So exciting! Why hadn’t I done this sooner? Why don’t we just throw EVERYTHING OUT ALL THE TIME!
I was sparking so much joy from the purge, I didn’t stop to think about what the reality of my minimalist wardrobe would be. Despite my new and no doubt insufferable rhetoric as a Kondo cult member (sorry workmates) , the truth is, there was nothing conscious or mindful about it. I was, in reality, parting with bags and bags full of perfectly good clothes simply because they didn’t raise my heart rate.
Within a few months I realised the folly of my ways. Almost daily I would go looking for some non-descript item like a white t-shirt and realise it had been turfed, along with the rest of the “joyless” pieces in my wardrobe. I began replacing things almost as quickly as I’d ditched them in “binges”, fuelled by the siren song of EDMs promising a further 20 per cent off already reduced items.
Things got even more challenging when I suffered a running injury and had to take six months off training. I went up a dress size, and instead of digging to the bottom of my drawers to find my “bloat day” jeans, I had nothing to wear. All my loose and oversized “in case of emergency wear this” wardrobe hadn’t made the Kondo cut. Of course it hadn’t, those are not the kinds of clothes that spark joy. More shopping ensued.
So this year I am turning over a new leaf; this year instead of culling with reckless abandon every couple of months and then inevitably replacing some of what I lost, I am going to abstain from buying any new clothes for the whole year. I’m calling it the Mindful Fashion Experiment. Over the next 12 months I’m going to explore how to make the most of what I already have and how to fall in love with the contents of my wardrobe.
I’m intrigued to examine the urge to shop as it arises, why we feel the need to buy a new thing if we’re going somewhere special or when we’ve had a bad day, and why, no matter how many jeans I own, I’m still looking for the perfect pair.
After oil, fashion is the second largest polluter in the world and although I’m no expert, I have a hunch the most sustainable thing I can do is to refrain from buying more shit I don’t need, only to throw it out in 6/12/18 months time in a decluttering craze because it doesn’t spark joy. I see this fashion binge and purge pattern everywhere and I’m fascinated to see what happens when I try to mindfully intervene.
To be clear, I’m not anti-fashion. I don’t want to quit fashion, that’s why I decided the “Fashion Fast” was not the right name for this experiment. Fashion has always been a joyful form of creative expression for me personally, and I have no intention of depriving myself of all those good feelings. Instead, I’m looking for a different angle.
I’m not sure how I’ll go but I’ll be vlogging the whole experience, talking to stylists, experts and friends about sustainability, ethical fashion and looking for alternative ways to get my fix. If you feel inspired, join me on this journey and share your progress with me on Instagram or with the hashtag #mindfulfashionexperiment. If this sounds more like a spectator sport for you, well, wish me luck!