I used to be a compulsive shopper.
In high school, I acquired ‘bargain’ items on a nearly weekly basis, and I never got rid of anything, even if it was too small. Each morning I allowed half an hour for dress-up sessions, enjoying the challenge of making successful combinations. I took great pride in a friend’s comment: “I’ve never seen you wear the same outfit twice.”
Now most of these pieces were bargains for a reason. The fit was awkward. The buttons were stiff. But never fear! I would work around those things. Fashion challenge.
Despite my massive collection of clothes, I was becoming more and more fascinated by minimalism: the philosophy that less is more. The phenomenon that swept the internet: people were downsizing, and it seemed to make them happier. “I could never do that,” I thought. Until I got into Oxford.
It was my bigger than big dream to study in my favourite, most academical and fantastical place in the world. Actually getting in was so surreal that I hadn’t considered the practicalities until reality struck. When it came time to move across the Atlantic, I looked at my one suitcase and I looked at my closet, and I decided to be a minimalist. I could view this as a disaster, or as a new kind of fashion challenge. I decided to take the challenge.
Advice from Reality TV:
I packed only the most versatile, most me clothes I owned. And after a few weeks, I noticed that I was feeling more fashionable than ever. I thought about something Clinton Kelly said on What Not to Wear: “Limitation fosters creativity”. I can’t remember the original context, but it has become my minimalist mantra. With fewer options, I come up with more combinations. I never would have thought to layer t-shirts over cocktail dresses. Or wear two pairs of tights at once. Or attend a black tie event wearing a sleeping bag cape. Whenever I have a costume occasion, minimalism guides me: I worked my Queen of Hearts Halloween costume around my tutu dress and my Winnie the Pooh Disneybounding around my yellow Pac Man dress.
The funny thing is, a year into my minimalist plunge, another friend said, “You must have loads of clothes. I’ve never seen you wear the same thing twice.” I was shocked. I wear the same things all the time. But because I embrace minimalism as a style challenge, I find more creative ways to mix things up. Sometimes just because I haven’t done laundry. Hey, running shorts and heels can look pretty cool.
Limitation can lead to creativity in all sorts of realms:
♡ I learn new recipes by googling ingredients that need using up.
♡ I never buy wrapping paper, instead making my own out of scraps.
♡ I wrote this blog post by limiting myself to Ollivander Mo‘s prompt: how do you incorporate magic and creativity into your daily life? And I think that worked out okay, right?
How does limitation foster creativity for you?
P.S. If you liked this anecdote, there are more like it in my ebook, Becoming My Own Heroine.