Fresh start at fifty

Minimalising

Oh my wordicles! Everyone appears to be decluttering, minimalising, scandivising and just generally chucking their lifetime’s accumulation of stuff into the metaphorical and often actual bin - yikes! Surely I will need that incomplete set of twelve cocktail glass stem rings that aunty whoever bought me for my twenty first? (Why is it always aunties that are picked on?). Anyway, what if I hate minimalism and all these boring old white walls and drawers with no nobs on (how impractical)?

Minimalst interior styling - bathroom

Minimalizing as Streamlining

Well let me clarify two frequent misconceptions here; firstly, some people like and need a lot of things around them; we all differ in what brings us comfort; secondly, minimalising is NOT necessarily about adopting a minimalist lifestyle nor is it about minimal décor. Whilst those things are, well … things, they are not for the majority and are a separate subject.

Beauty in simplicity

Beauty in simplicity

One could be living in a minimally decorated house with one of fifty shades of white on the walls and monochrome cats, yet still have an impeccably ordered dressing room with cupboards accommodating the largest collection of clothes, toiletries, beauty gadgets, cosmetics etc, many of which are simply gathering dust. That is not a minimalist lifestyle, it is minimalist décor. They often go hand in hand and although my aesthetic preferences lean towards an uncluttered, but still cosy look, that doesn't have to be your bag.

Whenever I have moved house, the best part has been sorting and discarding stuff I no longer need, never really needed or that has outlived its use - fleecy lama pants? Be gone! Contraception no longer required here! (Sniggers unapologetically). The process has been cathartic and strangely liberating. Aren’t we bizarre creatures? We feel great when we get rid of stuff, then feel even better when we go out and buy more stuff!

Marie Kondo, Appreciation and Sparking Joy

Minimal interiors small window

Personally, I like to settle for a kind of compromising ‘cosy minimalism’. This means that I do not like to be surrounded by unaccounted for stuff; I have to know what is in every drawer and do not want things that are neither beautiful nor useful. For clarity, if something is neither aesthetically beautiful nor practically useful yet makes you happy, it may well, on reflection, deserve both labels. Beauty is not limited to aesthetics and anything that adds personal value should be considered useful. As Marie Kondo herself advocates, the things we own, the things in our homes should ‘spark joy’. Therefore, if your ‘back end of a donkey’ costume from the only pantomime you ever starred in sparks joy, and you need to have it in your life, then keep it! However, put it somewhere where you are able to see it, sometimes, and enjoy it. I will leave that one with you my friends, so no elaborations in the comments please?

If you have no idea where or how to start, then you could do a lot worse than read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Even if you choose not to follow her method, just reading it fills you with positivity and good intentions. You can then go and do your thing, your way.

What are the Benefits to Decluttering?

Easier to find things - less stress, less timewasting, less duplicate purchases;

More chance of noticing things you love and enjoying them - the idea is not to get rid of as much stuff as possible, but to get rid of stuff that no longer serves or delights you; you are then left to enjoy what is meaningful and/or useful;

Less decisions to be made when there is less choice - who needs five spare pillows and three potato peelers in different colours anyway?

More physical space - things that should not be out, should have a home, eliminating the need to navigate an obstacle course just to retrieve aforementioned potato peeler (the blue one matches today’s outfit please?);

More head space - excess clutter can cause actual stress, whereas a calm uncluttered physical space is mirrored in the mind. To allow the mind to breathe, is to allow it to either rest, play or create according to its needs;

Calmer life - stress causes all manner of undesirable things to happen to our bodies, from frown wrinkles and hot flushes to hormonal mayhem, all of which are ageing; my tip for ageing positively? Streamline, declutter and enjoy your chosen possessions;

Easier to manage anxiety and brain fog - clutterfree spaces equal a clutterfree mind; that must surely help to lift some of the fog and facilitate..

Clearer thinking - this deserves its own line; for some, turning fifty and going through the menopause can hinder clear thinking; trouble sleeping, migraines, anxiety, hot flushes and hormone fluctuations to name but a few of the possible reasons behind this;

Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fuelled by procrastination
— Christina Scalise, Organise Your Life and More

Promotes appreciation and gratitude for what we have in our lives - now that our ‘spark joy’ pieces are not stifled by excess;

Better for the environment when you buy less and buy mindfully - using up existing products and only when they run out, replacing with thoughtful sustainable choices is the way forward;

Easier to keep your house clean and tidy - well it is simple really, less stuff equals less to tidy, less to clean and less to find a home for;

Less dust mites - well, ‘things’ are dust traps are they not?

FED61EDB-2C4D-45E4-9EFE-AB5B74C36C63.JPG

‘‘The best way to decide what we really need, is to get rid of what we don’t

Marie Kondo

I have definitely found that knowing where everything is and not wasting time rifling means that I have more headspace to tackle what I need to. The gratitude that accompanies the mindfulness of living with less, may bring about a deeper satisfaction with life and a decreased reliance on having the next ‘new’ thing. Again, it clarifies what you actually want/need, rather than what you think you should want/need.

Where to Start with Decluttering

Streamlining my wardrobe is a work in progress

Streamlining my wardrobe is a work in progress

Marie Kondo advises to start with your wardrobe, and I would agree. This involves gathering every item you own and making a pile, then the sorting begins. Why clothes first? Well, the reasoning is that clothes are generally the things we attach the least sentimentality to (there are exceptions of course; exibit A: back end of donkey costume). We tend to create the least attachment to clothes so it is probably the easiest category to start with. Believe me, I have not yet regretted any of the items I have sent to charity shops, given away or sold.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
— Leonardo da Vinci

I have some ideas for you about making a start on your wardrobes and I am happy to share them, along with a list of my favourite bloggers in this area. Click ‘comments’, and send me a message or go to ‘contact me’ and send me an email stating that you would be interested in this and I will forward you a list of handy tips that helped me, when I started to streamline my wardrobe. I am very much on a journey with this myself and am following advice from others who are nailing the living with less philosophy. You are invited on my journey and encouraged to offer your tips for simplifying your life and parting with things that you have grown unnecessarily attached to. Send me a message to say ‘Hi’ and introduce yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts.





The Instagram (Fiftygram) Party - How Our Authentic Style Can Be Compromised for the Gram

It often works like this: you sit on a Saturday morning in your fleece pyjamas (OK, your elegant White Company loungewear) and see an image of the perfect outfit on Instagram. ‘This IS ME!’ you declare to no one in particular. ‘This is SOOO me, I now know what I need to buy to make my wardrobe perfect and complete YESSS!’ All that is required is a purchase of 8 of these vests, because I will want to wear them EVERY day and an extra one just in case (of what exactly?); I will of course require those elegant pants in two colours and that long cardi for layering. Then of course there are the accessories - the cheek kissing earrings, the tantalising necklace that sits just so on your décolletage and the statement bangle. Finally, there is THE bag! The bag that will finish off the outfit, serve you every day and indicate to everyone WHO you are.

Are you a ‘keep it simple, play it safe’ kinda lady?

Are you a ‘keep it simple, play it safe’ kinda lady?

Curating Your Perfect Image in Mid-Life

Having acquired the necessary items through various means - shopping spree, eBay, charity shop or even a ‘as good as damn it’ similar item lurking in the deepest crevice of your wardrobe (it ended up there for a reason?), you excitedly attire yourself in said perfect garments to create the look of your dreams …. or not! Oh dear, what is this, at best uninspiring, at worst, f@?>+$%g ridiculous concoction of garments before you?  Where will I where this?  It’s certainly not an evening outfit but would I go shopping in it? Hell no! Would I even meet a friend for coffee in this?  Yes, if I am prepared to sit bolt upright with carefully choreographed arm movements in order to even feel comfortable. Then there’s the issue of never removing the long cardi because you forgot to buy the appropriate underwear for these pants which are tighter on your ass than you bargained for. The bangle is a pain as it bangs on the table whenever I pick my coffee cup up, the earrings get caught on my scarf and the back flies off. There is an innocent victim, a man in the corner with a strategically placed earring butterfly on the top of his head. The necklace is giving you a rash because it is made of the devil’s metal. As for the bag, well I can’t put it on my shoulder because there’s no strap, I can’t hang it on the chair for the same reason, and it doesn’t accommodate my phone, my purse and my facial reconstruction kit? 

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

On reflection, if I stand in a certain pose, look in a specific direction, bend my knee, half smile and tilt my bum/head/ shoulder just so, and on no account … walk, this outfit is perfect for what exactly? …..

… INSTAGRAM! YESSS! …

That’s it, I have the perfect look for an Instagram party! Let’s pour a glass of prosecco (that we are not going to drink at 11am) to complete the look (why open a new bottle, sparkling spring will do - they’ll never know) and let’s party!

Life is a party. Dress for it
— Audrey Hepburn

Style Matters at Any Age

There is an art to curating your perfect wardrobe at fifty or any age, and it takes practice.  I’m still practising, exhibit B: slightly yellowed T-shirt for wearing under things – Really?  If you are looking at decluttering and minimising your stash of clothes, carefully considering what works for you is key.  Otherwise, you will never feel ‘lagom’, not too much, not too little, but just right.  That place is different for everyone.  There is the further complication that your efforts to simplify your wardrobe will become futile as a steady stream of new items enters your life to fulfil the dissatisfaction you experience.  Sometimes we feel comfortable, sometimes we feel we look good; our unicorn moment is when we feel both.  The latter is of course subjective, and it only matters that ‘we feel we look good’. 

Newcastle in cable jumper

“Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it”

Audrey Hepburn

True Elegance is Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Ultimately, we only need to please ourselves.  Over fifty style is whatever enables you to walk, talk, drink, chat and stay upright without thinking about it. In my humble opinion, feeling comfortable is more conducive to engaging with our environment and the people around us, feeling at ease and smiling more; that ultimately makes us far more attractive.  We are all different, and if we are meant to wear an elaborate flamboyant unusually cut garment, we will wear it often and with ease.  It will feel right, and it will feel like YOU; if it doesn’t, why build that internal wall between your body and your mind, between your body and your authentic self?

Dress as if you are already famous
— Audrey Hepburn
Who am I kidding? I should have worn a jacket … it was freezing!

Who am I kidding? I should have worn a jacket … it was freezing!

An Outlet for Creativity

Instagram is healthy if it is viewed as art.  A beautifully curated feed with skilful photography and engaging aesthetic can be viewed as a piece of artwork.  It may serve as an inspiration for stylish interiors, yoga practice, a vegan diet and many other things.  Recognising the reality of an Instagram account’s purpose, is a healthy way to enjoy and participate in the community.  There are things I can learn, ideas I can try and beautiful words and pictures for me to enjoy.  When I’ve done that, I’m putting on my favourite jeans, top and earrings (with one butterfly missing …. Oops!) and going for a coffee ….