To Have or to Hold │ The Minimalist Way to Know How to Buy

As someone who sells vintage clothing for a living, I know a little bit about shopping. More specifically, I know about shopping therapy.

To shop for vintage clothing for my online vintage shop, I have to thrift. But, wait... that's not truthful. I don't have to thrift, I get to thrift!

Because of thrifting, and going to estate and garage sales, I inevitably see a lot of clothing. Which means I hold, touch, caress, look at, and fidget with a ton of clothing. Thousands and thousands of pieces each week.

In my quest for minimalism in my personal life, I realized that much of the ease of my transition into minimalism came because I touched and looked at clothing regularly.

In other words, I could let go of what I didn't wear because I so often looked and held clothing. This sounds esoteric, but hear me out.

Minimalism comes easily because I am deeply entrenched in slow living. Slow living relates to buying clothing that is sustainable, reusable, and of high quality. It is well made and made to last for years (unlike the fast fashion of today- think Targert, Shein, and Forever 21.)

But I see so much fast fashion in thrift stores (all the worn-once-now-discarded pieces) which keeps me from ever wanting to return to that. The land of cheap, and constant, clothing replacement is repugnant to me. 

I don't say this in pride, I say it in a humble but dedicated gesture. I used to be a part of the vicious cycle of fast fashion, never satisfied, and always wishing my closet were bigger. 

As a convert to a minimal lifestyle, I see the error in thinking fast fashion is the way to go. That cycle will never satisfy or make me feel good. I'll always want more; always need more; always be searching for the next trend.

But, that was years ago. I began the switch to minimalism in 2017 and never looked back. I was blind, but now I see.

And I see that slow fashion, the value of owning less but better quality, is the way to go. And in my quest for slow fashion, I see the error of my previous ways. I'm so much happier and content.

Why is this so? Because I've learned to value slow fashion; the quality made, the vintage, the lovely pieces made so well you don't have to keep buying. I seek slow fashion and wear slow fashion, so it's everywhere I turn because I choose it. 

But I also see a ton of fast fashion because it's my "office" for selling vintage clothing. Either fast or slow fashion, I'm touching, holding, and feeling all the fashion. This repeated afront of clothing fills my shopping desire - that filling-my-closet desire - and pretty much negates it.

So, here's a question you can ask yourself when you're shopping: Do I need this or do I just need to hold it? 

You can do this with shoes, household goods, and even furniture. Maybe all I need is to touch the sofa fabric; maybe all I need to do is hold the sweater up to me, while I tell myself I don't need it and then conclude that I have what I need as I hang it back up on the rack.

Because that's exactly what I do and it works like a charm. Here's what I do. When I see an item I like, but don't need: I possess the item in my mind. 

I put it in my hand, I feel the material and look at the label. I begin to ask more questions: Is this something I need? Do I love it? Will this replace an item in my closet that needs to be replaced? 

More often than not, just holding the item and talking through the pros and cons of the item, allows me to already "possess" the item and put it down when I see I don't need it. 

I find that I only need to hold it, not have it, to fill a temporary longing. When I do this, when I hold the item as if it's mine, and put it back, I refrain from wasting money on something I don't need. 

In the past, as a fast fashion gal, it was easy to pick up random stuff I wanted to buy. This was a normal thing, right? I'd swing by Target for bread and milk but also swing by for a pair of denim shorts and a tank top (that I truly didn't need). 

Unfortunately, without a clear concept of what I owned in my wardrobe and what I wore regularly, it only added to the chaos of my closet.

When I act as if I am already in ownership of the item, I'm psyching myself out while I'm shopping and keeping myself in check.

So, get out there and shop if you need to. But remember, shopping doesn't have to mean you're there to buy. Sometimes, all you need is to window shop, and yet, window shopping isn't even close to what I do. 

With my concept of having versus holding, you get to hold the item in your hand, and go through all of the tough questions, not just look at the piece.

When I'm out sourcing for my vintage store, I see pieces that could fit well into my wardrobe. But almost always (nearly every time) it's an item that looks good, and is to my taste, but I do not need it.

So, I hold it up to me, feel the fabric, mentally go through the items in my closet, see if it's a duplicate (which it almost always is), smile at it, tell it it's beautiful, and hang it back on the rack.

Give this a try, next time you're out shopping. Is the item to have or to hold? More often than not, it's a "hold" item, that belongs in someone else's closet.

When you know what's in your wardrobe, and love what you have, you get to be selective with your wardrobe. That's a gift! It keeps the excess out of the way, and the goal of loving what you already have becomes the focus of your life.

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