Erin Doland is the Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer. When a change of living situation forced her to pare down her belongings (oh boy, can I relate!), she become a minimalist fanatic.
I wanted to interview Erin because not only is she recognized for her knowledge of the simple lifestyle, but she’s a woman. Simplifying our wardrobe and beauty products may not be as simple as keeping a clean desk. At least, this is the situation I often find myself in.
Within the interview, Erin gives us insight on how to implement minimalism into things like beauty and fashion without robbing yourself of who you are.
- Many people like the idea of minimalism but don’t know where to start. How do you recommend getting started?
I’m of the belief that clutter is any distraction that gets in the way of the life you want to be leading. As a result, the first step will be identifying what kind of life you desire. Do you want to be someone who has a classic style with splashes of current trends? If so, you need to get rid of those things that aren’t classic or popular this week. Do you want to be someone who is flamboyant and the life of the party? If so, it’s time to purge anything that isn’t over-the-top fun. When you know what life you truly desire, it’s easy to get rid of what doesn’t matter to you.
- Women and their beauty routines… It’s hard for many of us to simplify this part of our daily life. Have you ever tackled this topic? If not, would you ever consider it? Where would you start?
In high school, my beauty routine was insanely simple — washed my face with Cetaphil when I woke up in the morning and then again before bed at night. I had long curly hair that required no styling except for a palm full of mousse and a few scrunches on my hair as it air dried. I didn’t wear a bit of makeup. The grunge period was awesome. More than 20 years later, and my beauty routine is ridiculously complex — anti-wrinkle cream, eyeshadow primer, lip moisturizer, keratin treatments. Unless someone finds a way to magically transform my skin back to the amazingly elastic, wrinkle-free, flawless condition of it’s youth, I’m not sure there is much that can be simplified in my beauty routine. Would I consider simplifying it? In a heartbeat, if it meant I could have the same results as I do using all the creams and potions I do now.
- The ever-changing wardrobe is another area many of us struggle with. Have you been able to find a balance between fashion and minimalism, if there is such a thing?
I definitely believe there is a balance with fashion and minimalism. I have a very distinct style that is extremely minimalist and very easy to maintain. Except for two shirts, my entire wardrobe is solid colors. I only buy clothing that is white, gray, navy blue, teal blue, red, brown, and black. I have 5 identical tank tops, 5 short sleeve shirts, and 5 long sleeve shirts in the colors previously listed. I buy them once a year and turn the previous year’s into cleaning rags. I have 3 of the same dress from Theory in white, gray, and black. I have one black suit and one brown suit. I have a few other random pieces, and they follow the same color and style rules. What is surprising is no one ever notices how streamlined my wardrobe is because I spice everything up with very trendy accessories — scarves, shoes, jewelry. I have rules for my accessories, too (like no more than 10 pairs of shoes at a time), and every accessory has to work with at least three outfits (which is usually easy to do since I wear such a limited color spectrum). The only other rule I have for my wardrobe that I haven’t yet mentioned is I insist everything in my wardrobe fit me. I don’t have pants I hope to lose weight to wear again or clothes that are too big — I only have things that look good on me right now. I refuse to mentally beat myself up every time I open my closet door, so if a piece of clothing doesn’t fit it goes off to charity. My husband and I share one dresser and one small closet. I don’t think it requires a lot of clothes to look good and be stylish.
- Some women simplify their spending, home, commitments, financial investments, and many other personal areas, but decide to continue accumulating clothes or makeup and are often criticized for it by others pursuing the lifestyle. What’s your take on this?
We all make choices to not spend on some things so we can spend our money on something else. If we didn’t, the economy would revolve around just a small handful of industries and the world would be a dull place to live. On a personal level, I think society flows better when people care for and plan for their responsibilities. If someone doesn’t care for their responsibilities, someone else has to come in and pick up the slack, and I’m not fond of purposefully creating problems for other people. But, as long as someone is meeting their obligations and doing what they need to care for their obligations in the future, spending money they have on what they love is cool with me. I refer to this philosophy as “smart consumerism,” where you take care of your responsibilities, spend less than you earn, and make informed choices when you buy. Plus, if you’re committed to simple living, you have focus on what you really want from life, and are able to avoid buying things you don’t actually want or need. You end up with more money for the things you really do desire — whatever it is you envision for your life.
Many thanks to Erin for providing her insight! For more organizational tips and inspiration, visit Unclutterer.com or check out Erin’s book — Unclutter Your Life in One Week!