Are minimalism and simplicity the emotional equivalents of beige?
This post is purely my own rumination. Everyone should dress and decorate however they like, and there’s really no room or reason to judge someone for their aesthetic choices. Who has the time?
I have nothing against minimalism or simplicity. As I’ve written, I’m skeptical, but still, we’re united in the pursuit of conscious consumption, and having less than society claims we should have.
I’ve noticed, however, that a lot of the brands and aesthetics that overlap with my commitment to ‘ethical consumption‘ tend to produce clothing and home goods that feel, for a lack of a better term, emotionally beige.
Not necessarily boring, but beige; inoffensive, without individual characteristics.
You’ve seen the kinds of clothing that I’m talking about, online, on Instagram, on the street (think Everlane, friends). It’s as though a stereotype of a painter (draped fabrics, loose fits, vaguely shift-like) was scrubbed off and put in an office.
You’ve scrolled past a picture of a plain white vase, a single flower, #simple, *~*minimalism*~*
These lifestyles put forth the idea that a well-curated life includes “pops” of colour but is not, fundamentally, colourful.
I get why this aesthetic exists. When we feel so oversaturated and overstimulated by all of the things that we’re told to buy, going completely 180 for the white-on-beige lifestyle feels ‘cleaner,’ ‘purer,’ and ‘simpler.’
Is it possible that we’re just kidding ourselves, and that these choices that I, and others, make are just boring?
These emotionally beige choices act as another way to disconnect from the life’s complications instead of engaging with them. Am I tired from work, or feeling overwhelmed by this, that, and the third? Why not just wear all navy? Why not eat the same thing every day, or just put white sheets on the bed?
Why not pick neutral colours for everything in my life, so that I can avoid engaging with what I actually want or what might make me happy, what might require a non-neutral decision.
These neutral, curated, investment, intentional things, says minimalism, will be with me for my whole life, unlike all of the other choices I’ve made that apparently won’t grow with me.
But does minimalism and simplicity grow with me, or just not grow at all?
The trouble is that I, and probably others, relish life’s mess and beauty. A riot of colour, a complicated emotional terrain, memories and things, favourites and preferences, the things that may define me. I appreciate these parts of life that are often discarded in the pursuit of simplicity.
In seeking to be minimal, do we seek to re-define ourselves to the point of losing who we are, who were were, and maybe even who we want to be?
Maybe that’s just how I’ve thought about these live-with-less movements. It just strikes me as odd, how if everybody posting about living intentionally is truly living intentionally, why do we all wind up looking the same?
Shopping at the same retailers isn’t necessarily surprising if you’re searching for an ethical, organic, fair-trade company, but we’re still selecting away from our individual differences in other ways.
Having somewhat accidentally created a capsule wardrobe, I’ll be the first to admit : I can be SO BORED by myself. My April 10×10 Challenge is a wash of neutrals, with one red dress. Do’t get me wrong, I love stripes, I love navy, I love the feeling of being effortlessly put together, prepared for anything.
Yet, half the reason I’m prepared for anything is because there is almost nothing remarkable about my wardrobe. Stripes, loads of navy, some whites, a few reds. I look like a French flag and it’s getting old.
I remember how it felt to lack cohesion in my colourful wardrobe of years past. I remember scrambling for appropriate clothing when meeting an ex-boyfriend’s parents, or when hosting events in university. But were the colours and patterns at fault, or did I simply just not know myself and how I wanted to represent myself to others?
I think that my extended stay in the aesthetically minimalist community is coming to an end, but I don’t think I’m going back to those needlessly chaotic days.
Take my red shirt dress: I would literally wear it every day if I thought nobody would look at me sideways. It’s gorgeous, bright red, and covered in eyelet. It fits me very well and I feel good when I wear it. It’s casual enough for the park but dressy enough for work or the theatre.
It exemplifies who I am and what I’ve experienced. It reminds me of my family, it reminds me of my travels/months abroad in India and Italy, and of my life now in France.
Is it *~*simple*~* ? Sure.
Is it minimal? You could argue either way.
Is it boring? Nope.
As I’ve posted, I still haven’t bought any clothing since January 13th, and I’m not sure if I will. But I know that in the event that I do, I’m opting away from yet another square cut, high collar shirt. No more sack shifts! No more taupe!!
I’m craving patterns and my favourite colours in fabrics. Something that says, “Hello, my name is …” as opposed to, “LOOK I AM SO MINIMAL AND CRISP!”
Because frankly, I am neither minimal nor crisp, and I’m ready to start dressing like it.