Does your home decor match or jibe with your personal dress style? Sometimes people have homes that surprise me given their personal appearance and they psychology of that interests me. I wonder if one of them is not a true expression of the real person, if the home is reflecting a great disparity amongst the people who live there, and thus much compromise, or if the person has two distinct style preferences. It could be a budgeting preference as well, with money and effort put into one but not the other. I have been through times in life when most of my home decor was hand-me-down or good enough second hand purchases and did not express my personal taste terribly accurately.
I am mulling over this while I eat scrambled eggs, drink my first coffee of the day and watch the stormy sky out my window. My attention tends to turn from home style to personal style with regularity. I can only focus on one or the other and recently my attention is turning back to my home. There isn't a budget for any spectacular changes, as much as I loathe my kitchen floor, but I've been dedicating some of my limited energy to cleaning out cupboards and really evaluating what I have and what I need. It's a bit shocking how extra unneeded or inappropriate stuff can accumulate and I aim to be better at not letting that happen. I will never have a minimalist home decor aesthetic ( or at least it is highly unlikely) because that feels cold and impersonal to me, but I dislike what feels to me like clutter. Everyone's definition of clutter is different, as is the concept of what is part of a comfortable and happy life.
I was raised to be conservative and practical about life. I was raised by people who held onto many things for that just in case moment. It's called the Depression Mentality, referring to people who lived through The Great Depression and had to make do and mend, do without, and who saw the value in every scrap piece of string or paper. Two generations past this Great Depression and I still fight off that mentality. My ex husband has it even more strongly than I do and the clutter of our shared home affected me deeply. At the same time, as soon as I left that environment and set up house on my own, I was driven to accumulate all the right items that would make me prepared for anything. I am now the confused owner of three hand saws.
During this time of establishing myself as a single woman after so many years as a wife, there were other significant changes going on as well. My body finally made it clear that this particular body with its chronic auto-immune disease was not cut out for employment, and I let a career that is of the type that tends to define you. I went from being a wife with a busy family life, semi-custom home in a good neighbourhood, an Elementary school teacher and woman with an illness she tried her best to hide, to a single woman with a grown child, a debilitating illness and no employment. I lived in a rented apartment and had taken less than my legally alloted 50% of the shared posessions because I was moving into less than 50% of the shared living space. I accumulated things at a somewhat shameful rate, building a new nest, anchoring myself into it with the weight of possession, experimenting with living according to my tastes and mine alone.
Eventually, after gaining weight due to ten years of extreme stress and illness and not paying much attention to my clothes, I began to pay attention, to want to dress with some style that expressed who I was at that moment, and I also began to lose the weight. I lost 30 pounds, in addition to the 180 pounds I shed the day I moved out of the marital home. I had a new body to dress, but it also felt like my old body. It was like getting the original me back and I was excited to dress it. But how should I dress it? I wanted to express my newest self, I had the freedom of being able to wear anything I wanted because there was no dress code in this new life. I've always had an aesthetic preference for dramatic, artsy, boho, colourful, creative things and I was experimenting with that in my home so it was time to put it on my body.
I wanted very much to shed the more traditional and conservative guise that had covered most of my life. It did not feel like the best fit but something more forced on me, what I had been taught was good taste. I did not want to be boring, or typical or look like everyone else. I did not want the pearls and twin-sets wardrobe any more either, although that did not look like everyone else in my environment except my immediate family. I come from a long line of very tasteful dressers, and I did not want to be tasteful, I wanted to be creative and different.
On this journey I learned a few things and almost came full circle. Not quite, as my home has a definite bohemian-style spin on traditional but my style of dressing myself has settled into something much less dramatic, colourful and creative than I had originally aimed for. How and why did that happen? It turned out that I can admire and appreciate certain aesthetics but not live with them, and particularly not live with them on my body. While in my home I will never be a minimalist, my style of dressing is heading towards a more minimalist expression that I had expected. I had not taken into account comfort when I thought about what I liked. I had only considered appearance. I learned much about my physical and emotional comfort in my clothing experiments and I confirmed that while I am a creative person I am not a dramatic person, I am not bold and I am not seeking to stand out. I am seeking to feel authentically me, to look good but for people to see me and not the clothes. If they do not see me at all because my style does not stand out, I am quite comfortable with that.
My artistic expression is very colourful and bold and that seems to be enough for me. I paint the style that I cannot wear and I live in a home that also expresses a style I cannot wear. I use the word 'cannot' as an emotional thing. I cannot feel relaxed and comfortable in a dramatic outfit. It exhausts me to have to perform a role that my clothing dictates and that is not what personal style should be about at all. I did not want to look boring because I am certain that I am not a boring person. You may think differently if you have actually read to this point in my essay! I thought that in order to not seem boring I must not appear boring or dull or simple. I have changed my mind. If you meet me, I do not want you to remember what I wore, but who I am, how I made you feel, what I said, how we laughed together. If you do not care to meet me because I do not look interesting, well that's just fine with me. I don't have the energy for a lot of people in my life. I prefer to give my best to a limited number just as I prefer to pour my creative expression into my art and to my home. You might wonder at the three, home, self, art, not seeming to match up. Or you might not. You might not be an excessive thinker like I am.
The storm that was approaching when I began to write this is now raging. I sit here feeling very much at east in a pair of jeans and a favourite white tee shirt. It's a minimalist outfit in line with any you might find in a book or on a website illustrating minimalist chic, but with my own twist. I am adorned with my typical selection of intricate silver earrings and finger rings. My toenails are a deep rose-pink colour. It is simple, personal and feels like home. I am surrounded by colourful things I love, books are stacked around me, objects collected, purchased and found, paintings, plants and cat fur. My scrambled eggs were delicious (I always add a little bit of herbed soft goat cheese.) and I am ready for a second cup of coffee. In the spare bedroom is an intimidating pile of clothing, housewares and other items that need to be boxed up and sent off to charity. It took five years post marital separation, but I finally know who I am and it feels good.