Thursday, August 6, 2015

Giraffe Print and Japanese Decluttering

Well, Faux Giraffe Print--Thursday, 8/6/15

In this Reverse Inspiration, the whole giraffe print issue was sidestepped by wearing a floral top.


But here is my faux giraffe print top in all its confusing blueness.

Navy/blue/beige faux giraffe print top (Macy's), $12.60/wear+
Navy pants (thrifted, Pantology), $0.56/wear+
Beige knit blazer (Nordstrom), $7.08/wear
Gold pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom), $3.84/wear
Gold chain link necklace (Ann Taylor), $2.80/wear

I read a blog post recently in which the blogger said she tries to get her cost-per-wear for work outfits under $25.  (I think she includes bags in that amount, but since I have owned the same $25 or so purse for about 15 years, it's fully depreciated.)  I've never really thought about considering my cost-per-wear at the outfit level, but it makes sense.  For example, if you're wearing a dress instead of separates, it seems reasonable that the dress could be a "good deal" at a higher cost-per-wear because it replaces two pieces.

This is the rather rare outfit for me that comes in over that amount--$26.80/wear--that doesn't have any new items in it.  I clearly need to think of some other ways to wear this faux giraffe top to bring its number down.  It's a sleeveless top I bought as a "wear with suit for interviews" option, and I don't wear fancy sleeveless tops very often in Coldville.

These brilliant high-waisted stretchy pants, which always fit beautifully and are hella comfortable, have clearly proven their worth and then some.  I wish I could replicate these pants in about half a dozen different colors.  Their style is definitely old school, not modern, but for a pair of classic work trousers, I am very happy with them.

If there were ever a time to show you a giraffe photo from the zoo, it's now.  But the giraffe wasn't on display when we visited, so I offer you these wildflowers instead.

Aw, what the hell.  It's Thursday, let's do a throwback to June 2009 with these giraffes at the North Carolina Zoo.

In other news...You type the word giraffe a few times and it starts looking very, very strange.  According to wikipedia, the word has its first known origins as an Arabic word (possibly borrowed from an African language).  It moved into Italian as "giraffa" in the 1590s, into French as "girafe" and then into English as "giraffe" around 1600.  The name is translated as "fast walker."

Have you heard about the Japanese "Kondo method" decluttering craze?  Here is the idea in a nutshell:

"First, put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it. Second, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to grab and then put back."

I found this entire article on the topic (from which the above quote is taken) pretty interesting, but I admit that my first response is, Sparks joy?  That's an awfully high bar!  It also reminds me in a bad way of that certain version of minimalism that involves the search for the perfect (perhaps arbitrary number of) possessions.

I definitely own many things that do not spark joy, but that are serviceable and that I do not have any wish to replace.  My burgundy bath towel works just fine, and is a pleasant color that matches the shower curtain and hence blends into the background...of a room that has lots of other things that do spark joy--my bunny and snake storage boxes! My big colorful cat print! My Alice poster! The Corn Poppy that reminds me of my sister!  Do I need my bath towel to spark joy as well?  Isn't it OK for it to be a utilitarian item?  Would I get more joy from the room if I had a more delightful bath towel, or could it reach the point where everything is in such visual competition that I can no longer enjoy the current awesome things as much?

None of my jeans spark joy.  It is possible to imagine some magic traveling jeans o' wonder as a theoretical matter, but trying on jeans is kind of horrible and finding better jeans, at almost any price point, is a huge undertaking.  I'm good right now with my perfectly acceptable boring non-joy-inspiring jeans, which like my bath towel, serve their function.  They are an important, if basic, part of creating outfits which I do love.

I mean, do I ditch my salt canister because salt doesn't bring me joy, even though it's a necessary component to creating delightful meals?  (I mean, I don't actually create "delightful meals" but whatever.)

This being said, if we really did reduce our stuff to those items which inspire joy (or at least emotions close to the joy end of the spectrum), our homes would be a lot less messy.  And I would be wearing a rabbit dress or rabbit top to work every day...but maybe without pants.  Because even the awesome navy pants I'm wearing today do not inspire joy.  That wouldn't be so great.

I have to wonder whether there is something missing in the translation--linguistically/conceptually/culturally--in this "joy" thing.  Maybe my idea of joy as the feeling I get when looking at something with bright interesting colors and patterns or textures (anything that tempts the inner magpie) or that is covered in rabbits or whatever else excites my senses is really not the thing they're talking about (or is not the only thing they're talking about).  Perhaps if I read the actual book, I would get it a little better.

And I do not doubt that I own a lot of things--in my wardrobe, for example--that are neither particularly joy-inspiring in themselves nor joy-enabling basics.  I have too many tops, by which I mean so many tops that I do not wear my joy-inspiring tops as much as I would like.  That's an area that I could approach with a more joy-centric perspective and probably get some real value from the process.  (It will be interesting to see as the Wear the Wardrobe challenge continues which tops I find myself not wanting to wear or not enjoying wearing or thinking "I would have liked this outfit better with that top I wore two weeks ago instead of this one" etc.)

Have you read this book, or about this book?  What's your response to the Kondo method and the "joy" standard?  Is there a way you could see applying this approach to your own life?


mom said...

One way to look at joy is to feel joy by the mundane article that is helping you accomplish something which does give you joy. What a convoluted sentence! Therefore, your thick, color matching towels do make you dry, which is more of a feeling of happy than being wet when you get dressed.

Sally said...

Yes, this is true. Joy just seems like such an extreme term for it.

jen said...

The joy measure is pretty high bar, but I'm intrigued by the method. For one thing, it provides you a clear way of getting rid of stuff that is sentimental but no longer useful, even if it brought joy in the past but no longer does (e.g. a favorite dress that no longer fits right). I find some things really do meet that criteria, like a nice vacuum, a beautiful end table, or having new socks. Having things around that go unused (just getting in the way, or actually inducing guilt ala "this cost me X dollars and I never wear/use it") or that cause frustration (stupid Ikea can-opener, I'm looking at you here) is something that doesn't bring me joy, so purging them would make sense, even if they're perfectly "functional". I think it's easy to try to do a rational-based pro/con list and convince yourself something is fine (nothing "wrong" with it) but if it doesn't make you happy, is it really, and would it be better to just do without it (or incur the cost of replacing it)? Of course, you can't always afford to throw away functional things. An ugly winter coat may not inspire you to joy, but if it's the only one you have and you can't get a new one, then I guess to Mom's point, staying warm becomes your measure of joy. In your towel example, the fact that they aren't worn out or smelly probably brings you some joy, or at least it doesn't make you unhappy, which seems sufficient for something that you need to have. If you had so many towels that you couldn't easily put them away, well, getting rid of some might increase the joy factor when you're doing chores.

BTW our new car bring us *so* much joy :)

Sally said...

Jen, good points.

Perhaps it's helpful to think of a joy gap--"I don't particularly like this towel but":

"...I use it because it's the one I have; however I could replace it with one that is awesome" = high gap vs.
"...I really don't care about my towels one way or the other so it seems pointless to search for a joy-inspiring towel when I could be looking at rabbit videos on the internet" = low gap.

And I have to agree, I was thinking about the car joy factor while driving to work yesterday and making my inner 17 year old boy happy by accelerating the hell past another car from a stop light.