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The idea of living out of a backpack for a month was something I had to warm up too the first time I backpacked through Europe (in 2006). I remember when my pack came in the mail; I ripped open the packaging and then just starred at it. It was even smaller than I imagined.
You have to understand something about me: I was the kind of gal that took two giant suitcases for a weekend getaway because you just never know what might bubble up and I wanted an outfit for all occasions, so to go from that "everything must go" mentality to a "nothing fits" backpack? for a month? Oh boy.
I immediately started googling fiercely -- how to cram the most crap you can in a backpack, and such. A reoccurring tip I stumbled across was "pack similar colors."
The idea seemed so... ridiculous and yet, that's ultimately what I did... and what I still do on any trip and especially this backpacking trip because my new backpack is even smaller than my old one! (good news for my shoulders, I guess!)
This "minimalist method" doesn't even have to apply purely to vacation -- it can apply to your closet, especially if you're looking to downsize or minimalize or spend less on clothing.
We all have colors we prefer -- colors that bring out our eyes, compliment our natural complexion or just sing to our preferences. Why not pack a color palate using those clothes? Or just stick to that color palate when shopping? That way all your clothes match and they can be swamped around to create dozens of options even with less pieces to work with.
I'll admit I'm a mini fashionista and a little vain -- I didn't want to look like I was wearing the same outfit in every picture, but even with only 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 skirt, 5 tops and two sweaters? I appeared to have a different outfit on each day. I was there for a month, so there was eventually some overlap, but I was amazed at the variety I had with so few items. Each top went with each bottom. It's that simple.
I've kept this in mind when shopping, too -- taking care to select items that I know will work with a lot of clothes I already own, as well as the other clothes I'm buying that day. I've had girlfriends come over, look in my closest and wonder where all the clothes are -- and it's true, I have a fraction of the clothing most of my friends do, but I never feel limited! I wear everything I own, and I'm always reinventing new outfits because everything goes together. It's great for my pocketbook and is quite minimalist.
My color palette this time: Black (and Grey Shades) & fall colors: Green, Purple & Gold. Plus a few basic white/neutral tank tops incase I need layers. I also have two pairs of jeans (light and dark) and 2 pairs of black pants (that look different enough for variety). All my tops go with my bottoms and everything matches my black jacket and my purple shoes. (That's right -- 1 pair of shoes!). Then of course I added in a colorful scarf that ties it all together.
I've come so far -- from the girl with a suitcase full of shoes for a 3-day weekend getaway to 1 pair of shoes for a month.