Interview|Maria Lee: The Resolute Capsule Wardrobe Practitioner

 

If you’re a long-term reader, you might probably remember I’ve written several pieces regarding capsule wardrobe for the past few years. I know many people are now so tired and bored about sustainable fashion, but I just feel it is such an important issue needed to be addressed more, but in a more interesting way maybe.

Last month, when I was working on my trend piece for my fashion journalism class, I contacted Maria again, for a quote. I’ve written about Maria and her capsule wardrobe for several times when I was still in Taiwan, we’ve also say to have a cup of coffee together after I moved to New York, but never realized it. This time, when I asked Maria for a short quote, she kindly invited me to her apartment to have a tour of her capsule wardrobe.

 

Further reading:

Fashion Journalism|Capsule Wardrobe’s Revival: Not Just About Sustainability
“Be an Owner, Rather Than a Consumer” — My Wardrobe Revelation Inspired by Gold Zipper

 

不曉得你們還記不記得,去年三月時我幫 HxxA 寫了一篇介紹 Maria 膠囊衣櫥實踐的文章,去年七月在 A Day Magazine 又重新介紹了一次膠囊衣櫥(capsule wardrobe)這個概念,而那也是我在網路上寫東西至今點閱率最高的一篇。這兩年零零總總寫過了許多關於極簡生活的文章,迴響都很好。我想,在這個社群當道、步調極快的時代,大家其實都希望能返璞歸真,以最低的物質需求過一個更充實、更能實踐自我的人生吧,至少我個人滿希望能達成這個目標,儘管總是失敗。

前陣子的時尚新聞課,因為我再次選了膠囊衣櫥這個主題,而我的文章需要一個真正實踐這個理念的人的quote(我嘗試在文章裡不要中英夾雜,但「需要一個quote」這句話寫成中文不是太長就是語意不清:「我需要一個引言」怪怪的;「我需要一個真正實踐這個理念的人說的話來做為我文章的佐證」好像太長又沒有表達得很清楚,所以決定還是保留 quote 這個詞比較簡明扼要。怎麼寫句話內心戲也這麼多XD),於是我再次聯絡了 Maria。沒想到 Maria 竟然邀請我到她家聊聊,順便參觀她的衣櫥,這個能更進一步了解如何真正實踐膠囊衣櫥的機會怎麼能錯過?於是在一個大雨滂沱的週日午後,我搭了一個小時的公車,來到 Maria 位於曼哈頓北邊的公寓。

 

 

Thanks to Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, capsule wardrobe has its revival in recent years, but it can actually be dated back to the 1970s, when Susie Faux pioneered the term. Faux was a stylist based in London, helping women gain confidence and personal styles through their own clothing in a minimalistic aesthetic. She believed having less choices enabled women to concentrate on what they were doing, just like men. In 1985, the American iconic fashion designer, Donna Karan, launched the “Seven Easy Pieces,” also embodying the essence of capsule wardrobe – using only a few items to construct individual’s fashion persona.

 

Confession of a Capsule Wardrober

 

Maria has moved to New York from Indiana for two years, while her capsule wardrobe journey has been embarking on for over four years. I think she is qualified enough to share the ups and downs, ecstasy and depression living on a capsule wardrobe.

Her first wardrobe purge came when she got her driver’s license at 16. Wait, what does closet purge have anything to do with driving? Actually, before getting her driver’s license, Maria relied on her mother to take her shopping. She could only subdue to her mom’s shopping location choices. However, after she gained control of her own mobility, she chose to shop wherever she liked, mostly thrift shops like Goodwill.

Four years ago, a Youtube video pertaining capsule wardrobe unexpectedly slid into Maria’s page. She immediately knew this “capsule wardrobe” thing was exactly what she wanted to do for so long but always lacking directions. She had always wanted to use only several specific items to construct her personal style, but had no idea how to do it. With the guidance of capsule wardrobe, Maria captured its essence in short time, performing her capsule wardrobe for over four years.

Two years ago, Maria made a huge decision to move to New York City. Moving was always the best timing to purge one’s closet, and Maria was no exception.

 

“For me, the most difficult part to do a capsule wardrobe is not to stop myself from purchasing, rather, it is to give myself the permission to get rid of items,” said Maria, “I think I am 100% ready to do this thing, so I barely feel it hard or difficult to execute a capsule wardrobe.”

“Many people think capsule wardrobe is about decluttering. I thought of it this way at first, but then, I find the essence of capsule wardrobe actually lies in helping me find my personal style.”

 

雖然說膠囊衣櫥這個概念近幾年由於近藤麻里惠的《怦然心動的生活整理魔法》一書才復興,但它最早其實可以上溯至 1970 年代倫敦的造型師 Susie Faux,她嘗試以極簡風格的搭配,幫助客戶透過衣著傳達自己的個性;1985 年 Donna Karen 的「七件裝」(Seven Easy Pieces)也同樣表達了以極少的單品打造穿著者時尚個性的企圖。

 

一個膠囊衣櫥實踐者的告白

 

Maria 從印第安納州搬到紐約已經兩年多,而她將膠囊衣櫥落實在自己的生活裡已經四年了,我想沒人比她更了解箇中的難處以及實踐之後的成就感以及充實感了。

16歲拿到駕照後,進行了人生中第一次的衣櫥大掃除

 

Maria 的膠囊衣櫥之旅雖然只進行了四年,但這個種子早在她16歲拿到駕照後就悄悄萌芽。拿到駕照的 Maria 有了行動自由,不必再屈就母親習慣的購物地點,能真正尋找一些自己喜歡的單品。

古著店一直以來都是 Maria 的最愛,在那裡她不只能用划算的價格買到許多風格獨特的衣著,更重要的是,那些東西本來就在那裡,並沒有因為她的購買而花用了額外的資源或是勞力。行動自由帶來了 Maria 穿衣風格的覺醒,她將衣櫥清空,僅留下自己真正喜歡且風格合適的品項,有了駕照,她可以尋寶一般找尋她喜歡的衣服,重新打造一個適合自己的衣櫥。

四年前無意間在 Youtube 上看到的一支膠囊衣櫥影片,成為 Maria 實踐這種極簡生活的轉捩。(我之所以會發現 Maria 同樣也是某天睡前在 Youtube 上看到的啊。)Maria 當下就知道這就是她一直想做的事情,只是她沒有方向,也沒有目標,而膠囊衣櫥這個概念正提供了一個尋找個人風格更有架構、更有邏輯可循的方法。

 

第二次衣櫥掃除,在兩年多前搬到紐約的時候

 

搬家永遠是個重新打造自己風格的最佳時機,每一件物品的去留都有原因。兩年多前搬到紐約時,Maria 再次精簡了她的衣櫥。

「執行膠囊衣櫥最困難的地方,其實是要克服自己丟東西的罪惡感。有時候,許多東西都還很新、沒有什麼磨損,但我就是不喜歡那個顏色或是版型,也幾乎不會再去穿它,然而要說服自己將衣服捐出去或是丟掉,還是或多或少都會感到罪惡,但跨越這個心理障礙,賦予自己丟東西的權力後,我幾乎沒再遇過什麼困難,我想,應該是我已經 100% 準備好要做這件事了。」

Maria 執行膠囊衣櫥以來,不曾再衝動購物,或是為了填補心理無論壓力還是其他情緒造成的空缺的盲目購物,她唯一的困難在於丟東西。

 

 

In Indiana, most people would pay close attention to what everybody wore everyday, so for Maria, versatility was the first priority when coming to purchasing clothes. However, when she moved to New York, she found most people do not care about what others wear, which liberates her style. She is able to experiment and wear whatever she likes freely without judgements.

Although Maria has traveled to New York many times before she moved here, traveling to a place and actually living there are two totally different things. When she first settled down in the city, she had this sudden panic that everybody in New York City wore black, and she had nothing black to wear! She was desperate to shop some black items to go along with the city vibe.

Maria’s style indeed changed a lot — from bohemian mix and match hodgepodge style to a more coherent simple and minimalistic one. Compared to her attention to similar color palette in her closet two years ago as she first moved to the city, Maria now cares more about the quality. She becomes more conscious and careful for everything she brings into her house: Where is it made? What material consists of the piece? Does the brand has similar value as I do?

In addition to purchasing sustainable fashion, Maria is still a big fan of thrift stores. “These clothes in thrift stores are already there. There won’t be additional material or labor cost due to my purchase.” It is her belief in sustainable shopping.

 

「許多人認為膠囊衣櫥就是清出不適合自己的衣服,但其實膠囊衣櫥的目的不在於丟東西,對我來說膠囊衣櫥更核心的精神在於,幫助我找到自己的風格,進一步更了解自己。」

 

當被問到在印第安納和紐約兩個截然不同的地方執行膠囊衣櫥有什麼不同時,Maria 頓了一下,她說:「噢,這是個好問題!」她想了一下,似乎從前不曾思考過其中的差別。

在印第安納,大家都很注意其他人每天穿了什麼,所以多變、不要太常重複,是 Maria 當初最在意的事情;然而在紐約,沒有人會在意別人到底穿了什麼,就算多看了一眼,他們下一秒依舊繼續忙著自己的事情,沒有人真正在意,這樣的城市氛圍,反倒給予 Maria 的穿搭很大的發揮空間。

「紐約讓我的穿搭更自由,反正沒人在意,甚至也沒人看,我可以盡情實驗,也穿上我真正喜歡的衣服。」Maria 説。

 

搬到紐約第一件事:去買一件黑色的衣服!

 

「來到紐約,我發現幾乎大部分的人都穿黑色!而我那時候幾乎連一件黑色的單品都沒有,所以我當初很著急地要找一些黑色單品。像我上禮拜才剛清出一件我剛來紐約時買的黑色短裙,這兩年多來我常常穿它,而它已經有點磨損也不那麼合身了,整理衣櫥時它光榮退役,畢竟它已經盡到它的責任了。」

Maria 從印第安納搬到紐約後,穿衣風格的確經歷了很大的轉變,從古著店尋寶來各式風格的波希米亞米亞混搭風,漸漸變得愈趨統一的簡約風。

膠囊衣櫥除了規範自己使用少少的單品搭配出不同的造型外,也給了 Maria 一個打造屬於自己個人制服的機會,透過相同單品的重複穿搭,更能表現出穿著者的個性。

比起剛來紐約時到處尋找能融入這座城市的時尚單品,以及追求衣櫥裡更一致的顏色,Maria 現在更在意的是品質,並且更有意識也更注意她帶回家的東西:是哪裡製造的?用的是什麼材料?品牌是否和自己的理念相符?

不過比起買全新的衣著,Maria 仍舊偏好從二手店淘寶,或是和朋友交換衣服,畢竟那些東西本來就存在,並不會因此造成更多資源與人力的浪費。

 

Build a Wardrobe with Stories

Around only 20 pieces construct Maria’s wardrobe, as well as her life. These 20 items do not include sportswear, underwear and outwear, but basically these are all she need to survive the harsh weather throughout four seasons in New York.

The items dwelling in Maria’s wardrobe are those with strong emotional connections and background stories. Recently, Maria got promoted, so she bought this pair of classic black Stuart Weitzman boots as a gift for herself. “The boots are expensive, and frankly speaking, I don’t need them, but I really want them. Getting promoted is a good reason to purchase it. Emotional connection is the core reason for me to purchase an item or to get rid of one,” said Maria. She has a white fur coat bought in her honeymoon to Korea. It is such a meaningful piece that even when it is so worn, with the buttons falling off, Maria is still eager to keep it. She tried to get it repaired in any means. “If the piece doesn’t have so much personal connections, I would have already dumped it.”

However, in her capsule wardrobe journey, it is not so smooth. Sometimes, there are voices questioning her decision of going minimal. Once, when Maria shared her experience of getting her shoes repaired, one of her colleagues indifferently said that she would rather buy a pair of new one. Besides, getting shoes repaired might probably be more expensive than purchasing brand new ones. Maria did not talk into her. “Most of the time, people only believe in what they choose to believe,” said Maria. But more frequently, people around her are intrigued by the concept of capsule wardrobe, however not knowing how to start. Then, she’ll ardently explain how to conduct a capsule wardrobe to them. Maria’s  taciturn also conforms to her belief in simplicity — she only talks about capsule wardrobe to people who’s worth it.

 

打造一個有故事的衣櫥

 

Maria 打開她內建在公寓裡的白色小衣櫃,裡頭掛著 20 多件衣服,這 20 多件衣服支撐了 Maria 的春夏秋冬。

她的運動服裝、內衣褲以及外套大衣另外收納,但照片裡能看得到的那一排衣服基本上就是 Maria 一年四季的服裝。

在每次不定期的清理衣櫥後留下的,都是對 Maria 來說有感情、有故事、深具意義的單品,她希望她衣櫥裡的每件衣服,都訴說著她的生命經歷,每一件都能說出和它相遇的原因,以及穿著它經歷了哪些人生的關鍵時刻。每件衣服與她的連結都很私密,而這些連結對她來說才是物品的真正價值。

前陣子 Maria 由於工作被升遷,於是終於下定決心買了一雙觀望了很久的 Stuart Weitzman 經典黑色過膝靴。「這雙靴子很貴,而且說真的,我其實也不需要,但它真的很美,而且我被升遷了,這是一個很好的理由,我以後每次穿它都會想到它就是那雙我 2017 年被升遷時買的靴子。」

當決定一件衣服的去留時,情感因素也依然是關鍵。

Maria 有一件在她到韓國蜜月時買的白色大衣,經過幾年不間斷地穿著,不僅布料磨損得很嚴重、扣子不僅鬆了甚至還掉了,整件外套看起來很悲傷,然而 Maria 還是很愛這件大衣,於是她試著拿到不同的店家嘗試修補,她說如果是其他外套的話,她可能就這麼淘汰了。一些基本單品,像是 Maria 很喜歡的黑色套頭高領衫,沒有太多情感意義,她也會直接淘汰,然而基本款單品很難在二手店找到符合自己需求且又適合自己的身材,這時候也只能買新的。

諸如此類的情感連結,成為 Maria 膠囊衣櫥的精髓。

當然,在追求極簡生活的同時,周遭不免有一些不同的聲音。一次,Maria 跟她的同事分享她將她的鞋子拿去修理的經驗,她的同事說:「如果是我的話,我一定會買新的。妳拿去修理搞不好還比較貴。」Maria 沒有再跟她同事多說什麼,她說:「大多時候,人們只接受他們自己相信的東西,沒必要說服他們,因為沒有辦法。」但比起不認同的人,Maria 遇到的更多是很有興趣,卻不知道該怎麼開始實踐膠囊衣櫥的人,「這時候,就可以跟她們多說點啦!」

原來,Maria 的簡約,也表現在與人交際的應對進退上——有些話,只對值得的人說。

 

Dilemmas of Sustainable Fashion

There’s no denial that sustainable fashion is paradoxical. When companies are developing eco-friendly material, the waste might further harm the environment; some labor-friendly brands might not use organic or harmless materials, while some conscious consumers might not be able to purchase items from sustainable fashion brands.

“Once I met a founder of a sustainable brand, he introduced me an innovative leather jacket made from fish skin. Yes, fish skin! It looked so cool, and of course it’s eco-friendly. When I was still wondering if I should bring one home, the $6,000 price tag just throw me off. I asked the founder why it’s so expensive. He said, ‘we’re only targeting on the top 1% customers.'”

There’s no doubt fashion is about class. Pursuing sustainable fashion has already meant privilege: possessing the cultural capital of understanding the logic and politics of it, whereas having the economic capital to purchase it. No matter what, it is indeed privilege.

“I won’t think those who go to H&M or Zara bad or something. Many people know the problems between fashion and environment and labor, but the question is they are unable to afford those ideal sustainable brands. Actually, being environmentally-friendly isn’t about what brands you consume, but about how you treat the stuffs you own.”

 

永續時尚的難題

 

永續時尚其實存在著許多矛盾,例如開發對環境友善材質的同時,也製造了很多污染、友善勞工的品牌,用的不一定是有機或是對地球無害的布料,而許多有意識的消費者,並買不起那些永續時尚品牌的產品。

「有一次我遇到一個永續時尚品牌的創辦人,他跟我介紹他們最新一款用魚皮做成的皮革外套,不只環保,還超級好看。當我還在思考是否該帶一件回家時,一件外套六千美元的價格當下潑了我一頭冷水。我問創辦人為什麼這麼貴,他說:『因為我們的目標客群是金字塔頂端那 1% 的人』。」Maria 跟我分享。

時尚無疑存在著階級,而能追求永續時尚已然是種特權:了解其中弔詭的地方說明著文化資本,而消費得起永續時尚則意味著經濟資本,無論何者,都是特權。

Maria 説:

「我不會瞧不起或是覺得在 H&M 或是 Zara 這些快時尚的店家消費的人就怎麼樣,很多人了解時尚與環境、勞工之間的難題,然而他們根本消費不起有著崇高理念的品牌。要對環境友善,重點不在於你買了什麼品牌,而在於你如何對待你所擁有的物品。」

 

Regardless of What You Buy, Take Care of It

“Actually, I still have some pieces from H&M and Zara. They are still all in great condition and fit my style. I don’t have to get rid of them just because they are H&M or Zara. If I really throw them away due to this reason, that would be a real waste to me.” Maria illustrated. “Not everyone can afford sustainable fashion. Regardless of what you buy, take care of it!”

When I mentioned that some people said they gave up capsule wardrobe because it caused too much pressure, although they loved the concept, it just didn’t fit them, Maria felt they took capsule wardrobe too seriously. The capsule wardrobe is just a tool to help people find their style and provides a more specific guideline. There’s no need to see it as an exam.

Don’t be so serious, just have fun with it!

 

無論你的衣服從哪裡來,好好照顧它

 

「其實我的衣櫥裡到現在還是有一些在 H&M、Zara 買的單品,我覺得它們狀況還很好,也還很符合我的需求,沒必要因為他們來自 H&M 就跟它們分道揚鑣。如果因為它的品牌就這麼把它丟了,對我來說才是真正的浪費。」

「並不是每個人都消費得起永續時尚,然而無論你的衣服從哪裡來,好好照顧它,不過度消費與浪費,也間接地對環境付起了一份責任。」

聊到有許多人會因為要恪守膠囊衣櫥的規則,無形中給了自己很大的壓力,最後不得不放棄這個生活方式。其實這對 Maria 來說實在把這件事看得太嚴肅了,完全沒有必要,畢竟膠囊衣櫥只是個幫助人們找到自我風格,同時也減少資源浪費的「工具」,只是告訴人們該你怎麼做的「指南」,並不需要嚴格遵守,這不是考試,也沒有人會來檢驗你,還是要依照自己的習慣、個性和生活方式加以調整,才能執行地長久。

 

 

Maria 養了兩隻貓,親人又討喜。除了公寓的內建衣櫃,她還有一個開放式的衣架,陳列著她心愛的鞋、雜誌、香水、配件,以及相機。那台古董 Polaroid 在我一進門時就吸引了我的注意,Maria 説那是她先生在印第安納的二手店以 5 塊美金買到的!(我的老天爺,那台 1970 年的經典 Polaroid 現在一台賣 389 美金左右。)她還邀請我有空一起出門拍照。擺在這個架子上的鞋子,Maria 不太常穿,對她來說那些是她生活中的藝術品,有些可能已經擁有了很久,陪伴她走了很長一段的人生,有些則是對現階段的她來說,很有指標性的收藏,像是那雙 Stuart Weitzman 的過膝靴。

真實生活中的 Maria 比起影片裡的她活潑開朗許多,她說,面對相機講話絕對是她人生中做過最怪的事情之一,因為不自在,所以也顯得比較害羞,但她很對於自己想做的事,一定會付出 100% 的努力,像是最近她的網站開始紀錄的衣櫥數據統計,她還為此在工作之餘,參加了學寫 Python 程式碼的訓練課程。

跟 Maria 見面的那天,她將她的智慧型手機賣掉,換成傳統按鍵式手機已經兩個禮拜了,她說,她的生活有太多時間浪費在滑手機,自從換了按鍵式手機,她有更多時間閱讀,以及專注在她真正想做的事情上,不再漫無目的地對著螢幕浪費生命。當我欽佩著 Maria 的決心時,她說:「我可能真的是個滿極端的人,只要下定決心,幾乎不曾猶豫或是質疑自己。」Maria 對膠囊衣櫥如此,對生活也是。

當我離開 Maria 的公寓時,原本的大雨已經小了許多,在遠離曼哈頓市中心的這個社區,給人一種遺世獨立的感覺,就像 Maria 和她的生活實踐一樣。

 

Gold Zipper

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