Moderationism

We've caught another week of chilly, rainy weather again in Atlanta. I hope at least we avoid a frost since so much is already blooming from the warm spell last month. I'm draped again in a blanket, cat lap-warmer in place, slippers firmly upon feet, thinking about moderation.

Everything in moderation. This has always felt to me like a very true concept to live by, especially when I start to get worked up over the idea that we are destroying the planet and disrespecting humanity with many of the daily choices we make in our lives. It's good to want to leave a smaller footprint, but in striving towards minimalism, it's easy to get caught up in feeling like nothing is ever enough.

Something else I like to say is "moderation in moderation, too." 

My moderation rabbit hole takes me to looking up definitions on Merriam-Webster.com (which seems like a trustworthy enough source), and I get to these two words, which I toggle back and forth between for a moment trying to make sense of in my head:

moderationist

An advocate of moderation.

moderationism

The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary.

Surprised to find moderationism isn't a "thing," I propose we make like minimalism ("a style or technique ... that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity") and, well, make moderationism a thing.

Moderationism

A style or technique that is characterized by reasonable use of resources or design elements.

No capsule wardrobes, no arbitrary garment counts. But neither any overflowing closets continuously churning through fast fashion. And if you want to focus not on the lifestyle of a moderationist but on aesthetic choices, this lands between the vast blank canvas that is the modern minimalist's fashion and the visually rich noise of the maximalist's vibrant wardrobe.

Far from being boring, moderationism is the Goldilocks of visual styles and the golden mean of lifestyles. You can wear your whole wardrobe whenever you want, but your whole wardrobe gets worn eventually. It's OK if you don't wear it often as long as you love it and take care of it. I kind of feel like while I aspire to minimalism in the active sense (purging unnecessary belongings), in practice I land closer to moderationism (OK with owning multiple black t-shirts... but not, like, 20).

You can take good care of any size wardrobe, not just a moderately sized one. But by treating a garment with care and maintaining it over the years, it will last much longer than if it were the only thing you ever wore. For a moderationist, fewer wears = less wear and tear = ability to wear it for longer into the future = prolonging the sad feeling of when the thing wears out completely and I can't find anything as good to replace it. So it's not the end of the world to own more than one of a certain thing.

On the aesthetic side, moderationism is exemplified by an even blend of visual calm layered with visual interest. Neither extreme dominates. My closet bends the most toward minimalism in it's styling, but there are still some more stand-out garments that keep it from plainness and monotony. A crew neck sweater is basic and unremarkable, but in garnet, it stands out among the charcoals and black. Add a floral scarf and there's more interest. But it's still a basic sweater. Minimal + maximal = moderal? Hmm doesn't really work but you get the idea.

 As a side note, my personal mix of a smallish-but-not-capsule wardrobe + more minimal design preferences also tend to overlap with a desire for sustainability and ethics in manufacturing, neither of which are qualities exclusive to minimalism — I think that sometimes get lost in the conversation around slow fashion.

As a side note, my personal mix of a smallish-but-not-capsule wardrobe + more minimal design preferences also tend to overlap with a desire for sustainability and ethics in manufacturing, neither of which are qualities exclusive to minimalism — I think that sometimes get lost in the conversation around slow fashion.

At home, I mix floral wallpaper and deep dark blue walls and cultivate plants to drape over everything. But the sunlight pouring in the windows finds the calm stretches among the visual interest and anoints them in light. Everything glows in one way or another and this in itself gives an evenness to the visual clutter. Nothing too spare, nothing too busy. Nothing too bright, but neither too dull. A moderate indigo. Nothing overwhelms. 

moderationism.jpg

I'm interested in adopting moderationism as my guiding philosophy. It doesn't mean jettisoning the aspirations of minimalism or rejecting the fun and vibrancy of maximalism. It just advocates for a temperate approach to living, one in which you find balance and momentum.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of style? Do you keep a smaller closet but still find room for maximalist aesthetics? Maybe you like the minimalist aesthetic but are also a serious Elizabeth Suzann collector. There's no wrong way, just the way that makes sense for you.

That's the magic of style — we each create our own, it's always changing, and we can call it whatever we want. It's what things looks like but it's also how you live. It's sometimes complicated to parse out, but it's worth examining.