When my two bedroom apartment went down in flames on September 29, 2012, I had no choice but to downsize. After eight months of living at my friend’s place and trying to find a two bedroom apartment for the same price, I got tired and had to settle for a junior one bedroom apartment in East Harlem.

At first, I was frustrated because I lived like I was in a storage locker for about three months. One can really get traumatized to rent storage space and lose the last of their possessions. It was a tough feeling that I had to let go off because, with all those boxes lingering around, I couldn’t move freely and it wasn’t apt to invite anyone over. The decision to rent storage was hard.

My apartment was so small that whatever possessions I had saved from the fire, I couldn’t possibly fit all of it in there, although I discarded off most my old furniture. It was still a burden.

I worked at a law firm a few years back but, when my sanity was in jeopardy (I don’t take orders well, especially when I have no choice), I left to choose a more creative lifestyle as a stylist and Photo shoot creative director. Then I accumulated so much clothing and accessories that you would have thought that my second bedroom/office was a theatre’s wardrobe closet. You name it; I owned it, from Forever 21 scarves to Prada dresses still with their tags, etc.

It was horrible to even think of how much money I had lost in that fire, but I still couldn’t fit the remaining pieces in my 350 sq ft shoe box apartment. It’s so small that I can actually brush my teeth in the sink, sit on the toilet and have one leg in the shower all at once in the bathroom.

The point is now I have adopted a simplified wardrobe trick that is very efficient. I never have more than thirty-seven pieces in my closet, point blank. If I buy one more piece, something must go. When we really think about it, how much clothes do we really need? I’m proud to say that I’m part of the uniform elite. Whatever lives in my closet has to be different and versatile enough; if I have to go out without going to change at home, I can just throw a pair of heels on and my look becomes a semi-formal attire. I collect pieces.


We tend to accumulate things that we don’t need just because we think we do need them or to impress others. I think that fashion maturity comes later in life, when it’s time to focus on our career and future rather than on others perception of us and by the way we dress. By adopting that simple lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that I have checked out of my fashionista “sixth sense”, but most likely, I am claiming my individuality in a smart way. No more clutter.

By: Marie Caroline Charles