Day 283 Vanity Clutter

Today’s post is a follow in from yesterday elaborating on vanity the offshoot of pride.

I have wanted to write this post since half way through my recent vacation. All those people lugging those huge suitcases on and off trains, planes and automobiles all, I can only guess, in the name of vanity. As I have mentioned before my husband and I managed our entire one month vacation with one half empty backpack each weighing about 12 pound. So I can only assume that those other couples were carrying a lot of stuff they just didn’t need.

How much of your clutter can you contribute to vanity? You know the items in your home that serve to 1.) Remind you and others of your achivements 2.) Enhance your attractiveness to others. I have made a list of items below that come under one of both of these headings.

Souvenirs – Quite often these are pointless nick naks that only serve to collect dust and waste space in our homes. If we are to be honest we place these items on display so that any person entering our home might see them and are envious of the places we have been. We rarely look at them ourselves and think “yes that was a really good vacation”.

I have seen cars where the rear window is so cluttered with stickers of the places its occupants have been that they could barely see out when reversing. Why do they find it necessary to advertise?

I have done it myself with a piece of jewelry I have that when people say – “Isn’t that a lovely necklace?” I have proudly answered – “Yes, I got it in Venice”. How obnoxious.

Beauty products – this one of course belongs in the second category mentioned above. Why do we continue to waste our hard earned dollars on face creams, make-up etc all in the hope of disguising the beautiful people we are. Sure we all have visual flaws we would rather cover up but how much effort and expense does that cost us each day. Couldn’t we get by with a little tinted moisturizer, a lipstick, mascara and a brow pencil? Do we really need fifteen different shades of eye shadow, two different bronzers, a separate face cream for morning, noon and night, six shades of lipstick…need I go on.

Be who you are, know when enough is enough and only use enough products to enhance your natural beauty. The beauty we should be most concerned about is the beauty within that should outshine anything on the outside. No amount of product is going to make you attractive to others if you have lost your inner beauty to vanity.

Fashion Items – This one belongs in both categories. Above all else clothing should be practical and comfortable. It is best to find the styles to suit your particular type of beauty and go with that. Following the latest trend whether it suits our shape or complexion is wardrobe clutter in the making and usually not at all flattering.

Sure we want to look nice and presentable on all occasions but let’s face it we don’t need to spend a fortune on designer clothes in order to achieve that.  That kind of extravagance is akin to those souvenirs I spoke of earlier only worn to impress whether they suit us or not or whether we can really afford it or not. High prices don’t always mean better quality either.

Trophies – I have spoken about this one before because I have a shelf full of them that my husband thinks we should keep but I think are just a boast from ancient history. The newest one is ten years old and the oldest probably dates back to when I was 15 (30 years ago). What do they achieve? To tell people that I was good at something once and they should all know about it.

Am I proud of those achievements? Pride is a funny thing really isn’t it, should I be proud or just thankful that I stumbled upon a sport that I was reasonably successful at due to the physical talents I was born with? You will never perform well at anything that you don’t have the natural physical or mental capacity to achieve in. So when you do achieve is that something to be proud of or something to be grateful for?

Think about these things when you separate your clutter from the things that you are keeping and ask yourself why. Why do I feel I need to keep this item and why do I acquire such items in the first place. Sometimes decluttering requires a bit of soul searching as does being consumer conscious in the first place.


One or two of these were souvenirs I had collected years ago the others were golf prizes of my grandmother. I hate cleaning silver and I won’t forget my grandmother if I don’t own these so they are going in the donation box. Maybe they will find a home with someone who will appreciate them.

Silver Spoons

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Someone to cuddle when I have bad dreams.
  2. Spices – I like my food to bite back.
  3. Eyeglasses – I just took mine off to clean them and couldn’t read a thing in this screen without them.
  4. Good friends – ones who don’t mind that you have to cancel the dinner date you made with them at the last minute because you still can’t talk.
  5. My life – Because some people don’t even know where their next meal is coming from or when it will be.


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Continue reading with these posts:

  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need, or more likely just want, but once their usefulness to, or novelty for, us has expired we […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Beauty products! I remember after moving out of my parents house that my beauty product collection expanded with each move. Many were bath sets given to me at Christmas, plus whatever I managed to pick up. A few moves ago, I decided to start decluttering those. 4 moves later (into a house we plan to stay in for a long time), I’m down to 2 types of hair product, 1 bottle of lotion, 1 mascara, 1 eyeshadow set, and a hairbrush. My husband and I share a shallow medicine cabinet for our toiletries, which includes aspirin, shaving set, and saline solution for my contacts. That’s all we need. We have a built-in linen closet in our master bathroom that is practically empty.

    • Hi Wesa,
      and after getting rid of all of that I bet you are more beautiful than ever.
      By the way, it is nice to hear from you again we haven’t heard your voice for a couple of months. Thanks for checking in, your welcome anytime. How is my beautiful Seattle?

  2. Doing okay here as far as minimalist makeup goes, but you got me thinking about a different vanity with this line: “So when you do achieve is that something to be proud of or something to be grateful for?” Thank you for the reminder to be thankful for what we’ve been given.

    • Hi Jo,
      it is an important lesson to remember. Whatever we put effort into whether great or small and achieve success at are usually things that we get equal enjoyment or at lease satisfaction from so we are aptly rewarded for that effort. Pride then seems like over compensation and maybe even bloated self worth. There is a difference with being happy with the results of your effort and taking all credit for its possibility.

  3. Ah yes, vanity and pride. I was taught to have that. Everything I had and did was based on how it looked to others. Then I realized that I was living my life not the way I wanted it but the way I was told I SHOULD want it. Chucked it all and started over. My mother still lives too much that way and since we now live together I find myself bugged by her pridefulness. We would have so much less if I had my druthers. Ah well! I’m gradually getting her to see the light. YES!!

    • Hi Deb J,
      I think we are all taught to by proud of ourselves when we do well at something which is OK so long as it is taught with an equal lesson on humility.
      Talking about learning things, you taught me a new word today – Druthers:- freedom to choose – I had to look that one up.

  4. So much emphasis was placed on surface things when I was growing up–our clothes, our car, our house, our hair, our makeup, just everything. I was taught to try to hide my deafness, too, and didn’t get to pick out my own clothes and glasses until I was almost out of high school. Took a long time and a lot of growing up to get past it.

    These days I wear my grey hair cropped so short my hearing aids are in full view, I say “what?” all the time, skip the makeup, and love my comfy clothes. It’s worth it.

    • Hi Meg,
      I am saddened by the fact that you were taught to hide your deafness. Being deaf would have posed its own challenges without the added burden or trying to hide the fact. It is good that you now can embrace who you are.
      I wish I looked as good as you with that lovely short hair but alas short hair just makes me look like an unattractive boy. I am clinging to at least that much vanity for now. 😉

  5. I love the way you look at things…!!! And the way you have given me permission to let go of so many “things”. Not sure why I feel I needed permission, but I certainly needed a different viewpoint.
    I have only discovered your blog about a month back but it is a breath of fresh air. I didnt realise why my life and house was cluttered and that I had such an urge to gather and hoard things, but a light has come on and now I look at things so differently…
    I have started to let go and it feels so good!

    • Hi Bronwyn,
      your comment bought a tear to my eye. This is the very reason I keep writing everyday. I am learning so much from this experience and want to share it and help others out there who… 1.) Don’t know where or how to start to declutter. 2.) Find it difficult to make the hard decisions and need a little push. 3.) Need to learn that there is more joy and freedom in resisting buying more clutter than there is in owning it.

      I am so glad to be of help to you and wish you good luck in your declutter journey not only for the physical benefits but the mental process as well. By the way, how is the ironing lady doing? See you are already reaping the benefits of gift decluttering.

  6. I’m seeing that skin sensitivities and allergies are a good thing. Because I’m allergic to so many beauty products, I’ve never accumulated much in that area. Then with my husband’s much more severe allergies, we limit our lotions, shampoos and soaps to the one or two that he can use. It makes our bath so much more ’empty’. In fact, our guest bath has 3 empty drawers out of six, and one of those holds only a blow dryer.

    Thanks for the reminder that stuff is sometimes kept just for ‘pride’. I’m looking around my living room to check–what is displayed and why?

    • Hi Willow,
      there you go, you have just turned skin sensitivities into an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Life is good to us sometimes in the most mysterious ways. 😉

  7. I am really enjoying your “5 things” addition to your blog entries. What a wonderful sense of gratitude. And today I liked the statement about how you won’t forget your Grandmother if you don’t keep her spoon collection. I have only kept things from ancestors that I use or that make me feel really good when I see them and that has made each of them special to me.

    • Hi Juhli,
      thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment for the first time, the first of many I hope. I gather you have been reading my blog for a while but I will take this opportunity to say that you are very welcome here and we appreciate your input.
      I am glad you are enjoying the gratitude list. It makes me stop and think about how lucky I am which I take for granted all too often.
      I also have some sentimental items from my Grandmother that are useful and they are the ones I will keep.

  8. I love the insightful and meaningful direction your blog is taking! Thank you for making the connection between clutter and our underlying insecurities.

    • Hi Christine,
      I was concerned I was starting to sound cynical and preachy but not to you obviously and I thank you for saying so.
      I take for granted sometimes that I learn from what I see around me and forget that others may need things to be brought to their attention. So I am trying not to assume that just because I have observed things or maybe analyzed them would be a better description, during this declutter journey of mine doesn’t mean that others are seeing the same things. I then like to share my experience good or bad so we can all get a new perspective. I feel it is best to see things from as many angles as possible which is where helpful readers like you come in, with your views on the topic the whole subject becomes more rounded.
      I don’t see this year of decluttering as a task I see it as a learning experience that I am glad to have undertaken and feel I am a better person for it.

  9. This is an excellent post!

    I used to be one of those woman who didn’t dare leave the house without a “full face” of makeup on.

    But then I developed a thyroid problem, gained a bunch of weight, decided that I no longer looked good-makeup or not, and I started “not bothering”.

    I haven’t worn makeup now for the last few years, except for a touch of lipstick, neutral eyeshadow, and mascara for church. Sometimes I don’t even bother with that.

    I’ve saved countless dollars by ditching most of the cosmetics.

    Now I’m trying to decide on whether or not it’s time to go naturally gray. 😉

    • Hi Becky,
      I say embrace the grey and grow old gracefully. Like I said in my post, I don’t understand why we women spend so much time and money covering up the beautiful people we are. How much effort do you think men make on the same thing, for the average guy, not a lot if any. I don’t know if you have read any of the blog I recommended – – Bobbi is only 42 and had been covering up her grey for years but desided to go a la naturale and wow she looks great.


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