Choosing beauty over undue practicality

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris

I am nothing if not a practical person. In fact, I’m often practical to a fault. And yes, there is such a thing. As I’ve been working through this process of releasing the weight of excess “stuff,” I’ve been realizing how often I convince myself to purchase or keep things because they are practical, not because I truly love them. These leaves me surrounded by things that leave me vaguely dissatisfied, but that function just well enough that I can’t justify replacing them.

I allow my “practicality” to squash my love for beauty in all its various forms time and again. The irony is that my “practicality” usually comes into play by urging me to select an option that is less expensive than the one I truly love, but because I’m never quite happy with the result, it usually winds up costing me more in the long run than if I had selected what I truly wanted.

I was thinking about this today in relation to the outfit that I wore to work. It’s one that I’ve had for a while, but I never had quite the right top to go with it, so I seldom wore it because it never felt or looked very good on me. But it was one that I really did think I would love if I could find that right top, so I have been searching for what I needed. I had the chance to try it out today, and it was amazing the effect it had on me to be wearing an outfit that I genuinely loved and felt good in instead of one that feels practical to wear to work. I don’t know that I looked any different to anyone else, but I felt good. Noticeably so.

I can’t remember the last time that I wore a professional outfit that left me feeling so good. (I often feel that way in my jeans, but that’s another story!) The ironic thing is that this is an outfit that is not very “practical” according to my normal definition of the word. It does not contain colors that make it easily interchangeable with other outfits. It has no pockets for carrying around my keys or my phone. It’s a skirt, which I think of as being too cold for winter time weather (and it was very cold here today). And I wear it with boots that I love, but I don’t think of boots as “practical” since they don’t work with all outfits (back to that interchangeability thing). But the outfit as it was all put together was beautiful (to me anyway), and that felt so much better than practicality when all things are considered.

It’s sad that this is such a rare thing for me, that I have so bullied myself into choosing practical things that I am surprised to encounter the feeling of encountering being with something that is beautiful. It tells me that my priorities need to shift. I think I would be happier with a collection of a few things that I love than I am with piles of things that leave me vaguely dissatisfied.

Which means that I may need to purchase more things (like the top that completed this outfit) as part of the process of releasing things. Counter-intuitive as that sounds, it may be that putting together that small collection of things that I love will enable to let go of all of these “practical” things that I don’t.

It’s given me much food for thought today anyway, and I suspect that William Morris’ maxim is one that is going to be put to very good use around here in the coming days.

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4 thoughts on “Choosing beauty over undue practicality

  1. If you have something beautiful that you love you will use it a lot more than something practical that you dislike. In the end, that is a more practical choice. Simplicity and ascetic extremes are two different things, 😉 If I pay more for something that I use all of the time versus paying less for something that I cannot abide, well, which is more practical? Do you believe that you deserve beauty? Do you believe that you are beautiful?

    • Very good questions! I don’t think that I’m beautiful, but I think that perhaps the belief that I don’t deserve beauty (particularly if it costs anything) is the root of the problem. Thanks for pointing this out!! More to think about … 🙂

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