1.27.2011

NECESSARY TOILETRIES

I liked two things best in my friend Stacey's Quintessence post this morning. One is that she and her sister obviously make an effort to have a standing date to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art; they've figured out that the only way not to be overwhelmed by its vast hoards is to go there early and often. The other is the "necessaire" that was featured in one of the Met's jewel-like shows. This box was kitted out with the items of a wealthy person's toilette. It contains a few items for sewing, taking care of one's person, and knowing what time it is.

In other words, only what was necessary. It struck me, as I was assembling my own chic ziploc bag of necessaires for a trip, how very little used to be necessary. A comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, tooth twine (as K. White had it...), skin moisturizer, and perfume. Look at the avalanche of bottles, potions, lotions, unguents, creams, medicines, gizmos and gadgets spilling across our bathroom counters and stockpiled in crammed cabinets today. You have to wonder: how much of this do I actually need? or even use? Packing always brings on radical housecleaning: I'm done with holding on to clothes I will never wear, bottles I will never open. Someone else can have them. What a lovely reminder from across the centuries to keep things simple. Precious, elaborate, ornate--sure. But all that attention can be lavished on a few items. These are the years when we know what we like, and need, and we know enough to buy the best we can afford, but be highly selective about what we will actually use. This is a time for streamlining. But don't ask for a peek into my china cabinet...


5 comments:

Karena said...

Was that not the most beautiful post!? The truth is as you have said Dominique, my makeup and toiletries are quite a collection.

Another editiing out project for me!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

The Ornamentalist said...

what a lovely little case.
doesn't it seem a bit depressing to have to travel with little ziplock bags instead of a proper toiletries case? traveling used to be so glamorous.

although it is still a great way to weed out your toiletries and other unnecessary space fillers in your life. a few weeks on the road and when you come back all the useless stuff in the bathroom and dressing table are far easier to part with.

VLK said...

I find that quality encourages an inverse relationship to quantity. Not just because it usually costs more, but because it is so much more satisfying. I eat less when I eat well (i.e., savor really flavorful, exquisitely prepared food -- which often contains butter, so it's a good thing I don't need to eat as much of it!). I live in a 500 s.f. apartment in Manhattan, but I love every square inch of it. I have a small dog, and love every inch of him, too -- in fact, the pug "motto" is _multem in parvo_, "a lot in a little package"!

I think your post here speaks to a problem we have as a culture: we have so much of so many things, but they're all so, well. disposable. And we're fast running out of places to dispose of them. But craftsmanship and artistry take such time and care that one wants to pass the objects along, not throw them away. The objects in the museum exhibit ranged from 150 to several hundred years old. They're not cluttering any landfills or drifting into the Great Pacific Gyre. When you possess something so beautiful, you _want_ to take care of it; it becomes precious to you. Doesn't it seem like so many of our modern problems might involve the fact that we make so little nowadays that is worth caring about?

Cristina said...

such an odd combination of items for body care and a clock: hoping for a "timeless beauty"?!...

quintessence said...

Dominique - what a fun surprise! So glad you enjoyed this - it is an absolutely beautiful exhibit! And I so need to do a cleaning out as well - both in the closet and the bathroom!!