I N S P I R E D by Minimalism and Stomping Fear
I love everything about this interview, and Viktoria's blog equally. I hope you will too. Read up for expert tiyö on minimalism, and Viktoria's honest opinions about the world.
Viktoria is the lovely blogger behind The Lifestyle Files. She writes on a wide range of topics, and her blog is clearly a reflection of how much pride she takes in delivering quality work. She has great posts on minimalism, fashion, beauty, food, and lifestyle.
Viktoria’s blog is well-written, full of useful information, and thoughtful opinions.
I wanted to ask her everything from her opinion on fashion and beauty, to technology and self-development, but I've settled on minimalism for now.
I must say, I recommend getting cozy and spending a good amount of time on The Lifestyle Files, and definitely hit the ‘older posts’ button a few times. Personally, I have a whole bunch of Viktoria's posts opened on a zillion tabs as I write this! And it's been like this for a few days now. Read read, open more more.
At a time when it's common to take another’s headlines and simply elaborate on it, it’s both rare and incredible to see a blog where the headlines are totally original, and the content is absolutely new.
I am very inspired by her blogging style, originality, and questioning of habits. On her blog she questions things like depending on pictures to document moments instead of our memories, but also the opposing view: constant complaining of technology. Very interesting blogger and person.
I want this interview to act as an introduction to minimalism for those who don’t practice it, and advice for those who are already acquainted with it.
- THE BLOG -
The Lifestyle Files is a blog focused on how to design a smart, stylish, and more intentional life. I share my experiences, practical tips, and personal stories with topics around lifestyle, fashion, beauty, shopping, travel, decluttering, productivity, and personal growth. I’d like to inspire people to find and focus on what really matters in their lives and make the absolute best of it. I’m also a big fan of the minimalist aesthetic and share my favorite interior, fashion, and design inspirations.
-HOW IT STARTED-
I’ve been an avid blog reader for 7 or 8 years, but for a long time I was perfectly satisfied with being a content consumer and it never occurred to me to start my own blog. Then this tiny voice appeared in my head that maybe I could try this and it quickly got louder and louder. The idea of exploring my creativity in a new way was very tempting. I also realized that the bloggers I followed, the stories and articles I read and liked, the photos I admired all gave me something: useful knowledge, a fresh point of view, some inspiration, motivation, tips and tricks, or just a feeling of shared experiences.
And as cliché as it may sound, I wanted to do the same for others. I thought that if even one person found my ideas about a conscious, simple life inspiring and motivating, it would be totally worth it.
Putting my thoughts and life out there has been pretty scary at the beginning – actually it still is. I’m quite an introvert and a very private person, especially on social media. But I’m also big fan of trying to overcome our fears and stepping out of our comfort zones, and it is exactly what I did with my blog.
It took me some time to launch. I first started a public Instagram page as a baby step in September 2016 and started my research phase. I googled everything there is to know about starting a blog. Hosting issues, WordPress, the best plugins, SEO, how to edit images, social media sites, themes, cameras and lenses. It went on for months. I set out launch deadlines (the first one was December 2016)– and then missed them, because I didn’t feel ready. But at one point, I realized I had to stop delaying, so I took a big breath and pushed the go online button on the 1st of February. I knew I wasn’t ready by my own standards, but I decided that done is better than perfect and I would figure everything out later. I’ve been trying to embrace this just start mentality in all walks of life ever since.
-HOW IT EVOLVED-
Q: What did you shed and what did you hold onto in order to expand with The Lifestyle Files and/or as a person?
In the last few months, I realized the concept of slow living is totally applicable to blogging as well. I’m a big fan of slow blogging – quality over quantity, providing value, and accepting and enjoying the journey instead of getting trapped in a numbers game.
I also realized it’s important to share the struggles and not pretend to be perfect all the time. I don’t claim to know all the answers, I’m not leading a perfectly minimalist, simple, intentional life, but it’s OK. I do my best and I try and that’s all that matters. The more I read and write about conscious living, the more I realize it’s not an all or nothing game. Some people delay making changes because they feel they cannot commit totally. But it doesn’t matter, because even small step counts, they are actually more important than most of us would think.
Interestingly, I didn’t have a light bulb minimalist moment. A lot of people have these grandiose stories on how minimalism, decluttering, and simplicity changed their lives from one day to another. For me, it was a slower, less spectacular journey and it started way before I even realized there was a minimalist movement.
I simply started to pay a lot more attention to what I was buying and surrounding myself with.
A lot of people equate minimalism with owing as little as possible and a strange obsession with throwing out as many things as possible. My understanding of minimalism couldn’t be further from that. I think owning less is not the goal, but the result of living more intentionally.
And it’s not strictly tied to shopping and physical objects either. For me minimalism is about educating myself about what I buy and support with my money, being mindful about how I spend my time, and freeing myself from outside influences and focusing strictly on what I think is important in life.
You don’t have to call yourself a minimalist in order to make smarter and more intentional choices when it comes to buying and living. To be honest, I don’t like strict lifestyle definitions either. Yes, I’m inspired by minimalism, but also by a lot of other things and movements, from slow living to sustainability.
I think mindless and excessive consumerism is really one of the gravest dangers in our society. It throws people off balance. It equates buying with happiness. It always promises, but never delivers. Advertisements distort our self-images and value systems. So, most of us could benefit from adopting a more balanced, minimalist attitude when it comes to how we spend our money and time, regardless if we call ourselves a full-fledged minimalist or not. It doesn’t mean we cannot find joy in material things, but a great deal of thinking should go into that purchase.
I’d also say that despite popular thinking, there are also no rules when it comes to a more minimalist lifestyle, it’s only about finding and focusing on what matters to you and eliminating the rest. It’s a deeply personal journey, what I find valuable may not mean anything to others and vice versa. There are no checklists or one right way to do it.
-CHALLENGES OF MINIMALISM-
I don’t like that some people make it seem like resisting the temptations of this incredibly consumerist culture is easy. It’s not. I’d say I’m quite deliberate when it comes to shopping, I always do my research, have plans, and I’m not really an impulse buyer, but sometimes it still takes a lot of effort to say no to particular things. But at the end, that effort is totally worth it.
Just because you’re more intentional when it comes to buying, it doesn’t mean you have to give up owning nice things. You just have to have good reasons for buying them. It’s great when you look around and realize you are actually surrounded by things you love and use. You really learn to appreciate what you have.
-MINIMALISM AND FASHION-
Q: What would you say to someone who loves fashion and dressing up, but wants to try out minimalism. Living out of a backpack can be unfeasible for a stylish girl. But should that mean minimalism isn’t for her?
Well, my wardrobe definitely cannot fit into a backpack. I resist the minimalist numbers game – I have no idea how many items I own, nor do I have the inclination to add them up. For me, minimalism in fashion is all about focusing on quality instead of quantity and curating a wardrobe full of pieces I love and use for a long time. It means waiting and saving for that one perfect blazer instead of settling and buying 5 subpar ones. And it’s also about finding our own personal style and signature look that oozes confidence, individuality, and personality.
I have a couple of questions I always ask myself before a purchase. Do I really love it? Do I really need it? Is it good quality? Can I see myself wearing this next year or the year after that as well? Is it comfortable? Can I afford this? Do I have at least 5 other things in my closet that I can pair it with?
If the answer is not a firm yes to any of these question, I don’t buy it. This ensures that everything I have in my wardrobe is carefully selected, practical, and fits my lifestyle and aesthetic.
I’d describe my style as modern minimal. My wardrobe is mostly neutral and monochrome - black, white, grays, with the occasional color thrown in, like navy, olive, blush, or burgundy, depending on the season and my mood.
I like simplicity with a unique twist – beautiful, quality pieces with a cool silhouette or an interesting cut. Playing with layers or textures is one of my favorite ways to elevate a basic outfit. And comfort is incredibly important to me. I need to wear my clothes, not just look at them.
I love the slow fashion movement and I’m so happy that it’s gaining momentum. I encourage everybody to research and learn more about it. It was only a couple of years ago that I started to learn about the true cost of fast fashion and how it affects the environment and people. It’s not a sustainable practice and only we, the customers have the power to say no and change something. Change can start with small steps, like breaking the fast fashion cycle, buying less, buying quality, and buying for longevity, or discovering and supporting small, independent, ethical brands.
Q:Would you shop from a brand that tailor-makes every piece to your measurements? How does the idea of getting your clothes made exactly to your measurements sound to you?
Fit and material are also make-or-break factors for me. I prefer natural fabrics and do not really buy completely synthetic materials (some percentage mixed in is OK). I like the idea of tailor-made pieces, it’s a beautiful way of celebrating personal style, quality, longevity, and craftsmanship in fashion and a huge contrast to the wasteful, impersonal mass production that is prevailing today. Buying something hand-made which is a perfect fit to your measurements, lifestyle, and aesthetic could definitely be a good investment in your wardrobe.
- DIETS AND COMPASSION-
Q: I noticed you have some interesting opinions about diets, compassion in diets, etc. We've come a long way in terms of body image and accepting each other, but still have a long way to go. Can you talk a bit about this?
I love that there’s a growing conscientiousness around healthy lifestyle choices, but unfortunately, there are less positive aspects of this as well. I feel that with this increasing awareness, we’re also becoming more judgmental about (and unnecessarily obsessed with) what other people are doing and eating. Food shaming and commenting on what other people are eating (and consequently) how they look is something we all need to stop. Even if we want to help, we must do it more gently.
Our relationship with food and eating is incredibly complex. In one way, the way we eat is a choice. We choose what to buy, whether to cook or go out, how to keep a balance and make healthy or unhealthy choices. But it’s also so much more complicated than that - social, cultural, personal, religious, educational, health, or mental factors all heavily influence it. We all must keep this in mind all the time and tone down the judgment button.
I think we need to find a balance between self-acceptance and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
There are some things I will never be able to change about myself, no matter how hard I try. I will never be taller or shorter. I have a set bone structure and metabolism. We need to let go of those feelings, because it’s totally fruitless and quite destructive to obsess over them. However, I also believe there are things we should do for ourselves and I mostly approach this from a health and well-being perspective – how we look is only a byproduct of this. I know that if I commit to a fitness routine or take the time to eat fresh, I feel stronger, better, healthier and that gives me confidence.
I don’t like extremities and eating is no exception. I’m all about balance – strive for healthy choices in the majority of time, but do not ever beat yourself up if you decide to eat something more decadent. Enjoy those small treats by all means.
-A BETTER LIFE -
Q: So here, I’d like for you to give a ‘tip’ to my readers. A tiyö. The word tiyö means tip that comes purely from experience. Not just because people say it will work and the books say it’s right, but because the person giving tiyö experienced this exact thing and knows for sure that this will be the way to succeeding at whatever you’re doing. So it’s kind of guaranteed to work. Please give a tiyö that will lead others to live a better life.
I love this concept! I’d like to share two interrelated tiyö. The first one is be honest with yourself. Be honest about what you really want, what you value in life, what’s important, what is worth the struggle. Be honest about your excuses, bad habits, and fears as well. It may seem simple, but so many people live their lives based on things they think are important or expected of them, and not what they really value. I came across a quote once (by Sheryl Sandberg) and it’s been my mantra ever since: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” So simple, but powerful at the same time – if you’re really honest about it.
And second, if you figured out what you want, go for it. When I realized that it was mostly fear – fear of failure, fear of change, fear of disappointment – that held me back a lot of times, it suddenly became a lot easier to step over it. Because I don’t want to live my life in fear or with regrets, I always want to be able to say: at least I tried.
-A BETTER WORLD-
And finally, how do you think we can achieve a more gentle world?
By realizing that even small changes can make a big difference.