The minimalist lifestyle is misunderstood by so many of us, both those who love the idea of minimalism as well as those who don’t see the point of its existence. This leads to not only confusion as to what goes and what doesn’t, but far too many unsuccessful attempts at incorporating this way of life into our current realities.
Regardless the reason for this obstruction between us and this simple, carefree lifestyle, it is one that can totally be averted with just the right amount of accurate information and a bit more practice and perfecting, should we choose this lifestyle for ourselves. What is key though, before jumping on the minimalist bandwagon, is understanding completely, the nature of this concept before jumping on with both feet, only to discover it isn’t quite right for you, or isn’t what you were anticipating. After all; the minimalist lifestyle, though appealing and on trend; is not everyone’s cup of tea.
A Minimalist Introduction
For starters, the whole concept of the minimalist lifestyle revolves around “intentionality”. This forms a foundation for clarity and purpose in your life. Unlike a trend or passing fad, which are easily adopted and used until they are rendered obsolete, minimalism is a life that is based on clear vision regarding what you need as opposed to what you want. Contrary to this ‘fast’ time-capsule we find ourselves in, the minimalist lifestyle is a process that begins with you signing-out of things that distract you in any way or prevent you from being happy, peaceful or mindful of others.
Minimalism forces you to connect with all the things and people that are of value to you and that serve a purpose in your life vs those that do not, this removal of distraction and distortion gives rise to intentional activity. For example, intentional purchases where you buy only what you need and can use more frequently and that gives you a mode of happiness, people who are in front of you, whom you can connect with more personally vs those who are foreign or further away.
It is a common myth where people associate a minimalist with a blank sheet of paper. Lacking something or the other that makes it boring, colourless, often with no personality. This is so NOT the case. A vibrant individual can totally be a minimalist, living a colourful, dramatic lifestyle but with only the things that are truly needed, possessions and people with purpose and that have a sentimental connection.
The Minimalist and the Wardrobe
If you’ve ever heard someone talk passionately about minimalism or their journey of embracing it, you most definitely must have heard them bring up the editing of their wardrobes, in conversation. You may have even wondered; like me, as to what a wardrobe update may have to do with a lifestyle that calls for minimizing. With a minimalist lifestyle, one’s wardrobe is the biggest space where unnecessary clutter is found. Clutter that may vary in shape, size or quantity but clutter nonetheless. You’d be surprised or probably not, that a majority of Americans contribute substantially to wastage of apparel alone.
Demarquis of DKC News shared an insightful survey by Trunk Club and SWNS based on American wardrobes where it was discovered that 30% of the average American’s wardrobes go unused for over a year. 61% of women struggle with finding something to wear from a closet full of apparel. The shocker is the 74% who have clothing they keep for sentimental reasons and are left unworn.
Now that you know how imperative it is to declutter your wardrobe and allowing this action to snowball into other aspects of life, especially if you’re seriously considering a minimalist lifestyle, let’s begin our wardrobe journey by cracking yet another myth or better yet, misconception that many people have, and that is presuming a minimalist wardrobe is the same as a capsule wardrobe.
Yes sure, many people HEAR about this and pass this information on as fact. Which it is not. Not to bore you with lots of history but it was Susie Faux who first started the capsule wardrobe idea back in the 1970s as shared by Elesha who wrote a very interesting article on her blog, minimise to maximise; where she not only differentiates between the two types of wardrobes but also adds inspiration to the subject for even better understanding.
Dealing with Baggage – An Evaluation
Presuming that you have already established your own personal style and if not, that’s good too as that leaves you more room for experimenting with different styles and not necessarily trends that may swiftly become dated. It’s time to fashion your minimalist wardrobe based on a colour palette that you simply can’t do without and using this colour scheme to build your minimalist closet.
Audrey, who works at Gansevoort Hotel Group shares some cool ideas regarding an easy way of getting started with your minimalist wardrobe. First off; you don’t have to stick to neutrals, black and white or monochromes which is another myth that I’m proudly busting right now, but can freely incorporate pops of colour which she thinks can be translated through accessories or footwear more easily as they can be switched around, as opposed to garments. Speaking of garments, going for classic, timeless pieces would be a good idea as they can be used through various seasons. Which makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it? Thanks Audrey!
If you aren’t quite following where I’m going with this, here’s a real life example shared by Kathryn herself, a consultant, public speaker and blogger who is great at what she does, which is working towards a greener world- from Going Zero Waste. When Kathryn started with her wardrobe, she focused on the pieces she loved the most and that fit the lifestyle she has rather than the lifestyle she fantasizes about. This is a ground-breaking thought that I think, not only applies to so many of us but can be just the ingredient we need to separate our true reality vs the one that is imagined.
A Californian living in a casual jeans environment, Kathryn has no interest in suits which her imagined self may have once purchased, so that is how the process of letting go begins. This may take a little time for some and lots of time for others, but it takes “Time” to get to this stage. Now here’s an exercise we could all use, Kathryn recommends taking five pieces from your wardrobe that you LOVE and figuring out the reason why. Could it be the colour, the style or silhouette that flatters your figure or skin tone? Making notes and forming checklists is key, so that you know the criteria for what you keep and what you don’t in your wardrobe as well as what you would need to buy in future.
Interestingly there is lots of emotion and psychology involved in this process that Kathryn points out, needs addressing. From the emotion attached to buying something new to the one involved in letting a piece go. The psychology behind how our minds think and get a thrill from buying anything new which she thinks should be channeled elsewhere, other than consumption which I totally agree with.
Choose or Lose
Kelly Tenny from Zippbox.com shares with us some helpful tips on how to choose functional as well as stylish minimalist-friendly wardrobe pieces based on the following.
Choose clothing that is comfortable
Choose clothing that makes you feel good wearing it
Choose clothing that layers well with other garments
Choose clothing that matches well with other pieces
Choose clothing that fits your lifestyle
Choose clothing that you wear in multiple seasons
Pros of Having a Minimalist Wardrobe
You will have less laundry to do and more time for things and people that matter.
You will have an easier time picking out an outfit in the morning.
You will be saving money from all the clothes and accessories you will NOT be buying.
You will be creating less textile waste. Oh! This one helps others too. A huge environmental problem.
Kelly does not identify herself as being a minimalist as she loves wearing patterns too much, which calls into question whether minimalism and enjoying ones love for colour or patterns can go hand in hand.
Interestingly it can, as the whole concept of minimalism is not to prevent anyone from enjoying what they love but to instill a discipline over the quantity one possesses but never uses vs the quality of the same that can truly be enjoyed. Yes you got it! What purpose do two black pants serve, that are so similar that you end up using one while the other is left unworn? So taking cue from Kelly’s love for patterns, I share with you the creative, fun side of the minimalist lifestyle.
Tips for Creative Minimalists
Milana Perepyolkina is an international best-selling author of Gypsy Energy Secrets who shared with me some truly creative, cool ways to not only adopt a minimalist lifestyle but adding some flavour to your wardrobe through these unique ways.
Stop buying – start exchanging. Clothing exchange is a great way to get new clothes. You get rid of the old ones and get new ones without cluttering your wardrobe.
Keep only what you really love and use a lot.
With no clutter you have a clear mind to be creative with your wardrobe choices.
Find an alternative to shopping. Perhaps a hike in the woods where you can get a beautiful rock instead of buying a new t-shirt.
You will quickly realize that you have saved money that you can use for something more meaningful and memorable. A trip to your favourite destination- a good idea. The idea is to create memories NOT cluttered wardrobes.
Points to Take Home
The take-away point from mentioning all of the above is to:
Wear clothes that allow you to express something unique about your personality. For e.g. I am a Gypsy by nationality, so I wear a long, beautiful scarf with every outfit. It reminds me of my ancestors and highlights my unique style.
Wear bright colours. Colours do create their own energy. For e.g. red will allow you to feel more passionate, green and blue are healing, while yellow will open up your communication channels, purple will improve your intuition. If you have only several outfits, use red, green or blue, yellow and purple.
Wear something that gives you a feeling of being magical. It must have a special meaning to you. This way, even if you have just a few outfits, you feel amazing each time you wear them.
As we part ways, I’m sure we can agree especially after reading the above and understanding the different angles shared by our contributing friends, has left us all with a clearer vision into this way of life. All you have to remember is that it is not about giving up all that you have, to a point that is harmful to you or your well-being, as many have resorted to extreme measures just to fit into what seems an easy or trendy lifestyle. On the contrary it is all about being happy with living simply which reminds me of a quote from Einstein that I leave you with “Everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler”.
About the author:
Gath D’Silva is a fashion designer working with a fashion brand. He is also an aspiring writer, who loves to promote art and artists as well as encourage ethical fashion across the world. He is against animal cruelty in all forms and hopes that mankind may one day see animals as friends.