Since gaining popularity in New York as an avant-garde art movement in the 1960s, minimalism has become a lifestyle practice that’s all about intentionally focusing on the things that you consider valuable and getting rid of everything else that distracts from this.
To get more clarity about what minimalism is, let’s first define what it isn’t. It’s not about getting rid of everything you own save for (insert number that you read in a minimalist blog) things. It’s definitely not about having to give up your car, television, and home. And it’s so much more than living in stark, all-white rooms with little to no décor or furniture.
Nor do you have to adopt the ‘wear nothing but monochrome sets’ style when it comes to creating a minimalist fashion wardrobe.
Creating Your Minimalist Wardrobe
A minimalist wardrobe is an antithesis to the current fast-fashion culture constantly being promoted by celebrities, influencers, and companies on social media. The “more is more” concept pushed by fast-fashion retailers is about accumulating clothing that you like instead of investing in pieces that you love.
Adopting a minimalist attitude when it comes to your fashion will no doubt have ramifications for other areas in your life. Minimalism is in essence, more about a value system than a checklist of dos and don’ts.
Instead of rushing to buy seasonal trends, a minimal wardrobe focuses on conscious buying and slow fashion, investing in high-quality, classic yet versatile pieces that fit, match, and look great together.
If you seek the liberation that comes with downsizing your closet and desire to be more mindful of the waste generated by the fashion industry, here’s how you can get started on your minimalist wardrobe.
1. Clean Out Your Closet
This might be hard for some, especially if you’re one purchase away from starring in your very own episode of “Hoarders.” Empty your closet and sort everything into three piles: keep, let go, repurpose.
When choosing what to keep, consider how often you wear an item and whether it fits into the minimalist style you’re going for (more on this later). If it’s something that you love and wear often, keep it. If it has actual dust on it, it might be time to let go.
For items that are gently worn but no longer flatter you, don’t make you feel good, or do not fit into your new minimalist wardrobe, there are various ways that you can let go of them. Resell them online or at your local consignment store. Hold a swap party for your friends.
Rather than taking the time and effort to sell old clothing, some prefer to simply donate to charity. For those that are too damaged to wear again, there are creative ways to repurpose them. Did you know that you can turn old t-shirts into shoes? Upcycling is better than filling a landfill.
2. Define Your Style
Do a quick assessment of your downsized closet. Do you seem to prefer bold colors or whites? Solids or prints? Do you have many clothes in the same fabric?
Pinterest is a great place to help you define your style. Create a mood board and pin looks that you are attracted to. Check to see if there’s a common theme emerging. Are you more drawn to classic or edgy looks? Do you seem to prefer a casual or dressier look? Between your pared-down closet and your Pinterest mood board, your style should become clear.
3. Choose A Color Palette
Take a look at your closet and mood board. Your current wardrobe shows the colors you’ve been drawn to in the past while the mood board gives insight into what you might want more of. Write down the colors that appear frequently.
- 2 – 3 base colors. Your wardrobe basics—the staples that you wear often like shoes, jackets, jeans, etc.—should be in your base colors. They convey the overall tone of your wardrobe. Choose cool tones or warm tones and pick slightly muted shades of these colors for versatility.
- 2 – 3 neutral colors. The items that complement your basics, like pants, simple tops, cardigans, etc., should be in neutral colors. White, black, tan, cream, shades of gray and brown are all great color choices for neutrals.
- 2 – 4 accent colors. These colors make your outfits interesting and should feature in single items like coats or accessories. Accent colors don’t necessarily have to be bright, but they should stand out more when compared to the rest of your palette.
Pro tip: Each base color should complement every neutral in your wardrobe and work with at least two accent colors. The neutrals should work with every other color in your palette. The accent colors should complement all the neutrals and most of your base colors. If they go well with each other, even better.
Don’t rush through the process of creating your color palette. Try out different combinations until you find one that makes you feel good. Minimalist lifestyle blogger Vested Interests has a very helpful video that breaks down how to add color to your minimalist wardrobe.
Important Pieces To Own In A Minimalist Wardrobe
Each item of clothing in your wardrobe should be chosen according to its practicality, versatility, and unique style. Ideally, each piece should be able to be worn at least 3 or 4 different ways.
Feel free to add or take away from this list that can act as a guide on how to shop for your wardrobe. Invest in fewer items that are of a higher quality. Focus on natural fabrics or minimal blends that will last longer if cared for properly.
1. The Trench Coat. A classic trench coat looks good in every season and can go with almost anything.
2. The Jacket. Depending on the fabric and cut that you choose, a jacket can be styled with pants, dresses, and skirts.
3. The Oversized Chunky Sweater. Winter would not be complete without this simple yet stylish item of clothing.
4. The Fine Knit Sweater. Perfect for layering with jackets and coats during warmer weather.
5. The Shirtdress. Choose one that flatters your silhouette and makes you feel good.
6. The Midiskirt. Pair it with sandals or loafers during the spring and summer, and tights and boots during the fall and winter.
7. The Pair Of Jeans. A pair of blue or black jeans is the perfect blank canvas for creating various combinations in your wardrobe.
8. The Pair of Pants. Whether they are cropped, boot cut, or wide-legged, a quality pair of pants can work in different ways.
9. The Tee, The Tank, and The Shirt. Structured, knit, striped, plain white. Tops are integral to the art of layering and can be dressed up or down in different ways.
10. The Wearable Art. Invest in accessories with exaggerated elements and wear one with each outfit, like gold-plated hammered earrings, an architectural bag, or a statement belt.
Pro tip: The Betty Basics collection from Blue Bungalow is an excellent example of a brand that sells quality pieces that fit right into your minimalist wardrobe. Their website shows how to pair staples like tees, tops, and bottoms in stylish yet versatile ways.
Questions To Ask Before Adding Items To Your Minimalist Wardrobe
Does it match my wardrobe? Any new item should fit into your unique style and be versatile enough to be part of several outfits.
Do I already have something like it? If you already have something similar that serves the same purpose, you don’t need another.
Will it last? Fast fashion retailers may not be the best place to buy items for your minimalist wardrobe because they’re not usually built to last. You want items made from lasting fabrics and materials.
Can I afford it? Don’t break the bank to buy well-made items for your minimalist wardrobe. Be patient and deliberate while shopping. Check out thrift stores and online secondhand clothing websites. Save up for the high-end pieces. Keep an eye out for seasonal discount offers and coupon codes from your favorite stores.
Creating a minimalist wardrobe involves resetting the way you think about shopping, and this can be a challenge. Always keep in mind why you’re doing it: to get rid of clutter and have a curated closet filled with things you love, wear often and make you feel good.
Author Bio: Leanne Lee loves fashion to no end so she writes about it with Blue Bungalow, reads about it and basically lives and breathes it everyday. She’s an avid collector of oversized handbags, indoor cacti, and loves a good G&T to cap off the week.