Minimalism as a deliberate lifestyle is definitely trending right now -- coming home to a spartan, uncluttered environment just makes sense. Minimalism can improve happiness and quality of life, especially in an urban setting where space and time is always at a premium. And just as every object should bring joy to your life, every article of clothing in a simple, high-quality collection of clothing should make the owner feel comfortable, confident, stylish, and happy.
But this isn't another disposable blog post telling you to throw away your things. And we aren't advocating a 31-piece wardrobe challenge, a from-scratch "rebuild" of your wardrobe, or a cringe-inducing M-T-W-H-F what-to-wear chart for your "work clothes" weekly rotation. We have some useful insights when it comes to your wardrobe, so that you can refine your look over time and make purchases with intention and confidence the next time you are in the market for a new article or a whole new look.
Keep it Simple and Smart
Don't buy into fleeting fashion trends. Remember when woven shirts with military-style epaulets were popular? How about those shredded jeans with the holes or that bright orange sweater with the stripes? Every article of clothing that you purchase should be pragmatic, practical, useful, comfortable, and a pleasure to wear for more than just one season. And that means using good judgement with every article that you purchase!
Keep in mind that your clothing should still be a reflection of yourself, and fashion is a form of self-expression. So if there is something unique and special hanging on that store rack that really speak to you, and really speaks for you, then get it! Just be sure that it isn't an impulse purchase and that you really will want to wear that prospective new piece more than just once.
To really keep it minimal requires some understanding of style aesthetics, color theory, and coordination. There are certain colors and styles that go well together -- maintaining and adding to a versatile and cohesive small collection needs some core knowledge of style aesthetics, or a helpful style-minded sales associate or friend. For example, if most of your wardrobe tendencies are navy and brown, then that bright red shirt might not coordinate well with any other pieces. So this is where developing some understanding of your personal style is helpful. Here are a few different capsule collections to illustrate the point:
- Rugged - faded-out dark indigo jeans, dark brown casual pants, brown and blue check and plaid woven shirts, thermal knit tops and thick sweaters, wax cotton olive moto jacket, brown belts, brown thick-leather boots and shoes.
- Black and White - Jet Black jeans and 5-pocket pants, black and white sneakers and black boots, Tees and knit tops, athleisure tops and graphic tees, black belts, silver details, black denim shirt jacket
- Modern Prep - clean denim and beige chinos, check and plaid shirts in multiple coordinate-able colors (ie red/navy, or green/beige), white woven shirts, ties, brown and tan dress shoes and loafers, casual classic sneakers, woven belts, and cardigans.
These are just clear and vivid examples of personal aesthetics, and most people don't gravitate to any exact capsule "looks" for themselves. But the take-away here is that being able to mix-and-match a minimal wardrobe requires that the individual pieces work well together to easily create good looks so that you can be on your way each morning with minimal effort and time. Hopefully this perspective informs your next purchase and allows you to shop with more purpose and with your existing articles in mind! This approach will also help you to develop your personal style!
Wardrobe quality is something that we advocate in general, and it is key for a practical minimal closet and lifestyle. If you want to live simply and deliberately, it doesn't help to be walking out of Zara or American Apparel every week with a shopping bag full of cheap, disposable clothing that won't last one season -- you need solid and sturdy staples in your closet! Quality articles of clothing are a good deal for the environment and the people that work in the textile, manufacturing, warehouse and retail industries. And if you are going to live simply and even travel with your minimal wardrobe, every piece must be reliable, well-fitting, good-looking, and able to survive repeated trips to the dry-cleaner or the washing machine.
Some articles may be great for year-round wear, and others might be seasonal in terms of their color, weight, and style. Towards the start and end of fall or spring, take some time to review what's hanging and put away items that are clearly seasonal. You aren't going to need those bright floral print shirts in the winter. Try some cedar chips in there to ward away insects, and store each item properly to prevent permanent creases or stretching. Some items are going to be best stored folded, and some are going to be best stored hanging. Oh, and when you hang up those button-down woven shirts, try and button that top-most collar button -- the shirt collar will keep its shape and structure and will look much more presentable when you put it on!