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Minimalist Fashion

August 20, 2016

I value quality over quantity. This hasn’t always been the case. I went through a phase in my younger years when I felt the need to buy a new dress for every occasion. Worried that people may notice from pictures that I had worn that same dress a year ago to another event. I had a lot of stuff. So much stuff I didn’t even really know what I had. I have to say that travelling has changed my perspective on life in a big way. Especially travelling to countries where people don’t have a lot of things. One of my first observations and it seemed shocking to me was how happy most people were, and beyond that how willing to give away what they had.

The first time I travelled to Rwanda was after a pretty traumatic incident in my life. There was an electrical fire in the ceiling of my apartment while I was at work. I came home late that night after working 14 hours to find fireman throwing the charred remains of my life out of the window. The street was blocked off, fire trucks lined up and down. There was nothing left. I had no insurance. Everything I had worked so hard for in my life was taken away from me before my eyes. I was crushed. My trip was already planned and paid for, I was leaving in a month and after sorting everything out here at home I saw no reason not to go. I literally had nothing keeping me here. I gave my self two days to feel sorry for myself and then I picked myself up and moved on. I went out and bought a few things I would need for the trip, packed them into a backpack and got on a plane. That first trip made me really appreciate how lucky I was to have what I had in my life. It changed my approach to everything I do. I don’t need things to be happy, and while it is nice to have nice things and there is nothing wrong with buying yourself nice things when you’ve worked really hard for them. You don’t need all of the nice things all of the time.

Your wardrobe should be an investment. Instead of buying 20 $5 shirts that you kind of like and will fall apart after two washes, why not buy one shirt for $100 that you really, really like and will last years because it’s a classic piece that won’t go out of style and is made well? I’ve come to realize that this makes more sense and in the long run I actually save money because I am not constantly buying things all of the time. I also find that now that I have less clothing I can always find something to wear because I know what I have and I like what I have. Everything is neatly organized and has it’s place and instead of owning a bunch of outfits I don’t really like I love every piece of clothing I own. I’ve invested in some timeless pieces that I’ve had for three or four seasons now and my clothing lasts. If I lose a button I replace the button not the jacket. I’ve also come to realize that most people don’t notice or care if you wore that outfit before.

Building a minimalist wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive. What should you be looking for? I always ask myself a few questions before I make a new purchase. Will it last? This can pertain to quality and to trends. I try to stay away from super trendy pieces and go for more classic lines, cuts and patterns. Do I already own something like this? No one needs 5 different button down white blouses. Although a button down white blouse is a great investment piece. Own one, two if you must and when they are worn out and can no longer be mended, buy a new one. Do I need this or do I want this? There is a big difference between the two. Are you buying the outfit because you think you need something to wear out tonight and you will most likely never wear it again? Put it down and walk away. If you are still thinking about it next week go back and consider purchasing it. Am I going to wear this again? This touches on my last point. Make sure when you are buying clothing you are not shopping for a single occasion but shopping for you lifestyle instead. Does it fit properly? Everything looks good on a hanger, it was designed to do that so that you will buy it. I know it’s super annoying but try everything on. Does it fit well? Don’t buy pants that are too tight in hopes that you will lose 5 pounds, I’ve done it and you won’t. If you do, go back and buy them at that point after you’ve tried them on again. Do I feel comfortable in this? You can look smoking hot in an outfit but if you don’t have the confidence to wear it out of the house why waste your money on it? If you love a shirt but have to constantly readjust when wearing it you most likely won’t wear if very often. Make sure you feel comfortable in the clothes you are wearing. Will this go with anything else in my closet? If you are buying a new pair of pants you should already have a shirt that will look nice with them, or better yet a couple of different shirts. If not that piece will not fit into your wardrobe and you will not end up wearing it. Buying clothing should not be the mere act of acquisition but an investment that enriches your self-expression.

What are the rules I should follow when building a minimalist wardrobe? Well I don’t think that there are any set rules you should abide by, do whatever works for you. Notice what colours you like and usually wear and try to build off those colours. I stick to neutrals. Blacks, whites, greys, beige and pastels. Every wardrobe should probably include a well fitted pair of jeans, black pants or tights, a little black dress, a pair of dress pants, a button down white blouse, a grey or black sweater that you can pull over your shoulders, neutral camisoles (I have grey, black and white). A blue and white stripped T-shirt a pair of black high heels, a pair of flats and a pair of sneakers. From this you can build as much or as little as you’d like, If you wear accessories change them up so that you can make the same outfit look different

How to plan for a minimalist wardrobe? I usually go through my closet see what I have and what I think I will need for that season and make a plan from there. Pinterest is a great tool for planning and you can make a private board if you don’t want other people to see it. I use Pinterest to pin looks I really like, almost like a wish list and only buy items that I’ve added to this list. It’s a great way to organize things into categories, make sure you aren’t doubling up on similar items and make a budget for the items you need.