Diving in the deep end
I am proud to boast that my wardrobe most definitely looks hideous as a collection. Full of loud, gaudy shirts and bright trousers. Truthfully, I don’t think I could find an outfit that actually fits a complementary colour scheme. I’m also a bit of a hoarder: if I buy an item, I’m not throwing it out until there are so many holes or stains that it is literally unwearable. Regardless of whether it still fits my body or my taste. So believe me when I say that I tend to approach minimalism with a clinical curiosity and a lot of caution.
However, the more we understand about the environmental and ethical dangers of fast fashion, and the more “grown up” environments I find myself needing to fit in to, the more I’m starting to think I might have to consider simplifying my wardrobe, so let’s figure out how someone can go about doing that together.
Back to basics
Minimalism is defined as having a “deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in style or design”, and in fashion, this often translates to neutral colours - mostly beiges, browns, and black - and a focus on function. This gives your outfits the ability to pass as casual and formal, perfect for business wear or looking put together when in reality you might have just rolled out of bed. The simple elegance of most minimalist fashion is particularly versatile, meaning you typically need fewer clothes altogether, because you can just mix and match your staple items.
Minimalism is nothing new. Designers like Coco Chanel and Calvin Klein have been creating sleek, neutral lines of clothing for decades, proving that minimalism as a fashion statement has a longevity missing from most other trends. Recent movements are bringing minimalism back into the spotlight, now with an interest in not only streamlining outfits, but entire wardrobes - it’s not a fashion preference for some people, it’s a lifestyle. Your wardrobe just happens to be a great place to start.
Where do you start?
Most of the information I came across whilst researching notes that you can’t begin to build your new minimalist wardrobe on top of your current overstuffed one. So you need to begin by sorting through your clothes with a Marie-Kondo-like severity: If it doesn’t bring you joy, you don’t need it. The hardest decision is throwing out those clothes that used to fit, or that could fit if only you could dedicate yourself to a diet, but try to remember that your clothes should fit you, not the other way around.
Once you’ve been able to sort through what you’re keeping and what you’re not, make sure to donate, gift, or reuse as much of your old wardrobe as possible - if you’re approaching minimalism for the sake of sustainability, you don’t want your first action to be piling a bunch of clothes in a landfill.
I have been assured by several different sources that minimalism as a style might be subdued and neutral, but as a lifestyle it doesn’t have to be. The idea is to streamline your wardrobe with durable and versatile clothes that suit your style. So the next step in your journey is to figure out exactly what your style is, and not to be afraid to admit that it might have changed since the last time you did an overhaul of your wardrobe. Go through Instagram or Pintrest or the website of your favourite brand, until you know for definite how you want to dress and what your style is. You get to design how you navigate your clothes so you might as well make it clothes you can be passionate and excited about.
Obviously I can’t tell you what specific clothes you should look for, that's down to your own individual style and preference, but here are a few of the foundational items you should consider:
Shirts (casual and business)
Long sleeve t-shirt
A big chunky jumper
As well as these, you could consider including a statement number or two, and some accessories that can either pull an outfit together, or transform it from casual to formal. Don’t forget about shoes either!