A Minimalist Wardrobe: It's for Everyone

With minimalism, it's easy to get extreme really quickly, but I would say just pick a few areas that you would like to try it. One part of your wardrobe is a perfect place to start.

A minimalist wardrobe is about the essentials

One of the bottom-line principles of minimalism is that there are only a few real essentials, and this is where you should start with a minimalist wardrobe. Hence, you should start by listing categories for what these essentials are. For me, it is best to come up with categories that are more general rather than situational. For example, shirts (collarless) for sleeping can be generalized to comfort shirts and that in turn can be generalized to just collarless shirts. For a minimalist, there is no compelling reason why you can’t buy a collarless shirt that can be used in bed, used around the house during the day, and used to go out, at least for very casual occasions. For me, this is also true for socks, I am able to get away with wearing the same socks for the gym and for work. 

I just think that some of the varieties of clothing are a marketing ploy to carve specific niches that in turn manufacture extra needs. In reality, clothing is multifunctional, and at least in terms of clothing, situational is the enemy of the essential. Minimalism makes patterns and prints constraining, because some designs lessen the multifunctionality of a piece, plain and solid colors are more adaptable.

A minimalist wardrobe is about quality choices

This is the next logical step after being able to isolate the few essentials. Since the essential category is multifunctional in nature, you should choose quality pieces of clothing precisely because these will be used again and again. For example, I use a set of the same soft and medium-thick white or black shirts with pockets for my all-around collarless shirts. And they are a good quality that I can wear them to bed but also wear them when I go to the mall. I only have the same thick black sports socks, and they never fail me whatever the occasion. My plain white button-down can be used with or without a coat, and it can be used over and over again because I chose a quality shirt so that I only buy once.

A minimalist wardrobe is about the benefits of simplicity

Finally, lest minimalism come out to be only about withholding and skimping, in reality, minimalism is about the benefits of simple living. One concrete example is how I never have to look for the pairs of my socks because they’re all the same. I never have to look for a specific collarless shirt for a specific occasion because I only have the one shirt in either black of white. In fact, I don’t even have a favorite shirt precisely because I like wearing all the shirts that I have. I don’t wear out certain clothes and leave others unused.

The difficulties of a minimalist wardrobe

By and far, the most difficult thing about a minimalist wardrobe for me is fighting against the constant calls for consumerism. Advertising is obviously meant to be appealing, and I still fall prey to it. The other day for example, one advertisement got me thinking about how great pattern shirts are at showing your personality. And I had to remind myself, that, at least for me and what I’ve experienced with my old clothes, the amount of satisfaction I get from a pattern shirt diminishes (especially when another fad comes in), and it often becomes a shirt I cannot wear in most occasions.

There are also times when there are those once-in-a-year occasions that require a very specific wardrobe. For example, I do like dressing up for Halloween, and a minimalist wardrobe just can’t help there. Or for example, you have to attend a wedding that has a particular color scheme. In these cases, it’s all about getting creative, and being okay with just borrowing or renting. I always just have to remind myself of the stress I feel when trying to figure out how to store all these costumes that I wear once a year at most.


■■■■ Will recommend to anyone

Life is just simpler and less stressful not having to deal with so many clothes, not to mention how this really saves money.

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