Minimalism & Fashion: How to embrace a wardrobe with less
Simplify & Slow Down,  Sustainable Fashion

Minimalism and Fashion: How to Embrace a Wardrobe with Less

We all feel it. An irritation when we force our drawers to close. A desire to throw every last pair of shoes away as we’re digging through a storage tub for that one pair. A sense of dread as we open our closet door and stare into the abyss while we think over and over again, “I have nothing to wear.”

Could it be that we have too many choices? Do we have so much in front of us that we’re blinded and overwhelmed into thinking we have nothing? 

Maybe embracing a wardrobe with less will open us up to more.  

More freedom.  

More time.  

More options.  

More confidence.  

More appreciation.

Minimalism

Minimalism is commonly heard nowadays as our society reflects on the amount of crap we have.  

Made famous in my generation by people such as The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus), Greg Mckeown, Marie Kondo, and Joshua Becker, minimalism is seeping into our society as a way to take back what we’ve lost in consumerism. 

What is Minimalism

My favorite definition of minimalism comes from Joshua Becker: “The intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”

Why is Minimalism appealing?

Many people boast a sense of relief when they learn to let go, followed by peace and calmness. 

Visual clutter is banished and your space is filled with only things you truly care for. Your home becomes a place of solitude rather than overstimulation.

Along the same lines, cleanliness and simplicity reign. There is, of course, less to clean so it’s much easier to keep up with the cleaning. In turn, chores and routines become simpler. And overall…less.  

Decision fatigue is a thing of the past. Without all the clutter and stuff, there are fewer choices in your everyday life. I talk about this more in my post about creating a daily uniform.  

Getting rid of things and choosing to live with less can sometimes mean giving more. You may have more resources freed up to use toward a charity or even more time to volunteer. Philanthropic activities are often tied to minimalism.

Minimalism and Fashion

Have you ever noticed people that wear the same type of thing every day? Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs come to mind – both with their iconic “uniform”.  

These people have said to themselves, “I really love this outfit. I feel good about it. I’m going to wear this every day. Forever.” 

Okay, maybe not that exactly. But they made the conscious decision to only wear things they absolutely love and feel great in. And then their brains were freed up to be geniuses. 

Is this similar to a capsule wardrobe? 

Yes! Pairing down and minimizing your wardrobe can and should result in a capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes are intimidating, but don’t let them scare you!

(Next week I’ll be talking all about eco-friendly capsule wardrobes! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss it!)

Can having a minimalist wardrobe be better for the environment?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Eco-minimalism is curating a simple, more sustainable life by using only what is essential to your lifestyle.

How to be an eco-minimalist in your wardrobe

Buy less

This is probably the most obvious. Embracing less clothing does not just mean getting rid of clothes, but it means committing to buying less in general. This is a habit that can sometimes be hard to break. 

Buy higher quality

If you want to buy less and wear items more often and have those items last longer, buying higher quality will be in your favor. And because you are buying less, you can get away with spending a little more on the pieces you truly find value in. 

Take care of our things better

When we have less, we take care of things better. We learn to be more gentle, follow washing guidelines, treat stains immediately, store them properly, and mend them when needed.

Keep things longer (and out of landfills)

By buying less often, opting for higher quality items, and taking more care of our items, we can keep things longer.  

Clothes used to last a lifetime a few generations ago. These days we see them as disposable.  

Not to get all conspiratorial, but this is what the mainstream fashion industry wants. They want high turnover so they can sell us more cheaply made clothes so the cycle continues. Fight back!

Creating an eco-minimalist wardrobe means fewer pieces getting thrown in the trash.

Minimalism and Fashion:  How to embrace a wardrobe with less

How to minimize your wardrobe – Tips & tricks for cutting things out

One of the hardest things, after acknowledging you have a problem, is taking action to cut down on your wardrobe.  

When I first did a serious minimization of my wardrobe, it was after my second child. I was not losing weight as quickly as with the first and I was still nursing. So 90% of my clothes were useless to me.  

I used the KonMari method (sort of) and felt nothing but lightness and happiness when I was done. I had a clean and organized closet full of clothes that fit me, looked good on me, and were functional in my life at that time. Sigh of relief.

The KonMari method

Marie Kondo used to be a really big deal and I loved watching people purge their homes on her show. That’s how I was first introduced to all this!  

To use her method, you take all of your clothes out of your closet, drawers, wardrobes, etc. All clothing items get dumped in a giant pile, probably on your bed. And you go through and hold each item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”  

Sounds corny and it is. And I would be lying if I said I asked myself that every time I picked up an item. Because I didn’t. Just like I didn’t say “Thank you” to every item I put in the donate pile. But the eye-opening experience was seeing all of my clothes piled high on my bed and realizing I had way, way too much.  

The hanger-turn method

The hanger-turn method is simple enough and gives a good visualization. This will work best for people that hang most of their clothing items. 

Every time you wear a piece of clothing and then put it back into your closet, turn the hanger around so that the hook is facing you instead of facing the back of the closet. 

Do this for a set time, like a month, to see how many clothes in your closet you wear regularly, then think about downsizing the leftovers.

Rotating items

Use first in first out (FIFO) when you have a lot of things in drawers or stacked. I don’t know when this term was first coined, but it was a really big deal in my food sanitation and safety class I took in college and it works well for a wardrobe, too!

Every time you do laundry or put clothes away, put the ones that you just wore in the back of your drawer or the bottom of your stack. When you need to choose an outfit to wear, choose from the front of the drawer or the top of the stack.  

We all have our favorite things to wear, but by doing this you can see which items you reach past again and again to get to your favorites. And how long of a rotation you have (ie how many things in front or on top) before you actually reach them.

The 90/90 rule

I believe I heard this rule while listening to The Minimalists podcast. You ask yourself two questions. “Have I used this in the last 90 days?” And “Will I use this in the next 90 days?”  

A 90-day span covers enough time to make this a useful tool for clothes in storage and seasonal changes, as well as what is currently in your wardrobe.  

If you can answer “no” to both questions, it’s time to get rid of it. 

Fit rule

This may be the hardest of all these rules because it’s more personal. But basically, if something doesn’t fit you right now, at this moment, get rid of it.  

Don’t hang onto things that fit you before kids if they don’t fit you now. Don’t hang on to things because they may fit you one day. Keep things in your closet that you can pick out and wear today and feel good in.  

Having clothes that don’t fit in your closet is so depressing. Be completely honest with yourself. 

If you are in a true life stage (pregnant, nursing, etc) keep items you plan to wear again in storage, out of your main closet. Don’t mix them up with the things you wear every day. It adds to the clutter and the emotional exhaustion of fighting your wardrobe. 

What to do with clothes you declutter

Figuring what to cut from your closet is usually the hardest part, but I also know how difficult it can be to get that box full of donations out of your house or the garbage bag full of hand-me-downs to your neighbor. 

For whatever reason, stuff we want to get rid of suddenly decides to have a soul-crushing pull to stay in our homes. 

To remedy this, try to have a plan of action before you start.  

If you know you’re cleaning out maternity and postpartum clothes and your friend is expecting, make a pile for that friend and set a date to drop off ASAP. 

If you have a pile that is in decent condition and can be donated, make a plan to stop at the donation center on your way home from work the very next day (put a reminder in your phone so you don’t forget!). Or even call a company that will come pick it up for you.  

There’s also the option for recycling clothes ethically through new recycling programs such as For Days or Retold Recycling

Whichever option you choose, the faster you can get that stuff out of your home, the sooner you can enjoy your new, uncluttered space.  

Minimalism and Fashion:  Embracing an eco-minimalist wardrobe

Eco-minimalist Fashion

If I were to alter Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism to include environmental purpose, it would be this:

“The intentional promotion of the things we most value and can sustain and the removal of anything that distracts us from it or causes harm.”

Now that you know how to be an eco-minimalist in your wardrobe, will you give any of these decluttering strategies a try?

More slow fashion posts:

How to Create a Daily Uniform and Save Your Sanity
Secrets of the 100-Day Dress Challenge
How to Curate an Eco-Friendly Capsule Wardrobe
How to Sort Out Fast Vs Slow Fashion
How to Shop for Sustainable Clothing on Amazon
How to Shop at a Thrift Store: 8 Essential Tips

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