How to embrace the minimalist lifestyle: from fashion to your home

In our modern urban lives we tend to buy more, need more, and own more. We end up with a wardrobe full of clothes that we don’t even remember buying and a house full of dusty objects.

But what if you could say goodbye to clutter and hello to freedom? Freedom from your possessions, attachments, and the desire to have more? 

Minimalism – a lifestyle based on the concept of less is more, embodies that principle. It’s a mindset that you can adopt to invite joy back into your life. Here are our practical tips to help you pave the way to a clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle.

Is a minimalist lifestyle for you?

Have you heard of the expression “less is more”? The phrase is often associated with the American-German architect and furniture designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969). He was a fervent advocate of simplicity in style, and that’s evident in his minimalist tower block designs.

Mies, also referred to as the “father of minimalism”, lived by the concept of simplicity and utmost clarity. He prioritised functionality over looks, and that mindset is at the core of the minimalist lifestyle.

The minimalist way of life has recently become extremely popular through television and social media influencers. Getting rid of the unnecessary items in your home and wardrobe means freeing up space for the things that truly matter to you.

The minimalist lifestyle is for you if you want to:

  • Feel free. Having many possessions is like an anchor that ties you down. Owning less means you can be free to travel around the world at the click of your fingers.
  • Save time and money. Say goodbye to endless shopping sprees that take their toll not only on your bank account but also on your valuable time.
  • Make a positive environmental impact. Did you know that the fashion production cycle has increased from four to 52 seasons per year? This means that a new collection is being launched every single week. By choosing quality over quantity, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and supporting ethical manufacturers.
  • Be organised. No more searching for items you wore three years ago but can’t find in your Narnia closet. Plus, having fewer possessions in your home means it’s easier to clean.
  • Be happy. By de-cluttering your home and closet, you naturally focus on the things that really matter to you and make you happy. Plus, what’s the point of having items that don’t bring you joy?

Five steps to building a minimalist wardrobe

Your wardrobe can say a lot about you, claims Dr Carolyn Mair, a chartered psychologist. She says that any person who takes a functional approach to their wardrobe is “concerned with basics, is likely to be down to earth and practical and is willing to invest time in advance to reap benefits later”.

Building a minimalist wardrobe is not an overnight process, rather it’s a journey. It might be painful at times but once you reach the end, you’ll be free as a bird. Here are five steps to help you declutter your wardrobe and reinvent it to match your minimalist mindset.

1) Define your style and envision your ideal wardrobe

It’s important to define your signature style so that you know what items to look for in the future that will compliment your look.

To determine your style, consider the functionality of your garments. Do you mainly wear professional work clothes or more casual ones? Do you rely on fashion statements, or is comfort your top priority?

2) Purge what you no longer need

Just like we often release negative thoughts and believes to make space for more positive ones, our wardrobe also needs to go through the occasional purge. Throwing all your clothes away at the start of the process might seem like an easy way out but it’s also unsustainable. That’s why you need to carefully select which items to get rid of.

Here is a rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn something for more than a year, then ditch it.

Start by dedicating three piles of clothes: a ‘keep’, ‘maybe’, and ‘get rid of’ pile. Try to keep about 15-30 items to make sure you have enough space for new ones.

Next, it’s time for some good intentions. Instead of throwing your clothes in the bin, why not donate them to a charity or rework them to match your style?

3) Pick a colour scheme

Because you’ll have the same number of items to play with all year-round, it’s important that they’re suitable for any season. While fuchsia pink might be a summer classic, it might not work so well with your winter attire for example.

To build a cohesive wardrobe that works across all seasons, choose a colour palette with about 5-10 colours that you love. Go for staple colours, such as black, grey, white, blues, and nudes, accompany those with one or two stand-out colours to add some vibrancy to your wardrobe.

4) Layers, layers, layers

Layering, the act of putting on several items of clothing on top of each other, is a cosy and trendy way to put minimalism at the core of your wardrobe. 

You can easily achieve that by layering base layers, such as high-necks and basic T-shirts, with tights, jackets, dresses, and accessories.

Speaking of accessories, they’re essential for tying your whole outfit together and are very practical too! If basic colours dominate your wardrobe, why not go for a statement belt in a bright colour? Or if you have a more casual closet, a beloved tote bag can go a long way! It goes with pretty much any outfit and it’s astonishing how much can fit into a tote bag!

5) Think quality over quantity

When it comes to upgrading your wardrobe with new items, it’s important to always apply the minimalist mindset: quality over quantity.

It’s easy to mindlessly gravitate towards the sales rack or the new, trendy pieces in shops. But these garments are seasonal and often representative of fast fashion. If you’re looking for an item that will last you a lifetime, it’s best to invest in good quality products. That way, you’re not only saving time and money but also reducing your carbon footprint. 

Embracing minimalism in your home

Your wardrobe only comprises one section of your house. The items contained in your closet show how you present yourself to the whole world. In the same fashion, your home is a reflection of your inner world.

The decluttering guru Marie Kondo says: “When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.”

Decluttering your home follows pretty much the same steps as building your minimalist wardrobe. Start by establishing your interior design style, getting rid of any items that don’t match or simply don’t spark joy in you.

Next, pick a colour scheme for each room by including both staple and accent colours. While you can use layering for your clothes, the equivalent of this in your home is storage boxes, drawers, and practical decorations that can double as storage. Investing in those will make your house look tidy and organised. Lastly, buy furniture that will last you a long time, is comfortable, practical, and matches your interior.

Are you ready to say goodbye to that which you no longer need and start enjoying life to the fullest? Minimalism might well be the next lifestyle change for you.

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler