In the era of democratized fast fashion, knockoffs and counterfeits and an array of fashion influencers, has the minimalist wardrobe become nothing more than an urban myth?
My foray into minimalism began out of an exasperation resulting from my inability to manage my steadily snowballing wardrobe through traveling and multiple changes of dorms and flats. I’d always had too many accessories collecting dust, too many extra pairs that never really saw the light of day, too many basic black shoes and blue jeans.
It is imperative to understand that a minimalist wardrobe isn’t equivalent to a hermit lifestyle. The skinning must result from a thorough understanding of your needs and differentiating them from wants. The goal is to not stifle the latter but find a middle ground.
1. Monochromatic color palette- beyond the greyscale
A minimalist wardrobe is more than simply flitting on the greyscale. Our blacks and whites are essential because they practically suit all body types and are easy to match with. But the primary three musketeers certainly aren’t your only option when constructing a minimalist aesthetic.
Look to warmer colors like beige, brown, sand and cooler ones like blue-toned grey, emerald, pale lavender with occasional pastels, navy blues, etc.. A monochromatic color palette here translates into an amalgamation of similar hues that can lend dimension and sophistication to the most rustic of ensembles.
2. Of optics and silhouettes
An impressive collection is a lot about captivating, powerful visuals. Memorable silhouettes that compliment your curves or help highlight or conceal a specific part of the body such as geometric shapes, free-flowing and streamlined silhouettes can constitute statement pieces. Alternate between smooth edges and sharp lines, juxtapose structured clothing with breezy ones.
Mix and match basic fabrics like cotton and linen and prints like stripes and dainty polka dots with the textural delicacy of fall/winter essentials like plaid coats, ribbed pullovers and sweater dresses, loose knits and other stiffer fabrics. Layering different kinds of knitwear with lace trimmings, georgette and tulle skirts or dresses with leather, brocade and suede can help you achieve some powerful looks.
3. Imagine your visual space
This might just be the perfect time to evolve a style of your own. Identify patterns in your conscious choices as well as the ones you have to make, owing to your work and lifestyle. Take help from minimalist Pinterest boards if you must, sort out articles based on the frequency of use- denims, suits, knits and amalgamate them into your master wardrobe accordingly.
4. Explore the Japanese minimalist aesthetic
Inspired from Zen Buddhism, Japanese minimalism is an all-encompassing lifestyle of serenity and subtraction. Satisfaction is sought in less. Beauty, not in intricacy but by virtue of the gravity of the design constituents, quite like the Romantic sublime, is given value.
The stress is also on sustainable lifestyles- preferring natural fabrics, recycling, thrifting and valuing quality over quantity. The Japanese concept of Ma is a celebration of spaces and gaps- not a sensory overload of details but soothing emptiness that lulls.
5. Of needs and priorities
Once you have differentiated your needs and wants, you can walk a step further by prioritizing your needs. You might have to create one or more capsule wardrobes for your specific needs- generally dictated by workplace dress code or seasonal conditions.
Consider a few factors like the amount of time you spend out, mode of commute in your daily routine to make better decisions regarding durable and functional attire.
Add items to your wishlist or cart instead of hitting ‘buy now’ and go back to them the next day to evaluate how many of them are actually essential. Minimalism is an exercise of decision making, getting better at self-control and fashion minimalism encapsulates more than plain reductivism.
6. Deleting details
Make some smart swaps for your minimalist wardrobe: shirt dresses instead of regular shirts, loafers in place of other varieties of flats, slacks with slight slits to substitute palazzo pants, culottes, bell bottoms
There are two neat tricks where you don’t really delete but camouflage details-
- Increase lengths– three-quarter length skirts and dresses that can be alternated between work and casual wear; oversized knits and long coats and cardigans that can be molded into several transformative, statement pieces.
- Monochrome layering– use belts and bags of the same color as your clothes; create a faux high neckline with a scarf and tuck the ends in.
7. Back to basics
A formula-based wardrobe is both easier to attain and maintain and also helps solve your daily dilemma. Keep a handy list of what to wear and repeat at what frequency. Minimalist wardrobe staples such as boot cut jeans, slip dresses, white shirts, trench coats, vests, pleated skirts, denim jackets and ribbed turtlenecks can each be arranged into dozens of combinations to pick from.
Follow a comprehensive guide to obtaining a collection versatile enough for both your schedules and fun excursions, but remember to make space for what you personally love. Fashion, after all, is a form of self-expression.
8. Clutter-free and classic
The journey to minimalism begins with a clean up. Declutter and sort your stuff, give away what’s not needed. It’s okay to not have your cupboards stocked to the brim. The anxiety to stay abreast with the latest and the desire to quickly grab what’s hip have become a part of us- it’s time we reason with them.
Accessorize to accentuate, not overshadow. Opt for delicate jewelry- drop earrings, fine chains and geometric patterns. Some essentials of minimalist footwear are nude heels, converse, loafers or mules.
9. Consider practicality and comfort
If you travel a lot, sneakers and wedges must be your go-to footwear rather than pumps. Depending upon your work hours, your handbags and totes should be accommodating of all your requirements to last you through the day.
Versatility is the essence of minimalist fashion. Gotta head to a party straight after work with no time to change? Wear a shirt dress or a button-down skirt, throw on a coat and you’re all set! The ensemble can be accentuated by chunky jewelry, a broad belt or a dressy blazer.
10. Minimalist wardrobe: the lowdown
Invest in some high-quality fabric pieces like fine wool, leather and silk and find a balance between striking, bold garments and malleable ones. There are some minimalist brands that have curated collections bringing the vision of clean, green and eye-catching fashion to life.
Minimalism in fashion isn’t a basic ‘less is more’ mantra but a conscious, mindful approach towards styling. It weaves environment-friendly choices with accessible, effortless clothing for those short on time or just lazy.