At its heart: I think of minimalist fashion as a love of the essentials, and removal of excess. Let me explain.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that is focused on doing more with less. For example, when minimalism fashion comes to mind, you might think sheaths, and plain shirts and pants with the bare minimum in accessories. You could picture the understated and simple black dress, or the black blazer.
Can someone -with a love of scarves, jewelry and cheetah print shoes- be a minimalist? Honestly, why the heck not? Personally I love the principles around minimalism, but I love color and variety as well. I love to get basics in neutral colors, and accessorize with prints, patterns and colors I love.
Minimalist fashion is about focusing on quality over quantity
Minimalist fashion is a focus on a few key pieces that I think being a minimalist is not restricted to just having few basic items in your wardrobe that you wear like a uniform. When I think of stylish minimalism, for example I see the image of Audrey Hepburn in Charade and how she started with a minimalist pallet and paired on accessories and color that made her outfits pop. Perhaps she is not a minimalist in the true sense of the word, but I think it’s a good starting point to break away from the notion that minimalism is lots of black and white.
How do you build your own minimalist style?
I think there a few principles you can apply to adopt a minimalist approach while incorporating items and looks you love:
- Start with the basics
- Clean out your closet
- Focus on what works
- Focus on timeless looks over fashion trends
Start with the tried and true basics
Your wardrobe is only as good as the number of outfits you can pair it with. To have variety you need the basics.
Basics are those items you can always turn to for easy combinations at a moment’s notice. They tend to be black and white because these are neutrals that go with pretty much everything. But I find my wardrobe basics are also camel and brown because they match my skin undertones.
Whatever your basics are, picking enough combinations can make getting dressed a breeze.
Clean out your closet
If you are like me, you probably have dresses you have not worn in over a year, and items you probably can and should get rid off (old t-shirts, pants and skirts that no longer fit and such).
Let it go.
I hold on to things. When I did my first wardrobe cleanse I was surprised at just how many things I had tucked away. Holding on to excess held me back from seeing the gems in my closet, and as a result I often shopped online instead of shopping in my closet.
I found out I had many wardrobe sins hiding in my closet:
- Keeping items I had not worn in years just in case the opportunity arose
- Saving a dress because a friend gave it to me, even though I hardly wore it
- Keeping a dress that no longer fit well because it cost a lot of money when I got it
These were some of the excuses that were holding me back. What good is a full closet if you don’t like almost half of it?
Focus on looks and outfits that work for you
Is there a cut that you feel great in? Or a fabric you love wearing? Or a set of colors that makes you glow?
It’s possible you’ve never thought of these questions. I know, I never had but when I started reexamining my wardrobe I ran into them repeatedly. For me it was the vibrant colors like orange, yellow and red. And the rich jewel tones like ruby red and emerald green. I had several shirts and dresses in these colors that I loved. They were different cuts and their design was consistently simple and unadorned, and I loved each of them, yet I had not realized that there was a pattern to my style before.
What works best for your body? Skin tone? And most importantly personality? Once you see the pattern it’s hard to bother with what did not work before.
Focus on timeless looks over fashion trends
At it’s core, minimalist style is timeless. Your focus should be on creating a style that is not necessarily on trend but always in style. I can think of nothing worse when it comes to personal style than following trends and trying to stay in trend. It clutters up your closet and makes it harder to get dressed quickly in looks you love. Trends are cyclical, fashion industries are built around making you lust for the hottest thing. And a few months or year later, all you can think is, “what was I thinking?”
If you want to stay trendy buy pieces that are complimentary each season. Simple easy pieces already work with what you own. Complementary pieces that you can weave in (and weave out as the trend fades). Buy the latest print in a scarf, a shoe, or a style of jewelry.
I’ve started a discipline of picking a select few items each season that I must have and spending enough money to get the best quality and weaving it into my looks throughout the season.
Break the rules and have fun with your tastes and looks
Are you bohemian? Classic? Street fashion? Grunge?
One mistake I made when starting out was trying to firmly define myself in one type of style. I thought it would make it all easier if I could say I am more of a classical dresser. But I could not deny I had a lot of dresses that followed the flowy aesthetics of being more bohemian. Or that most of my go-to looks were understated basics that were more minimalist.
My advice, if you find yourself caught between different styles and you are not sure what works best, break it down to the elements. I can now say my wardrobe has elements of classic, minimalist and bohemian. That ties into my upbringing, my attitude and approach towards life, my style influences and my lifestyle.
I adore flowing dresses and skirts so I combine that with classic colors and simple details. I love classic tailored shorts so I combine them with minimalist inspired cotton t-shirts, plain white shirts with minimal details and once in a while silk button up shirts. I love feminine details so there is a hint of lace every now and then in my outfits. I love classic handbags my current favorites is a deep burgundy that has shown to be a great neutral while allowing me to throw on a pop of color especially on days when I’m in all black.
Don’t try and peg yourself into one or the other. To find a truly personal style catered to you, appreciate all your style interests and break down elements that can work together.
Minimalist is an approach to style and to living
The best thing about cutting down is it makes things appear clearer. You are able to focus more on yourself and getting more out of your own life rather than obsessing about what the latest bag is and why you Must.Have.It.