There’s more to minimalism than meets the eye…
Sad to say, Summer has wound down and winter is just around the corner. It’s not quite time time to break out the head-to-toe thermals yet, but the sleek shirt dresses we’ve lived in for months certainly won’t cut it with the cold either… It’s a tricky time of year.
So, how can we make the shift and still maintain that feminine, minimal aesthetic that we live for at The Shirt Company?
When we think of minimal style we think of our classic style icons like Ines de La Fressange, Meghan Markle, Victoria Beckham (and the host of fantastically minimal Instagram influencers we love to follow). For these ladies, it’s all about having a minimalist aesthetic – this means sticking to a limited colour palette; having a simple silhouette to your clothing (no wild prints, for example); and keeping accessories to a minimum.
Anyone who has been reading The Shirt Company blog for a while now, should be able to dress like a minimal mogul with their eyes closed. But, for those of us who need a reminder, consider this rapid-fire list…
Keep a monochrome wardrobe with accent colours of blush, navy, nude or tan
Have a black coat at the handy (a staple black handbag doesn’t hurt either)
Adopt stripes as your print of choice
Emphasise well-tailored pieces that look like they were made especially for you
Keep your shoe collection mainly flats, slides or pumps and in neutral colours (we love these timeless Gucci ones…)
Keep jewellery simple — steer clear of too many colours and keep things coordinated
Elevate your style with an interesting cut — try an exaggerated sleeve or a standout frill
Voilà! That was easy, no?
However, minimal fashion is more than just minimal style. Minimal fashion is more about the mental and emotional processes behind things than it is about the clean lines of your boyfriend shirt or your wardrobe’s colour palette (or lack thereof). And here’s where things get interesting…
A Minimal Approach
Having a minimal approach to fashion means that you approach your wardrobe with consciousness and intentionality. Your aim is to curate a wardrobe that works for you and is filled with high-quality pieces you absolutely love that will, hopefully, last for years to come (and since minimalism is the fashion that never really fades, you’ll be able to bring out that sleek silk shirt in SS21 as often as you do now!).
Imagine if every single day, you opened your wardrobe door and saw only things you absolutely love so that no matter what you picked, it would make you feel stunning, bold, and categorically you? That is what a minimal approach to fashion is all about. Get into the minimal mindset by trying these three (surprisingly undaunting) things…
Yes, you already know a few hacks — if you haven’t worn it in a year, thow it out it (although, that rule clearly doesn’t apply to your vintage Chanel coat or that favourite Dior dress that you took out a mortgage to buy and that you know will be perfect for a future special occasion — hey, Prince Charming is coming for us soon, okay!?). But what else helps us to nourish that minimal mindset and declutter at home?
Firstly, set aside a few hours so you don’t have to do the decluttering in a rush (cleaning out your closet can be a tense affair at the best of times!) and grab yourself some empty boxes or bin bags, depending on how much you have to sort through. With a rainy Sunday afternoon ahead of you and endless cups of tea, this activity can actually be kinda fun — and definitely therapeutic!
Take everything out of the wardrobe and empty it into a pile. All of it. Yes, you might start to feel your blood pressure rising along with the mound of clothes, but remember it’s only temporary! When you’ve got a fully-formed wardrobe pile, separate the clothes into four piles: the “absolutely love” pile, the “definitely not” pile, the “hmm perhaps” pile, and the “seasonal” pile.
The “hmm perhaps” pile is only if you really, really can’t decide. Put them in a storage container for a couple of months and if you haven’t missed what’s there (or can’t even remember) then they’re best off in the charity shop. For the “seasonal” pile, wait for the seasonal weather changes and if they still aren’t filling you with joy then it’s time to say goodbye.
If it helps you, ask yourself these difficult questions to motivate your minimising: How did I feel the last time I wore this? Is it worth the dry-cleaning bill? Is this piece a representation of my ‘fantasy’ self or will I actually wear it? Can I wear it now or am I waiting for a new weight to wear this and feel good in it?
Two: Experiment with Less
Look, we all love the colourful array of garments that greet us when we open the wardrobe door, but we also love Jackson Pollock and it doesn’t mean we want to walk down Oxford Street covered in flecks of paint. Ask yourself this: How often do I actually wear that nice-but-not-quite-me bright orange jumpsuit from seven years ago? Most women have a signature look, but they’re keeping hold of pieces they never or rarely wear for the dream version of themselves that doesn’t really exist.
The answer? Experiment with less. Minimalist fashion challenges can work wonders in these cases. Project 333, for example, started by former advertising exec Courtney Carver, is probably the best known minimal wardrobe experiment and challenge. The challenge is simple: live with a wardrobe of 33 items for 3 months.
The way the project works is by choosing 33 items to wear — including clothing, accessories, jewellery, coats, and shoes — for three months. Since accessories are included, it’s a bit more strict than most other approaches to the capsule wardrobe, but because it’s a capsule wardrobe experiment, it’s a great starter for ten for figuring out what does and doesn’t work for you in a minimal wardrobe.
Project 333 will probably teach you a lot: That your wardrobe needs some serious organising; that jewellery makes a huge difference; that no one cares if you repeat an outfit; that you don’t need an unlimited wardrobe to have fun with fashion; and that you need to stop buying poor quality clothing…
Three: Embrace Quality
On decluttering your wardrobe, you might find that a fair chunk of the mountain of clothes that are (or were) in your wardrobe are, how shall we say it, absolute rubbish! When we embraced Project 333, the clothes we found we didn’t wear anymore were mostly made of poor quality materials, had ripped or faded, or just looked, well, cheap.
Our generation of high street consumers is taught to buy £5 Primark shirts that wear out in a wash or two, even if they’re worn in rotation with a thousand other items. What’s more, when we wear these cheap items, we usually don’t feel special, which hinders the point of having a large quantity of wardrobe items in the first place.
When you begin talking about reducing your wardrobe and shifting from six button-up shirts to one, the question that comes up is, “how will my clothing last?” The answer to the problem, of course, is to evolve your buying habits to purchase items of higher quality. Yes, we understand that budgets come into buying fashion, but try focussing on buying less but of higher quality: Quality over quantity — that’s our new mantra, and it applies to more than just wardrobes!
Lasting, staple pieces for your wardrobe can be spotted by looking at the weave of the fabric, which affects how it lasts under multiple washes, and the seams, which show how well the garment will hold up after years of use.
So there you have it — our three failsafe approaches to living a simple life in minimal fashion. Breathe, and bask in the glory of your beautiful new minimalist wardrobe — so pure, so lovely!
Do you have a minimal wardrobe? Would you ever try the Project 333 experiment? Let us know by leaving a comment below!