Life as a minimalist: Styling

Constant travellers know that the accumulation of stuff makes things quite complicated. When you are constantly uprooting your life, you begin to learn the value of simplifying, stripping back, having greater appreciation for a smaller number of possessions.

Scrap that, you don’t need to be a constant mover to appreciate the simple bliss of living as a minimalist. It’s a human thing: once you begin to cut back, you realize how good it feels. You start to think of other places in your life that could do with some paring back.

I wouldn’t normally talk about clothes and style, but I’m just in the mood to do it today. As a young person, the sense that I don’t have anything to wear when your closet is full is ubiquitous. Minimalist styling is not about wearing the same thing everyday (nor having a different outfit everyday, necessarily), it’s not about a bare-bones budget that suggests cheap = superior. It’s some happy medium that allows you to maximize your wardrobe so that every piece has its place.

A Few Minimalist Styling Tips

1. Embrace those pieces that you want to wear every day

If I buy something that goes with everything, that I’m drawn to wear every day, I know I’ve made a good purchasing decision. It might even end up on my basics list and be slotted for repurchasing.

2. Think about outfit synergies and versatility

This is quite obvious, but a piece you can wear at the park and at the office is a gem. I don’t wear jeans to work, so I have one pair of jeans. I do wear button-ups, so I have good-quality ones that can be dressed up or down. I don’t really have work clothes, but manage my closet so that I can wear the same clothes on the weekend as during the workweek, with a few exceptions either way.

3. Know your colour palette

Photo by Bipin Gupta

I admit, I wear a whole lot of black and white. I tried to force myself to buy things in colour for a long time. Eventually, I embraced the fact that I just like wearing monochrome. I do have some colour here and there in my closet, but the major themes fall on the black and white spectrum.

Fortunately, this makes it fairly easy to match most of my clothes. This is something you can mimic even if you do wear colour. Just be conscious of your palette before you buy, and know that your purchase will fit right in.

4. Goodwill and clothing swaps are mainly for the basics

It’s not that you can’t find great pieces at Goodwill. You certainly can. The problem is that it’s very easy to load up a basket when everything is cheap. What you want to do is keep an eye out for the pieces on your wish list, know what’s missing from your basics, and try not to be tempted by pieces that may end up in the back of your closet.

5. Approach sales strategically

A sale at Walmart is different from a sale at Banana Republic. Just because you can fill up a shopping cart for 20 bucks doesn’t mean you should. However, if you can find a good deal for something on your list of necessities, go for it.

Sales can suck you in. The trick is, you shouldn’t bother with anything on sale that you wouldn’t buy if it were full price. Good quality and versatility are key.

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How do you approach minimalist living?

Originally published at on May 27, 2015.