“How do you do it?” is a question I hear often. What my friends are asking for is the secret behind creating a fairly stylish wardrobe that’s still aligned with my minimalist lifestyle.
The big secret is that there is no secret. A minimalist wardrobe is not characterized by a certain color aesthetic (contrary to all the beige we see on Instagram). Nor does it require that you only own a specific (and frankly arbitrary) number of things.
Rather, every item in a minimalist wardrobe simultaneously meets these two criteria: you love it and wear it often. Conceptually simple and beautifully flexible, these characteristics can be broken down as follows:
(1) Joy—Marie Kondo got this one right with her KonMari Method™. Whenever we allow a material possession into our lives, we should keep things that “spark joy,” aka love. When it comes to clothing and accessories, defining “joy” should be wholly on your own terms.
Perhaps you love to wear a certain brand whose values align with your own. Or, you find the perfect pant that fits perfectly with your body type. Or, you revel in how a fabric feels against the skin. Whatever your reasoning, a minimalist wardrobe is one with clothing that puts a smile on your face again and again.
(2) Wearability—While loving your clothing is important, it is not the only criteria a minimalist wardrobe must meet. I would absolutely love a closet filled with Gucci, but is this brand practical to wear on a regular basis? Not for me.
The key to building a minimalist wardrobe is to pick things you will wear frequently. In evaluating clothing for its wearability, accounting for your lifestyle is key. For example, while I certainly want more oversized blazers, I don’t invest in this piece because as a Miami resident, I would only get to wear the style a few times during the two cold(ish) months of the year.
The focus on wearability is the reason why we often hear minimalists, including this one, emphasize versatility. The more versatile a garment is the more outfits you can incorporate it in.
What you can do next—Minimalism as a lifestyle is not for everyone, so please don’t immediately take this advice as a suggestion to gut your entire closet and purchase all new things. Rather, incrementally incorporate this mindset. Start to prioritize what you already own so your next shopping trip is more focused. Slow and intentional are the way to go, not just for your wallet’s sake.
I promise you: adopting these criteria not only cuts the clutter over time but also guarantees you feel confident in what you wear, every single day.
—Phoebe Kunitomi, founder and CEO of okko