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As a smart lady who is not terribly fashion inclined, it can be daunting to think about keeping up with trends and shopping for new items. It’s a minor stress to think about choosing outfits on a limited budget and with a green mindset. So I’ve been trying to work with some of the principles of a minimalist wardrobe.

Like other minimalist lifestyle concepts, it simply means doing more with less in a fashion context — and feeling better because of it. If you have ever felt lighter or happier after cleaning out the closet or junk drawer, you know that freeing up physical clutter simultaneously reduces mental clutter. This is the same idea behind a minimalist wardrobe. Less clothing to think about means less physical clutter, but also frees up space in your mind for more important decision making.

The concept of decision fatigue comes into play here: despite our big brains, we have only so much capacity for high-quality decision making. But often the decision-making reserves are depleted thinking about minor decisions before we even leave the house– coffee or tea? Bring lunch or buy? Bike or bus? What to wear? Should I bring a scarf or sweater? These decisions are not important in the grand scheme of things, but use up our brain resources just the same. This can lead to an inability to make bigger, more creative decisions throughout the rest of day. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of decisions that need to be made each morning, so a switch to a more minimalist wardrobe has been pretty helpful to save my save time and brain resources (for more writing!).

In an article on Treehugger about the benefits of a minimalist wardrobe, the author says that many successful folks, including Mark Zuckerberg and Vera Wang (yes, the fashion designer) often wear the same outfits to focus their brain power on more important stuff. It seems like if these high profile leaders can work it, I can try it too!

Building a Greener Wardrobe

Having a minimalist wardrobe is likely a more sustainable wardrobe too. Buying less stuff is good for the planet: reduces the need for more natural resources, eliminates waste, and cuts your carbon footprint (less time driving to the mall!). Building a minimalist wardrobe also means that you’ll be buying fewer products overall, which might leave room in your budget for higher-quality, more sustainable fashion. A minimalist wardrobe doesn’t have much room for leather or fur, so it also reduces the amount of animal exploitation in fashion industry. When it comes time to think about shopping, choose hemp, bamboo, organic cotton or other sustainable products.

Supporting Conscious Choices

Just as the Slow Food movement encourages thoughtful, fair food purchases, the Slow Fashion movement prizes quality over quantity, and builds on the idea that clothing, like food,  should be fair and safe. Making conscious fashion choices encourages consumers to think about the origins of the materials and clothing, and the impact on people and planet. The trend in the past few decades has been ever-cheaper, more abundant clothing of poorer quality, and choosing fewer, higher quality products can make a big difference for our wardrobe, our society and our brains. Sounds pretty awesome to me, what about you?

How to Build a Minimalist Wardrobe

I’ve had a really hard time reconciling my need for basic clothing and a dependence on fast fashion. I’m a big greenie in so many other areas of my life, but fashion is by far the hardest. But this concept of a minimalist wardrobe definitely resonates: freeing up brain space, reducing my wardrobe budget, and thinking about fashion in a different way. I think the minimalist thing is easier for men, as there is an assumed amount of pressure for women to have creative, different clothes each day. But I’ve tried to stop worrying about that and just work with I have.

My minimalist wardrobe looks like this: lots of small black tees, jeans or other pants and my thrifted vegan leather boots, with a few simple black sweaters for chilly days. These are interspersed with a handful of favorite black dresses and just a few other colorful tops that work for day and night. Most everything else has been relegated to the back of the closet for special events. I’m holding off on further purchases, just to see how long I can go with this task. I’ve also found that spending a few minutes each night laying out my choices from this already small selection, which helps with busy mornings.

Here are some tips to get started with your minimalist wardrobe:

  • 7 steps to a Minimalist wardrobe from Miss Minimalist, including tips like purge everything that doesn’t fit and pare down your shoes and handbags.

  • Project 333: 33 items, 3 times a year. That’s it.

  • Basics of a minimalist wardrobe from Into-Mind, which builds on the premise that it is helpful to “get rid of everything that doesn’t make you happy or enrich your life, to make space for stuff that does.”

Lead Image Source: Maegan/Flickr

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