Being a minimalist doesn’t mean you have to give up style and fashion

The most common (and negative) comment I get about any kind of wardrobe post is:

You don’t need that much as a minimalist! You’re crazy/psychotic!

You’re just pushing people to shop more!

All I own are 2 shirts, 1 pair of sweatpants and a pair of shoes to wear year-round. You don’t need a whole WARDROBE if you’re a TRUE minimalist.

I’m here to dispute all of that, once and for all.

WHAT IS A TRUE MINIMALIST ANYWAY?

For me, I’ve already detailed out what minimalism means to me — living with what you use and need, and not keeping excess, unused items.

Just because I don’t only own 100 items, does that make me any less of a minimalist?

Think about how silly that sounds — labeling people as ‘true’ or ‘fake’ minimalists based on arbitrary standards and numbers that were pulled out of the …*ahem*…air. 🙂

I set my own standards for what I think I would need, AS a minimalist.

So whether I tell myself to only own 1000 items, or 2 suitcases of stuff, it is up to me, not some unofficial board of directors or self-proclaimed authorities with no real power ruling on what minimalism means.

BEING A MINIMALIST DOESN’T COME WITH AN AUTOMATIC UNIFORM

The day I said: “Wow, what I’m doing is called ‘minimalism’“, I didn’t immediately run to my wardrobe and chuck everything but neutral-coloured clothing out the window.

There is no uniform that comes to being a minimalist (I can’t even believe I have to write this :)).

Frankly, if you met me and didn’t read my blogs, you’d have no freakin’ clue I was a minimalist.

All the other minimalists out there who write about having the exact, neutral-coloured items everywhere so that everything matches, are SUGGESTING ways you can pare down on your wardrobe.

It is then up to you to choose or reject what they’re saying.

Personally, I don’t find the mono-colour look very stylish, just as I don’t find fashion-forward people who only wear black all the time, very stylish either (too funereal).

(Kaiser Carl Lagerfeld of Chanel — he has his own iconic uniform, but you don’t have to!)

BEING A MINIMALIST DOESN’T MEAN YOU NEED TO LOOK A CERTAIN WAY

Just as how if someone is a gazillionaire, they may not dress up in diamonds and expensive designer items daily, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the money.

They may be driving unassuming cars, look very ordinary, but have a net worth through the roof.

In the same vein, being a minimalist does NOT mean you have to look like you are a minimalist and have people notice that you wear the same thing day-in, day-out.

(Yes, most people may not notice you wear the same thing everyday, but as someone who does notice, I can tell you that we exist.)

This is exactly the reason why I wrote quick guides on a basic of what I consider a stylish, minimal wardrobes with maximum impact and use.

Read: Minimalist Women’s Wardrobe & Minimalist Men’s Wardrobe (I also have a Minimalist Children’s Wardrobe but I am not an authority…yet.)

If you don’t care about style at all, then don’t read about minimalist wardrobes that have variety and style — you clearly already have your own thing going on, and that’s fine.

Just don’t try and push your ideals onto others, or guilt-trip them into feeling like they are buying unnecessarily.

I don’t tell anyone they NEED to buy everything I suggest, because it’s a personal decision that depends on what they do, their lifestyle and what they want to spend their money on.

I am only SUGGESTING what I think looks good and what might be useful in a wardrobe, which doesn’t mean you need to follow my advice at all!

BEING A MINIMALIST MEANS YOU HAVE WHAT YOU USE AND NEED

If you go to events often, and need to wear cocktail dresses with different heels, or suits, then you need to own a suit in your wardrobe.

If you don’t need a suit at all except to dust off at the occasional interview, then own ONE suit, not 5.

If you are a minimalist, you have what you use and need.

BEING A MINIMALIST DOESN’T MEAN YOU NEED TO BE FRUGAL AS WELL

They are two completely different, but necessarily mutually exclusive concepts.

Read: Confusing minimalism with frugality

BEING A MINIMALIST DOESN’T MEAN YOU NEED TO SUFFER

A common theme I get is: You don’t need so many items, look at me! I only have one pair of shoes!

Having only one pair of shoes (sneakers) the whole year around is fine for some places, but if you live in the north, you will know this for a fact that you cannot walk around in sneakers in the winter.

There is a lot of ice, salt, slush and snow, and wearing sneakers in the middle of winter and you are delusional if you think you can get away with it.

So making generalizations about only having ONE pair of shoes, and that being the benchmark that everyone who wants to figure out how minimalism fits into their life, makes me shake my head and laugh.

They haven’t considered the environments many people live in. Not everyone is so lucky to be able to live in a climate where one pair of shoes does the job for them year-round.

Even BF has more than one pair of shoes. He has 2 — sneakers and a pair of hiking boots he uses for everything including work (they look like work shoes)

(See? He’s a minimalist and he doesn’t follow my advice about Minimalist Mens’ Wardrobes because he has admitted that he could not care less about fashion and style.)

(Typical winter in Montreal. I’d like to see you wear sneakers in THAT!)

IN SUMMARY

  • There is no uniform with being a minimalist
  • You don’t need to give up being stylish or fashionable if you don’t want to
  • If you don’t care about style, then don’t make others feel bad for putting stock into it*
  • Minimalism is not Frugality
  • You don’t have to suffer for being a minimalist, especially in the dead of winter
  • A minimalist only has what they USE and NEED, even if it means having more than one pair of shoes

*Did you know there are studies out there that say you will earn more money if you take time to dress better than your colleagues so that you look more attractive? Seriously.

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.