How Long it Really Takes to Create a Minimalist's Wardrobe
I love reading about and talking about simplicity and simplifying our lifestyles. To me, minimalism in my own life seems like I'm faking it. Maybe because the things that I have personally narrowed down and changed on an everyday basis have become so normal to me that I just don't even consider them "minimal" anymore. For us, this word that means less truly does mean just that. We are changing the way we live, not for a lifestyle, but as a way to remove ourselves from excessive consumerism and try looking into items that are made in a more ethical way. As a forewarning, the places where I choose to purchase my clothing (or am graciously gifted the items) are not affordable to everyone, not even me most days. But because I buy less and am more interested in a quality item that will last me years, even decades, I don't mind spending more. That being said, you can find all of these options at a more affordable price!
Our "minimalism" started around five years ago. We were making the conscious decision to let go of around 80% of our belongings because we were moving over a thousand miles away, from Illinois to Texas. This decision was mostly my parents'; I don't really want to say this was my idea because I was 17 and all I cared about was not being able to be in my high school's play and hanging out with my boyfriend, but it was one that I was definitely involved in. They wanted to save money on a moving van, meaning they didn't want to hire a moving van at all. With that in mind, it was one of those things where we had to say, "Let's get rid of everything and just buy the new things we need when we get down south." That was fairly easy to do, especially when we watched our personal belongings basically get gobbled up at our garage sale by everyone in our small town. You can read more about that whole journey, moving into a tiny cottage home from a Victorian, here.
When we moved, I ended up donating a lot of my clothes. I also bought a ton of new clothing when we moved to Texas. The suburb we lived in, The Woodlands, was not exactly a prominent sight for minimalists, and I felt like I was struggling yet again to fit in. It was as if freshman year had restarted, even though I was entering senior year. That was also the year that I first heard of a capsule wardrobe. It was plastered everywhere online, on Pinterest, on blogs. It's something that I really didn't think much of, but the more I read about it and what the point of it was, the more interested I became. It was in 2015 that we moved again, this time to Iowa where we're living now, and we did the exact same thing as before. We left our belongings behind, and I dumped a majority of my closet. I had also just had a new baby; Tad was only a month old when we left Texas, so a lot of my clothes from before pregnancy were dropped. I was living in maternity items and oversized clothing. Today, it's been another two years, and I have successfully narrowed my closet to officially around 16 items, not including underwear and loungewear, the latter being what I wear to sleep in.
To say that those five years were easy is 100% not true. To say that achieving a minimalist wardrobe can happen overnight, not true in the slightest. To say that capsule wardrobes are trendy, totally true. Do they work? Yep. That's true, too. Any guide or blog or person that tells you getting rid of your things will be easy - just follow these 10 steps - is lying to you. Clothing hoarding and retail shopping is like a disease in ways, or at least an addiction. I still find myself perusing online clothing stores that I love, wondering if maybe I should try something new out to make myself feel more interesting. I am slowly beginning to realize that personal style, for me, is about being predictable to myself.
I think the hardest part about the entire process was being consciously-not-conscious of what I was doing. I had to work hard at not thinking about trying to narrow down my wardrobe because it was the better thing to do or because I was taking someone else's advice. Does that make sense? I wanted this journey to not be an easy button; I wanted it to be one where I was trying to make an effort not to purchase new clothes and also to not prove to anyone that I was making it happen. Because whenever I do that, try to make this huge statement that I am making a life change, I always fail. Does that happen to you, too?
I had a whole slew of messages on Instagram after sharing a video of my closet, asking what was in it and if I would share more. Thanks, guys! I'm glad you're interested. It's one of those things that I love reading about, but I'm never sure if it's really my thing to write about. How do you approach a closet that has clothing in it from four years ago? And I suppose I really can't. There's no way for me to link you to half of the things in my closet, but I can share why I chose to keep the pieces I did and how they truly are more timeless than anything. I do have several pieces from your standard retail store. I am starting to shop a little more consciously and environmentally friendly. I mostly buy my clothing (and Tad's) from handmade retailers, though Tad's clothing has more often than not been generally gifted to me. There are still things that I feel like I need to add to my wardrobe even though I tried to give myself a goal of not purchasing anything new this year. Truthfully, that's already failed, but I was buying myself some nice linen pieces for the first time, and I definitely do not regret those purchases at all.
Do I have the perfect guide to a minimalist wardrobe for you today? No, definitely not! Everyone's wardrobes and lifestyles are different. My lifestyle is definitely unique, but perhaps you have something similar. I work from home, I'm a mom, and I also spend a lot of time in the garden getting dirty. Along with my lifestyle, there's also my own personal preferences and my body type. I'm tall, 5'8", hourglass shaped and wear a size 36D bra. That means I hate empire waists and low rise jeans. I'm a high rise wearer, tend to head towards A-line dresses, and something that is loose so my mommy tummy is hidden. I wear a minimizer bra everyday of my life, and if I had money to throw out the window, I would get a breast reduction without question! Tiny boobs 4ever. When I look for clothes, I try to keep these four things in mind:
1. Breathable and easy to layer.
2. Can get dirty and easily be cleaned, and also leave me guilt free when it comes to staining.
3. Makes me feel stylish, comfortable, and more like myself.
4. Made out of natural fibers and at the highest quality I can afford.
With all of that said, I want to share with you some of my favorite pieces that are used frequently throughout my weeks and that are great not only for summer but can be transitioned and used in all other seasons as well. I was really struggling trying to figure out how best to share these items with you, because at first I was trying to figure out how to share my entire closet, which truthfully isn't that big. Right now, for summer, I have about 16 pieces in rotation (not including jeans and a handful of t-shirts) and a good majority of them are a few years old. Therefore, they're no longer being sold, and I am just not a very good researcher when it comes to finding look alike clothing from other stores. I kind of just shop at the same ones rather frequently, and that's probably why a sustainable closet works for me... I no longer have an interest in throw-away-fashion! Below I'm sharing my favorite pieces that are still available to buy online as well as my wishlist!
Not Perfect Linen - Swing Linen Blouse
I love this top! While sometimes I can get self conscious about my armpits, because that's where my breasts tend to hide in my minimizer bra (reality check!), I am getting better about finding my armpits and arms more enjoyable. It's a work in progress, let me tell ya. While the armpit issue is one of completely my own, the drape and "swing" of this top are absolutely perfect. Not form fitting or torso hugging, but it somehow still shows off shape. Me likey.
Linen Fox - Linen Dress with Short Sleeves
MY FAVORITE. I have been wearing this dress religiously for the past couple of weeks. It's a new purchase for me, and I am so so in love with it. No regrets! The weight of the linen is perfection, and the hang could not be better. I had been on the hunt for the perfect linen dress with a loose and draped sleeve, one that didn't hug my arms and pits, for a long time. Nothing was coming up, or they seem to make a lot of linen dresses sleeveless? This one just fits so beautifully. Could not recommend it more!
Conscious Clothing - Organic Linen Snap Smock
Another favorite! This piece of clothing always makes me feel like I should be out in the studio painting an abstract oil painting. Doesn't it?! Too bad I am terrified of getting any paint whatsoever on this beautiful piece of clothing! Even though I do think that paint and natural dye stains on clothes can look absolutely cool. Artist clothing is awesome. This pairs well over my linen swing blouse and also a long sleeve tee, which is probably how I'll be wearing it all autumn. It also is the perfect length to wear all the leggings for maximum comfort.
Not Perfect Linen - Loose Linen Pants
I get so many questions about this pair of pants on Instagram! Yes, they are extremely comfortable and amazingly made. I have to say, after debating back and forth for over a year whether or not to invest my money in Not Perfect Linen, it was one of the best that I've made. The quality is incredible! I just really love their clothing and would recommend them to anyone.
Conscious Clothing - Linen Backyard Jumpsuit
This is probably my most worn piece in my closet right now. Want to know something embarrassing? I was wearing it backwards for the first three months I owned it. Baha! Apparently the snaps are meant to go up the back, but I was enjoying having them in front because that was easy access to breast feeding days and also much easier to take on and off to use the restroom. Well, I think it looks great whether you wear the snaps in front or in back, and I actually love how roomy the waist and legs of this thing are. This is usually my go to outfit for days where I am feeling bloated or not myself. It instantly makes me feel better!
- Not Perfect Linen - Mama Dress with Long Sleeves
- Madewell - Courier Side Button Shirt
- ASOS - High Waist Slim Mom Jeans
- Sorel - 1964 Premium CVS Boot
It's really short and kind of lame, I know! But that makes it seem more easily achievable. I also love the dresses from Pyne + Smith Clothiers and LinenBee. So definitely check those out! I've never bought from there, so I do not have a personal opinion on the quality or shop, but I do think they have really pretty things.
Have you paired down your wardrobe? Which pieces do you tend to cling to? If you have any recommendation for me, I would love to hear them! I hope this post was what you were hoping for when it was requested. This was fun to share! (: