It’s about time I did another style post! While I’m not exactly a fashion blogger, style is an area of minimalism that I’ve learned a lot about in the past year. I completed my year-long clothes shopping ban in June, and since then I’ve only bought a couple of things – and they were bought used. Shopping no longer gives me the thrill that it once did. I want to reduce waste by cutting the demand for new, trendy clothing.
Some people have asked me for tips on shopping their own closets. Get ready, because I came up with quite a few – ten to be exact! What I do now is host used clothing swaps at my home about every 6 months so my friends and I get a chance to freshen up and streamline our wardrobes for free. This not only saves money, it gives those unwanted garments a chance to live again. Everything I’m wearing in these photos is ether from a clothing swap, or purchased before my ban started. What doesn’t work for one person, might be perfect for someone else. So don’t just recycle your clothing. Recycling is great. But reusing is better. And slashing the demand for new, trendy duds is the best yet. Together, we can make a big difference in the industry and help curb overconsumption, greed, and waste.
To show practical examples of a versatile wardrobe, I’m wearing the same item two different ways in each of the photos below.
1. A Simple Color Scheme
Keep it simple rather than follow the trends. For instance, black never goes out of style. Solid and neutral colors are good base items. Most of the items in my closet are a shade of brown, white, grey, or black. Everything in your wardrobe ideally can be mixed and matched with at least three other things. When it comes to bright colors, stick with just a couple that compliment one another. These can become your trademark look. Mine are currently teal, pink, and a little bit of purple.
2. Be Inspired by Minimalists
If you use Pinterest, search for “minimal” or “capsule” wardrobe ideas rather than the latest fashions. Instead of making you yearn for what’s hot right now, you’ll learn new ways to use what you already have. I did this when I was pregnant to get new, cute ideas for how to make my wardrobe work with my growing belly.
3. Replace, but Don’t Collect
Wear out what you have completely before buying a replacement. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Many of us have overstuffed closets because we buy whatever new thing catches our eye. I suggest a one in / one out rule to keep things simple and streamlined. Shop only to replace, and either donate or recycle the old one right away. If you still like it enough to keep it, then it isn’t time to replace it yet.
4. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
When you replace items, buy ethically and for quality – real wool, real leather, real linen, etc. Brands that stand by their products. “Fast fashion” is not only trendy, but it’s often made out of cheap materials. These pieces are colorful and hard to resist, but they won’t add much quality or versatility to your existing wardrobe.
5. Know Your Go-To Outfits
Come up with a rotation of “uniforms” for each season so you have a go-to outfit that looks nice but takes no effort to throw on. They should match your routine. This summer my uniform was running clothes in the morning, and then a light breezy dress after my run and shower. In the winter my uniform is usually running tights and a zip-up jersey for working out and fleece leggings, a tunic, wool socks, and a chunky sweater afterward.
6. Purge Often
No matter how minimal your wardrobe, it’s still a good idea to go through it often and look for things that are just taking up space. I like to re-evaluate my wardrobe every season for pieces that aren’t pulling their weight. Give away the items in your closet that don’t fit right, don’t feel great, or are too difficult to wear. Less is more. Swap these items with your friends if they’re still in good shape. (About half my wardrobe right now is my friends’ cast-offs!)
7. Think About Your Lifestyle
Match your wardrobe to your life. If you’re like me and stay home with kids, hang on to mostly comfy, everyday clothes. I live in casual things that are fun to wear, so this is the bulk of my wardrobe. Most people just need a couple of special occasion outfits, not a whole closet full of cocktail dresses and evening gowns. I also run a lot so I have enough running tops and bottoms that something is always clean and ready to go. If you’re not athletic, purge this category. If you work a fancy job, it’s perfectly fine to have more blazers and heels than I do.
8. Think About Versatility
Hang onto items that can do double-duty. I love long, flowing tops not only because they’re cute but also because they will cover my tummy if I decide to have another baby. (In my opinion, maternity clothes are overpriced and often unnecessary.) If something can serve multiple purposes, it’s probably a keeper.
9. Repair as Needed
A few simple sewing skills can go a long way. If you like -but don’t love- something, try altering it to fit your needs. I sew buttons, mend holes, add patches, and can sew a hem. I don’t even own a sewing machine! With a little practice, you’ll be able to personalize and prolong the life of your existing clothing.
10. Learn to Love Yourself
The bottom line is that clothes are just adornment. Your clothing will never fully express you. It’s your personality’s job to express yourself! Don’t hide behind your clothes or ask them to do what only you can. The purpose of my shopping ban wasn’t to learn to acquire clothing for free. It was meant to change how I think about clothes in the first place. I want to live a simple and practical life, focusing on necessities rather than luxuries, so that I have more to share with others. If you’d like to start your own personal shopping ban, here’s a good place to start. Happy swapping and simplifying!