The Minimalist Wardrobe: Workwear

Depending on your field of work, you may feel pressured to have several different dressing options on hand. If you work in a representative role, dressing appropriately is essential and the same may apply to sectors like finance or legal. Even if you have a classic office role, fashionable colleagues can urge you to keep up with your outfits. But how do you do that without buying new pieces every few weeks? Here’s how.

Capsule is key – Start an office capsule wardrobe. This concept has become a popular trend recently. Originating in France, this concept stands for choosing a certain amount of pieces each season that mix and match (almost) perfectly with each other. By picking the right pieces, endless combinations are possible. Sounds easy, but in reality it takes months to years of dedication to perfect this system for your whole wardrobe. I recommend these ladies for help: Alli, Christine, Meg.

One by one – However, incorporating the capsule wardrobe concept for the workwear part of your wardrobe isn’t that hard. Here’s how I did it: I picked 3 blazers that are very different in style (I have a classic black one with small dots, a light pink one and a grey one with pinstripes.) Then I picked 4 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, 3 blouses, 2 cardigans and 3 long sleeve shirts. If you differentiate between office and non-office shoes add these too. Now, besides trying to pick only a few items each, the key is to have one core item that everything else matches with. For me the blazers are the core item. All other items match with at least 2 of my blazers. Now this sounds easy in theory, but I highly recommend trying on all outfits at home. Just because it looks good in your head, doesn’t mean it will actually convince in reality.

Switch it up – Now you may agree that focussing on mix and match is a great concept to stay organized and somewhat stylish, but there’s still the problems mentioned above like keeping up with trendy colleagues and not looking too simple. Having a limited amount of fashion options gives you room to try something else with complimenting style aspects such as your hair, makeup or jewellery. If you feel like you’ve been sticking mainly to a few of your capsule styles, force yourself to not wear them for a week or two. If you feel too uncomfortable with other styles, switch out an item or two before the next season.

Seasons – As mentioned earlier, the capsule wardrobe concept encourages switching out items every season. This is not only to have weather appropriate clothes, but also gives you the possibility to incorporate some new styles, change your colour palette or reduce the capsule overall. After some getting used to, four occasions a year will feel completely sufficient to re-evaluate your wardrobe.

The Testrun – Don’t jump into your capsule wardrobe instantly. Test out the concept for a while. Pick one item and try to wear it for a few days, styling it differently. I recommend a cardigan or blazer for this, as they are harder to adjust to than a pair of basic pants or a blouse – and the testing phase should challenge you. A less basic item will force you to go through your closet more thoroughly, looking for matching items. This leads to a better overview, which of course is essential to pick the right pieces for your final capsule.

Of course this system doesn’t only work for the office, but any other part of your wardrobe. Having a secure dressing base for your professional life can take away a lot of morning hassle and help you gain confidence plus focus on more important things (like what’s for lunch?) – Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

The Minimalist Wardrobe: How to Invest

After downsizing your wardrobe and living with what you have for a while, you will realize buying a new piece for your wardrobe just became a lot more difficult.

Ideally, you now appreciate what you have, know what suits you and what matches with the clothes you already have. Ideally, you know exactly what you like and aren’t influenced by current trends or brands. Ideally, you (for example) decide to buy a bag, know exactly what style and colour you need and have an unlimited budget to spend on exactly that one piece.

Ideally. Of course, the reality looks different for most of us.

Needs and Wants – First and far most you will only be able to maintain a small wardrobe if you can differentiate between what you actually need and what you want. You think you need a 3rd blazer because your colleague is wearing new blazers every week and you like the light blue with stripes version? This is clearly a want. Of course you can still decide to buy a new blazer, but going after your wants will eventually expand your wardrobe and will have you selling things again.

Worth investing in – Is really every item worth investing in or can I still buy my white shirts at Primark? Of course, this is completely up to you. Personally, I like investing mainly in key pieces like bags, shoes and coats. These are items I can see myself spending most time and money on. Over the years I’ve also come to appreciate high quality blouses, knits, shirts and dresses. On the other hand, I’m not a friend of branded jeans as I feel that you can get a nice pair for under 50 bucks with a little care. I still buy socks and tights at your average retailer. The whole investing process is highly dependent on two things: money and preference. If you have the means and wants to only buy from fair-fashion-high-quality brands, do it. If you’re on a budget, you’ll have to compromise.

What’s investing? – Investing doesn’t only mean spending a substantial amount of money on an item. It also means spending time on choosing the right item – skipping options you wouldn’t be 100% happy with to look for more alternatives – or to save more money for the item you really want. This can be tricky in the beginning. You may know you want a new pair of jeans in black, but you may not be sure what cut to go for, or what brand suits you and delivers the right quality at the same time as being within your budget. This means you will have to spend some time doing your research. Luckily, for most items you can do the biggest part online. Stroll around some online shops to see what you like, read through a few forums to find out about the quality and price. After that you’ll be ready to hit the stores with a clear target. Try on some models, feel the fabric and get a clearer picture of what you want.

Buy now or cry later – That seems to be the motto of most people when buying new clothes. I’m a firm believer in “sleeping over it”. Meaning that even if I feel like I found exactly the thing I want and it’s in my budget, I will not buy it right away. I like bargains, so I usually go home and google the model and size I want to see if I can get a better deal somewhere else or maybe even find the item second-hand (you’ll be surprised how many second-hand items I buy, that have barely been worn and save me humongous amounts of money). Sorry retail, but this means that I very rarely end up buying in a physical store. The “sleeping”-strategy however also saves you from impulse buys. The next morning those jeans might not be that appealing anymore and you’ll end up buying another pair instead – saving yourself an annoying store return or re-sale.

Second-hand – This is clearly my favourite category. You’d be surprised how much of my wardrobe is actually thrifted or bought on ebay and other online resellers. I have a few designer bags that have a price tag over 1000 bucks but I haven’t spent half of that on them. Of course, you should only buy used designer goods if you have enough knowledge on spotting an authentic item to protect yourself from fraud – I recommend using certified resellers like Vestiaire Collective, Trendsales, Hardly Ever Worn It or Vide Dressing and reading up on e.g. The PurseForum. Second hand is a really good way to get a great deal on a high quality item that can last you ages – and not having to splurge. And trust me – few things feel better than finding the thing you have wanted for weeks at a really nice price.

Input/Output – Eventually you will of course expand your wardrobe somehow by adding items that match your style better or that are suitable for your daily needs (job, kids, travel) so sooner or later you will have to get rid of some things again. I try to go through my clothes twice a year to make sure I don’t end up keeping stuff I don’t need. See my post on downsizing for help in this matter.

 

I hope this little guide helps you on your way to the perfect key wardrobe. Let me know, if you want me to right an extra guide on second-hand shopping and thrifting.

 

 

The Minimalist Wardrobe: How to downsize

When I first started getting interested in a minimalist lifestyle, not buying anything new wasn’t the big difficulty, but how to reduce what I already had. I somewhat followed my instinct, but looking back it could have been easier with more guidance, so I decided to create this small guide to help you downsize your wardrobe.

The Throw-out – This step is important to achieve an overview of your belongings. Go through your entire closet item by item: pants, sweaters, dresses, coats. Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the past year. If you own items you consider investment pieces, but you don’t wear them – put them platforms like ebay, Vestiaire Collective or Trendsales. Getting some money back will make parting much easier. The same goes for cheaper and basic clothes that you don’t really wear anymore. Sell them on a fleamarket or ebay or donate them to local organisations.

Be Honest – Now you should be left with things that you ideally have worn within the past months making this next step significantly harder: Be honest to yourself. Do you need 6 pairs of black jeans? 8 basic shirts? 4 blazers? Pick your favorites of each type and give away the others. How many you may want to keep is up to you and depends on circumstances like your job and hobbies. I don’t need more than 2 blazers, because there’s rarely an occasion for me to wear them. On the other hand I do however need different types of shoes, because I have to go out with my dogs in any type of weather. Try to part with as much as possible, but don’t make it hard for yourself in the beginning as this may kill the the enthusiasm for minimalism.

Style & Matching – If you want to keep downsizing in the long run, you will have to own and invest in pieces that are easily combined with anything in your wardrobe. If you like wearing striped shirts and sneakers, you probably don’t need lacey skirts or colorful sweaters. Instead, basic jeans or a jeans skirt could match. Keeping a few statement pieces isn’t a problem, but I would make these the exception and try to make 85% of the wardrobe compatible. This probably means sticking to few colors – in my case it was black, grey, navy and dark green. One of my statement pieces is a bright red bag, which lightens up all my outfits. Rationally looking at your own style can be tough, so I suggest to do so over a period of a few weeks, closely watching what you wear on a daily basis.

Sort it & Watch it – Find a way to organize your clothes for a visual overview. Sort them by type and color and try to hang as many as you can (I forget about half the items that I have folded somewhere!) The clearer overview and sorting will help you keep track even better of what you’re wearing how often. If you notice an item being worn less, lay it off.

How many clothes should I own? – Some people own no more than 2 items per type, others are content with 5. Personally, I enjoy owning less and less, but this is only possible if you know your style well and have the financial resources to invest in exactly what you want – or already own it. My closet has shrunken in size and grown in quality over a long period of time. Give yourself time and let the minimal lifestyle grow on you.

As mentioned before: Becoming a minimalist is a process. You will grow more and more comfortable with less and less.

Another annoying guide telling you (how) to get rid of your shit

Decluttering is the hippest word out there at the moment, yet many find its message hard to follow: only keep the core essentials, get rid of all the rest. Decluttering can apply to pretty much any part of your life. The following post is a guide to decluttering your things. I especially recommend following this if you are planing to move in the near future. It makes things go much smoother.

Kitchen — Various mugs, glasses and cutlery? Find one style you like and give away the rest. We tend to get attached to gifts or souvenirs and mugs are popular among those. Still holding on to the Sicily mug from 8 years ago but never using it anyway? Take a deep breath and get rid of it. You own 3 pans and 6 pots of about the same size? Only keep the high quality ones. You have 5 different tools that serve basically the same function? Keep one. You own a toaster and a microwave? Unless you don’t eat toast and processed foods everyday, both functions can be taken over by your oven.

Textiles — Before my last move I was hoarding dozens of towels of all sizes and colours. High quality towels can be expensive to buy and you never know when you will need 7 at once or suddenly have 15 guests in your 40 square apartment, right? Seriously — I end up using about 4 different towels, all others just stay in the closet and take up a lot of space. Keep 2 big and 2 small towels per person and maybe one pair for guests. That’s enough. The same thing applies to bed sheets. You don’t need more than 2 per bed, as you can only use one at a time and wash the other. Pick your 2 favourites and say bye to their mates.

Beauty — Gurus, magazines and celebrities constantly feed our urge to buy beauty-enhancing products. From shower gel to mascara, we constantly feel like we can do better and keep buying additional versions of basically the same product. That doesn’t only take up space in our shelves, but also in our heads (“Which lipstick should I use today?”). Of course you can try things out, but if you end up not using them, give them away. If you find a product you like, keep it and toss its fellow products. Of course you can have some colour variations in e.g. lipsticks and nail polishes, but you really don’t need 5 blushes, 4 mascaras and 11 different foundations. Trust me, you will love the new emptiness of your beauty shelve as it will make you get-ready time much shorter.

Technology — Guys, this one is for you. Yes, you never know when you might need that specific cable or when your old phone from 2002 might suddenly be worth a million because of its rarity, but stuffing boxes full of old technology parts, cables, and out-dated devices is not worth the struggle. It’s unlikely that old technology will ever be worth more. Go through all your tech-stuff and only keep things you have used in the last 3 months. Throw away broken things and — for god’s sake — throw away things you don’t know the purpose to.

Files — 20 letters every week, some important, some more or less important, some totally unnecessary. You pile them in a corner on your desk or in your kitchen and usually never look at them again. This is a tough one. I recommend to get one specific drawer for papers and follow these steps: Open all letters as soon as you can and throw away unimportant ones (ads, surveys etc.). Everything else you can put into the drawer and go through it once at the end of every week (or at least every 2 weeks). Sort the ones you want to keep into a folder and get rid of the rest. If you are unsure about keeping one, take a picture and save it on your computer, but throw the actual copy away.

Packaging — Bags at the end of every shopping spree, cartons around almost everything you buy. You end up collecting them for future purposes as garbage bags or shipping parcels. But how many of those bags and packages actually end up serving that purpose? Only a few. Try to be smarter about it. Bring canvas bags shopping if you can (good for the environment too!) and only keep especially big or sturdy plastic bags. The same applies to cartons, which I generally also recommend storing in the basement.

Clothes — As clothing is probably the biggest problem for most people when it comes to decluttering, I will write an extra post about them. But even without that, you can easily declutter your closet. Choose one type of hangers (I recommend thin metal ones, not the thick wooden ones) to save space and get a cleaner view on everything. Hang as many clothes as you can so you can actually see them. Clothes I store in drawers, I easily forget about and end up never wearing them. Try to only use drawers and boxes for underwear or basics. Speaking of, do you really need those 5-year-old slips and socks? Decluttering is (literally) about the small things, so even though it may sound unnecessary to sort out your underwear, it will have its effect.

Decoration — I am a strong believer in not getting attached to materialistic things. It starts with my unwillingness to buy souvenirs on trips and ends at finding a way to store flowers, as I don’t like buying decorative things like vases. Yet, without decoration, your home may seem a little empty. Choose some of your favourite pieces (I recommend not more than 5 per rooms) that compliment your style and the style of the interior and give away everything else. Also, try to use practical appliances and tools as decoration. This can be as simple as displaying a pretty pair of vintage scissors or using a retro figurine from the flea-market as a doorstop.

Embrace the void, folks!