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.

 

 

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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.