“I built a minimalist wardrobe and it kinda sucked – here’s why”


For the last few months, getting dressed in the morning has been a particularly melancholy experience. I open my wardrobe, look at what’s inside and pull on whatever. It doesn’t really matter: I’ve whittled down my closet stash to its purest, most basic form, so every individual item matches another, with almost no fuss. It’s dreadful.

The big chop

Last year, I was bored of my clothes and decided it all had to go; every garb before graduation, every remnant of my irreverent past needed to vamoose. I ditched the gypsy skirts, oversize thrift store jerseys and torn T-shirts. When I contemplated what my new style should be, my inner yogi meditated on the idea of shopping for new clothes. I decided to use what I had on hand. By not buying new stuff, I was being FOR the environment, doing my bit to axe the toxic cycle of fast fashion. I’m lying – partially. I blew my New Wardrobe Budget on avocado toast.

READ MORE: “I let my mom dress me for a Week – and survived” 

Nonetheless, I found this nifty guide and analysed what was left, now that I’d discarded my dresses of days gone by. Was it chic enough to match my desired aesthetic (Parisian minimalist)? Was it too worn out?

I was left with a handful of items: a pair of skinny jeans, a pair of prized Margot Molyneaux trousers, a black skirt, two black T-shirts, one stripy navy blue top, one long-sleeved grey top and a few other items. I also invested in two pairs of heels: a pair of plain, black heels and blue suede ankle boots. (Had to sacrifice tons of potential toast Instagrams for those.)

The minimalist wardrobe

At first, I was really chuffed with myself. My biggest issue was that I was still stuck in that weird style phase in-between varsity and slick workwear. By chucking the majority of my worst hipster offenders, I could carve a professional-looking style with little-to-no effort. But later down the line – a few months – it dawned on me that composing the chic aesthetic that seems so simple on Pinterest is way hard IRL.

For starters, wearing jeans and a T-shirt every day is not a particularly polished vibe. But when you’ve got this little to choose from, the jeans roll around almost every day. And to neaten up the lazy look, you’ve got to opt for sleek hair, which I’m wholly unwilling to commit to for political reasons, or choose between wearing make-up or heels. I absolutely abhor both. No idea why I thought I’d actually wear the heels I bought.

READ MORE: “I only wore vintage items for a week – and here are 5 things I learnt”

In the end, I wound up with my hair in a bun most days, clad in sneakers and jeans, eternally grateful my boss (a former fashion editor – eep!) never commented on my lack of effort. While I’m all for the Millennial Uniform (more grey matter dedicated to solving that vexing student debt problem), I miss different clothes.

I miss flouncy dresses that make me feel pretty, and the feeling of buying something new that you absolutely adore. I miss shopping and wearing stuff that makes you feel something, like cool. Or fashionable. Say what you want about the industry: fashion’s big business because adorning yourself in material is self-expression.

I’ll keep my capsule, mainly because of that mammoth avocado toast budget I mentioned, but also because when I do buy something new, I do want it to be a quality piece that fulfils the emotionally expressive criteria too. In short, if you’re going to go minimalist, do it with the same vigour you’d dedicate to a job hunt: the same sort of thing is on the line, after all.

Looking for more? Check out these local swimwear labels for your ultimate beach look.

This article was first published on Women's Health South Africa.

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