Minimalist Clothing – Free Yourself With a Simple Wardrobe

Minimalist clothing is part of the minimalist lifestyle that is defined by fewer articles of clothing that serve a purpose over being fashionable.  Putting function over fashion is not for everyone-but we’re going to look at some ways in which you can incorporate minimalist clothing into your life.

Function over fashion is the mantra of the minimalist lifestyle-especially when it comes to clothing.  Minimalist clothing serves a purpose rather than being fashionable and consists of a set of basics that can be worn for multiple occasions as well as being mixed and matched.

Have you ever grown tired of having “nothing to wear” or not having anything that matches?  Did you know that there is a minimalist option to clothing-one that puts function over fashion and can make your life easier?

What Is Minimalist Clothing?

Minimalist clothing is usually that which serves a purpose.  Minimalists are not about fashion, but function.  Minimalist clothing is simple, neat, and not characterized by bright colors or patterns or even shiny accessories.  Minimalist clothing is just like it sounds-cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and comfortable and functional above all other things.

Shirts hanging - Minimalist Clothing - Gone Minimal
Shirts hanging

Minimalist Clothing Style Elements

Because minimalist clothing is all about function and comfort, there are very few style elements.  Minimalist clothing is not usually brightly colored or patterned, it’s pretty simple and matches with most other articles of clothing in a collection.  This way everything can be worn together regardless of the season or weather.  There’s also a general set of basic pieces that comprise the minimalist closet.  It’s not about keeping up with the latest styles and trends-it’s function over fashion.

Basic Pieces of Minimalist Clothing for Women

Believe it or not-women can be minimalists when it comes to clothing.  We really don’t need a closet full of options-it’s about function.  Here are the basic pieces of minimalist clothing for women:

  • Undergarments (basic underwear and brassiere)
  • Short-sleeved shirt
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Dress pants
  • Casual pants
  • Skirt/dress
  • Exercise clothing (tops and bottoms)
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Uniform (per work requirements)

Most of these pieces will be all-coordinating: that is, your pants will go with any of the shirts you plan to own, and there are no patterns or colors to clash.  It all works together!

Women's essential minimal tops - Minimalist Clothing - Gone Minimal
Women’s essential minimal tops

Basic Pieces of Minimalist Clothing for Men

Men are very much the same as minimalists when it comes to clothing-again it’s function.  Here are the basic pieces of minimalist clothing for men:

  • Undergarments (boxers/briefs and undershirt)
  • Short-sleeved shirt
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Dress pants
  • Casual pants
  • Casual shorts
  • Exercise clothing (tops and bottoms)
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Uniform (per work requirements)

Same with all-coordinating with men’s minimalist clothing-everything will go together. 

How Many Pieces of Clothing Should a Minimalist Own?

Because minimalists are all about function and comfort, the number of pieces of clothing is usually kept to a minimum.  There’s really no minimum or maximum-it’s individualized to the wearer.  Some women might be comfortable with only having two of everything, while others might need a few more.  But it is a good rule of thumb to have enough pieces to prevent having to do laundry more than once or twice a week. 

Some articles of clothing can even be worn a couple of times before washing, like shorts and pants, which can also help with conserving water as well as extending the lifetime of clothing pieces.  But basically speaking-there should be about 20 items in total:

  1. 3-4 shirts
  2. 1-2 sweaters or jackets
  3. 1-2 dressy items
  4. 2 sets of exercise outfits
  5. 7 sets of undergarments
  6. 2-3 pairs of casual pants

There may be additional items of course depending on the climate you live in (Southerners don’t need a whole lot of cold weather clothing while Northerners do) and the kind of lifestyle you live.  Exercise daily?  Up the ante of exercise outfits.  Work from home?  No uniform or dressy items required!  These choices are all up to you and what you’re willing to keep on hand (or do away with).

Men's minimal clothing essentials - Minimalist Clothing - Gone Minimal
Men’s minimal clothing essentials

Popular Minimalist Clothing Brands

Did you know there are actually minimalist clothing brands?  Keep in mind that fashion trends and popularity can change over time, so it’s always a good idea to explore different brands and find the ones that align with your style. However, here are some of the most popular (and ethical) minimalist clothing brands:

  • Everlane – Not big on trends, more about functionality season after season.
  • COS – Elevated essentials that never go out of style.
  • Pact – Affordable, organic, and Fair Trade certified.
  • Theory – Made minimalist clothing before it was cool.
  • VETTA – Creates mix and match pieces for a “thoughtful wardrobe” with capsules.
  • Organic Basics – Stylish, comfortable, and eco-friendly.

Making DIY Minimalist Clothing

Start by cleaning out your closet.  If you haven’t worn something in 6 months or more, donate it!  If there are articles that you’ve only worn once or twice in the past 6 months, consider donating those as well.  You want to keep those items you wear on a regular basis and serve a purpose (exercise, sleep, casual, work, etc.) and do away with those that merely take up space or only work for an infrequent special occasion.  Don’t want to donate these things? 

Consider taking them to a consignment or resale shop.  Then you’ll create some closet space and make a little money!

Sustainable Minimalist Clothing

As you move forward with your minimalist clothing endeavors, consider purchasing from sustainable minimalist clothing brands.  Sustainability is also about keeping your old clothing out of the landfills by updating, hemming, repurposing, and buying new clothing responsibly. 

You can create your own special looks with the use of a sewing machine, clearance fabrics and supplies from the craft store, and even combining pieces to create something unique.  Also consider thrifting for new clothing-you can find some pretty good pieces at low prices! 

Once you’ve bought or created the new pieces, take good care of them.  Clothing (especially jeans) don’t need to be washed after every single wear, this only wears down the fabric and thread work and ages them more quickly.  Consider buying a fabric refresher or creating your own with a mixture of alcohol or water and your favorite body spray or essential oil to remove odors when you can’t (or don’t want to) wash.

This video offers 15 clothing staples to keep your wardrobe minimal.

The Minimal Clothing Items Real People Would Keep

I asked family and friends what top 5 elements of clothing they would prefer to keep (if they could only keep the minimum possible to stay dressed).  Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

Elements of ClothingTally of Family/Friends
Tank tops/sleeveless tops2
Long-sleeved shirts4
Denim shorts2
Casual shorts3
Short socks2
Long socks3
Running shoes4
Running shorts/capris2

Other Resources:

It’s one thing to be a “slave” to fashion-but why?  Minimalist clothing makes it so much easier to dress for success as well as comfort.  When one utilizes minimalist clothing, one can save money and time through less clothing purchases, pieces match better, plus think of all the closet and drawer space you can save!  Function, unless you live in New York or California, is ALWAYS more important than fashion!

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