Keep It? Or Pass It On? A No-Fuss Guide To Minimalism.

Hannah Nussbaum

Extra Extra: Minimalism is a trending buzzword in the fashion world right now! Just look at Instagram with tastefully curated lifestyle shots, an aesthetic to boast, not too much clutter, no visual chaos, undersaturated hues, and sleek silhouettes.

But minimalism isn't some new 2019 trend. It's like we are in a mental tug-of-war between modest and exuberance. Every time minimalism trumps, we're confronted with a consumer paradox.

How can we square our desire for minimalism with our desire to buy new items?

This question seems to be answered by a cottage industry of minimalist goods that can confuse even the savviest shopper. Ironically, the minimalist industry pedals us hordes of lifestyle clutter. Think throw blankets, ceramic jugs, essential oil diffusers, and in the realm of fashion, more 'basics' than a sane person could ever fit into a single capsule wardrobe.

So what is the minimalist shopper to do?

The answer, inevitably, has to do with letting things go. Marie Kondo, the famous Japanese organizing consultant who currently has her reality show, has the right idea here. Make way for a more minimal wardrobe. But it's essential to know what to keep and what to pass on. And this process is a carefully cultivated art. It takes practice, patience, and a little bit of ruthlessness.

So what should you keep and what should you pass on?

For us at Buho, minimalism and scaling back isn't just an aesthetic. It's about putting yourself in a position where you can make more sustainable choices and keep things longer. Think quality over quantity.

Here are a few tricks that can make even the most cluttered hoarder pare back.

  • Plan your dream vacation. It's a super useful "thought experiment" to imagine that you're going somewhere for an entire month. Somewhere with variable weather that requires you to do a little bit of business and a little bit of pleasure. A little bit of everything. Whether or not such a vacation exists, go ahead and pack a suitcase for this month abroad. What have you included? What have you discarded? Force yourself to make decisions about what you love most, what's most utilitarian, and what pieces you own that are most multi-functional.
  • Take stock of duplicates. Many of us can own multiples of almost the same item of clothing. Taking stock of your doubles can give you beneficial information about your purchasing habits. Maybe you own fifteen white t-shirts. Maybe floral maxi skirts have invaded your closet. Some of us have a severe problem with black jeans. Or babydoll tops that we try on but never wear out of the house.
  • After taking your 'duplicate inventory,' the next question you need to ask yourself is this: why do you keep buying the same thing? Chances are, it's because you keep buying low-quality versions, and none of them are juuuuust right. Now it's time to gather up all of your b-grade duplicates and recycle them. Invest in one or two high-quality versions. Pieces that will last, and will finally pump the brakes on your habit of buying the same thing over and over again.
  • Go through your closet and look for all of your 'aspirational clothing.' What we mean by this is clothing that you intend to wear once some fundamental life change happens. Often this has to do with weight-loss or weight-gain goals or plans to adopt an entirely different aesthetic than the one you comfortably rock on a day to day basis. Keeping these items around can create unrealistic and unhealthy expectations. But more broadly, it's a habit that takes up space in your closet that you could otherwise dedicate to pieces that you wear today.
  • Be sustainably-minded when you think about getting rid of things. Often, we'll hoard items because they are made of high-quality fabrics or are from trusted or luxury brand names. Clothing in your closet can linger for years. Why? Because every time you go to give it away, you'll catch a glimpse of its "100% organic silk" tag, and find yourself unable to part with it. Next time you're in this situation, re-frame the task at hand. High-quality clothing that you don't wear is the ideal clothing to be consigning. It will last for generations, and you can responsibly send it to a consignment store with the knowledge that it won't end up in a landfill. Instead, it will go into somebody else's closet, where it will get the love it deserves.
  • Set goals for yourself. Sometimes being super intentional is the best way to establish a more sustainable and stripped back wardrobe. Maybe you only buy one high-quality item a month, instead of several low-quality versions. Or you decide that for every new piece you incorporate into your wardrobe, you recycle another piece, either to a producer that repurposes old textiles or to a trusted consignment or vintage store that will rehome your item.

Armed with these basic strategies, you’ll be able to declutter your wardrobe and cultivate your minimal capsule uniform in no time!

As always, this should go hand in hand with an eye to sustainability, longevity, and consumer responsibility. Minimalism and sustainability are two sides of the same coin.