It has been a year since we moved house. For around a year I had been ‘decluttering‘, and toying with minimalism generally. I had also kept track of all my purchases that year with a wishlist. It took difficult circumstances for me to adopt an almost completely frugal strategy. Everything I have bought this year has been funded by the selling of other possessions. Consequently, I have slowed my spending to a grand total of 7 purchases, from January to June. And barring one item, I have enjoyed wearing them all, with the right occasion waiting for this to be a 100% buy to wear ratio. That’s minimalism, for you. It focuses you, as you will see here.
If you are reading this and you are a minimalist, you are probably nodding your head. If you are not a minimalist, or are looking for fashion advice generally, think about it. When was the last time you could truly say you have used everything you have bought, no cheating or mental gymnastics involved. That’s why I am so proud of myself over the past six months: I was that reader, not so long ago, I did not believe minimalism was a part of my life, or indeed my fashion sense. It certainly is now.
My rules in 2017.
Whenever I go shopping or browsing for clothes online, I make a beeline for the filters. It’s a kind of minimalism in action: reducing what you see rather than sifting through every advertisement or listing. There was a time when I was keen to collect every colour of Fred Perry polo; to own a jacket in each of the key colours. Those desires created a wardrobe based on volume, and also the endless need to expand according to some new arbitrary decision. So I decided to make things simpler. To embrace minimalism aesthetically. I would only buy items in black, grey, white and navy. I had previously resolved to include red and green items where I could.
But experience showed that time and again I would reach for those minimalist, base colours. Then I found that I started to find navy / blue to be conservative, to result in staid outfits. The problem was that blue, for a long time, had been the main colour in my wardrobe. It was always my favourite colour. It is flattering, because it ‘brings out’ my blue eyes (probably my best feature, if I’m getting all body-conscious). So it hasn’t been an easy decision – I just prefer to wear items in black, white and grey together.
So my rules in 2017 were:
- To restrict myself to black, grey, or white items.
- To identify needs that my current wardrobe does not fulfil.
- To build a cohesive collection first and foremost.
In the future I believe I can prioritise:
4. Items that are ‘game-changers’ and add something significant.
So how did I do?
What I bought.
All of these items are from fast-fashion giant Zara. I’m not an enthusiastic customer of shops like these anymore for obvious reasons. Because I am operating on a very restricted budget, and I am focused on finding items that are a perfect fit, then I have cast my net wide. It just happens that Zara fulfilled these 3 needs/wants:
- A comfortable pair of smart, tapered trousers, to be cropped, to wear in summer and as an alternative to jeans.
- A black baseball cap, to wear on dog walks in particular, but also to round out monochrome looks.
- A black, statement printed t-shirt. This is the only shirt/t-shirt I acquired in 6 months, and its slightly oversized fit, combined with the Raf Simons -esque print makes it one of my favourites.
The item I am most pleased with in this trio is the baseball cap. It has quickly become a signature item (article forthcoming). I don’t feel a poser when wearing it, and it fits most of my outfits perfectly. It also fulfils an important function, in shielding my face from the sun.
I began the year with purchasing my H&M 360 Tech Stretch jeans. To do so I donated a bag of clothes, to get a £5 discount. I am incredibly impressed with their quality, longevity and fit, and would highly recommend them. My most expensive purchase of the year by far are the Acne Studios jeans, which require tapering in order to fit perfectly (still on my to-do list!). I got them because the company suddenly ditched its long-standing designs of jeans and launched its controversial Bla Konst collection instead. I wanted a pair of true black jeans, as my H&M are a ‘washed’ black, and so are my other pairs of black jeans. The Stay Cash treatment means they should remain true black for years to come, making them a worthy investment.
One area I was lacking in last summer was shorts. That’s the bad kind of minimalism, if you will. Both for sleeping in and generally out and about. I am a big fan of soft fabrics and slouchier fits at the moment, and the minimalist supima cotton shorts by David Gandy for Autograph, and the fleece shorts by H&M, fit the bill. I have also begun to wear gym / football shorts when it is hot, making better use of my (neglected) gym gear. This intentional use of what I have has saved me needing to purchase more items. Versatility is a key thing for me, especially with a curated, minimalist capsule wardrobe.
It would be very easy to shatter the work of the last 6 months, to undo any adherence to minimalism in a bulk order. In the past I could have ordered seven items in a single transaction, for instance. By deliberating over each piece I have, arguably, spent longer shopping on an item by item basis. But the benefits of this approach, financially and, I believe, aesthetically have been simple yet significant.
To conclude, I look forward to looking back on the year as a whole, and returning to creating more value, and exploring minimalism and men’s fashion here on minimaldrobe.com
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