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How to Create a Minimalist Wardrobe

Modern Minimalist founder Devin VonderHaar offers six tips on how to curate your closets—and give yourself a better peace of mind.

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This dark dungeon of disaster is what most people think of first when they embark on a minimalism practice, but how you approach it is going to be personal. You may find you still have some maximalist tendencies when it comes to say, your shoes, Modern Minimalist founder Devin VonderHaar says. And that’s OK. Think about what you feel good wearing, and follow a few easy guidelines in the meantime:

Set Closet-Clearing Principles That You’ll Actually Want to Follow

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for re-homing old clothes, so set boundaries that make sense for you. Think, I’ll take out anything I haven’t worn in at least a year, or I’ll keep only the colors I actually wear. Then, get rid of what doesn’t fit the bill. (Go here for tips on where to take what doesn’t make the cut).

Get a Tailor

A professional can give new life to pieces you love that don’t fit right or need a little extra TLC. In making that small investment, you’re stimulating the local economy, lengthening the life of a too-good-to-let-go item, and reintroducing yourself to your own wardrobe.

Separate Your Seasonals

Fill a bin with sweaters in the summer and sundresses in the winter, and stash it out of sight—under the bed or in the attic—until you need them again. This frees up space in your closet, drawer, and mind.

Pass on Fast Fashion

Hopping on the latest trend from a big-market retailer may seem affordable, but it comes with a hefty hidden cost: Cheap clothing often relies on shady supply chains that frequently contribute to unfair labor practices and pollution-heavy production. And since fast fashion isn’t made to be durable, it usually ends up in a landfill when its short shelf life is over. To avoid contributing to this cycle, VonderHaar suggests shopping secondhand. The Thrift Shopper has a directory of retailers all over the country, but if you don’t live somewhere with a big thrift scene, sites such as Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective, and the RealReal offer affordable, gently loved designer pieces.

Be Mindful of Microfibers

Most workout clothes are made with plastic derivatives that can shed into microscopic pieces when you wash them, leading to increased plastic pollution in our waterways. So even those leggings made from recycled water bottles have a shadow side. The good news? You can get a microfiber catcher for the washing machine, which keeps those unwanted bits out of the environment. Cora Ball ($37.95) and Guppyfriend Washing Bag ($34.95) are both reusable solutions that can be tossed in with any load.

Buy Thoughtfully

Minimalism doesn’t mean buying nothing but rather purchasing mindfully. “Mostly it involves a lot of research,” VonderHaar says. For instance, looking beyond just sustainable production to see that a company uses fair hiring practices and offers competitive worker wages. “It’s important to put your money into organizations that support the same things as you do.” Here are three companies that make workout gear with purpose:

  • The Wasted Company is based in Los Angeles and uses recycled cotton and secondhand materials from other garments that are upcycled into pretty new pieces.
  • Organic Basics works with certified factory partners to make simple, minimalist yoga clothes and undergarments out of renewable textiles such as organic cotton and recycled wool. The brand also ensures its labor practices are kept fair throughout the supply chain.
  • Pact makes workout clothes and basics that are organic, chemical free, and fair-trade.

Read more:
When Less Is Really More: How to Declutter Your Life With Intention
A Guide to Minimalism in the Kitchen
The Mental Health Benefits of Minimalism
Where to Mindfully Donate Your Once-Loved Items