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Why are you really buying that new top? Is it because you need it, or, do you just need a quick mood boost?
The minimalist mindset raises these kinds of uncomfortable questions about our buying habits. At a time when the textile industry is rated as one of the most polluting in the world and cheap prices create big question marks around labour standards and exploitation, it’s more pertinent than ever that we start answering them.
Enter slow fashion, a key tenet of the slow living movement and a reaction to the explosion of cheap fast fashion in the past two decades.
Due to advancements in technology, the old seasons in fashion are gone – fast fashion retailers are churning out a constant stream of new designs at low price points, sometimes with conception to in-store turnaround times of just 15 days. Email marketing and social media create urgency around new clothing ‘drops’ and flash sales, enticing buyers to over consume and treat garments as disposable.
What is Slow Fashion?
The actual term ‘slow fashion’ is said to have been coined by Kate Fletcher in the Ecologist in 2007. She summarises, “slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.” Slow fashion is a shift from quantity to quality and from unconscious consumerism to conscious.
Slow fashion is:
- Reassigning true value to products and design
- Buying less and buying better quality
- Choosing classic clothing that transcends trends
- Taking responsibility to research the environmental impact of brands
- Choosing the most sustainable fabrics
- Extending the life cycle of clothing through repair and recycling
How to Embrace a Minimalist Wardrobe
A minimalist wardrobe is about streamlining and simplifying what you wear. This mindset is said to have benefits for both the environment (by reducing your clothing footprint by consuming less) and for the mind (by getting to the heart of why you’re buying things you may not really want or need).
To better understand how to start curating a capsule wardrobe, we interviewed Beth, the voice behind Someday Slower, an honest and insightful blog dedicated to living a minimalist lifestyle.
Exploring the Minimalist Attitude to Buying Clothes
How did your journey to a more minimal lifestyle begin?
Beth: My journey towards minimalism began four years ago when I became overwhelmed with the life I found myself in. My marriage was in tatters, as was my physical and mental health and all of my time was being spent, tidying up. I wanted more for my children and I wanted more for myself. One day I realised that my physical space – my home, was a representative of the clutter inside my heart and my head. I was feeling suffocated daily in the place where I should feel my best and realised then, that something had to change.
Luckily, I discovered minimalism at the same time and went on to declutter 80% of my physical items, along with the emotional and mental clutter I had been holding onto for so long.
How has your mindset towards buying changed?
Beth: My mindset towards buying has changed beyond recognition. I was a shopaholic for over fifteen years and used to pacify every emotion with consumerism. If I was sad I went shopping, if I was happy I went shopping, ditto boredom, celebration, loneliness, the works! It took two years of mindset work for me to change these habits and it is something I still work on daily.
Tips for Curating a Minimalist Wardrobe from Someday Slower
1. Keep only what you wear
Beth explains, “keep everything you wear and donate the rest. We are all only wearing our favourite clothes anyway, so why keep everything else? This was the quickest way for me to curate a simple wardrobe.“
2. Dress for your personality and lifestyle
Beth suggests asking yourself, “am I keeping/buying it for me, or for my fantasy self? Do I really like/will I wear the mohair jumper, or am I just buying it because I know it looks good on someone else? Dress for your personality, your lifestyle and no one else.”
“When I realised that the items I wore daily were the cosy jumpers and leggings, over the pretty shirts and skirts, I had to be really honest with myself about who I was and what I liked. It took time to realise that I was just as worthy in a baggy jumper, as I was in a fitted shirt but it was so worth the inner work to get to that realisation.”
3. Use the 30-day method
Beth adds “before purchasing an item I determine if I really want or need it, or whether I am just pacifying an emotion. I use the 30 day method, which means waiting 30 days to see if I truly want the thing. I also ask myself if I can afford it, do I have a place for it in my home, am I willing to look after it and how I can be a conscious shopper with the purchases I make.“
Beth’s useful tactics can help us pause before purchasing and adding something to our wardrobes that we truly won’t wear. Other minimalists also highlight the benefits of capsule wardrobes for time-saving. Getting dressed is much easier when you have a wardrobe of clothing that complements each other, fits well and makes you feel good, they suggest.
Slow fashion and a conscious, more minimal attitude to shopping appear to go hand-in-hand. These tips can help us become more selective, leading to benefits for the environment, our minds and probably also our purse strings, too.
Interested in understanding more about how our shopping habits affect the planet? Read more about the impact of fast fashion.