Minimalism isn’t just about freeing up physical space; it’s about freeing up space in every aspect of your life, so you can spend your time and money on what you want to do, instead of what you “have” to do.
With that in mind, let’s talk about your wardrobe. Have you ever packed a bag oh-so-carefully for a business trip, only to arrive and find that you can’t wear any of your dresses or dress shirts because they’re a wrinkled mess? Do you have a pile of clothes to mend that never seem to be mended? Have you ever ruined a garment by laundering it improperly? Do you avoid wearing certain things because they need to be handwashed or dry-cleaned?
If any of those are you, you are my people.
When I started my minimalist journey, I was excited about the possibilities of new clothing. Since I was no longer buying random cheap garments every time I went to Target or the mall, I could afford to go into the grown-up stores, like White House Black Market and Banana Republic! I could buy things in beautiful fabrics that weren’t polyester! I could dress like a real live woman!
So I did. I bought silk and lace and a beautiful knit or two. I bought work pants with a sharp crease and a (faux) leather skirt. And then…I didn’t wear them.
It was so strange. I had decluttered so much. I had made a shortlist of clothes that filled gaps in my wardrobe. And yet, I still wasn’t wearing all of the 37 pieces I had decided on for that season. One I identified what I wasn’t wearing, it was obvious: I didn’t wear the things that required special care.
That red silk tank with the beautiful lace back? It looked great on me. It was a gorgeous piece of clothing. But, being made of silk, it had to be handwashed, stains were tough to get out, and the fabric made me sweat (compounding the other two challenges). Pants with creases have to be ironed. Sweaters have to be carefully washed, pulled into shape, air-dried, and maintained. Stiff fabrics like leather are uncomfortable and a little too fancy. And that’s when I finally admitted that despite my love for fancy, upscale outfits…I am not a fancy, upscale person.
In fact, I’m pretty darn low-maintenance. I air-dry my hair and leave it. If I put on makeup, it’s a three-step process. I like to look nice, so I’ve simplified the process all over my life in order to look good without a ton of time, money, or effort. So why would I buy fussy clothes that require commitment I’m simply not willing to give?
So even though my grown-up clothes were pretty…I acknowledged that I would never keep them up the way they needed to be. I gave each one a ceremonial final wear, and then I donated them with a Kondo-esque gratitude for teaching me what my style is and isn’t.
Now, all of my clothes are fuss-free. I don’t have to separate things in the laundry (though I wash all my clothes in cold water and on the delicate setting in order to preserve their longevity). I exclusively purchase machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant fabrics, so that I can fold and roll and ball my clothes up when I travel and still have them looking good as new, no ironing or dry cleaning required. I avoid clothes with superfluous buttons and bling that can fall off and require fixing. Focusing on easy-care apparel simplifies my life and improves efficiency in one more way.
So take a look at your closet. How much time do you spend laundering and maintaining your clothes? How much do you spend to get them cleaned and mended? Do these answers—and your clothes—fit into your lifestyle and values?
Maybe a transition to fuss-free clothing would be a good option for you, too.