By: Karen Me
Photos by: Christine Zhang
What is minimalism? How does it differ as a fashion style and a lifestyle?
While unable to be fully unpacked in one short article, minimalism as a fashion style can be generalized by three characteristics – neutral palettes, clean or geometric lines, and removing the figure with gender neutral aesthetics. Minimalism highlights the idea of being stripped to the essentials.
Ironically, the underlying theme of simplicity in minimalism is sharply contrasted with the rigorous reductivism behind the process of achieving its look. The idea that “less is more” takes literal meaning when fashion designers laboriously work to construct complex designs in order to manifest deceivingly simple appearances.
A combination of a nonbinary identity and a love for greyscale recently peaked my interest in minimalism. The means needed to transform my wardrobe into a minimalist one experientially taught me how the delicate intricacies minimalist fashion designers partake in are also indicative, again ironically, in the deliberations of a minimalist consumer. I have learned that minimalism as a fashion style and minimalism as a lifestyle situate themselves on opposing sides of the simplicity and complexity spectrum.
In my endeavors to attain the sleek style, I ended up renewing my wardrobe and collectively spending more money than what my simple white dress may suggest.
I am torn between the fashionable look of minimalism and the more ethical lifestyle of minimal consumerism; at its roots, the intersection of minimalism as a fashion and lifestyle quite simply results in your already existing closet and a contentment in wearing what you have.
While as consumers in a capitalistic system that engages in wage theft and sweat shops, we inherently cannot always be ethical, that does not necessarily mean it is fruitless for us to be more cognizant of our roles in the market.
- Thrifting and consignment stores are excellent ways to limit your role in the perpetuation of outsourced labor and manufactured goods. Plus you can always get your hands on some pretty unique finds.
- Swap clothes with friends! It will quickly double your closet at no expense.
In conjunction to these practices, it is also important to reexamine the necessity of purchases. Too often, I find myself attempting to justify ultimately unnecessary purchases; for example, I caved into thrifting a second pair of Doc Martens, because minimalist consumers definitely need a black AND a white pair, right? Never mind that either one would perfectly match any greyscale outfit I create.
So don’t simply join the minimalist aesthetic (although DO wear black); be encouraged to join the larger minimalist social movement, and be more conscious of how the slightest changes can reflect on the greater scale.