Minimalism Outfits STYLE // Summer

On Styling and Being ‘Minimal’

August 23, 2016

Seasons + Salt Bridge and Burn-2

Can you love styling and still subscribe to a minimal wardrobe?

This is the question rolling around my head right now. I love, love styling. It’s an exciting way to express myself, and one of those things I do best when I’m feeling inspired. Kind of like when I used to draw and paint, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

At first thought, it seems like styling well requires a decent amount of supplies, aka clothes and shoes. But I don’t want to be on a treadmill of endless buying and consuming. So how does one theoretically rock their styling game while still holding true to their ‘minimal closet’ desires? Can they?

Here’s the advice I’m currently giving myself.

1 – Prioritize. Make a list of closet holes, and shift the most critical items to the top. My fall/winter shopping list has shuffled quite a few times since I first penned it. There are still a few items that keep moving to the top, and there are others that, after some more consideration, I realize I can probably do without.

2 – Sleep on it. And then sleep on it again. No rush shopping. Really consider what needs to be at the top of your list and why. If you think you need a particular top or sweater, maybe write out the combo of outfits you think you ‘need’ it with. Don’t buy too early in the season. I shared my fall shopping list with you guys last week, and I am really trying to take it slow as I consider what to buy. I don’t want to buy too much while it’s still summer only to miss some spectacular pieces that come out a little bit later.

3 – Choose well. I am learning a lot about what it means to choose well. It goes without saying that ‘choosing well’ means selecting high quality, well-made items, but it also goes beyond that. I think it’s important to choose an item that you absolutely love over choosing an item that you think can be the most versatile. If you always choose what is most versatile you could wind up with a lot of boring options in your closet. And many times, choosing the item you absolutely love still ends up being quite versatile. For example, my favorite jumpsuit, and this striped dress are two things I loved immediately. And at first glance, they really didn’t seem terribly versatile. But because I love them, I have found ways to wear them again and again. And wearing what you love creates an instant good day. 🙂

Seasons + Salt Bridge and Burn-5 Seasons + Salt Bridge and BurnSeasons + Salt Bridge and Burn-3

Outfit details:

Tayler Dress, c/o Bridge & Burn – This mid-weight dress is a great transition piece for fall! The back yolk and longer hemline are my favorite details.

Clogs, Moheda – Comfortable and super easy to style.

Drawstring bag, Baggu – Minimal and playful. Also quite functional.

Hat, old – Love this option by Cuyana.

Cuff – It has my initial and my husband’s and I never take it off. 🙂 (Unless I’m hitting up the pool…)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on styling and a maintaining a minimal wardrobe – do you think it can be done? Or is one sacrificed in the process?

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25 Comments

  • Reply Rebecca N August 23, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I love style, too, and strive to maintain a minimal wardrobe. The hardest for me has been the actual buying less part. Since I want to only buy ethical now, I can only afford replace a few things at a time, where the old me would replace almost everything yearly! I formerly would buy these things at TJ Maxx or Old Navy where the cheap prices made this possible and my style was always fresh. I realize now that was a horribly wasteful way to live, but as someone who loves style it is hard to move away from that mindset. I have to accept I am not going to have a closet full of new, on trend clothes. My style needs to move to more classic which is something I am still working through. One thing I think of though, is eventually my wardrobe is only going to contain ethical, well made clothes. What then? Do I continue to buy new pieces and swap them out? That doesn’t seem minimal. Do I only replace 1-2 items per year? I guess I have awhile before I’m there so I should just concentrate on making sure what I DO buy is ethically made and high quality. 🙂

    • Reply Andrea August 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Hey Rebecca! I used to do a lot of that too, cheap updating of my closet, but I wonder how stylish was I, when I just following all the trends. I think I takes more ‘style’ to carefully curate a closet, like you mentioned you’re doing. I tagged you on IG, in answer to your question. Someone else had a really great response, basically saying that her closet will always be an evolving thing, but as we’ve moved away from fast fashion, the evolutions will be smaller and more intentional. And hopefully stylish as ever!! 😉

  • Reply Lo August 23, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I love what you’re saying about choosing what you love over choosing “versatile”–because versatile truly becomes about knowing yourself and knowing what you reach for over and over. I see a lot of “essentials” lists with items like black pumps and trench coat that might go with everything, but that I know are just not something I’d want to wear. I think minimalism has to be totally personal to work.

    Also, that dress is super cute buttoned all the way up.

    • Reply Andrea August 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Hey girl! Thanks for the comment on the dress. Do you mean one more button than it is? I need to do that, for some reason I never think to do that.

      YES – I think you touched on something important here, minimalism totally does have to be personal to work. And being able to select the right items comes from knowing your style.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  • Reply Alicia August 23, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Styling with a minimal wardrobe is definitely doable. I won’t lie; it does get stale after a while, so in those moments, I go to Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram for ideas. Sometimes I’ll start to get swept up in the “ooh, if I got this shiny new thing…” but if I step back and consider things, it usually works out that I have something similar already (and that I actually love wearing and do wear). This way you get more mileage out of the stuff you have and you get to play around with how you wear things. All very exciting stuff. =)

    Great tips up here, and I couldn’t agree more with the “choose what you love, not what is versatile” bit. So, so true.

    • Reply Andrea August 24, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks girl, great point, I get swept up in the new, shiny things too, and if I wait it out, it almost always seems to pass. Patience is so key!

      You know, I go on Instagram a lot, but rarely Pinterest and Tumblr, and I really should do that more often. I’ll keep that in my back pocket when I start to feel bored….

  • Reply Leah Wise August 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I totally agree with your point about not just choosing versatile. I think I often get hung up on minimal meaning aesthetic minimalism and choosing really simple silhouettes. But having some color and some accent items makes it more fun to get dressed. For instance, I got sandals with bright yellow straps even though there is practically no yellow in my closet but they go with everything because I insist on letting them go with everything.

    • Reply Andrea August 24, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      I don’t know if you saw Lo’s comment, but she said that “minimalism has to be totally personal to work” but I can see why you get hung up an actual minimal aesthetic. As often as I can, I just try and follow my instincts on what I like.

      That’s awesome about your sandals, and exactly the point I was trying to make about choosing what you love! It goes with more because you love it, and like you said, you let it. Fun stuff!

  • Reply Daisy @ Simplicity Relished August 23, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Yes!! I think it’s all about finding a uniform that works for you, and learning to accessorize well.

    • Reply Andrea August 24, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      Great tip Daisy! Knowing your own style is so essential!

  • Reply Sophia August 24, 2016 at 2:51 am

    I don’t see any reason why a love of styling would be incompatible with a minimal closet. To pick up on your history of drawing and painting, you can do a lot with just blue, red, yellow, and white paint: it’s all in how you combine those to make a different look. I was a bit surprised that a post about styling didn’t touch that much on how to style things so they do look and feel different and focused more on minimising spending, which is still an addition of new things even if it’s limited. Tips for flexing your style creativity while maintaining a minimal closet could include the use of an outfit app like Stylebook to keep track of what you have and what you’ve worn and take notes on what you liked and what you could do differently, 10×10 type challenges (either with outfits just planned or actually worn), challenges to style a certain piece in 5 different looks or for work vs. casual vs. dressed up. And no, an item doesn’t have to be versatile in a generic way to add value to your closet, but if you buy a dress that you only feel good in when you wear it with a specific bag/shoes combination and it doesn’t go with anything else in a way that suits your style, maybe you should consider whether love of that item is worth having an item you only enjoy wearing one specific way. If you’re someone who enjoys having a uniform and have no problem wearing the exact same outfit multiple times a week, awesome. If you’re not or if the dress fabric means you’d be doing laundry every other day in order to wear it that often, maybe that money would be better spent on an item you’ll get more use from.

    • Reply Sophia August 24, 2016 at 3:13 am

      Oh gosh, I worry this came across as critical, whch wasn’t my intention as I am a big fan of your blog. I think it’s just easy to fall into the trap of focusing on buying less rather than concentrating on using what we already have, which is how a minimal closet stays minimal 🙂

      • Reply Andrea August 24, 2016 at 2:27 pm

        Hi Sophia! Great feedback, and no, I don’t think you’re being overly critical. 😉 I have done a few 10 x 10’s, and even a one item five ways, and they proved immensely helpful! I think those types of challenges are an example of creativity brought about by limits, and it works very well for me.

        I would argue though that if a dress you loved only went with certain items in your closet, maybe you’re loving the dress for the wrong reasons. 😉 Or maybe you’re being too close-minded about what it actually works with. Or perhaps the dress should be a part of your ‘event dress’ category. Either way, I think it also goes back to knowing your personal style. Unique items in a closet with a clear personal style can be very, very versatile. But (what I think you were getting at), the other side of that coin is you can end up with too many outfit ‘stars’ and not enough ‘supporting characters.’ Does that make sense?

        And I totally agree, I think concentrating on what we already have is a fantastic way to practice closet contentment!!

  • Reply Laura Blanton August 24, 2016 at 5:46 am

    Great tips Andrea! Like everyone else, I too agree with the part about not justing buying versatile things — SUCH a great reminder headed into fall buying season.

    Depending on how you define “style” and “styling” I think it is totally possible to continue to pursue a more minimal approach to buying clothes while honoring your interest/love of dressing to express your ever evolving style. Being stylish and expressing style is not synonymous with being ‘on trend’ and ‘in style’ — therefore eliminating the need to constantly acquire all together.

    My husband Nick has always been very good at denying consumerism in his life. He believes in buying tools and then learning to do it yourself. I’ve been studying his process. It’s much the same way I choose to make sweets, etc. that enter our house as opposed to just buying pre-made — there is more forethought required, more time involved, somewhat of an investment so that it feels earned and isn’t as readily consumed. I suppose the most literal translation of this in the context of this post would be to consider learning to design and make your own clothes (which is something I’m working on myself!). But I think you could also consider investing in others and becoming (even more of) a tool yourself and help others put together and style their own closets directly — thus fulfilling the enjoyment of styling while omitting the consuming part.

    Such great dialogue! 🙂

    • Reply Andrea August 25, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Laura, thanks for the thought-provoking feedback!

      You touch on a key point – being stylish/expressing style transcends ‘trends’ I think. Following every trend shows a bit of a lack of style in my opinion. Great reminder.

      That is really cool about your husband, what an encouragement to you that must be! I like what you’re saying about what you make and bake, it harkens to slow-living, something that seems so appealing in our fast-paced world. (BTW, have you ever made the Weelicious Graham cracker recipe – so good!)

      I have wavered in and out of the desire to make my own clothes. I worry it would be like salad, which for me, always tastes better when someone else makes it. I’m scared to invest the resources only to not like what I made. But I have been interested to the point that I’ve identified a pattern I’m interested in, and I even have a fabulous machine. I’m just missing the time. :/ But I want to hear more about your plans! Will you blog about what you make?

      Thank you for the encouragement!!

  • Reply Jess August 24, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Love this post! Thanks for your sharing your perspective, I think it’s especially interesting to hear about this from bloggers – how do you keep up a style-focused blog rooted in minimalism and not continual consumption? I think you’re bringing a lot of intention & thoughtfulness to it 🙂
    I do find styling to be a creative expression, but I really find creative fulfillment in making my clothes (mostly knitting and sewing, sometimes dyeing), and I’ve been mulling over the same theme — how can I continue to love making things and yet keep my wardrobe minimal? I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the steps you suggested, and I’ve been thinking about my creative projects in the same way — prioritize to hone in on what I really want/need, no impulse purchases/garment-making, and by narrowing down the list of things to make/add to my wardrobe, I can focus on enjoying the process, high quality finishing, and making something so well-loved that it’s easily versatile.

    • Reply Andrea August 25, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks for weighing in Jess! I love the way you talk about refining your crafting process as a means not over-consuming. There is a lot of art in the details.

      I’d also love to hear more about what kind of dyeing you’ve done. 🙂

  • Reply Stacy August 24, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I think about this a lot too, and I think you hit on it when you mentioned the dress being a transitional summer to fall piece. I think finding those well-made pieces that fit well and can be worn in different settings and different seasons is key. I have a striped t-shirt dress I wear all year long. I find that styling it differently throughout the seasons keeps it interesting to me, even though it is just one simple piece that gets worn all the time. I’m all for a simple, unstyled outfit most of the time, but having those key versatile pieces is really the key for those times when I need to spice it up a bit.

    • Reply Andrea August 25, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Great point Stacy! Wearing items year-round, in different ways, definitely keeps things from going stale. I don’t know about you, but I have a special affinity for the few pieces in my closet that remain useful for all four seasons, they are like loyal friends! 😉

  • Reply MICHELLE August 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I found your post through Gretchen’s Closet reply post on this question. I think what you are highlighting here is what we call a dialectic. Two contradicting ideas that are true simultaneously. My answer to your question is yes! Of course you can be both. It all just depends on which perspective you take. You can love styling all you want and be stylish and buy all the stylish things your heart desires and still be minimal as long as you are making decisions consciously and with intention. Saying no to the question is simply reinforcing rigid definitions to the two labels and then it is just a battle of semantics. The dialectic I can compare it to is the one we use in psychotherapy… the idea that one must radically accept oneself in the moment AND simultaneously recognize the need to change for the better.

    My two cents.
    Michelle @ dritgirl.com

    • Reply Andrea August 25, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Michelle! What great perspective and insight. You’re so right about how ‘being minimal’ varies from person to person, and that saying ‘no’ just to say ‘no’ makes little sense. I think it all goes back to being intentional.

      Love your two cents!

  • Reply Anya August 26, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Great advice!! Thank you for it. I try to follow it myself. I am also thinking of writing down my favorite items and pairing them with others.

    • Reply Andrea August 27, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      Anya, I find that writing down things and making lists, especially when it comes to clothes and combos, always helps!

  • Reply Marina September 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I think you’re very thoughtful about this, but I also think there are a lot of bloggers who just like to shop. I’m more impressed when they just admit that but so few ever do.

    • Reply Andrea September 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks for weighing in Marina. Once I start shopping, it is hard to stop. Writing a blog about clothing makes it really tempting to get obsessed with shopping. I certainly have to be careful and mindful of my time and my choices.

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