How to Shop as a Minimalist

Shopping? As a Minimalist? That’s a thing? Is it allowed?

Yes, yes it is.

Minimalism is not deprivation for the sake of deprivation. That’s asceticism. In my world, I don’t want to deprive myself of something I enjoy just “because I should” as someone who chooses a simpler lifestyle.

I heard a podcast once that talked about putting our resources toward the things that we love and enjoy and saving on the other things that don’t mean as much. To me, one of those things is fashion. We only get to live once. I want to live well-dressed.

But how do you keep from going overboard, which is so easy to do with clothes? I’ve got some tips for you!

TIP 1: ONE IN, ONE OUT

Any time I get something new, I tell myself it has to replace something I already have. I used to make it so it was 1 for 1 of the same item, but I decided to change that as I like to have multiple styles of one thing.

For example, I used to get rid of a white shirt if I got another one. But sometimes I still loved the other white shirt I already had and wanted this new one for a different occasion. Now it goes for any clothing item. You can use this rule however it works best for you.

This also helps me keep my closet thin. I used to have so much I couldn’t wear it all in one season. Now I get to wear all of my pieces multiple times, which is great since I love them all. By getting rid of one thing when I get something new, I don’t get over-full again. And I really have to love what I’m getting in order to replace something else since I already love everything in my closet!

HINT: this tip really works best if you’ve already gotten rid of everything you don’t LOVE.

TIP 2: NEVER SETTLE

They say women only wear 20% of what we own. Doesn’t that feel like a waste? I think it’s because most of us are on a budget, so we shop the sales. And even if we don’t love something, we get it anyway because it’s in our price range and we feel like we’re getting a deal.

But this actually screws us out of a lot of money because most of the time, we never wear those pieces! Or we wear them once and never touch them again. We reach for the things we love over the things that are just OK. So those sale pieces go to the back of our closet and stay there.

I was out shopping recently at Nordstrom Rack (one of my favorites) and heard a woman tell her friend, “Even if you don’t really like it, get it anyway just in case. It’s such a good deal”. It was one of those moments that makes you realize “oh my Gosh I’ve totally thought that before” and then, hopefully, “never again”.

If you are on a budget, I feel you. But you should save up for those quality pieces you really love that will last instead of settling for those sale pieces you’ll never get your money’s worth out of.

Bonus Tip: Think of the cost per wear of an item. If you buy a $100 jacket you love and wear it 300 times, that’s $0.33 per wear. If you get a $20 top you weren’t in love with and only wear it twice, that’s $10 per wear. Spending more on what you love will pay off long term!

TIP 3: PURGE OFTEN

Even with the one in, one out rule, you’ll still have times where you feel like you have nothing to wear. Use this as a sign it’s time to clean out your closet and give yourself a little refresh.

Our style is constantly changing, so something you loved 2 years ago you may hate now. This has happened too many times for me to count. You should definitely try to sell your gently used pieces and put that cash toward your next shopping trip. I make a good bit of money this way!

Purging gives you more room for new pieces you love, so try to do a thorough clean out every 3-6 months. If not, at least once a year!

TIP 4: SHOP SECOND HAND

I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. You can get way nicer things for way less this way. I shared some tips for how to rock at shopping second hand online so you don’t have to be so intimidated if it’s not your normal thing. This is a double win because you’ll get so much more for your money AND you are being responsible to Mother Earth by reusing!

My favorite sites for second hand shopping are Poshmark, Ebay and Thredup. You can also do this locally at thrift shops and places like Plato’s Closet.

Bonus tip: always ask for measurements if you’re unsure of sizing and read the return policy!

TIP 5: STICK TO A COLOR PALETTE

This makes things so simple for me. My color palette is neutrals with some olive green and burgundy. I will typically only buy things in those colors which 1, makes getting dressed way easier because everything goes together, and 2, helps me limit what I want to buy if it doesn’t fit in my palette as I know I’ll have a hard time styling it multiple ways.

For example, I never wear “warm” colors. I’m way too pale to pull off pink and yellow and I just don’t like orange or red. That saves me from even thinking about them at the store.

You can also do this with patterns. I don’t dig plaid, so I avoid buying it as I know I’ll never wear it. I also don’t like snake skin or zebra prints. Some people don’t like florals or pastels. If you don’t like it, don’t entertain buying it. You’ll never wear it.

TIP 6: DON’T IMPULSE SHOP

An easy way to fill your closet back up after you clean it out is to buy things on impulse. This used to be a big issue for me. I would clean out my closet regularly, then I’d go out shopping one day and buy a bunch of random things and fill it back up.

To avoid this, I try to shop in person as much as possible as I never know what will fit right. AKA limit your online “window” shopping!

Also try to leave things and come back. I know this isn’t always possible as we have this intense fear of loss, but it really does help with stopping us from getting things we don’t need. If you can walk away from it and are still thinking about it 24-48 hours later, go get it. If not, you just saved yourself the closet clutter.

If you go through your closet and feel like you need a piece, make a list of those things so when you find the one you LOVE you know you’ve thought about it and aren’t just buying things to buy them. I keep a list on my phone so I don’t forget.

Think out your purchases more and I promise you’ll feel way better about what’s in your closet!

TIP 7: KNOW YOUR BODY

I really love the jumpsuit trend. They look so good on other people, but I just can’t pull them off. They never fit me right. Have you ever had this kind of issue?

Knowing what styles look good on your body, flatter your shape and make you feel great makes a huge difference in how you present yourself to the world and how you feel when you look in the mirror.

If you see a style you like but try it on and it doesn’t look great, don’t get it just because you want to make it work. Only get things you feel amazing wearing and that flatter you the right way. Don’t try to make it work if it doesn’t!

TIP 8: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU GET RID OF

When I did my big initial closet purge, I had a ton of skirts. I realized I never wore them. I kept a few after the first clean out because I thought I might wear them (even though I hadn’t in a very long time). In the end, when I did the final purge before we moved, I kept 2 suit skirts for formal occasions and got rid of every other one I owned, which was about 15 total.

As much as I love skirts and admire them on others, I just never wear them. I prefer pants. So I never buy them anymore because I know they’ll just hang in my closet like they did before.

Be sure to pay attention to those items you’re getting rid of. If you see trends, you know that those pieces don’t work for you, so you should avoid buying them again in the future!

TIP 9: GO FOR VERSATILITY

I don’t like to get something if I can’t think of at least 10 ways to style it with things I already have. This is where the color palette comes in handy!

When you shop, try to only get things you know will go with a variety of things you already own. Don’t buy extra things to make a piece work because that limits your options and adds clutter. If you can’t style it multiple ways you’ll love with things you already have, skip it.

TIP 10: SHOP ETHICAL & SUSTAINABLE

A new trend in fashion isn’t just about style, it’s about where your clothes comes from and how they’re made. There are a lot of retailers that sell ethical fashion made by people who are paid well and work in safe environments. If you’re not familiar with “fast fashion”, watch The True Cost on Netflix and you’ll learn real quick. It’s truly eye opening.

This is definitely a way to feel better about what you do buy and know that the company is treating their workers right. Check out this article to learn more.

You can totally still shop as a Minimalist. I love to focus on being intentional with my shopping because it makes me feel like I have a purpose as opposed to just shopping because I’m bored or want to feel better like I used to.

Do you have any tips for shopping as a Minimalist? I’d love to hear from you below!

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