These two words will elicit one of several reactions – barely contained lust, eye-rolling boredom or complete bewilderment.
For those in the latter camp, Christian Grey is the devilishly handsome, incredibly wealthy main character in E.L. James’ best-seller 50 Shades of Grey and has ignited the blood of many a reader this year.
“Isn’t that a raunchy, BDSM book?” I hear you ask. “What could that possibly teach me about fashion?”
Believe it or not, there is one key fashion lesson that Mr Grey teaches us throughout the trilogy (yes, really) …
The man certainly can rock a minimalist wardrobe.
Sartorial talk of Mr Grey in the 50 Shades trilogy hinges on a handful of classics – white linen shirts, black tshirts, black jeans, blue jeans, black leather jacket, chunky knits, black blazer, Chuck Taylors, beautifully-made suits, crisp white business shirts, gorgeous silk ties.
He knows what works and he sticks with it.
Similarly, for you and I, there are a handful of classics that form the foundation of a good, small wardrobe and as predictable as they seem, are worth spending a little extra time and money on.
Trenery High Summer 2012-13: Australian minimalist fashion at its most accessible
Minimalist fashion? Sounds boring …
There is an entire movement behind minimalism – intentionally living with less, giving away your possessions, finding a non-materialistic path to happiness etc.
But, let’s face it – clothes are a necessity and if you have to wear them, you may as well look damn good. It’s just a matter of choosing a limited amount of the right clothes, which is where minimalist fashion comes in.
Personally, I am a fan of the small wardrobe. I currently have 35 pieces in my cupboard – including shoes and accessories (not including underwear, gym clothes, pyjamas or gardening clothes).
The beauty of such a small wardrobe is that I spend less on clothes, it takes less time to get ready in the morning and I know everything in there fits and suits me.
But the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt from building a small wardrobe is that having less doesn’t have to mean fewer options. It actually makes getting dressed easier, in part because there is less to choose from, but also because everything fits and most pieces work well together.
Cover the basics first.
You most likely have many of these in your wardrobe already. The classics include:
- Denim jacket
- Trench coat
- Plain t-shirt
- Striped t-shirt
- White shirt
- Black pencil skirt
- Black pants
- Dark wash skinny jeans
- Bootcut jeans
- Black dress
- Neutral sandals – flat
- Neutral heels
- Neutral boots
- Neutral belt
- Black flats
- Black boots
- Black heels
- Black belt
via Zara | Striped T-shirt – Mr Porter | Tan Sandals – Aldo Shoes | Black Dress – Pinterest | Denim Jacket – American Eagle Outfitters | Skinny Jeans – Hollister | Riding Boots – Chloe | Pencil Skirt – Planet
- What of these pieces do you already own?
- What do you need to add to your wardrobe?
- Which of these styles suits you?
- Which fits your lifestyle?
- Which fits your budget?
Then use these as the foundation for your wardrobe.
Inject your personality
Once the foundation is in place, it’s time to look at your personality pieces. In my wardrobe, for example, I have five or six vintage print dresses, a khaki wool bomber jacket, killer colour-block heels, bright tights, a mustard vintage mini skirt, striped t-shirts, 3 or 4 blousey tops in various patterns and coloured jeans.
Over time I’ve picked colours that work together – olive, burgundy, tans, blacks, whites, navy and mustard – and the beauty of these is that virtually everything works together.
Look at your wardrobe and ask:
- What do you already own?
- What colours flatter you most?
- What clothing pieces are your staples?
- What works with your lifestyle?
- What works within your budget?
Once you understand what suits you best, you can add to your personality pieces over time.
Belt – Asos | Chevron Dress – Dorothy Perkins | Mustard Top – Anthropologie | Mustard Striped Dress – Top Shop (no longer available) | Stripe & Scarf – Pinterest | Navy Shorts – Forever 21(no longer available) | Red Espadrilles – Forever 21 (no longer available)
Getting bang for your buck
Buy the Best You Can Afford
For Christian Grey, that was all high-end. For you and I, that may be Target, Big W, Country Road. Wherever you fit into the sliding scale of fashion expense, you are far better off spending as much as you can on the basics, and forgoing the cheaper versions. It will hold you in better stead over the years.
Make sure everything works together
To follow Christian Grey’s lead once more, virtually everything in his casual wardrobe could be worn together.
For the classics:
- stick to a similar colour palette – blacks, greys, whites, neutrals, blues, tans – whatever you wear a lot of
- avoid overly trendy pieces – you can incorporate those into your personality pieces – but the idea is to keep these classics for years.
- when you find a style that suits you – consider buying it in two in different colours
For your personality pieces:
- shop vintage for one-of-a-kind goodness
- be bold – choose a bright colour
- accessorise – a scarf in an on-trend pattern will immediately lift an outfit of basics to the next level
Follow these Christian Grey-approved guidelines and you too will be rocking a minimal wardrobe with maximum impact.
Are you a follower of minimalist fashion? Do you have a small wardrobe? Or are your cupboards overflowing with fashion goodness?
Brooke McAlary is a passionate writer, simple living advocate, big thinker, wife and mother. She is on a mission to help you live the simpler life you want and has created the insanely useful Slow Home BootCamp to do just that.