WHY I Started a Minimalist Wardrobe

Updated: Sep 15, 2019

56 pairs of shoes, 20 pairs of jeans, and many shirts, sweaters, dresses, necklaces and anything else you could think of. I had packages arriving at my doorstep left and right. In my closet, my hangers were all bunched together so much that you couldn't even tell what shirt you were looking at. Below my rack of clothes was a huge pile of dirty laundry and two trash bags stuffed with more sweaters, dresses, and jeans. I loved clothes! Well, I still do. A lot, actually. But I want to explain what led me to a minimal wardrobe and the value I have gotten from this new lifestyle.


This summer I was reading a book called Life Without Plastic, and this was the first time I had ever heard about micro-plastics. There are a lot of ways that micro-plastics enter our waterways and our oceans, but a significant contributor to this problem is our clothing. Almost all of our clothes have synthetic fibers in them (plastic) which break down every time we wash our clothes. While in the washing machine, these tiny pieces of plastic go through the drain of our washers and right to our water systems. These micro-plastics soak up other harsh chemicals and become toxic- which is not good at all because animals eat these plastics mistaking them for food. I was devastated when I found this out because I love clothes! I love expressing myself through clothing, and of course, I love shopping. But this was not the only contributor to purging my closet.

The last four years in college, I have learned so much about what advertisers do to sell products. I have learned all about advertisers tying happiness and a sense of purpose with consumption. I started to pay attention to all of the ads around me and began to notice how much these ads affect me. It's not just ads though. The main thing that had an adverse effect on me was apps and social media. My Instagram feed was full of beautiful living spaces I could never afford and Instagram models who always had the latest trends. Buying was second nature to me. I always felt like my room wasn't good enough, my clothes weren't good enough, and that I had to keep consuming until I felt like my life matched the images I saw on Instagram. On top of that, I had several shopping apps on my phone. So when I was bored, I would casually shop and see other things that I didn't own.

What I didn't realize through this process is that I was always buying new things, but never feeling satisfied with what I owned. My consumption could never reach the point of satisfaction that I was looking for- and that is when it all changed.

I don't want people telling me what I need to own. I don't want people telling me what my house should look like. If I want to be an authentic person, then why am I always looking to others to show me what to buy? So that's where it started. It was time to shift my perspective to where I felt good about what I wore- all the time. It was time to stop wasting my money on clothes that I didn't feel good in. And most importantly, it was time to focus on things that actually matter, not buying clothes. So that is why I started a minimalist wardrobe.

I did a lot of research on the best way to have a minimalist wardrobe, but here are some fantastic reasons to simplify your closet:

1. Find out what clothes you TRULY love

I never knew what to wear, and now I know why. It seemed as if all of my favorite clothes were surrounded by all of the clothes that I didn't like that much.

2. Learn what consumption habits are BAD for you

When I pared down my closet, I realized I got rid of every pair of Target shoes I ever bought. They're GREAT for a couple of wears, but then they wear out rather quickly. But I also learned that the Free People shoes I bought four years ago are still one of my favorite things to wear.

3. Discover your true style

Having less makes you realize what type of clothing you LOVE. Now that I have less, I love my style more than ever. I know that I love anything black, long sweaters, and a good pair of leather boots.


Every date my fiancé and I have ever gone on it seems as if I spent 30 minutes doing my hair and makeup and an hour figuring out what to wear. By the time Houston got to my apartment, I shoved all of the rejected clothes into my closet and put on something I didn't even feel good about. Now my clothes are very versatile, so it is easy to find something to wear because it all goes together!

5. No more wasting your money!

Buying clothing isn't a mindless hobby anymore. I don't have any clothing apps on my phone. I don't follow any fashion bloggers on Instagram. When I think of something I want to buy, it is because I'm looking at my wardrobe and thinking of an item that will go great with what I have. It's an intentional purchase.

6. Spend your money on something more meaningful.

I don't spend as much on clothes now, so now I get to spend my money on more important things. I donate to environmental organizations I care about, and I travel with my friends. I'm not saying I don't have any financial stress, but it is nice knowing that I'm not going to waste my money on clothes I don't even like.

7. Fill your life with experiences and relationships, not things.

Getting rid of unnecessary clothing is a great way to start changing your focus on experiences and building relationships with others. Our society has taught us to focus on our possessions, not our experiences. Let's start to focus on the experiences we have, the memories we make, and the relationships we build along the way.

This might seem like a small change, but for me it had dramatic effects. Now I get to love my style AND feel satisfied. I didn't know it would take stripping down my wardrobe to get there.

Now you may be feeling overwhelmed. Like you have so much clothing AND your clothes are full of plastic. Yes. It is all pretty overwhelming. But the great saying goes, "the most environmental purchase you can make is to use what you already have." Almost every single item I own contains micro-plastics which aren't good for my skin or the environment. Buying environmental and ethical products is AMAZING, but first it is more important to learn how to love the items you already own.

Here is an example of how I make my very small collection of clothes go so far:

In all of these pictures, I am wearing my favorite jumpsuit. I got it from Japan when I was 19 which is one of my favorite trips I have ever been on. This jumpsuit is my favorite thing to wear in the summer, so this fall I learned how to make it work for the colder season.

The key to my own minimalist wardrobe is to find versatile pieces that match my neutral color scheme. I find different textures that compliment each other and try to find pieces that I can wear for more than one season.

Minimal style is far from boring and far from constricting. It is expressive, It is freeing, and it is AMAZING what good can come from just wearing what you want to wear, not wearing what advertisements tell you to. I love my clothes. I love my style. For once, I don't feel the need to buy new clothes- because I already love what I wear every single day.

Thanks for reading :)

Jessica Kooiman

Impact For Good


Impact For Good