Simple, comfortable and flexible: fashion minimalists on living with less clothes | Life and style

Eeven if you’re determined to avoid them, the crux of early January makes it hard to escape at least some thoughts about New Year’s resolutions and all the ways you might commit to improving one or more areas of your life—like your wardrobe.

In case you’re feeling the lure of a cleanup or style overhaul, here we talk to four fashion minimalists about the approach they took to cleaning out their closets and the results.

An interesting capsule

Courtney Carver stands in front of her 33-piece wardrobe
‘I can get ready faster and because of the small selection I can wear my favorite things every day.’ Photo: Courtney Carver

“People are looking for more ease,” says Courtney Carver, author. “By creating a small capsule [wardrobe]save money, time, energy and attention for things that are more important.”

In 2010, Carver created Project 333, an exercise in which participants wear only 33 items of clothing for three months. She never went back: “All these years later, I still only have 33 items in my closet at any one time.”

She started to slowly reduce everything, first she let go of the things she didn’t wear and then the things she wasn’t sure about. She says that now everything goes with everything else. “I can get ready faster, and because of the small selection, I can wear my favorite things every day.”

“It was surprising how much guilt and other negative feelings were part of my larger wardrobe. I didn’t realize how bad I felt when I saw tags hanging on items I never wore or clothes that no longer fit my body or my lifestyle. When they left, the guilt went with them.”

She believes that people who worry about getting bored with a smaller wardrobe are probably bored with a large wardrobe. “The cure for boredom is curiosity,” she says, not buying any more clothes. “Shopping does not cure boredom.”

Space saving

As a closing project, Rio Davis, a journalist, built what they describe as a “tiny house” with his father. The idea was born as a way to put strict limits on the amount of things I could collect. They say the process has “added a tangible dimension to the way I think about my wardrobe.”

Rio Davis and their dog in front of their tiny house
‘Styling clothes in different ways and combinations adds layers of possibilities to individual pieces of clothing.’ Photo: Rio Davis

Before moving into the 15 square meter space, they started donating clothes and giving away things to friends in preparation. “With each piece of clothing that was donated, I felt like I was taking off pieces of myself,” says Davis. But “despite a small sense of loss, I soon realized that I was wearing memories, not clothes.”

Over time, they discovered that they were left with the most versatile and high-quality pieces from their larger wardrobe. They describe each item that went into the cut as utilitarian yet flexible and can be dressed up or down.

“While my clothes may not fit the aesthetic of a beige capsule wardrobe, they do fit one of two color schemes,” they say. “Additionally, styling clothes in different ways and in different combinations adds layers of possibilities to individual pieces of clothing.”


When cinematographer Alexander Naughton quit his corporate job to devote himself to filmmaking, he embraced the freedom his new creative role afforded him, especially when it came to dressing for work. “There’s an element of … personality that comes through in how we present ourselves,” he says. “Now I see that the way I present myself is directly related to the way I want to be perceived.”

Alexander Naughton has stripped down his wardrobe to a few simple, durable, high-quality shirts, trousers and jackets
Alexander Naughton has stripped down his wardrobe to a few simple, durable, high-quality shirts, trousers and jackets

This realization led him to buy several high-quality garments that he loved very much. He soon realized that he only reaches for them when he gets dressed. “They feel better, they look better, they instill a sense of confidence and they don’t get destroyed as easily,” he says. Then he slowly got rid of his old clothes, reducing his wardrobe to a few pairs of pants, shirts and jackets.

“They all work in harmony,” he says. “Every piece in my wardrobe looks good, so even with big presentations or client meetings all day, I leave without a worry.”


Isabella Broccolini, writer and actress, says
Isabella Broccolini, writer and actress, says I keep trying to distract myself by spending on clothes.

Actress and theater writer Isabella Broccolini lives between London and Melbourne. This transience made her rethink her wardrobe. She had to feel comfortable and at home in her own skin, with very few things. “The bar is set high,” she says. “Each item must have great emotional, practical value and make me feel safe, strong and confident.”

She emphasizes the need for quality items that are beautifully crafted, travel well, are easy to maintain and tell a story. “I appreciate what I have rather than drowning myself in things I’m not in love with,” she says. “I feel physically lighter and mentally lighter.”

Because she doesn’t have to think before packing or getting dressed, she can focus on her work and creativity more efficiently. “This is really at the heart of why I strive for a minimally refined approach to my outdoor life,” she says. “It gives me more as a man in my inner life.

“I keep trying to distract myself by spending on clothes I don’t need.”

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