Minimalist inspiration from a maternity capsule wardrobe.
The idea of minimalism has always intrigued me. While I don’t think I could ever be a full-blown minimalist, there are some very important lessons to be taken from the lifestyle that I am trying to integrate into my own life.
While I was never a shopaholic, I would buy clothes and hang on to them for a very long time. In fact, just the other day I realized I was wearing a skirt I bought for my first meeting as a Mary Kay representative 8 years ago. I try to get as much use out of my clothes as possible, but that doesn’t mean that I always wait for my clothes to become worn out before picking up another cute dress or shirt.
Since becoming pregnant, my idea of a functional wardrobe has changed. I’m keenly aware that my pregnancy wardrobe will be short-lived; already the pants I bought in May are becoming a bit too tight, even with the expandable (ever-so-stylish) belly pocket. I’ve realized that my pregnancy wardrobe needs to consist of basic, thoughtful, multi-purpose items.
I’ve become very attached to the idea of a capsule wardrobe, both for pregnancy and beyond. The idea of having fewer choices in the morning, as well as more space in my closet, is very appealing. Because of this, I’ve integrated a one in, two out policy for myself that should help me become a better minimalist in the bedroom.
Technically I brought in more than one item this past month; during tax-free week I was able to pick up a few essentials that should last me for this last trimester of pregnancy. My purchases included:
- One pair of maternity jeans in dark-wash; they are stretchy, so extremely comfortable, but the dark wash makes them appropriate for teaching later in the semester as my wardrobe becomes more casual.
- Two blouses, one pink and one blue, to add pops of color to my otherwise black wardrobe. They also serve as more professional attire, and work when I want to appear more dressed up.
- Two tank tops, one dark grey and one black, to layer with a cardigan or another shirt. I dress these up with a skirt and jewelry, and they work well for my profession.
- Two pairs of dress flats, one grey and one blue and white striped. Because my wardrobe is mostly made up of black or dark clothing, I get a lot more use out of the blue and white striped shoes than one might suspect.
- One new necklace. This was a bit of an unnecessary splurge, but it adds a great pop of color and helps me to create new looks using the same basic pieces.
When the weather starts getting cooler I also intend to purchase one or two pairs of maternity dress pants. Currently, I get away with wearing two skirts I already owned that still work with the growing baby bump because of their stretchy material.
I have been able to mix up these few basics with different jewelry or skirt lengths to create unique looks for the last 8 work days. While I am sure to repeat outfits, I feel confident that I have both a basic uniform, as well as enough choices to not have my students believe I only own two shirts!
Of course I needed to make room for my new pregnancy wardrobe. My closet was beginning to get a bit overwhelmed; I had cute sundresses from years past that I felt were inappropriate cuts or lengths for teaching, or that may have seen better days. I had given up pencil skirts because of their discomfort after I left my bank job, yet still had pairs hanging in the closet “just in case.” Finally, I also had hung on to everyday shirts that never got worn.
In my quest to become a minimalist, I got rid of more than two pieces of clothing for everything I brought in for this new pregnancy wardrobe. In fact, I got rid of five full bags of clothing! Again, this was not from intense shopping sprees; many of my clothes were bought over the course of years and gently worn.
The benefit to getting rid of otherwise perfectly good clothes that no longer fit you or your lifestyle is that there are are so many ways to purge your closet and make some money while doing so. Who knows – you might be able to create a diversified side job out of flipping used clothes!
- Tradesy is one of my favorites for women. I have successfully made sales on Tradesy in the past, but opted to skip it this time around. I didn’t want to have the clothes I was trying to get rid of still sitting around waiting to be sold. However, if you are willing to be patient, Tradesy can be fantastic!
- eBay is another favorite for selling lightly-worn clothes. While I have not tried it personally, I have heard great success stories from others.
- A garage sale.
I chose to donate my used clothes, which can provide a tax incentive. This was the quickest and easiest way for me to get rid of my used clothes. Just make sure you keep careful records of what you donate!
In addition to lightly worn sundresses, work clothes, t-shirts, and some jeans that never flattered me pre-pregnancy, I also donated some old laptop and school bags I never used anymore, and some high heels.
Additional Inspiration: A Job Change.
Of course getting pregnant was an easy inspiration to toss more from my closet than I was bringing in; however, the decision to donate so many pre-pregnancy clothes also stemmed from my job change. Since I no longer work as a supervisor in a bank, and instead work as an English professor, my clothing needs have changed. At one of the schools I work for, jeans and sneakers are appropriate attire for professors. I have seen professors wearing yoga pants tucked into boots. Essentially, the goal is comfort, at least for the Humanities departments.
While I choose to dress up more than the above examples, I no longer have need of formal business clothes or high heels. By donating these items, I am not only purging my closet, but hopefully helping another individual attend a job interview in clothing that will make her feel professional.
It was also harder to stay focused on the minimalist lifestyle in a corporate setting, where appearance is almost everything. I am now free from the peer pressure of lunch break shopping and wardrobe comparison.
The Benefits of This Minimalist Effort:
Aside from a small tax incentive for my donation, it may not be clear what other benefits come from living a minimalist lifestyle. For me, the benefits include:
Quality clothing over quantity. Because I am searching for high-quality clothing my wardrobe lasts longer and I feel better in the clothes I do wear.
Fewer loads of laundry. Standing in front of a class during the day is a relatively clean job. If I avoid my currently-shedding dog, I can get at least two days out of a single skirt or pair of pants, if not more. Because I have fewer choices of clothes each day, I am more likely to wear items twice in a row before starting a load of laundry.
Less to care for. With fewer clothes comes a more organized closet. A more organized closet requires less maintenance than a messy closet, and it is easier to see which clothes are being worn and which are ignored.
Contentment. I feel much better with my wardrobe now that I am sure that each piece can be worn in multiple situations, and be either dressed up or down depending on my jewelry, accessories or shoes. For instance, on Monday I taught in a dark grey tank top with a statement necklace, flowy skirt, and dress shoes. On Friday I wore the same tank top with some grungy shorts, sneakers, and a messy bun when I went to the home improvement store and helped my husband destroy the bathroom (our current home improvement project!). On both days I was comfortable, and felt confident in my outfit.
There are so many other ways you can start becoming a minimalist, but one’s closet always seems to be the best place to start. Additional minimalist projects I have going on right now are our kitchen, bathroom, and, of course, the baby’s future room. But these are posts for another day.
Have you tried the minimalist lifestyle? How did you get started?