minimalism: noun min·i·mal·ism
1: a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Minimalism is the most simple and pure form of any thing. The essence of something – without anything additional. It is the absence of excess. But how does that interpret into lifestyle?
Some interpret minimal fashion as a constricted wardrobe of monochrome ensembles. Black, white, beige, simple. Hangers should be 2” apart with plenty of empty space since “minimalism” seems often translated as having less. Each piece should have minimal adornments and detailing, and must be of the most straightforward nature. T-shirts, tanks, jeans. The aura should be stark, neat, empty.
I have a much different perspective. Indeed, those descriptive characteristics above are part of a minimalist lifestyle – but it goes much deeper than that. It’s less about the rules, and more about the experience and aesthetic of each piece, item, and choices. It’s not about have less, it’s having only those things which have a purpose. The difference? Imagine someone who works from home, is fairly introverted, and rarely leaves the house. The essentials they need would be quite little. For that person a minimal wardrobe would likely be filled with extra space, and items would be that of a most simple nature.
Now imagine someone who travels frequently. Their hobbies include camping, running, fine dining, and other activities that require a different set of tools or essentials. Their closet may be filled to overflowing, but does this mean they cannot be a part of the minimalism lifestyle? Hardly seems fair… People often get stuck on a number. A minimalist should have 5 shirts, 3 jeans, 2 shoes, 1 coffee mug, etc. Instead, I find the definition more adaptive to people’s unique lifestyles. A runner needs shoes, athletic wear and a water bottle. Camping requires an onslaught of equipment in order to eat, sleep and carry on. Reducing so far that one doesn’t have the essentials needed to maintain their lifestyle is a self-created prison, not minimalism.
Instead, minimalism is meant to be simple, free and burden-less. If cutting back so far you actually create a more extreme burden, is it truly minimalism? Perhaps, perhaps not. I think it could mean a great many things, but the principle to follow most closely is: if you don’t need it, clear your closet and your mind from everything that is non-essential. It’s a wonderful experience to open space for a less-is-more lifestyle. Purchase pieces sparingly – as you need them, as they serve a purpose. Live a life with meaning, and disregard those things which do not matter. Be happy, and have only those things which make you so.
Minimalism is freedom. Freedom from those things which weigh us down, take up space, and serve no purpose. It’s reducing to those things that truly matter and have a positive impact on your lifestyle. It’s not clothes, coffee mugs, and a checklist of what you may not have. It’s internal, a mental state of mind, and a simple lifestyle consisted of only those things which you need. And that – is a truly beautiful thing.