What Is Minimalist Fashion? And Is It The Key To A Happier And More Sustainable Lifestyle? - Good On You
08 Feb

What Is Minimalist Fashion? And Is It The Key To A Happier And More Sustainable Lifestyle?

The perils of fast fashion are well known. Widespread water pollution through the use of cheap and toxic dyes, mountains of textile waste, the ubiquitous use of fossil fuel-based materials such as polyester, the pressure on cotton farmers… the list goes on! Out of this chaos, a trend is emerging that rejects all that—minimalism. It’s time to ask: is a minimalist wardrobe the key to a happier and more sustainable life?

It’s not just fashion that’s gotten out of hand. The ills of fast fashion really just mirror the global thirst for more stuff at cheaper and cheaper prices. This is fuelled by advertisers pushing consumerism at every opportunity, which research suggests can increase levels of anxiety and depression i.e. keeping up with the Joneses.

If you are sitting there feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of keeping up with technology, cars, or fashion, and don’t know what to do about it, stay tuned. There is a growing trend in opposition to consumerism and fast fashion, which touts benefits such as more time, decreased stress, as well as better financial health and sustainability. And the best part is, we can all do something right now that will impact our overall happiness and footprint on the planet.

What is minimalist fashion?

If you’ve heard of Marie Kondo, then you might already have an idea of what minimalism is. Minimalism is about stripping back the unnecessary, leaving only the things that provide you with real value and joy. Minimalist fashion means having a minimal amount of clothes in your wardrobe that feel right for you and bring joy.

Minimalism is the antithesis of the modern consumerist narrative—and for good reason. In a global marketplace that wants you to consume more and more, minimalism says “Hey! Have you ever thought about intentionally having less?” Less debt, less clutter, less stress, less stuff! The upshot, less debt and stress for you, and less valuable resources being extracted for stuff you don’t really need. How do I get involved, you ask? Start with your clothes.

Slowing down fashion and keeping a minimalist wardrobe

If you haven’t heard of slow fashion, it is the fashion industry’s niche minimalist subculture. Instead of shopping vigorously to keep up with weekly trends and disposing of clothes after one wear on a Saturday night aka financially exhausting and extraordinarily wasteful, the ethos is “buy less, choose well, make it last.

My entry point to minimalism and slow fashion was through my wardrobe. Back when I first started my minimalist journey some 4 years ago, I went through each and every item of clothing I had and either donated, threw away, or kept them. I offloaded about 80% of what I owned and it felt liberating (and that was just the first time!). This process literally re-wired the way I think about buying things and the stress associated with consumerism. I now seek quality sustainable items or thrifted items over sheer quantity. If I don’t see the shops for months on end… who cares!

If I am going to bring something new into my life I have to LOVE IT. To this day I have not missed one single item I have given up, because the lightness that comes with purging excess clutter is simply life changing! I invite you to try it… like, now. Follow my process to get you started. Keep only the items that make you feel amazing when you wear them. But before you go and get started, here are some tips.

How to start your minimalist wardrobe

If you are looking for one of the best internet resources out there to help you on your minimalist fashion journey, look no further than The Minimalist Wardrobe. This group of 15 fashion bloggers has all the tips and information you need to inspire you on your journey. Check out their articles for step-by-step guides to creating your minimalist wardrobe. But before you jump up in, keep these five tips in mind:

  • There is no magic number of clothing items (or any items for that matter) to achieve a minimalist wardrobe
  • Minimalism is about fine-tuning your own personal style and the only rule is to rid yourself of excess
  • Minimalism doesn’t have to be monotone! Keep it colourful and versatile
  • Don’t just send your unwanted stuff to landfill. Thoughtfully donate, sell, or gift it first
  • Bask in the empty space and gratitude that flows into your mind and spirit…seriously!

Some staple minimalist fashion brands

These brands implement fair practices for their environmental, ethical, and animal impacts, and are great starting points if you are looking for some initial minimalist staples.


Rated: Great


woman wearing beige ethical fashion designed by Mila.Vert brand

Mila.Vert – Worldwide

European-based brand Mila.Vert makes the highest quality clothing, with timeless, minimal, and chic design. Limited-time free shipping on orders over €200 with code FREESHIPPINGWORLD. (Ends: 20 OCT)

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two women wearing sustainable minimalist clothing by Mila.Vert

Mila.Vert – Europe

Local craftsmanship paired with organic and recycled materials is what makes Mila.Vert unique. Limited-time free shipping on orders over €100 with code FREESHIPPINGEU. (Ends: 20 OCT)

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Mila.Vert offers timeless, minimal, and chic clothing, adding sophisticated details that give the garments a modern feel. The Slovenia-based brand wants to make desirable clothing, avoiding the ethical and environmental issues that the fashion industry represents. Find the garments in sizes XS-XL, or make a custom fit order free of charge!

See the rating.

Shop Mila.Vert.


Rated: Great

Affordable, ethical, and on-trend. Germany’s Armedangels gets a ‘Great’ rating overall from us. The brand covers all the basics for women, men, and kids. Armedangels' quality and long-lasting pieces are made from eco-friendly and certified materials, like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton. The brand also adopted the Fair Wear Foundation Code of Conduct to protect its workers abroad. Its products are available in sizes XS-XL.

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Shop Armedangels.

Shop Armedangels @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Armedangels @ OASEAS.

Neu Nomads

Rated: Good

Neu Nomads is a Brooklyn-based sustainable women’s fashion brand, offering loungewear and travel essentials. It is female owned and operated, and works every day to create beautiful, wearable clothing without leaving a negative footprint on our environment. Find the clothes in sizes XS-L.

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Shop Neu Nomads @ Immaculate Vegan.


Rated: Good

Certified B Corp Kotn is based in Canada and works with local NGOs on the ground at the Nile Delta to provide every child in their farming communities with quality education, and to help close the gap of low literacy rates amongst communities. With every purchase, not only will you adorn a beautifully made shirt, but also help fund school infrastructure, materials, and salaries for teachers. Find Kotn in sizes XS-2XL.

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Shop Kotn.


Rated: Great

This brand started off selling just white shirts, but has recently expanded into a full range with clever tailoring, creative cuts, and details that mean there’s a shape and style to suit everyone. All GRAMMAR’s clothes are made from ethically sourced 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton and produced in small batches in New York City. The range is available in US sizes 0-16.

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Shop GRAMMAR @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop GRAMMAR @ Made Trade.


A final thought

If the idea of owning less gets your juices flowing, you may find these three blogs of value (there are hundreds out there but these are the ones I read in the beginning): The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, Be More with Less. Alternatively you can try the 30 day minimalism game and get minimal with a friend for some friendly competition, or for those still more interested in the fashion side of things, check out Project 333.

Editor's note

Feature image via Mila.Vert, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 2,500 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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