Easy, pleasant and flexible: fashionable minimalists for living with less clothes | Life and style

Eeven if you’re determined to avoid them, the nature of early January makes it hard to escape at least some thoughts of 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 tempted to declutter or style, here we talk to four fashion minimalists about the approach they’ve taken to pulling out clothes, and the results.

The curious capsule

Courtney Carver stands in front of her 33-piece wardrobe
“I can get ready faster and with a small selection I can wear my favorite things every day.” Photo by Courtney Carver

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

In 2010, Carver created Project 333, an exercise where 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 wardrobe at any one time.”

She began to slowly reduce everything, first letting go of the things she wasn’t wearing and then the things she wasn’t sure about. He says everything goes with everything now. “I can get ready faster and with a 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 it made me to see tags hanging on things I never wore or clothes that no longer fit my body or my lifestyle. Once they were gone, the guilt went with them.”

He believes that people who are afraid of being bored with a smaller closet are likely to be bored with a large closet as well. “The cure for boredom is curiosity,” she says without buying another outfit. “Shopping does not cure boredom.”

Space saving

Journalist Rio Davis built what they describe as a “tiny house” with his father as a lockdown project. The idea was born as a way to severely limit the amount of things they can accumulate. She says 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 in different combinations adds a layer of possibilities to individual pieces of clothing.’ Photo by Rio Davis

Before they moved into the 15 square meter space, they started donating clothes and prepared items to friends. “With each piece of clothing that was given away, I felt like I was taking parts of myself off,” says Davis. But “despite small feelings of loss, I soon realized that I was wearing memories, not clothes”.

Over time, they discovered that they had the most versatile and high-quality pieces left over from their larger wardrobe. They describe each item that made 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 work with one of two color schemes,” they say. “Additionally, styling clothes in different ways and combinations adds layers of possibilities to individual pieces of clothing.”


When cinematographer Alexander Naughton left his corporate job to move into filmmaking, he embraced the freedom his new creative role afforded, especially when it came to dressing for work. “There is an element of … personality that comes through in the way we present ourselves,” he says. “Now I see that the way I present myself is directly related to how 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 purchase several high-quality garments that he truly loved. He soon found that he only reached for them when getting dressed. “They feel better, they look better, they inspire confidence and they don’t ruin as easily,” she says. Then he slowly let go of his old clothes and reduced his wardrobe to a few pants, shirts and jackets.

“They all work in harmony,” he says. “Every piece in my wardrobe feels right, so even after a long day of big meetings or client meetings, I’m out the door with no worries.”


Isabella Broccolini, writer and actress, says,
Isabella Broccolini, writer and actress, says: “I’m constantly trying to distract myself from spending on clothes”

Actress and theater writer Isabella Broccolini lives between London and Melbourne. This transience forced her to rethink her wardrobe. She needed to feel comfortable and at home in her own skin, with very few things. “The bar is set high,” he says. “Each item must have great value emotionally, practically, and give me a sense of security, strength, and confidence.”

It emphasizes the need for quality objects that are beautifully made, travel well, are easy to care for and tell a story. “I appreciate what I have rather than wallow in things I don’t love,” she says. “I feel physically lighter and mentally lighter.”

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

“I’m constantly trying to draw attention to the fact that I’m spending on clothes I don’t need.”

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