The Desire to Accessorize

Kyle, the other half of New Minimalism here to talk about something very important: personal style.

The other week I found myself at the mall. 

I was there for a quick stop to get my phone upgrade.  Somehow, before I knew, it I was checking out at the register of Aldo with a handful of impulse accessory purchases! 

Did I black-out for a moment?  I run a business called New Minimalism!  How could this have happened?! 

Let’s take a step back to dissect:

I had an upcoming international trip that I was eagerly anticipating.  This trip included attending a music festival, and I was excited to express myself through my clothing in a hot climate for once, OMG. 

Finding myself at the mall, I was susceptible.  Suddenly my existing wardrobe seemed dull and unexciting in comparison to all the shiny, of-the-moment merchandise at the mall.  The window displays worked their magic on me and I was lured into Aldo.  I ended up purchasing a pair of sandals, a necklace, a pair of sunglasses and earrings, all made of so-so quality.

Evidence of the impulse-buy on Instagram.  All minus the fanny pack, which has been a faithful companion for years now.

Evidence of the impulse-buy on Instagram.  All minus the fanny pack, which has been a faithful companion for years now.

There is an innate human desire to express oneself through personal style and adornment. 

The earliest examples of jewelry adornment in human history date back 7,000 years!  While jewelry was a form of currency or financial investment, it was worn primarily to convey “social status, wealth, and power.” 

And today, while clothing and accessories surely still relate to a desire to convey social status and wealth, I assume that most people, like me, simply enjoy expressing themselves creatively through their clothing.  This is not wrong.  Hey, we have to wear clothes so we might as well make the best of it, right? 

But with a personal pursuit towards minimalism and more simplified lifestyle, where do I draw the line?

The answer relates to our 11 Principles

#7 Move past the myth of choice. Excessive choices can leave us paralyzed or dissatisfied. You understand that creativity flourishes within constraint.


Can you have a capsule wardrobe that still expresses your personal style?  Of course!  Like any life-simplification effort, you have to first ask yourself some tough questions:

  • What do you value the most
  • Which items earn the high esteem of making it into your wardrobe
  • What clothing do you feel the best in? 


6 Steps for a quick, 1-hour wardrobe decluttering. 

1. Select your top 3 outfits: 

  1. your top outfit for work

  2. your top outfit for play.   

  3. your top outfit for maxin’ and relaxin’ at home

2. Pull out these 3 outfits, and arrange them on the bed/floor. 

3. Complete them with underwear, shoes, accessories and all.  Arrange little flat versions of yourself.  Heck, go crazy and use grapes for eyes and then let them hang out until your partner comes home and becomes sufficiently freaked out.  (Ok, sorry, I took it too far.)  

4. Back to the 3 outfits: consider these your “guiding light”, the epitome of your style.  In contrast, assess each individual item in your closet.  Does it stand up the “guiding light outfits”?  If there is any hesitation with the garment in question, the answer is DONATE!  Be firm with yourself, act like your own personal trainer. 

5. Keep a short list of any wardrobe “holes” you create and need to fill.  Like if, for example, you finally donate that black sweater that you’ve worn to death and everyone in your life is secretly hoping you get rid of anyway.  Write "black sweater" on your shopping list to keep you focused while you shop and keep your favorite outfits working for you.

6. At the end of your decluttering sweep, be sure to put all donations in a bag by the door so that you actually take them with you on your next trip out.  Schedule the donation drop in your calendar to really hold yourself accountable.

Before (left):  too many choices, earring pairs separated, chaos. After (right): individual accessories have room to shine and displayed with pride.

So, back to the mall. 

What was the result of my impulse purchases?  The necklace and sunglasses served their purpose on the vacay and have since been donated to the Goodwill, the earrings I kept, and the sandals, the bulkiest of all my belongings on my trip, followed me all throughout Croatia and Copenhagen, and returned to the States unworn!  Turns out that chunky, platform metallic sandals (yes), were somewhat impractical for stomping all around Europe.  I never even tried to wear them.  They were an inconvenient daily reminder that impulse buys are not worth the trouble Thankfully, Aldo accepted them as returns. 

The moral of the story:  know that there is an entire industry dedicated to making you feel like you need more things. 

Marketing teams are paid buckets-o-money to do just that.  So you must enter the consumer world with your armor on, shielding you from the power of savvy marketers (and avoid it all together whenever possible).  And like most things in life, there is a middle path.  You can be a stylish minimalist, just as long as you clarify and prioritize what your version of style is.