Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

How Minimalism Ruined Shopping for Clothes

MinimalismLast weekend, for the first time since I started my minimalism project in the fall, I realized that I had a legitimate reason to go shopping for clothes. After months of de-owning the items I don’t wear, like, or fit into and with the weather heating up, I was left with less than a week’s worth of short-sleeved shirts I could wear to work. I also had about $36 left on a Loft gift card that my brother-in-law had given me over a year ago. So, with a real need and some money, I gave myself a license to go shopping.

I went to the new Springfield Town Center mall to see what I could find. At several stores, I tried on shirt after shirt, a couple of capris and a couple of sweaters and I found nothing! Why is this so hard?

I’ll tell you! I have a new voice inside of my head that asks me really annoying questions:

  1. Does this look amazing on me? Do you absolutely love it? This gets rid of most items I tried on.
  2. Is this something you really need? Is this what you came here to buy? This got rid of more items.
  3. Is this significantly different from everything else that you have so as to justify buying it (when you could just wear what you have)?
  4. How often can you really wear this? How long will it last? If it’s something that I could wear every week or layer in every season and it’s good quality, it’s probably a good purchase.

That’s how minimalism ruined shopping for clothes and that is how I walked out of the mall on Saturday with just two items: a blue, plain tank top (which is great for wearing or layering) and a black cardigan to replace one of the most versatile and often-used shirts in my closet (the old one was missing several buttons and fraying along the sleeve edges).

I honestly wonder if I need to find a new set of stores. Most women’s fashion comes with an expiration date and to help you buy more clothing, stores make everything really thin and cheaply.

Any suggestions? Where do you shop for your clothes?


  1. Your experiment (along with a segment on Last Week Tonight) inspired me, and I’m doing a “don’t buy clothes for one year” experiment! I started a blog to stay accountable (and to try to wear all the clothes I already own):

    I have a feeling that once I DO start buying clothes again, I will understand how it’s changed…

    • amberrking

      May 15, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Anna! That’s awesome! Love the tumblr. I can be like your AA sponsor. Talk to me before you buy something and I’ll talk you out of it. 🙂

  2. This made me laugh. At least you found something that you won’t be returning and fits with your style. For me, going back to my pre-pregnancy clothes is like having gone shopping for an entirely new wardrobe. I’m not there yet, but soon I hope 🙂

  3. Also, one thing that has helped me shop, because even though I love to peruse through fashion stuff on Pinterest I really dislike shopping, is to learn my body type and know what I can and cannot wear so I never have to waste time trying things on that I know won’t work. For example, dresses cinched at the waist look awful on me so I don’t ever pick those up, but wrap dresses look great so I always try those on. Thin, strappy loose dresses don’t look great on me anymore, instead I go for thicker/heavier straps that have a fitted look. Tanks that are short or tight on the belly are out, I look for thin/loose fitting tanks that have something fun (like a round/oval hem so it’s not boring). I try not to buy at crappy stores, because they tend to go on the donations pile after a wash. I (really) like Mossimo from Target, Banana Republic (they have a great petite section), Nordstrom’s sales section, SF Macys sales has EVERYTHING 🙂 We should go shopping next time you’re in SF!

    Knowing your style before you go to a store is also very important, which is why I spend a lot of time on Pinterest 🙂

    • amberrking

      May 15, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Excellent tips! I would LOVE to go shopping with you next time I’m in SF! That’s also a good excuse to avoid buying things now — so I can save up a list of stuff I need for the next trip. One of the best shopping adventures I’ve had was when my sister came maternity shopping with me. She’s much more fashion-savvy and just kept bringing stuff to my fitting room. I ended up with some very nice maternity gear because of her (which she inherited later)!

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