Does minimalism conjure an image of a white room with nothing but the bare essentials? True minimalism doesn't have to mean sterile, neutral-looking appearance. It's personal and all about conscious choices. Here you can read all about minimalism and what it truly means, plus you will find some tips and suggestions on how to follow minimalism in your day-to-day life.

It's a movement, a lifestyle, a philosophy. All at the same time. There's so much information about it that it's easy to get lost, or fall into the many traps that try to convince you that the way to be truly minimalist is to buy the latest product, or get rid of everything you have. But at its core, minimalism is about priorities. Being very honest with yourself, determining what is important in your life and making space for it. It also means being present. Being aware of what makes your life fun and meaningful right now instead of worrying about the future and how it could be better.

The axes of minimalism

  1. Figure out what is really important in your life. This is the most important step. Understand what your priorities are and which values are non-negotiable for you. Do you want to live sustainably? Dedicate time to your family? It's not all about objects. Also consider your habits. Negative self-talk; gossiping; doubting yourself, judging others. Do they really make you happy? Do they deserve time in your life?
  2. Quality over quantity. Once you know your priorities, make space for them by limiting non-priorities. In a day-to-day example, a priority might be spending time with our families. A way to achieve it is to be present with them and limit non-priorities such as phones or TV. Shopping-wise, a priority might be spending money wisely and investing in things that add meaning to our lives long-term. A way to do that is to invest in objects we know we will love and that will last us years, instead of cheap things we'll get bored by once the trend has passed.

What does a minimalist lifestyle look like?

There is no one way to answer this. As it's all about priorities, it's also very personal. But for this reason exactly, beware of who says that minimalism means clean, empty spaces, no clutter and no tools. Everyone's idea of a stress-less home is different, and this "pure" aesthetic might not take into account cultural differences, values, income or disabilities. A shoehorn might seem like the first superfluous thing to throw away, but for someone who struggles with bending down, it's an absolute necessity.

The takeaway is: minimalism is not universally comparable. It's important not to have a one-size-fits-all approach to it. Take the time to adapt minimalism to your life, and not the opposite.

Is minimalism really sustainable or a marketing trap?

brown wooden box with brown and black ceramic mugs
Be aware of marketing tricks

In principle, yes. Being mindful of what is useful and what is not, and only purchasing what has value to us is a key component of sustainability.

But it's not always like that. In many cases, brands or markets have adopted the vocabulary of minimalism to push a very unsustainable message: that decluttering is a challenge that can be rewarded with more shopping or that minimalism is an aesthetic more than a way of life.

In the last few years there has been a trend by fast fashion producers to introduce collections with neutral colours and clean lines and promote them as minimal or sustainable. This is clearly false and misleading. The clothes these brands produce are too low quality to be able to last years, and are produced in a non-ethical way. In these cases, minimalism is used like a trendy selling point, and not like the lifestyle it really is. It's always important to be aware of these traps and keep in mind that it's not about how it looks, but how it feels!

Are minimalism and zero-waste the same thing?

Minimal in Antwerp

No, but they do share a lot of values! Minimalism has a broader meaning than zero-waste. The former promotes having your priorities very clear, whichever they might be. The latter has the reduction of pollution as its main objective. However, reducing purchases, focusing on quality over quantity, and eliminating waste are key components of both lifestyles. So, living minimalistically also benefits a lot from learning about zero-waste living. If you want to learn more about the zero-waste lifestyle, click here. If you're looking for items to make your minimalist lifestyle easier, be sure to check out Minimal in Antwerp-Berchem for kitchen, household, or bathroom supplies!

Minimalism in fashion

The rise of minimalism in mainstream society has also been attributed partially to the 2007 financial crisis. New economic conditions means that the splurges of the 80s and 90s (big maximalist decades) were unattainable for the majority of the population. So, clean lines, simple and timeless models and durable fabrics became fashionable. Worries about the environment and the mountains of clothes in landfills also promoted the idea of a zero-waste, circular, cradle-to-cradle approach to fashion. Now, minimalism is here to stay! It is a very powerful tool to help us obtain a more sustainable society, where we limit waste and appreciate our belongings to the maximum.

Adapting minimalism to your life

At its roots, minimalism is about values and sustainability. And when purchases are necessary, choose brands that implement the same values as you.

Here are our best picks to implement minimalism as much as possible in your lifestyle!

  • Do you express yourself through style? Consider renting clothes, exchanging them with friends to keep it interesting and experiment with new outfits with the clothes in your closet! When your garments are well-loved and at the end of their life, invest in quality over quantity, and select a few new items that you will love for years to come!
Palanta in Amsterdam

Clothing rental shops such as the LENA Fashion Library and Palanta Amsterdam and Dressr are great alternatives to switch up your wardrobe without buying new clothes. Iconic Wardrobe also provides the option to rent luxury and sustainable brands, plus it offers advice to curate a more mindful wardrobe. Sustainable stylists are also a fantastic way to discover your true style! Book a wardrobe session with the Ethical Fashion Stylist Ashna Chatta, or get an appointment with ThaĆ­s Britta in Antwerp. Be sure to check out B.Right too for a self-directed course or to get a one-on-one session.

  • Do you want to make fewer decisions in the morning? A capsule wardrobe can make your morning routine easier, less stressful and faster: focus on basics and garments that will match with each other. It is all about using the same clothes to make different outfits. Adapt it to your style and don't forget to add your personal touches! Do you like color? A staple piece like a colorful blazer will pop if paired with more basic garments. Love bold prints? Build your outfit around an eye-catching polka-dot blouse. Keep what you love in your closet, swap, sell, donate or gift what you don't and if needed invest in basics. Your morning self will thank you!
  • Are you a fan of a clean house? Use the cleaning supplies you already have, upcycle what you can (an old shirt makes a fantastic cloth!) and slowly substitute less sustainable items with more sustainable ones. Check out Humdakin for household products and Yokuu for sustainable cleaning supplies! And if you prefer to add your DIY spin, consider participating in one of Anne Drake's workshops and read her books!

Now you have all the knowledge you need to introduce minimalism to your life!