What is Minimalism?

  • 01 of 07

    What Does it Really Mean to Be a Minimalist?

    What is Minimalism?
    What is Minimalism?. Getty

    You’ve probably heard the word minimalism being thrown around a lot lately; conspicuous consumption is still alive and well, but owning less is nonetheless having a bit of a moment. Of course living a minimalist lifestyle is nothing new, but if you’re wondering “what is minimalism, anyway?” here is a brief primer.

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  • 02 of 07

    Minimalist Home Organizing

    Minimalist home organizing
    Minimalist home organizing. Getty

    So what does minimalism have to do with organization? When you get rid of items you don’t need and live simply, owning no more than what you need and/or truly love, organizing becomes much easier. It is possible to stay organized while surrounded by heaps of possessions. But it’s physically and mentally much easier, quicker, and more enjoyable to do so with less.

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  • 03 of 07

    Minimalist Dressing

    Minimalist dressing
    Minimalist dressing. Getty

    Minimalist dressing often incorporates stylistic elements, e.g. sticking to neutral colors or an otherwise limited color palette. It can also refer to the concept of a “uniform,” i.e., narrowing down your choices to a simple fashion formula or silhouette. (A uniform might mean wearing some variation on the theme of a dress, cardigan, and flats every day.) It’s sometimes paired with the idea of a “capsule wardrobe,” i.e., a small collection of mix-and-match items in which versatility makes up for...MORE a limited number of pieces.

    But the term minimalist can also simply describe the philosophy of owning less, shopping less, and cultivating a small, functional wardrobe. A minimalist closet is the opposite of one bursting with trendy impulse buys that fail you when you need to dress for real life.

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  • 04 of 07

    Living a Minimalist Lifestyle

    Living a minimalist lifestyle
    Living a minimalist lifestyle. Getty

    The above principles can be extended beyond the closet to your whole home and lifestyle. To live minimally, don’t buy a chair you can’t sit in. Don’t collect a bunch of cheap shoes when one higher quality pair will suffice. Think about whether you really need a television, a third car, or another decorative platter. The benefits of a minimalist lifestyle can include saving money, being able to travel light with only a carry-on bag, not worrying about keeping up with anyone else’s buying habits,...MORE and being able to move without too much difficulty.

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  • 05 of 07

    Minimalism and Time Management

    Managing time as a minimalist
    Managing time as a minimalist. Getty

    Minimalist principles can also be applied to other areas of your life that have nothing to do with physical possessions. When you weed out negative people, step back from time commitments that drain your energy, or decide to follow a daily routine, you’re defining what’s necessary in your life and eliminating what is not. And that, no matter which definition you prefer, is what minimalism is all about.

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  • 06 of 07

    Ethical Minimalism

    Ethics and minimalism
    Ethics and minimalism. Getty

    Sometimes minimalism is associated with making ethical shopping decisions: buying locally made products, or those manufactured by companies that treat workers fairly. It can tie in with concerns about the earth – buying goods made in environmentally-friendly ways, for instance, or recycling and thrifting to avoid creating more waste. Sometimes a minimalist lifestyle is a direct rebuke to an increasingly commercialized society (e.g. making holiday gifts yourself rather than standing on line for...MORE Black Friday sales.) For some, minimalism means owning only what fits into a small suitcase or what is strictly necessary for survival. There are many definitions of the word, and they can all help you think about reducing the excess in your life – even those that stretch the concept of minimalism to rather silly lengths.

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  • 07 of 07

    Minimalism in Art and Design

    Minimalist design
    Minimalist design. Getty

    As an aesthetic, minimalism means, in the simplest terms, a pared down and simple look lacking in unnecessary embellishments. When most people hear the word, they think (not incorrectly) of something like an angular modern house, an all-black outfit, or a single-color canvas which - some museum-goer is bound to point out a 5-year-old could technically paint. There’s more to it than that, but basically, a minimalist building, dress, or vase contains no elements its designer does not count as...MORE essential.

    Intrigued? Learn how to set up a more minimalist home