The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Minimalist vs Cheap – Why is This So Hard?

I’m sure you all know my stance on this, but I like the connotation of this graphic, cause it does so suit.   And don’t misunderstand me here – I’m not for curing all the world’s ills – I can’t do that.  It just seems illogical to me that we put so much care into the purchase of our food, our computers, our homes, and just about everything we spend money on, except our clothes.

What is it about our clothes that makes this particular purchase so subject to subliminal persuasion, even though we know they aren’t made well;  we know they won’t last;  we know that basically they are throw-away clothes?

The first and most obvious reason that pops into our heads is it’s easier, faster and cheaper….then after that there may be some reasoning along the lines of …well, if clothes were really that hard to make, they would be more expensive…..or… this price how can I loose?……or……look, I don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to sew or do a lot of editing and figuring out what one jacket will work for me and besides, it would just be a misuse of my time – I wouldn’t gain that much for the time I put into it.

And then there’s the thinking from the other side (what if  you didn’t have access to cheap fashion?): I can’t afford that really expensive stuff, and it lasts as long as the cheap stuff – doesn’t it?  Clothes aren’t supposed to last that long….right?….or…..I’ve got to have clothes to wear to work or dinner or lunch or office meeting or something that’s comfortable that makes me look smart and modern, but also professional and responsible, and if I don’t buy these clothes cheaply which is the most efficient use of my financial resources, then I won’t have those clothes I need, cause that jacket costs more that what I spend on 10 jackets at the fast fashion store.  How can I justify that expense?  Instead of having one jacket that I wear over and over again, I can go to the fast fashion store and get 10.  Isn’t that more practical and smarter in the long run?!


What’s so hard about purchasing an item that will last for 30 years?  There’s the misconception (and it is a mistake to believe this), that you will be stuck with this in your closet for 30 years.  Part of this mentality of being stuck with something comes from the fact that buying cheap fashion means it’s disposable so if we make a mistake, it’s no big deal.


Studies show that the greater the amount of choices we have the less satisfied we are with them.  Here’s the math on that.  If we have two choices, then, at the most, you only regret the other choice (the one you didn’t choose).  If you have a choice among 15 items and you choose one, you may regret not picking any of the other 14 choices – maybe not all 14, but more than on in the former example.

It’s hard to wrap your head around that idea, when we are bombarded by so many choices in the market place, when the exact opposite is true.

Another hard concept to swallow is the thought that a Minimalist Wardrobe could be more than a cheap fashion wardrobe that’s stocked to the brim and spilling out everywhere.  But the trend and concept of the Minimalist Wardrobe is actually not to live like a monk with one or two cassocks to wear during your lifetime.  It’s all about having the right clothes in your closet – not a bunch of junk that’s a crap shoot on whether it will work in your life or not.


It’s hard to imagine walking into a closet that everything you have is not only something you like, but also something that looks good on you and makes you feel good.  It’s hard to imagine cause it’s been over 20 years since anything like that existed in stores, much less fashion.  So this whole concept of having minimal anything in a closet immediately brings up visions of a monk’s closet!

After having so much – and not really so much as more of an over-abundance of clothes in a closet – to suddenly decide you only what to have what you want in your closet, you will inevitably have less.  This doesn’t mean that you will have less to wear.  It actually means you will have more to wear, because you will be wearing everything in your closet.

This takes some pretty disciplined thinking cause not only are you fighting the marketing programming of the last 20 years, you’re fighting some pretty messed up logic, that is presented in a logical way. It’s tricky…..the illogical reasoning of fast fashion model says this:  How can you loose, don’t get 1 for $500 that will last for 10 years, get 10 for $49.95 for this year, and 10 next year, and 10 next year and after ten years you will have purchased 1,000 for $49.95 ea.  But unfortunately at the exact moment of purchase, it’s IS cheaper;  but the fast fashion store doesn’t want you to stop after one purchase – they want you to buy one in every color and every style, whether you need it or not, or whether you want it or not – you better get it now cause it won’t be here next week cause we will change the inventory every two weeks!  Whew!!!!  I’m wore out just writing that down!

The Minimalist Wardrobe

But here’s the thing that most folks don’t realize about a minimalist wardrobe:  it actually serves you better than the over-stuffed wardrobe.  In the same way that a well-fit body serves a person better than an over-stuffed one, the same thing is true of the lean closet.  Why? Because everything you have in the closet works for you.

For a realistic read on what exactly a minimalist wardrobe is, here‘s a great blog on it.  But here are the highlights.

  1. Minimalism is not less – it is getting rid of everything that doesn’t work for you.
  2. A Minimalist Wardrobe is not necessarily tiny, that doesn’t mean that you won’t end up with a smaller wardrobe, it means you use what you have.
  3. Minimalist Wardrobe does not mean there’s no color or pizazz.
  4. Minimalist Wardrobes are a perfect match for professionals. (Hint: look at the wardrobes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerman – they have set uniforms)
  5. Be honest with yourself – about your size, style, shape – this includes your coloring.  If you love blue but are a ruddy-complected red-head, know that blue is not your best color and if you want to wear it, fine, but you’ll know you’re not showing off your best asset.
  6. Memories and clothes are two different things.  Because you giveaway a treasured item does not mean you will loose the memory.
  7. Minimalist and laundry – have enough so you don’t get caught with all your good business outfits in the laundry during the week.  Believe it or not, I hear this a lot as a rebuttal against the minimalist wardrobe.
  8. Don’t get overwhelmed, this isn’t that hard;  take it step-by-step and you can do this!


I’ve been practicing a minimalist wardrobe for over 40 years.  I don’t have the time to sew a new garment for myself every two weeks.   I sew well-constructed garments that I know I won’t have to replace for 5 to 10 years, periodically cleaning out my closet of items that I haven’t worn or just aren’t working for my lifestyle now.  And I am not in want of clothes, but when I go to my closet it only filled with garments that I know look good on me and make me look good.  I’m a card-carrying, walking example of how well a minimalist wardrobe works.  I love it and perusing through my closet and taking out what doesn’t work is a breeze for me, and allows me to keep my wardrobe neat and trim at all times.  Let me put it this way – it’s a lot easier and more fun than putting myself on a diet to drop a few pounds every now and then!


  1. A couple of comments. First, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have pared down many of the items in my wardrobe after realizing that my go-to work outfit is jeans, a knit shirt and occasionally a jacket. Beyond that I have a few dresses for special occasions and weekend wear, but that’s about it.

    Second, while I love the idea of a 30-year sweatshirt, the image that company used turned me off immediately. That shirt doesn’t fit the model (those sleeves!) and it makes her look dumpy. I don’t care that it’s handcrafted in Portugal or that it’s organic cotton and premium polyester, if it makes a willowy model look awful there is no way I would buy it. The company needs to take as much care in their styling as in their choice of pieces. Marketing 101.

    Finally, the toughest thing for consumers to fight through is the sheer volume of ads and marketing being thrown at them every single day. One look at the September issue of any fashion magazine shows that more than 75% of the pages are ads for, as George Carlin once said brilliantly, “crap we don’t need, paid for with money we don’t have.”

    • You are sooo right about that tee shirt. It is hideous. Who would buy it, let alone want it to last 30 years. Yuck! This company really needs a lot of marketing help.

  2. I am so into the minimalist wardrobe! I told someone that I make all of my own clothes and they asked how I have the time. Like Gorgeous things, I know what I wear everyday and got rid of what I don’t. I wear pants and a tee shirt sometimes with a cardigan. Well made clothing in high quality fabric lasts. I don’t have time to make something new every week or two either. I buy fabric in my colors so I rarely have an orphan in my closet, which also helps. I don’t have an artificial number that my wardrobe must fit into, but I have enough so that it works for me. There are always a few things that I need, and they are on my list to make.

    • I loved your comment about not having any orphans in your closet. I had never thought it out, but now that you mention it I find that is true for me as well. With everything I make, even without any particular planning on my part, I find my wardrobe increases exponentially almost to the point that I have too many choices. However, that may be because I find it very difficult to get rid of any of my clothes. I have frequently dug deeply into my closet only to find an item that blends perfectly with an item I have just made.

  3. Good points, Claire. After having worn a uniform for 21 years (Army), when I retired, the uniform became jeans and a short sleeve camp shirt or long sleeve work shirt. Since going back to sewing I added skirts and a few dresses for church and social. I’m now working on casual jackets and blouses. The closet doesn’t get overstuffed and clothes get worn out and replaced.

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