Minimalist Wardrobe Guide & Essentials

Form following function: we’ll keep this short.

After the Coogi sweater 90’s and Ed Hardy aughts, the fashion world was hungry for something new. Iconic designers like Helmut Lang and Raf Simons planted the seeds for change around the turn of the millennia, but it would take until 2004 for minimalism to grow into a global presence. That year, New York-based design duo Common Projects launched the Achilles Low sneaker – sleek, precise, luxurious, and completely unembellished. Compared to the neon Bapestas it competed with, the Achilles was lightyears ahead and a species apart.

tumblr_nissvty6ls1tpapjuo1_1280

Only a few months later, H&M would launch its first designer collaboration with none other than the master of monochrome, Karl Lagerfeld himself. The collection’s focus on basics – coupled with the Swedish chain’s global distribution – brought fashionable minimalism to the masses. And oh, was the world ready: well before the era of professional resellers, the entire collection sold out globally in mere hours. In November 2004, pared-back Scandinavian design earned the respect of millions of shoppers and fashion editors alike. The rest, as they say, is history.

tumblr_nwdnsegkju1tyvbxjo1_1280

STYLING

The key to great minimalist outfits is the idea of implied lines. In photography, an implied line is any feature that draws the eye along a certain path of direction. Think of it like this: every stitch, hem, color change, and pattern on a piece of clothing is an implied line. More lines create more information, and therefore, more work your brain to process. If there are fewer distractions, there’s less thought between you and understanding what you see, creating the aesthetic experience (pure emotion and sensation) that much more effectively.

Minimalism, then, is beauty by subtraction.

The best minimalist outfits stick to solid colors, simple patterns, and sleek designs regardless of context. Whether you’re rocking penny loafers or white leather sneakers, your clothes should drip simplicity. Clean lines? Check. Minimal graphics? You bet. White tees, overcoats, and neutral-colored crewneck sweaters are the name of the game here. Brands like A.P.C., Norse Projects, and Uniqlo U do it best.tumblr_o89xauws3g1rsyaepo1_1280

Applying these style tips to streetwear is as easy as relaxing the construction. In clothing, styling, and life: just don’t try too hard. Minimalism here often means tapered sweats, unadorned bomber jackets, and extended shirts that emphasize clean lines. Pair any of the above with retro-inspired sneakers and a solid color hat to nail the look.

While much of streetwear rests on flexing brand status, flashy text and graphics are the exact opposite of the understated minimalist style. Color-matching “tonal” logos (like the kind on Supreme’s FW15 Embroidered Hooded Sweatshirt) get an under-the-radar pass, but as a rule, minimize the distractions and let the piece speak for itself. Done right, minimalist streetwear is effortless fresh that doesn’t need a marketing budget to flex. If your commitment to minimalism extends to your budget, check out brands like H&M, Everlane, and Gildan for the best value. But, if you can reach for the nicer stuff: KITH, Wings + Horns, and John Elliot. The quality alone is worth every penny.

tumblr_nygbnvpwkc1rsyaepo1_500

5 ESSENTIALS FOR A MINIMALIST WARDROBE

Ready to rock the simple, clean wardrobe? Here’s our 5 essential picks, covering both high and low budgets:

  1. Leather sneakers. The foundation to any minimalist wardrobe, these understated kicks set the tone for your outfit’s clean lines and tonal hues. $$$: Common Projects Achilles Low. $: Greats Royale.tumblr_o2as3d9yzy1qifn2ao1_1280

2. Wool overcoat. Long, sleek, and built for any weather. Keep the lapels simple and avoid add-ons like belts. $$$: Mackintosh. $: Uniqlo U.

wool overcoat

3. Grey crewneck sweater. Minimal stitching, neutral tones, and 3-season versatility. Welcome to your new favorite mid-layer. $$$: Wings + Horns. $: Gildan.

tumblr_o38jplb8ch1rsyaepo1_1280

4. Navy striped long-sleeve. This nautical-inspired print piece balances visual interest and a commitment to minimalist design principles. Anchors ahoy. $$$: Saint Laurent. $: Uniqlo.99075033645f5f5c3588be37d32630da5. Tapered sweats. The new casual pants. Keep these solid-colored and let your outfit do the rest. $$$: KITH. $: H&M.

tapered sweatpants

Looking for more outfits to get you inspired? We’ve got you covered.

tumblr_n3vu53miq01rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_nbadxqejuo1rsyaepo1_1280-1 tumblr_ncbjviadbn1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_nghj16uosl1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_nh0175sfm51rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_njq21kjgbm1qdsgzwo1_1280 tumblr_njz69lrnpe1qm1x9ao1_1280 tumblr_nkllmeyw201rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_nlduwwhamy1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_nsf5umel771rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_nuj1ujo5fe1reiai6o1_1280 tumblr_nus0qlli4h1rwv0r5o1_540 tumblr_nyoaie6pg21s58bxuo1_500 tumblr_nzgsqahxzu1qzyjdbo1_1280 tumblr_o0e668okgk1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o0ekkjtopj1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o0k0ddtqvk1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o0ylwk6gsg1qk79z4o1_1280 tumblr_o1bwptvhjc1qcow3vo1_1280 tumblr_o1qofzr1i81rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o1xpg0pic31rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o1xpvkeg9k1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o1zwdwyy2h1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o2yp7dqcnk1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o2yvbby1ck1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o3ajj4yb411rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o3e73q0rux1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o3sq240gah1rsyaepo1_540 tumblr_o3wf5zrvwe1tuq4w3o1_1280

tumblr_o4zbjb1cr21rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o05ozo38h21rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o6x0rre6ud1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o7am5awyjt1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o7ja5ahxov1u0ac3wo1_1280 tumblr_o7unawgaxa1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o8jb0vwz9l1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o016lxotwu1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o35vs5ixwl1u35cudo1_1280 tumblr_o42gcw0t7p1rgp628o1_1280 tumblr_o45knvpm7w1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o83ywelac01rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o252r6vlvy1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o436zpvot91rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_o1910ybt2f1rkhnw0o1_1280 tumblr_o6089mi1rd1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_oawbbcajq71rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_oay9yunnkh1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_ob06ctrtau1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_ob7ir6c2lq1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_ob57ov9a881rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_obgk8vtpul1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_obif0agril1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_obtokvrtml1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_obz7pcyglj1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_ocw6tmyr9y1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_od0b4tgmkx1rsyaepo1_1280 tumblr_oeqyofls2d1rsyaepo1_1280

Looking for Fall Fashion? Check out our Fall / Winter Men’s Fashion Essentials!