Be More with Less: Building an Ethical Minimalist Wardrobe

by Editor
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Imagine looking into your closet each morning, seeing everything and knowing exactly what to choose, and feeling wonderful about how you look and where your clothing came from. This is the minimalist wardrobe – a selection of high-quality, conscious clothing items that work well together and look great on you.


We spoke to Kristi Soomer, Founder and CEO of Encircled, an eco- (and travel-) friendly clothing company based in Toronto, Ontario. Encircled makes versatile clothing from sustainable fabrics and is committed to high ethical standards in every single thing they do. (Check out our interview with Kristi.)

“Consumers value transparency from companies at a level we’ve not seen before, driven by access to information on the Internet. There is an increasing demand to understand the end-to-end supply chain, from where the clothing is made, the type of fabric used, and what people are being paid,” says Soomer. She says her customers are engaged and curious about their purchases and that the minimalist wardrobe trend is definitely moving toward quality over quantity and being mindful of purchases.

Encircled lives its belief that transparency is essential to positive change in the fashion industry, so sustainability and conscious consumerism are at the core of every decision they make. The name originated from the idea that fashion can be full circle (their first piece, a cardigan, was named “The Cardi” in a nod to Australians’ commitment to sustainability and wanderlust). They also believe strongly in inclusion; recognizing there are few ethical clothing options for plus size, the brand is introducing a greater variety of sizes.

Ethical Fashion

Ethical fashion is rooted in the belief that clothing can be stylish and accessible, without exploiting people or the planet in the process. The fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry worldwide (after oil) because of the immense waste created during the manufacturing of clothing—end-of-roll fabrics, cuttings, and slightly flawed garments typically end up in landfill—not to mention the carbon footprint created when clothing is transported from country to country for different stages of production.

Buying ethical means supporting brands that care about fair labour practices, and have high environmental and waste management standards. It also means the fabrics feel wonderful and are free of harmful chemicals. Encircled’s three core fabrics – modal, tencel and bamboo – are all naturally derived, biodegradable, and sustainably sourced from regenerative crops that do not use pesticides. The dyes as well are free of harmful chemicals which makes them kinder on your skin, health, and the environment.

Where does one start? Encircled notes that the journey to building a more ethical closet doesn’t need to be all or nothing – tossing your entire closet to replace everything at once isn’t the idea. Start by auditing your entire wardrobe, keeping only what you love and love to wear. Donate the rest, then invest in one needed item—an ethically- and well-made shirt or pair of jeans—and simply be mindful about future purchases.

Choose fit over size, labels and numbers; with quality fabrics that will last, travel nicely and drape well. Launder with care, and your ethical and minimalist wardrobe will love you right back.

Minimalist Wardrobe 101

A minimalist wardrobe is a collection of clothing that includes a small number of high-quality, versatile, and timeless pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a wide range of outfits.

The concept of a minimalist wardrobe is based on owning and wearing only what is essential, practical, and meaningful to you.

A minimalist wardrobe typically includes only a few items in each category, such as:

  • Tops: T-shirts, blouses, and sweaters in neutral colours.
  • Bottoms: Jeans, trousers, and skirts in neutral colours.
  • Dresses: A few versatile dresses that can be dressed up or down.
  • Outerwear: A lightweight jacket, a warm coat, and a raincoat or windbreaker.
  • Shoes: A few pairs of comfortable, durable, and versatile shoes, such as sneakers, boots, and loafers.
  • Accessories: A few timeless and functional accessories, such as a scarf, a hat, and a bag.

The goal of a minimalist wardrobe is to simplify your wardrobe and reduce decision fatigue while still allowing you to express your personal style.

By focusing on quality over quantity and investing in versatile and timeless pieces, you can create a wardrobe that is both functional and stylish.

A minimalist wardrobe can also be more sustainable, as it encourages you to buy fewer clothes and choose items that are made to last.

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