Instagram is my crack. I don’t think this fact makes me unique, but it needs to be established. And like any other millennial social media junkie, I’ve borne witness to the rise of the “Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl,” as TFD has coined her, on just about every social media outlet. You probably know what I’m talking about: the girl who haunts your Instagram feed and Pinterest page with her beautifully-maintained-yet-perfectly-messy hair, whose apartment is airy and sparse and beautifully curated, and most notably, who owns nothing from Ikea.
She is an embodiment of the unattainable, so I understand where the hate aimed at her is coming from. But: I disagree.
First, if anyone in this age of editing apps and sponsored content thinks that posts from a “lifestyle” account or personality-driven account on Instagram are real representations of life, then I have no faith in our generation. Come on. We all know it’s an airbrushed version, at the absolute least.
From the outside, the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl is easy to hate. BUT: maybe the reason we hate her isn’t because her life is more expensive (minimalism doesn’t have to be). Maybe we hate her because her life is lived more mindfully, and we’re jealous of that thoughtfulness.
With her example of minimalism in mind, my friend who’s moving apartments (and packing up every single item of old or useless stuff) might take a second to think: Would the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl haul all her semi-unwanted stuff and buy some cheap-cutesy Ikea storage shelves to house it all? No, because she knows that More Stuff will always look like More Stuff, no matter how many storage “solutions” you may invest in. The Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl would take a good hard look at all the crap she has accumulated over the years, think about the aesthetic she wants for her trendy new apartment, and then ruthlessly cull accordingly.
Or maybe the next time my friend starts to evaluate her closet, the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl will inspire her to think about implementing a capsule wardrobe, instead of heading immediately to Forever 21. Sure, those pictures of ten monochromatic shirts hanging on a rustic clothing rack are unrealistic, but the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl knows that the stuff you own ends up owning you. An overflowing closet of underwhelming options makes me feel as cheap as the clothing inside, and I would so much rather pine for economy than for excess.
I want to say thank you to the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl for the lessons she is quietly teaching me (and might teach you, if you let her). Her minimalist #inspo serves as a glimmer of good hidden in the consumerist fabric of our society. I’m definitely no expert, but I want to share three of the baby steps I took towards a more minimalist lifestyle.
Prove to yourself you can do it. Go to Pinterest and become familiar with what a capsule wardrobe should feel like. Take everything out of your closet and replace only 35-ish pieces to create a capsule wardrobe of sorts with what you already have. Just use pieces that match and that you can make multiple combinations with. Store everything else in a box or bag out of sight in your closet. Try it out for a week or two. This capsule exercise may help you prove to yourself (risk-free, because you can bring that box or bag out again) that you can survive with less and can be happy while doing so. When I did this, I found that I was creating more stylish combinations without thinking about it. The strong pieces stuck out, and I wasn’t overwhelmed with options I didn’t like.
Determine your style. This is one I struggled with for a long time, until a friend had the perfect suggestion. She had me go through every picture on my Pinterest “style” board and find the common variables; then, she moved the most representative “common variable pictures” to a new page of just my own “personal style.” In the past, I felt confused because there were so many cool looks I aspired to (Grunge! Boho! Preppy!). When I pared down my options, I was able to look back over many seasons and years to see which fashion choices or outfits I came back to and pinned multiple times. Seeing hundreds of images whittled down into about 20 concise pictures (of outfits I liked and knew I would feel comfortable in) helped me to define my style. Most importantly, the downsizing and definition of my style helped me to understand, going forward, which clothing items are smart purchases (in keeping with my capsule wardrobe), and which pieces I can allow to pass me by.
Go Slow. Once you’ve decided what your style is, and you’re committed to it, take your time implementing it in your wardrobe. Whatever method you choose to reduce your closet’s load, it’s important not to throw everything out at once. Binge purging your closet is just a surefire way to land yourself in a situation where you actually need to go out and buy something because you didn’t anticipate your future needs. As you go through your daily life, think about whether items are serving a purpose for you or not. If you decide they aren’t, set them aside as you decide if you really can do without them, then sell or donate these set-asides every couple of months. You can also employ a One In, One Out (or even One In, Two Out) Rule to your household: for every item you buy, you must give one away. I’ve found that this encourages me to be more conscious about my consuming, on both ends: how much I’m acquiring and how much I’m passing on to others.
Is the minimalist aesthetic difficult to attain? Absolutely. I’ve been trying to go minimal since before it was cool (so hipster), and even though I’ve done countless wardrobe culls, clean outs, and KonMari methods, I still have a long way to go. Unlike most other trends, you can’t just go out and buy a new outfit and magically have The Look. It’s quite the opposite. You have to actively challenge yourself, day in and day out, not to consume, not to buy the cute clearance items in the Target lifestyle section, not to shop during that flash sale (even though it’s a steal). At its core, minimalism focuses on changing yourself and your attachment to objects.
The Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl lifestyle may actually be the cheapest and most financially-attainable trend out there, if it’s done right.
It just takes a dedication to reducing your material footprint, living mindfully, and being patient. You have to make a time investment, both in waiting to find secondhand pieces (shout out to Poshmark), and in saving up to invest in higher-quality items that last longer and serve a more versatile purpose. And you have to dedicate mindspace by making difficult decisions to let go of loved items in favor of breathing room.
So, while attaining that Minimalist Aesthetic is extremely difficult, that’s not because it’s too expensive to go out and buy. And while it’s easy to hate people who seem to be #livingtheirbestlife, I think it’s a great thing to aspire to. Honestly, I’d take that minimalist closet pic on my feed any day, if it means that I see one less freaking detox tea post.
Jordan is a Midwesterner to her core, but she challenges Midwestern values daily. Originally from Nebraska, she is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota, with a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. Her hobbies include insta-stalking and yoga. You can follow her on Instagram.
Image via Unsplash