The Luxury of Less

Featured image by my talented friend Deborah Habora.

The thing about the joys of living with less is that, in order for it to be a joy, more has to be an option.

I’ve reflected on the privilege of minimalism in a few of my previous posts, but have never really dedicated any full thoughts to it. Because it is uncomfortable and I haven’t always known what to say. But it’s necessary.

Minimalism is refreshing and liberating only when abundance is an option. The thought hit me hard this morning as I was skimming some slow fashion reads. And it was the first time I felt truly compelled to address it head-on here. This wasn’t planned in the schedule of posts I have queued up, but sometimes, you just have to write the damn thing.

For many people (in fact, for most people on this earth) living with less is not a choice. Living with less is a necessity, because they cannot afford to have multiple pairs of shoes or much furniture. For them, it is undoubtedly laughable to see the media talk about minimalism, this austerity virtue-signaling that is made possible only because some of us have the degrees or the jobs or the upwardly-mobile families or the communities that allow for “less” to be trendy.

Society says, “It’s cool to have less, as long as you’re choosing to do so.” And under its breath it’s saying, “It’s cool to have less, but not to be poor.” I don’t want my readers here to think I somehow endorse this attitude in any way, shape or form. I don’t think any responsible fashion blogger does, but I can see how the implication might be there if privilege isn’t being openly addressed.

I remind myself of all of this every time I start to talk about slow fashion and capsule wardrobes with a friend, or here on my blog, because my greatest fear is coming across as sanctimonious about consumption. And if I ever do come across that way, please tell me so I can correct it.

I am only able to talk about slow fashion and capsule wardrobes because I have the luxury of a full closet. I am only able to talk about responsible consumption because I have a career where I am paid competitively and can afford ethically-made products. I am only able to talk about any of this at all because I don’t have to worry about affording basic necessities like food and electricity and heat and toilet paper.

So many people would love to live with the luxury of less, but instead they live with the limits of less. And those of us in the responsible fashion community must always be conscious of this.





  1. Very interesting thoughts on the idea of “minimalism.” The title of your post also brings to mind some of what I’ve struggled with since trying to purchase more ethical fashion choices. It is hard to find affordable options. I’ve definiely splurged on some items knowing I’ll have them a long time. However, as I search out options for items that may wear out, even items such as a t-shirt are sometimes far off what I can afford. If you have suggestions for affordable ethical fashion companies (besides second hand), I would love to see a post on that.

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