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What Does It Mean to Have a Minimalist Aesthetic?

What Does It Mean to Have a Minimalist Aesthetic?

In 2023, less is more — and that often translates to what many of us refer to as a “minimalist aesthetic.” Based in Japanese minimalism and the idea that if you clear clutter from your life you’ll be able to live more simply and gain a better understanding about what actually matters, there’s a lot to love about the concept of minimalism as a whole.

But what does a minimalist aesthetic mean, exactly, and how can you make it your reality? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a minimalist aesthetic?

Thanks in part to Marie Kondo’s blockbuster book (and eventually Netflix series) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, many people have gotten better at living with less in recent years — and this has translated to their overall aesthetic. 

A minimalist aesthetic generally means neutral colors, clean spaces, few distractions, little to no clutter, and a calm vibe. A minimalist aesthetic can refer to home design, personal style, or even how we choose to live our lives. 

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What does it mean to have a minimalist home design?

If you’ve noticed that your home is looking a little … maximalist lately, you may be hoping to bring in more of a minimalist interior design aesthetic. If that’s the case, start by looking at the color of your walls. Are the rooms in your home painted in vibrant or mismatched colors? If so, consider painting them in neutral hues like white, gray, or beige. This type of palette is easy on the eyes, calming, and non-overwhelming.

Next, look at the furniture in your space. Furniture can be really overwhelming decor element if it’s brightly-colored or patterned. After paint color, opting for clean, neutral-colored furniture is one of the easiest ways to bring a minimalist aesthetic into your space. Not sure where to start? Check out some Scandinavian furniture options here and here — furniture designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic in mind tends to be on the more minimalist side. 

An example of a minimalist bedroom via @simplement_emm Instagram

Finally, take a long, hard look at the objects in your home, and try implementing Kondo’s motto: “Does this spark joy?” Most likely, there are some objects in your home that do indeed spark joy, but others might just be contributing to clutter. Once you’re able to figure out which objects are actually meaningful to you, you’ll probably have a lot fewer of them. 

The most important takeaway? A minimalist home design is made up of bright, open spaces; not dark, cluttered ones. 

What does a minimalist style mean?

So, how does a minimalist aesthetic apply to fashion? A minimalist style is similarly defined by neutral, non-overwhelming colors, smaller pieces of jewelry, and a few items of clothing you really love.

If you’re looking to go minimalist with your personal style, start by clearing out your closet. Which items of clothing do you wear over and over again, and which ones are forever in the back of your closet, collecting dust? That’s a great starting point. 

While a minimalist style will mean something different for everyone, if you want to take your minimalist style aesthetic to the next level, look for neutral-colored clothing and shoes, and keep your jewelry on the smaller side. But remember, there’s nothing wrong with a vibrant pop of color once in a while! When you're working with neutral base layers, it's a lot easier to jazz up your outfit and make it your own.

An example of minimalist style via @jacquelineyschiu on Instagram.

Finally, you may want to consider a capsule wardrobe. This means you have a handful of items that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. It's important to note that if you cultivate capsule wardrobe, you won't have a closet overflowing with clothes, which is where the minimalist aesthetic element comes in. A capsule wardrobe typically consists of one or two dresses, a few t-shirts, pants, sweaters, and shoes that work with everything, and one or two warmer weather items. You should feel free to personalize your capsule wardrobe however you want — if you live in a warmer climate, for example, you may be able to ditch the cold weather items. 

What does it mean to live a minimalist lifestyle?

Your minimalist aesthetic can translate to your lifestyle, too — although there’s no question that this concept is a bit more abstract. A minimalist lifestyle means getting rid of things that don’t serve you. These can mean thoughts, feelings, activities, friends or acquaintances who are dragging you down. It can also mean living without a lot of stuff, which translates to your living space and personal style, as discussed above. 

Of course, getting rid of “thoughts and feelings that don’t serve you” is easier said than done, so implementing reflective activities like regular journaling and calming, head-clearing activities like meditation and gentle exercise (yoga and walking are great examples) can really help. Not only will you gain a stronger understanding of exactly what’s dragging you down, but you can start working toward removing it from your life altogether, or as much as possible. At that point, you’ll be living a more minimalist lifestyle — and hopefully one that makes you happier. 

Remember: A minimalist aesthetic isn’t for everyone. Some of us thrive when we’re surrounded by bright colors, patterns, and a handful of objects we love. But if you do love the concept of minimalism, check out these minimalist bullet journal ideas.

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