Retail therapy might be your old standby, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be. Instead, consider a more minimalist and timeless wardrobe to protect your budget and your closet space. Whether you go for a strict capsule wardrobe, choose to become a fashion minimalist, or simply invest in better items less often, your budget will love the refresh. The best place to start is with minimalist clothing brands.
Why minimalist is worth it
Minimalism and living a minimalist lifestyle don’t have a prescribed definition. It can mean whatever you want it to for whatever phase of life you’re in. Minimal clothing brands tend to focus on top quality and a tight supply chain.
That means you’ll almost definitely be paying more, but what you’re buying is made to last and you can feel good about what your dollars are supporting.
Minimalist fashion brands can have many different focuses. They might lean into the capsule wardrobe idea or multi-functionality so that you end up needing to buy fewer items.
They might focus on better materials and craftsmanship, or use evergreen designs rather than trendy styles. Or they might even focus on small batches that are high ticket but don’t go to waste because they don’t produce in surplus.
Find the right minimalist clothing brands for you
Style is super subjective...and so is your budget. So, here are 15 minimalist fashion brands to get you started on your intentional shopping journey.
Vetta aims for a “thoughtful wardrobe” through capsules. Mix and match is the name of the game. They have pre-made capsules that come with five garments and can be styled into 30 outfits.
The colors you can choose from all go together. If you really want to own the process, you can create a capsule that’s unique to you. Regardless, taking their quiz is a good place to start.
Encircled creates comfortable workwear staple pieces. They’re a B Corp, Canadian-made, and certified to be free of toxic chemicals.
Their clothes might be too casual for a super corporate job, but if you have flexibility in your workwear, this could be a great place to build outfits you’ll actually want to wear all day long.
Cuyana offers luxe basics you can dress up or down. They focus on natural fibers, have a “philosophy of fewer” with their timeless items, and even sell accessories. Bonus: they’re women of color founded and run. When it comes to minimalist clothing brands, this is a popular one!
4. Pact Apparel
Pact is one of the most affordable organic cotton minimalist clothing brands. They’re Fair Trade certified and have tons of comfy basics and loungewear. Definitely check out their undergarments for the whole family, especially when they’re running a big sale.
5. Universal Standard
Universal Standard is all about size inclusivity, offering sizes 00-40. This focus on fit makes sense since they’re a female-founded brand.
Besides being made to last, they also have a line tailored to women’s ever-changing bodies—their Fit Liberty collection can be swapped for a different size within one year.
Everlane was one of the first brands to go mainstream with a pledge to “radical transparency” and the choice to showcase their factories. They also have a “no new plastic” campaign and use sustainable materials for their items. Their timeless but modern silhouettes and fabrics have become wardrobe staples for urbanites.
Note: even though Everlane is one of the most celebrated “ethical” fashion brands, they did receive some bad press about how they treated their workers when COVID hit. We all have our own standards for how we shop, so research any brand before buying to make sure it aligns with your values.
COS does elevated essentials. They sell basic cuts and colors that don’t go out of style. With the philosophy, “Buy better, keep forever,” their garments are intended to carry you through the years, rather than designing for the trend du jour.
Sourcing is also really important to COS, which they explain in detail on their sustainability page. This is another one of the minimalist clothing brands that are quite popular.
8. Amour Vert
Amour Vert has sustainability at its core. They have a give-back program where one t-shirt sold equals one tree planted and their packaging is compostable. With a strong focus on fabric manufacturing and treatment, they even sell a zero-waste collection. The Amour Vert style is laid back and feminine.
Able creates ethically-made accessories, with a specialty in leather goods. Worker empowerment is a focus for Able, with 95% of their staff identifying as women and a commitment to post their wages publicly.
Their jewelry is made in Nashville, while all their other items give jobs to women abroad, in Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, and India.
10. Organic Basics
With Organic Basics, the name says it all. This tongue-in-cheek brand doesn’t mess around when it comes to getting you basics you can believe in. Undergarments are their bread and butter, but they’ve expanded to activewear, loungewear, and other relaxed outfit options.
11. The Nisolo brand
The Nisolo brand is an ethical and sustainable company that focuses on shoes and accessories. Their products are well-made and practical. In addition, they are a certified B corporation and you'll find items that are both fashionable and classic like boots, loafers, sneakers, and more.
12. MATE the Label
MATE the Label creates sophisticated loungewear with impact in mind. They use organic cotton, ethical factories in LA, and non-toxic dyes. You can even return your items at the end of their life cycle and MATE will turn them into new garments.
Their collections are full of muted colors, so if you’re a bold dresser, this isn’t the brand for you. But if you want to look chic in earthy tones, you’ve come to the right place.
13. Fair Indigo
Fair Indigo aims to be “forever in fashion” with its simple designs. They partner with Peruvian farmers for top-of-the-line Pima cotton, offering fair wages, good working conditions, and a foundation that supports educational opportunities for the local farmers’ children. They’ve got outfit staples and some dressier items that are still comfy.
14. Secondhand retailers
You don’t have to buy anything new! Shopping secondhand is perfect if you really find it hard to curb your maximalist tendencies, or if you want to buy from the best brands but can’t afford to buy at full price. Or honestly, if you fall anywhere in between.
You can definitely check out local thrift shops, but online secondhand retailers make it even easier to search by size, brand, style, and color. (You can even search “new with tags”!) Check out ThredUp, Swap, Poshmark, Depop, and even Facebook Marketplace or eBay.
15. Curated retailers
Maybe you still like selection or feel overwhelmed with where to start. You might like a curated retailer, like Made Trade or Done Good. They do all the heavy lifting of the vetting process so that you can feel confident you’re going to land on an ethical, sustainable brand.
If you have an old favorite or hear about a new brand from a friend or an ad, you could try searching on a directory like Good On You.
Try out minimalist clothing brands
If shopping for clothes is your biggest budget buster, going for minimalist clothing brands might be the quickest way to maximize your spending. Remember: it’s not necessarily about a target number of garments in your closet.
Instead, it’s about considering what you need, what you’ll wear, and what makes you feel fantastic. The items that check those boxes are worth your hard-earned cash. Anything else is just a waste.
After you get acquainted with this new minimalist approach to shopping, do your own research too. Go down the rabbit hole a bit and search for brands based on your needs or concerns—multi-use garments, natural fabrics, ethically made, plastic-free shipping, etc. There’s a solution out there that fits your style and budget. Happy shopping (or saving)!