Does Plus Size Minimalism Exist?

I’m a size 16 and a 35yo full time professional. I want to embrace a minimalistic wardrobe but every blog I find about minimalism is written by someone young and skinny without a real job. Is it possible to be minimalist when you don’t fit in Rick Owens or look good in leather leggings? Can a fat grown ass woman be a minimalist?

I LOVE YOUR LAST QUESTION! Let’s get straight to the point! And the answer is YES. YES WE FAT GROWN ASS WOMEN CAN BE MINIMALISTS! And so can us grown ass tall women, short women, slim women, curvy women, and everything in between. Minimalism isn’t Isabel Marant wedge sneakers and Rick Owens. Minimalism is a concept, and a concept that can work with any size AND any personal style.

plus size minimalism capsule wardrobe fall winter
Scroll and Shop Similar Looks:

This pared-down capsule is of all plus sized pieces (and quick vent to plus size retailers, I know your clothes look better on a model but us bloggers and magazine editors would love the pieces on a white background sans bodies for collages like this, please do it more often and we’d feature you more often!). Simple pieces, simple color palette, styles that won’t be passé in a year. It may not be Rick Owens, but it can provide you with outfits appropriate for a Business Casual office as well as an outside of work life.

One thing to consider with minimalism is quality. The fewer pieces you own, the more often they will be worn. Not only that, you want a piece to last more than one or two seasons, you want to build a life wardrobe. There’s been many an article in the past year (like this one and this one) about how plus size women won’t drop money on designer clothes and more often than not women say their reason is because they feel it’s not a worthy investment. Either they feel they won’t stay this size, or they don’t feel their current body deserves expensive clothes. If you want to pare down and have a minimalistic wardrobe, the only way to be successful is to buy the best you can within your budget. The best quality, the best construction, and befriend a tailor for the best fit. Quality, not quantity.

Minimalism fashion blogs… well all us blogs that spew fashion advice have a bias to a certain aesthetic or body type, usually their own. It’s hard to provide advice for that which you are not familiar. We hope to inspire, to get you to start thinking in a slightly different manner and find your own answer.

When I think of a blogger who inspires me with her minimalism discussions yet has a different personal style from me, I think of Grechen at Grechen's Closet. While we’re not that different in age, we live in different parts of the country, have different jobs, different home lives, different body types, and different personal styles. Yet I read her posts on minimalism and always get ideas, inspiration, and aha moments.

Another blogger that inspires me to think smaller in regards to wardrobe is Janice at The Vivienne Files. Her choices aren’t always what I’d wear, but she makes me think about what I already own, how to restyle it with different colors, different accessories, give my current pieces new life, and how to be more choosy with what I buy in the future. Her advice is the type that can benefit anyone, regardless of age, figure, or personal style.

I also gain insight from personal style bloggers who may not embrace minimalism but either have a similar shape as me, or have a similar lifestyle. Even if we don’t have the same personal style, through them I learn about new brands that may better offer what I’m looking for, but also they have me think about pieces in my wardrobe more differently, seeing versatility I never saw before.

While I don’t post my outfit every day here on Wardrobe Oxygen, I show most of my outfits on Instagram. Photographing my outfits and being able to see quickly in a grid on my phone what I wear, what I gravitate towards, and what I enjoy most has helped me greatly in minimizing my wardrobe. While I may have purchased the prettiest blouse ever, I may never wear it because it’s too complex. However, I’ll see how I can style my cream cable knit sweater in five different ways without tiring of it or how I was really lacking a pair of pointed toe ankle boots in my closet. Use yourself for inspiration, take a step back, examine your wardrobe but also your personal style with a fresh eye and see how your can start achieving minimalism with what you already own and enjoy.

As usual, I rambled on and on but my point is YES FAT GROWN ASS WOMEN CAN BE MINIMALISTS! You can do whatever the hell you want fashion wise, you can make it work, but you may have to look harder for inspiration. But I do believe the best inspiration is yourself. Trust your gut, know your life, and dress the part. Keep me posted on your journey!

44 Comments

  1. Tashia Graham
    August 11, 2017 / 11:38 am

    I’m really feeling a minimalist wardrobe for fall and would love an update of this one 🙂

  2. Plain Jane
    August 28, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Can anyone please tell me the names of the items in the above picture?

    I’m starting my capsule fall wardrobe for the fall.

    Thank you.

    • August 29, 2016 / 9:29 am

      Do you mean the exact brands or descriptions for similar pieces? This post was written a couple years ago so these exact items will no longer be available in stores. A few descriptions:
      – Dress is fit and flare style (fit at waist and fuller skirt), and a wrap style (wraps across the bodice, often an actual wrap style dress like a bathrobe)
      – The two pieces below it are tunics
      – The pants are ponte knit, which is a tightly woven heavyweight knit that can look professional but is very comfortable. A straight or slight bootcut is well liked for balancing a larger upper body but is subtle enough for the workplace.
      – The jeans are skinny jeans, but the trend is getting fuller so these could be replaced with straight or slight/baby bootcut jeans
      – The skirt is a midi length (knee to calf), and gathered
      – The black drapey/crossover top is often called a surplice top
      – The blazer is also of ponte knit to make a suit or wear on its own
      – A pointed toe flat will elongate the figure
      – The boot is called a Chelsea boot
      – The bag is the Rebecca Minkoff… I think Moto Satchel. It’s a satchel style bag.

      Hope that helps!

      • Plain Jane
        August 29, 2016 / 10:09 pm

        Thanks so much!!! All this helps a lot.
        Love your blog.

  3. Lynn
    December 7, 2014 / 9:35 am

    My daughter is minimalist because she hates shopping for clothes, and doesn’t enjoy spending time deciding what to wear. A large busted size 16 and barely 5′, little in the shops really fits well. Her wardrobe comprises 5 dresses, 2 cardigans, a belt, a scarf, a necklace, a coat, a pair of boots and a few pairs of shoes. As well as dresses fitting better than separates, they require little co-ordination and provide plenty of variety in style and color. So often the outfits put together from larger capsule wardrobes of separates look ‘samey’. The main problem with this minimal wardrobe is that the items tend to look washed up and worn out fairly quickly, so buying better quality is important. There is no reason why larger women cannot be as minimalist as slimmer women, if they are confident in what they want to wear.

  4. November 15, 2014 / 11:06 pm

    I’m a size 16 and have been doing a 35 piece capsule wardrobe for the past three months…and I’m loving it! Plus sized women can be minimalists for sure!!!

  5. November 12, 2014 / 7:02 pm

    I am totally inspired to clean out and organize my closet. I don’t think I can use the “but I just moved” excuse anymore since it was 15 months ago!

  6. Aimee
    November 12, 2014 / 6:15 pm

    Once in awhile, I get on this kick where I want to have a very minimalist closet. I never really accomplish the goal although I give it a good try. Somehow I always end up junking up my closet again with, well—junk. So once again I am inspired to buy quality pieces and to really think about what I am doing before making a purchase. I actually have a pretty good grasp on a minimalist fall/winter closet. It’s the summer and spring that gets me. Everything out there just seems cheaply made and does not look good on me. I really hate how I look all summer long! It’s too hot to wear anything tailored and nice. One day I hope to figure that out.

    • November 13, 2014 / 9:31 pm

      I go from tailored classic with a bit of a rocker vibe in winter to boho style in the summer because I feel you on how hard it is to look polished in the summer. I’ve just accepted the fact that my wardrobe has multiple personalities!

  7. GoddessMel
    November 11, 2014 / 6:24 pm

    Love, love, love this question and your response Allie! I too am struggling with this issue. I’m an Australian size 16-20 (yep, it varies that much between labels and styles), 157cm / 5 foot 1 inch, no kids and a full-time government job. While my office doesn’t have a strict dress code I’m required to look professional and neat for work. My ‘down time’ attire has been pushed aside and mostly consisted of unflattering shorts or jeans and easy t-shirts, or the ubiquitous black tube maxi that did nothing to flatter my frame. Since trying to reduce my spending, and my wardrobe, I’ve been heavily inspired by your blog (and my Angie over at You Look Fab) to find versatile items that I can wear for multiple purposes. This post has reiterated that and given me even more handy hints. Thanks so much Allie 🙂

  8. Helen
    November 11, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    Thank you for this post! It made me post my first comment, and I’m the type of blog reader that normally hides in the shadows and keep quiet. 🙂
    I’ve recently started playing with minimalism in my wardrobe and I’m on my second turn on Project 333. I love this post, and your blog over all, I’ve learned a lot about style and quality from you since I discovered your blog this summer. Thank you so much!
    Now I have a quality question for you about knits. I’m a student in my thirties, a casual girl (studying to be a teacher for the after school program) but I like to look grown up and put together and my go to look is nice jeans, a short sleeved top and a v-neck cardigan. I usually buy cotton/lycra cardigans, because any kind of wool (and some fuzzy acrylics) makes me itch like crazy, so I can’t wear even a mix with as little as 5% wool or angora in it directly on my skin. But cotton knits wears out and looks bad really quick… Or have I just been buying too cheap? What material should I look for? Do you have any suggestion? And I would very, very much appreciate it if it’s a mix if you could give the proportions, I’m from Sweden and textile words are too tricky for google translate (I still haven’t really figured out what ponte might be called here, for example!). Thank you in advance!

  9. terezib
    November 11, 2014 / 2:10 pm

    sigh…the “Similar Looks” on the scroll below look NOTHING like your examples. The pants are wide-legged (elephant leg pants) not skinny, no cute short sleeved dress like the one you show…they’re the usual “fat woman” clothes, not stylish.

    • November 11, 2014 / 2:15 pm

      Here’s the link to the original Polyvore set: http://www.polyvore.com/fall_winter_pared_down_plus/set?id=138360637 I make the collages before I look for similar pieces, my goal with these capsules is to give an idea. I didn’t even used to share similar links because the goal is never to be literal with a capsule concept but find your own look. And the pants in my similar links are the Taylor suiting pants from Halogen, I have a pair and they’re a clean classic silhouette and not at all elephant legs.

  10. November 11, 2014 / 1:57 pm

    I have to disagree with showing clothing items on a white background–I don’t think it’s that wonderfully helpful. Even in your blogs and in the magazines, I really want to see the clothes on people…but real sized people and many differently shaped ones!! I like to see how the item drapes and pulls as opposed to being 2-dimensional!

    • November 11, 2014 / 1:59 pm

      I hate when online shops only have the item and no model, I agree with you about needing the drape and see the fit. But for collages and concept pieces having the body makes it hard to make the image, it can be distracting. I often contact brands asking for high-res images in white backgrounds for my collages and it seems the smaller sizes have them and the plus size brands never do. I think it’s helpful to have both for different purposes, and having a photographer husband I know it won’t be too much of an investment 🙂

      • Kathryn Braun Fenner
        November 11, 2014 / 2:12 pm

        I want both when I buy–too often the model is contorted, so while I like seeing how the item moves, I still want to check the silhouette. I love that Lands’ End gives actual product dimensions now. From my eBay shopping, I have determined what dimensions work for me, and knee length on me is mid-calf for most, say.

        • November 11, 2014 / 2:22 pm

          Yes!!! The dimensions would be so helpful for online shopping! Allie, will you get on this and make all the shops do this? ha ha!

  11. Kathryn Braun Fenner
    November 11, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    Love this, Allie. I follow Gretchen now, too, thanks to your link, but she ADORES Everlane, which stops at a ridiculously tiny size. I wrote them about it, and got back a polite response about keeping manufacturing costs down–without acknowledging the point I made in my letter that the AVERAGE American woman is too big for their clothes! James Perse is a tad better, but still…. Her Minimalist Closet, though, is indeed inspiring. She led me to Jennifer L. Scott’s TEDx talk on the Ten Item Wardrobe, inspired by her time living with a “chic” French family. I will have more than ten pieces, but her book has inspired me to “step up my game” in terms of quality of life and wardrobe!
    I also recommend Marie Kondo’s book for anyone in search of joyful minimalism in wardrobe and life.
    You are the best source of practical advice, though. Keep on bloggin’

    • November 11, 2014 / 2:01 pm

      Everlane contacted me wanted to send me some merchandise and I sent them an email about their lack of sizes and how I and most of my readers wouldn’t fit in their clothes. I got a similar response and they sent me their Weekender tote and a wallet for Karl. Very nice, but it would be nicer if they recognized that the average American woman is a size 12 so larger sizes can equal larger number of sales! As an aside, I worked with LiveTheLook.com and told them their sizes weren’t broad enough and they just shared that they now go up to an 18 thanks to my feedback. So keep on giving feedback, some brands do listen!

      • Kathryn Braun Fenner
        November 11, 2014 / 2:03 pm

        I really love their style and quality ethos. Stupid short-sightedness. I mean just a couple more sizes and a huge market would open up!

        • November 11, 2014 / 2:06 pm

          You never know, as they grow in popularity they may grow their line. I hope so, they completely fit my personal style and blog direction!

          • Kathryn Braun Fenner
            November 11, 2014 / 2:09 pm

            Mine, too!

          • Kathryn Braun Fenner
            November 11, 2014 / 2:10 pm

            It would be, um,….if you could find Everlane clones for a post. 😉

  12. Not Impressed
    November 11, 2014 / 1:38 pm

    I think it’s really fucked up that to shop the similar looks I need to turn off my ad blocker. Greedy.

    • Mallory
      November 12, 2014 / 12:59 pm

      Unless you’re willing to cut Allie a cheque for her style advice, you get ads, that’s how free stuff on the internet works. Chill out.

  13. Kp
    November 11, 2014 / 12:34 pm

    Check out And I Get Dresses. She is not a minimalist, but some of her looks are.

  14. Carrie
    November 11, 2014 / 11:24 am

    So here’s a question for you ladies – how do you ladies keep your wardrobes pared down as fashion bloggers? I’m not a blogger but I’m a fashion aficionado and half my reader is filled with fashion blogs. Then there’s my inbox – daily emails with links to fabulous clothes ALL. The. Time. How do you ladies resist the constant temptation? My guess is that the answer comes down to quality and is there a need in your closet. But for me, I have the mindset of “I can’t have too many flattering shirts” or “I’m kind of loving this right now.” Make sense?

    • November 11, 2014 / 11:32 am

      1. Unsubscribe. That was the best thing I ever did for my style was to pare down the inbox. It’s so easy to justify it being ONLY X price. I mean, i still do it on occasion but not as often.
      2. Put it in the virtual shopping cart and come back three days later. If you still LURVE it, then try to make it work with three things you already own for legit outfits you would wear.
      3. Learn from history. Don’t forget those purchases you made that you swore would change your style and wardrobe. Write about them, photograph them, remember how that money was lost or how hard you worked to style it.
      4. Stop with the more of the same. A couple years ago I bought a drop-pleat skirt from Talbots that was so pretty, so flattering, and so six months later I owned 8 skirts of the same style. And I still only wore the Talbots one because none of the others were ever quite as magical. Just because a cut or color is a good thing doesn’t mean you need to binge buy. Things lose their magic when they’re not unique any more. Nothing wrong with having signature pieces (easier on the mind than being fewer), being known for wearing that amazing dress to weddings, how well you style that phenomenal leather jacket, and how your single pair of jeans just seems to be custom made for you with a better fit each time you don them.
      5. Create a mantra, create a list, and stick to them. Style comes from quality, not quantity!

      • Carrie
        November 11, 2014 / 12:43 pm

        BRB, I’m going to print this out and put it on my wall. Thanks!

      • Kathryn Braun Fenner
        November 11, 2014 / 1:59 pm

        Bridgette Raes (another link from you) calls those duplicates you never wear benchwarmers. You always wear your favorites before you wear these.
        Sorting your closet thoroughly can help you identify what is a benchwarmer.

        • Kathryn Braun Fenner
          November 11, 2014 / 2:14 pm

          I get suckered into buying another when something that is hard to fit on me, like pants, works–but then my body or lifestyle or taste changes….I love NYDJ, too, thanks to you, and they seem to have a consistent product line, so…

  15. November 11, 2014 / 10:35 am

    Thanks for the mention! I think it’s important for us ALL to embrace a more minimalist approach to shopping and getting dressed, insofar as minimalism is a focus on personal expression, high quality, and trying our darndest to have a more modest effect on the environment and on our fellow women who sew “fast fashion” in deplorable conditions. You, Gretchen and I should be proud of what we’re accomplishing, and press on into the future with the same bright ideas!
    big hug,
    Janice

  16. greedygrechen
    November 11, 2014 / 9:14 am

    oh my gosh! thank you so much for mentioning me, i’m honored 🙂
    i get so frustrated when i hear people say that certain sizes, income levels, body types, etc., can’t be “minimalists” – as if there’s ONE way to be a minimalist. but like you said, minimalism is what you make it, it’s what fits your lifestyle, your body, and makes you feel “right.” not what anyone else says it is.

    i get it though, because there’s a perception that you have to have a certain body type to dress “minimally” – and that’s because most of the minimalist designers seem to produce more for tall, straight body types, and their lookbooks, etc., always reflect that aesthetic.

    but don’t forget that minimalism essentially is just about having fewer more meaningful things, it doesn’t mean you have to dress all in one or two colors. again, it’s what you make of it.

    • November 11, 2014 / 10:44 am

      Amen! Ack clicked submit too quickly! I love your posts on minimalism because they’re not about some ideal of minimalism, but what works for you. I think a feminine romantic, a quirky artsy type, a prep, a punk, we can all be minimalists if we just analyze our closets and lifestyles more carefully!

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