There is this joyous thing about choice, we simply love it.
Research has shown that just the illusion of choice is enough to incite positive effects. On many levels that makes sense. Variety is virtue, but not when it comes to purchasing new things.
In a fashion industry overloaded with alternatives, choice starts to feel just like that: loaded.
Marketing studies have shown that the presence of product variety on its own creates general unhappiness, less physical stamina, reduced persistence in the face of failure and more procrastination. That is, because of the stress that comes with making decisions.
Whereas “limiting” choice – like minimalists do, turns out to improve physical and mental health, and the quality of those choices.
Enough is enough is a real thing. Renowned researcher in the field of choice Barry Schwartz coined “choice overload” and dedicated his life to researching its three big negative consequences: bad decisions, dissatisfaction, and the pains of regret.
When we have more options to choose from, we make worse decisions. Overload often makes the consumer go for the default option. Despite Zara’s 500 new SKU’s a week, it’s still the white T-shirt that sells like hot cakes.
The rationale behind bad choices is “cognitive miser”. It means that our tired brains start to compare options based on a single factor, instead of weighing all the different characteristics.
Schwartz describes choice’s relationship to satisfaction as having “diminishing marginal utility; each new option subtracts a little from the feeling of well-being, until the marginal benefits of added choice level off.” And as the options accrue, so does the time and effort spent to go through them. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and excessively high expectations – quite the opposite of being satisfied with what you got.
Finally, there is the point of regret. For example, research has shown that the pains of regret make us prefer smaller menus. We simply cannot bear the thought of lying in bed staring at the ceiling and thinking I should have taken the cheese platter.
The same applies for shoppers with sneakermania, and victims of full feeds with “bespoke boutiques”. We spend time thinking about the choices we didn’t pick. The more alternatives, the more we experience modern-day mental illness “FOMO” (fear of missing out).
The results from a study earlier this year state that regret experienced in the past negatively affect repurchasing. One bad buy really hurts our shopping feelings – for good.
Fashion understands that customers love freedom of choice – especially the feeling of being in charge.
But the current way of shopping is to follow lots of brands and influencers and be bombarded with all their fashionable ideas – without knowing what you really want. Our brains are occupied with other things and don’t like this additional unnecessary complexity.
So, the only viable solution is to relearn how to make variety work for us – not against, by changing our personal buying habits.
Minimalism is an open-door to finding middle ground. At The Minimalist Wardrobe, we identify a minimalistic wardrobe as having no excess clothing (clothes that you don't wear). We strongly believe in including only what you love and wear regularly.
To get there, you must get to know and learn to define your style into great detail: your colors, fits, silhouettes and aesthetics, but also your trusted, high-quality brands or thrift shops that you can always return to for these exact styles.
Limitation is not about small numbers, or earthy tones-only. It’s about not letting your wardrobe limit your life. Picking your go-to look for the day should be easy.
And if you know your personal style and the functional needs of your clothes to live your life, it’s not so hard to shop mindfully.
Limiting yourself, turns out to be a blessing in disguise.