The Fibers You Need in a Minimalist Wardrobe

35 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes, 3 bags

I am obsessed with the quality of the fabrics in my minimalist wardrobe. If you have a small wardrobe, it is very likely you wear each of your items of clothing often. You need to purchase items that are resilient, as they will get washed a lot. It is valuable to have an idea of the qualities of different fibers to make informed decisions and ensure the durability of what you purchase.

As a general rule, natural fibers require more care but are more durable, practical and comfortable. Synthetic fibers, especially those with elastane in them, are more likely to warp with wear and time.

Here is a very basic guide to the most common natural and synthetic fabrics you are likely to come across while shopping.

Cotton is a fiber created from a family of plants called Malvaceae. The cotton fiber grows as a casing around the seeds of these plants. Cotton is spun to create a breathable fabric that has been utilised by humans for thousands of years. Cotton is excellent for hot conditions as well as layers that create warmth.

Linen is a fiber that originates from the flax plant. Linen fiber is thick and has a textured quality, though it is still light and breathable. Linen has similar qualities to that of cotton, though it is more labour intensive to produce and can therefore be more expensive.

Silk is a fiber created by some insects that form cocoons. Silk is extremely light and soft, and reflects light to create a shimmering effect. Silk is a lightweight luxury for those who live in warm climates. While it is often expensive, it is a worthy investment.

Wool describes a variety of fibers which come from most commonly sheep, though also come in the form of mohair and cashmere from goats, angora from rabbits and other varieties from other hoofed beasts. Wool is extremely resilient, and perfect for cold weather as it insulates from both cold and moisture.


Cat Jeffries guarding cashmere and cotton knits


Viscose (or Rayon) is a semi-synthetic fiber manufactured from wood pulp. Viscose is a lower cost alternative to completely natural fibers. Viscose is most commonly made into light, breathable items of clothing and is most appropriate for warm weather.

Elastane is a synthetic fiber valued for its elasticity. On its own it can be quite restrictive and uncomfortable, though when added to other fibers such as cotton or viscose, can add a stretch while remaining comfortable.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber used very commonly in a lot of contemporary clothing. It can be used to mimic natural fibers such as cotton and silk. Polyester does not have the breathability of the fabrics it mimics. It is however excellent for producing water resistance in outerwear.

Acrylic is another synthetic fiber, though finer than polyester. It is often used to mimic natural fibers such as wool, and is quite commonly seen in knitwear. Acrylic knits lack the insulative qualities that real wools do.


Know your fabrics, and choose them well. Having a couple of wool knit layers and a polyester moisture resistant layer can make all the difference during a cold winter. Likewise, you want to stick to breathable silks and cottons rather than sweat producing polyester in hot climates.



  1. This made me think back to a college class from 20 years ago. Those nomadic tribes in the African desert dressed in head-to-toe black? Wool. Apparently, it keeps them cool when it’s 125 deg F outside.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. More than the fibre itself, watch how you care for it.
    If you can bring yourself to invest in it, hand wash your items, and let them line dry. You will see years and decades added to your wardrobe.

    (I have clothing that my mother wore in HER highschool days. In 1957! Can you say, “authentic vintage”… LOL!)

    Look at the lint you collect from your automatic clothes dryer. That is your clothes disintegrating. And you PAY for the heat to dry these items, too!

    Something to think about…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post thank you! Im now getting into Merino wool for its ability to insulate in the cold and wick sweat in humid climates. It also has antibacterial qualities. Just bought my first Merino wool socks, boxer shorts, tshirt and long sleeve shirt as my companions for long term travel ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I cleaned out my wardrobe in January and go rid of most of my clothing that don’t breathe. I’m slowly starting to replace a lot of my items, especially underwear, camis, socks and gym clothes to more breathable as these are items I regularly wear. It makes such a difference to how I feel and even the quality of the clothing is so much more durable. They’re always a bit more expensive but I’m sure I’ll save the money in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s