Now that we’ve covered the minimalist van-dweller wardrobe for men, it’s time to focus on the ladies.
Traditional gender expectations are that women care deeply about beauty and fashion, their closets and make-up bags brimming with the latest must-haves. These ideas are changing, but still exist. My favorite example of this is Amy Schumer’s skit “Say Fine to the Shirt” — a parody of makeover shows and “Say Yes to the Dress.” When the gender roles are reversed, it’s easy to see how ridiculous it all is.
Wondering where I’m going with this?
Why This Matters for a Woman’s Van-Dweller Wardrobe
I think the hardest part of building a minimalist wardrobe is getting over the ingrained idea that more is better. By only owning a milk crate’s worth of clothes, you’re bucking the trend and sending a message. (Just like this newscaster, and this creative director.) If you’re thinking about living in a van, you probably have no problem bucking the trend anyway, right?
You can still be happy with how you look, too. As we discussed in the last post, the benefits of a minimalist wardrobe are:
- Less hassle and headache deciding what to wear everyday
- Only wearing things that you love
- Spending less money overall
Criteria for Tamara’s Van-Dweller Wardrobe
- All-Season Layers: Enough t-shirts for warm weather locations, with lots of layers because I run cold
- Activity-Appropriate: I hike, do yoga, and play tennis, but also enjoy a sit-down restaurant
- Client Meeting Attire: My work requires the occasional face-to-face client meeting or presentation, so I need a couple dressy/business casual options
- Easy-Care Fabrics: We spend a lot of time outdoors and wash in laundromats
- Quantity: We try to last between 10-14 days before needing to do laundry
Tamara’s Minimalist Wardrobe at a Glance
While these aren’t all the exact items, the colors and styles are very close to my actual wardrobe
Full Packing List / Item Descriptions
- V-neck and crew-neck cotton t-shirts (7)
- Cotton tank tops (3)
- Long-sleeve base layers (2)
- Cotton-blend cardigan
- Long-sleeve flannel shirt
- Long-sleeve chambray shirt
- Quick-dry dress — suitable for hiking or over a bathing suit
- Ankle-length cotton pants
- Cotton shorts
- Quick-dry skirt — suitable for hiking or over a bathing suit
- Convertible hiking pants — can be pants or capris
- Yoga pants
- Yoga/running capris
- Quick-dry exercise shirt — for hiking too
- Exercise shorts
- Bathing suit
- Cotton jacket
- Rain jacket / windbreaker
- Puffer jacket
- Blazer* — in a color and fabric that works with jeans or business attire
- Sleeveless shell blouse*
- Black sheath dress*
- Patent leather belt and earrings
- Black flats
- Black canvas shoes
- Leather ankle boots
- Tennis shoes
- Hiking boots
- Water shoes
- Shower flip-flops
- Baseball cap
- Bras (2)
- Sports bras (2)
- Underwear (16)
- Socks (11)
*These items break the easy-care fabric rule above, but because they get minimal wear it’s not an issue. Plus, synthetic fabrics wrinkle less easily.
What I Do With My Work Attire & Things I Don’t Bring
Because I use the work attire so rarely, I pack the blazer, slacks, blouse, sheath dress, belt and earrings in space bags that I keep under the foot of the mattress in the van. When we first started traveling by van, I had a larger collection of work attire, but I found that I really didn’t need it.
Like Chris, I keep my rarely-used clothes that would be expensive to replace in a bin in our basement. That includes a suit, another blazer, dress shoes, a couple formal dresses, snow jacket and snow pants.
What Do You Think?
What would you add, subtract or replace? I have a feeling I could probably get rid of about a quarter of this and still be OK. Also, check out Chris’ wardrobe if you haven’t already.