Going minimalist with Sophie van Daniels
This week fineyellow took a crash course in minimalist fashion with blogger & brand strategist Sophie van Daniels. Sophie reaaaaally knows her stuff. Lucky for us she shared her top tips and tricks for creating a minimalist wardrobe. Lucky for you, we wrote it all down! This interview delves into the minimal lifestyle, how you can replicate it (with pieces from fineyellow) and gets to know Sophie on a personal level.
1. Favourite animal?
Snakes. They get a bad rep. I love how they feel and the big ones are gorgeous!
I’ve even got a snake tattoo!
2. Favourite colour?
3. Favourite holiday destination?
4. Favourite film/book/tv show?
Harry Potter. Forever.
5. Have you always had an interest in fashion?
Definitely. As a child I was obsessed with those little paper dolls and outfits. I’ve always been fascinated with people’s style. I used to flick through street photographer websites during fashion week. I was obsessed with how simple pieces of clothing could stand out so much. Sometimes I wouldn’t even like what the person was wearing, but I appreciated how it looked on them. Clothing embodies personality and transports that personality to the people around you.
6. So what inspired you to start a blog?
I started uni at 19, set up the blog, and went from there. I saw so many inspiring women doing it. At the time I followed a lot of Australian bloggers who had a style similar to mine – so I thought, why not? I’m having my own go at this!
Blogging can be hard work, but I always strive for high quality content. As social media is so fast paced, it can be easier to churn out fast and irrelevant articles but I like to keep my blog close to my heart. I’m lucky enough to have the room and the time to really think about what I want to say, but sometimes I get writer’s block!
7. You’re a minimalist. Can you explain the concept to our readers?
Being minimalist means consuming differently. You don’t need wild shopping sprees and to spend money on useless things, even if it makes you feel better at that moment. If you have to spend, spend on food or something other than the clothing industry!
Overall, it’s not about the quantity of things you have, it’s the quality. But, high quality clothes that’ll last for years aren’t going to come from a low price at Zara or Primark.
8. And how did your minimalist journey begin?
I used to be a mega-minimalist, I only wore black, simple clothes. As a fashion blogger, I always felt like I needed new clothes. In the end, I actually noticed a pattern – I would get frustrated, buy things, then wear them once. Shopping just wasn’t making me happy. I realised you don’t always need the trendiest clothes from shops you don’t really want to support. So, I started shopping less and reduced my wardrobe more. I rearranged pieces I had and found new ways to wear them, nothing crazy – just different ways. I also looked for more quality basics, ones that fit well and last. This worked for me, so I started sharing it with my followers. I told them, I know you’ve seen this piece a couple of times but look how versatile it is! You’ll definitely have these pieces in your wardrobe too.
9. Why is minimalism so important to you?
Minimalism just makes life so much easier! Having a huge wardrobe and too many choices is overwhelming. You don’t even have to minimise your wardrobe, just simplify it. It’ll make your mornings a lot easier!
I’ve had some pieces for years and I still love them. I’ve had my Dr Martens since I was 16 and they’re now broken beyond repair – but I looked after them so well. I even repaired them a few times. If it breaks or has a hole, don’t throw it! Things can always be repaired!
10. What are your top tips for being minimalist?
Spending a bit more money on things like shoes and researching the brand, means they’ll likely last a long time. Now I only own essentials that I treasure ’cause I know I’ll still love them in 5 years. I discuss this with people all the time. They say I’m right but they don’t act on it! We’re sadly such a consumerist society, driven by discounts and sales like Black Friday. I think it’s awful, so I don’t participate in it anymore. Sales can be good if it’s a piece you’ve been dying to get for a while and now it’s cheaper!
Another top tip is when I add something new to my wardrobe, something old has to go – no excuses. This is the only way my wardrobe stays minimal. I rummage through and create a little section where I put neglected pieces. After three months, if I didn’t wear them once – they’re going! I’ll take them to the flea market, donate or give them away to friends. I want people to enjoy them like I did. This takes some discipline at first, but just do it.
11. What do you look for in an item of clothing?
I like shopping in person, rather than online. I like to see the item and feel the materials against my skin.
First, I’ll ask myself:
- Will I wear that with 7 different outfits?
- Do I want it because it’s in fashion right now?
- Will I wear it 30 times while I own it?
If all the answers are no, I won’t buy it.
If it matches a lot of pieces I already own and it’s seasonless, I’ll try it on. Then ’ll look at the materials, where they’re sourced and how the piece is produced.
I used to think I needed to buy things just because they were fashionable. The truth is that not everyone can pull off everything and that’s okay! So while I’m wearing it, I’ll follow my intuition. Is it making me feel confident? If yes, I’ll buy it. If you do this, soon your wardrobe will be full of pieces that make you happy and confident.
12. How would you recommend our readers get started on minimalism?
Less: A Visual Guide to Minimalism by Rachel Aust is a book I’d recommend. It’s a beautiful-looking photobook but the content is great, too. Sustainability and minimalism can be overwhelming, but this book makes it so much easier – it even includes interior tips and food recipes.
13. So how can we get started on a minimalist wardrobe? What are the essentials?
If you have these pieces, you’ll be fine:
A good blazer
I adore oversized blazers, but tailored ones work too. My favourite are vintage as they’re usually better quality. You can find good heritage brands and it’s likely that no one else will have it.
A white tee
A good organic cotton t-shirt is essential. My favourite is from German brand funktionschnitt. They produce in Portugal with only sustainable materials.
A pair of jeans
These have to fit perfectly and hug your body. I used to have denim that would leave marks because they were too tight! Clothing should be comfortable. My favourite jeans are from Kings of Indigo, they’re made from high quality sustainable materials.
These are perfect for summer and winter. They can be styled up, down. We had a pair at the fineyellow shoot which I loved! You can often find these vintage too but be careful with the material, back in the day they used to use weird uncomfortable polyester.
A trench coat
I get a lot of compliments on my trench coat. Fitted or oversized both work. Vintage is great because they have thicker material, weather resistance and you can easily brush off the stains (I just love vintage, can you tell?). Modern ones tend to be cheaper material and the dirt is hard to remove, brands just expect you to buy a new one!
A good pair of sneakers
I love a good pair of white trainers. I have a pair of Vejas, they look cool but I don’t find them all that comfortable. Honestly, I’m a sucker for my adidas sneakers but I’m still searching for my perfect white comfortable sustainable sneakers.
These can be whatever style you want, heels or flat. I love my Dr Martens but I won’t be buying a new pair as they’re produced in China now (and charge the same price!). It’s sad as these always had a special place in my heart, but I’m now trying to find an alternative.
14. What are your top picks/brands from fineyellow?
Carla Bermudas Shorts – Frisur
I think these would look great with one of my blazers in the summer or just with a t shirt and sandals. It also looks really cool on the model.
Nordic Tee White – Tauko
I love a good, high quality basic. I wore this at the shoot and it was super comfortable.
Cozy Oversized Jumper – Zue Anna
This jumper is hefty and so pretty. It looks sooo comfortable. It’s a bit pricey but with knits and jumpers I think it’s good to invest – they won’t pill and will stay looking brand new.
Ata Shirt – Frisur
This is a pop of colour, I think it’d look great with my hair! I really love Frisur; they’re modern and trendy but not crazy enough that I won’t wear them next season. Plus, the fits are great! I’d get upset when I’d have to size up in a shop but conscious brands have much better and accurate sizing which makes me super happy.
15. Let’s get personal. Who are your biggest influences?
My mum. It’s cliche but we’re so close, she’s my best friend. She has always been so supportive, when I don’t believe in myself, she does. She had a lot on her plate raising me and my two brothers, so I’m super proud of her. She’s compassionate, always tries to help and knows talking things through is important, actually my friends still come over to have coffee with her even though I have long moved to Berlin.
She even used to make me clothes when I was younger. Once, she made me a gorgeous coat and I absolutely adored it. I remember how upset I was when I grew out of it. Turns out my sense for fashion might be a family thing. I’m also really into photography, and she told me once I’d really gotten into it that she used to love it too. It’s like she’s gifted me my passions from within.
16. What’s the best advice you ever received?
In English, it’s ‘just do it!’ but that’s Nike, so maybe the German ‘einfach machen’ is better! I often overthink and worry about things for ages. Time will pass and if I’d just done it, I’d be in a better place already. So just make the decision. It’s not always the right one, but it’ll get you somewhere. Life is just a lot of trial and error.
17. What advice do you have for our readers?
Never be afraid of failing. I never get upset when I lose because I’ve tried my best and that’s fine. You can learn a lot from your mistakes, more so than if you did everything right.
18. What are you working on at the moment? What’s next for you?
At the moment, I’m doing a bit of everything. I’m a freelancer working as a brand consultant and do social media management for some companies. This is my focus at the moment. I’ve realised I’ve slightly outgrown my blog in the last couple of months, it’s not really mirroring who I am and what I stand for anymore. I want to make it more sustainable and create content that’s more informative and relevant in a longterm perspective. Oh, and I’m going to New York next month – traveling is always on my agenda!
We’d like to thank Sophie for hanging out with us this week, we had a lot of fun! If you enjoyed this interview, check out Sophie’s blog at basicapparel.de and instagram at @sophievandaniels for more info and inspo.
Are there any other bloggers & brands you’d like us to interview? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try our best!