How to ‘Self-Fashion’ Like a Minimalist

3 mediums for self-expression that don’t involve buying more stuff.

Katie Martin


Photo by Marcelo Chagas from Pexels

As a young kid, I sported a bowl cut and spent much of my time in a gym playing basketball. My peers had their hair in bows and barrettes and I was sent to school in mostly t-shirts and sneakers. Before long, I wanted what they had. I wanted so bad to be cute.

Instead, my style said “gym rat.”

Me, on the left, circa 2000 | Photo by Author

One summer I went to the mall with my grandma and cried and cried until she bought me a purple shirt with pom-poms on the front. It said “CHEER!” and was the exact opposite of everything I knew and did.

I was never signed up for cheerleading, but still I was appeased.

Identity and Self-Fashioning

What I was experiencing then was a newly developed sense of identity. No longer was I content to be dressed in gym clothes because I had an opinion about how I wanted to be seen in the world (of my 2nd grade classroom). My mall outburst was one of my first actions in shaping that.

I was self-fashioning.

In his book titled Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, Stephen Greenblatt introduces the concept of self-fashioning by writing:

“Fashioning may suggest the achievement of a less tangible shape: a distinctive personality, a characteristic address to the world, a consistent mode of perceiving and behaving.”

Greenblatt wrote that self-fashioning behaviors increased in 16th century England due to changes in intellectual, social, psychological, and aesthetic structures. The upper classes began self-fashioning in a way that ranged from wearing the finest clothing to being well-versed in literature, art, sports, and other interests that reflected their nobility.

In short, the individual became an art form itself.

Shaping My Sense of Self