Wednesday, 2 March 2016

What the Minimalist Wardrobe and Translation Specialisms Have In Common

There is a good reason why successful women like Matilda Kahl, art director from New York, wear the same thing to work every day: she never stresses about what to wear, she is more efficient at work, and she always looks and feels great.

As I’m paring down my closet more and more to a select number of items, I’ve noticed some baffling similarities between the minimalist wardrobe and translation specialisms. Over time, I’ve carefully minimized my translation specialisms so they now only include patent specifications in a few select fields and contracts; everything else I turn down.

What do the minimalist wardrobe and translation specialisms have in common?

Minimalist wardrobe principle 1:
Toss out any pieces of clothing you don’t feel comfortable wearing.

I’ve figured out, for example, that I hate wearing black. I always had to wear black in my job as a funeral organist 20 years ago – and I didn’t like it back then either. It’s taken me quite some time to figure that out. So I’ve started tossing out (most) black pieces of clothing.

Similarly, it’s taken me quite some time to figure out there are subject areas I would neither enjoy nor feel comfortable with. For example, I’d hate having to translate a novel. Some subject areas – such as electrical engineering or chemistry – I am even terrified of! So I give them a wide berth.


A minimalist wardrobe will help you to always look great and feel great.

Minimalist wardrobe principle 2:
Know what flatters you.

Minimizing your wardrobe involves identifying what flatters you in terms of style, materials, colours, and patterns. Buying new clothes consequently becomes a piece of cake as you already know exactly what to look out for.



Similarly, identifying a translation specialism allows you to be highly selective when sifting through a pile of new job enquiries; you can decide quickly which translations are and which aren’t for you. A specialism will not just make your website look attractive, but also make you look good.

Minimalist wardrobe principle 3:
Create a capsule wardrobe.

The only thing Matilda Kahl had to do to create her iconic work uniform was to buy 15 identical silk white shirts and a few black trousers. A capsule wardrobe includes timeless, versatile pieces that you love to wear. It is the definition of your personal style.

Similarly, just as a capsule wardrobe can greatly boost your public image, the specialisms that translators acquire and become known for often turn into their brand. And not only are these translators conversant with their subject areas, they also usually love their specialisms!

Just as there is a good reason why successful people wear the same thing every day, it makes sense to pick a translation specialism: you never stress about what types of texts to accept, you are more efficient at work, and you feel great about having that specialism!

Links to articles on the minimalist wardrobe:

- Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day (by Matilda Kahl)
- 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day  (by Joshua Becker)
- Minimalist Wardrobe (on Simple not Plain, a how-to blog on minimalist living)