About four years ago, I decided to start making intentional decisions surrounding my daily life. It started with my diet, I began researching ingredients and consequently eliminating processed foods. Then came the household cleaners, ridding our home chemically-based products. Then body and beauty products, I use homemade and buy products with natural ingredients.
Only recently did I realize that these “intentional decisions” were actually decluttering my life: quality food instead of boxes and bags, multi-purpose cleaners instead of a bottle for everything, minimal make-up instead of feeling like I couldn’t leave the house without a full face on. My shopping habits changed because of these decisions and slowly I started to bring less and less stuff into our home.
Because I don’t shop as often, when I do I am able to buy quality items and that’s felt really amazing. Instead of shopping for a hobby, out of boredom, or as a result of discontent I can spend our hard earned money on things I truly love or really need.
A Minimalish Wardrobe Starts with Elimination
Speaking of things I truly love or really need, that was the focus when I began paring down my closet: Keep only the pieces I truly love (aka look and feel great in!) or essential pieces.
There are soooo many ways to start eliminating pieces from your wardrobe, but I’ll share a few that have worked for me.
- The Backward Hanger: Turn all of your hangers around and over a specific amount of time (1 month, 6 months, a year?) any hanger that’s not turned around is now holding a piece that you haven’t worn and can thus be sold or donated.
- Seasonal: Using the same idea as above, somehow keep track of what you wore at the end of the season. All my SoCal friends, this doesn’t really work for you (no, you don’t actually need those cute boots!), but for everyone else who lives with different seasons, it’s easy for us to think that our wardrobes are actually minimal-ish when half of it is stored under the bed.
- Try On Every Piece: Yep, this is for one of those days when you intend to clean the bathroom but get distracted. Oftentimes we fill our closets with pieces that looked good on the rack but not on us. Or pieces that simply caught our eye but now we never wear. Or pieces that are torn, ripped, or stained. This method allows you to spend time in each piece, looking it over, looking yourself over. Don’t love it? Makes you feel bad? Toss it!
- Don’t Forget the Dresser and Accessories: That’s right, you also need to lay hands on everything in your dresser. Socks with holes, underwear with nonexistent elastic, bras that no longer fit–toss ’em. Shoes, scarves, jewelry add up as well, take a look at what you love or wear often.
I’ve pared down, now what?
Once you’ve figured out what works best for you in regards to paring items down, it’s time to start thinking about what you actually want and need in your closet. Everyone’s needs are different, but I can say without hesitation that most people have way more in their closet than they need or even wear.
So a minimalish wardrobe starts with your attitude towards clothes: Keep only what you love or need. That’s the starting block, and oftentimes wrapping your head around that concept takes awhile. Implementing it, well, that comes later.
A minimalish wardrobe doesn’t include much of the following: strictly seasonal, one-time wears (think: “I need something for this wedding” with no plans to wear later), super trendy patterns.
A Basic Wardrobe can be achieved with the following pieces
Two pair of great fitting jeans are a must. When you only buy a few pair of high quality jeans, it doesn’t matter if you then have to pay some extra cash to have them tailored so they fit you perfectly. Dark denim is a great, versatile option. And depending on the type of work you do, you may need 1-2 paris of dress pants.
Two to three skirts are essential, especially ones that can be dressed up or worn casually. Subtle, neutral patterns that can be worn year-round is the goal.
These are fun pieces to buy because, well, who doesn’t love to get fancy?! A minimal-ish wardrobe should contain no more than 4 dresses. The classic black dress is a must, another “fancy” dress for things like weddings and funerals and two casual dresses. Easy on the patterns and looks for dresses that can be worn alone in the summer or with layers in the fall and winter.
Neutral, well-fitting shirts go with anything–jeans, skirts, leggings. Some basic v-neck t-shirts in black, white, and navy are pretty priceless.
Think cardigans and button-up shirts here. Pieces that are neutral look super classy and can be dressed up or down. You’ll need the layers come fall and winter or if you work in an office with other women. Am I right?
Slip-ons in black and brown are versatile. Two paris of sandals for the summer, one pair of boots for the winter, a workout tennis shoe, and a casual tennis shoe like Keds are about all you need.
Oh boy, this could open up a can of worms. Accessories are fun, yes, but there is such a thing as too many scarves or necklaces. As a creator of scarves, I get it. They’re super cute and fun but a few (2-3) basic scarves and 2-3 simple necklaces plus a bold statement piece is about all you really need.
Now I get it, I didn’t get into things like undergarments, that legging stash, the daily yoga pant fix. I’m not here to tell you what to get rid of, we all have our “thing”. The above list is for your basic wardrobe. If you don’t have these things, but your closet is stuff to the brim maybe it’s time to go through your clothes and consider what you actual wear and what you would like to wear instead.
Bonus: 3 Ways to Stop the Influx of Clothes
- Stop Shopping. Sounds easy, but when Target is a weekly occurrence and their super cute clothes are the first thing you see, well, you get it. Fine if you need some household goods, figure out a way to keep yourself from stepping foot in that direction. Or just shop on Amazon… Do NOT go to a mall without a shopping list. Sounds silly, I know, but just like you need a list to keep from overspending at the grocery store if you don’t know what pieces you need for your wardrobe then you’ll come home with a carload of clothes.
- Love Your Clothes. When you absolutely love what you’re wearing and know you look good, you won’t be tempted to buy that piece you saw on Miss Fancy yesterday. Confidence is a great thing to have, but it can also keep you from feeling inadequate in what you’ve got on.
- Know Your Style. Part of building a basic and beautiful wardrobe is knowing what you like, if you don’t know what you like or what looks good on your body you’ll have all sorts of stuff you don’t wear! But knowing your style will also help narrow your focus and the Bohemian-style poncho that Hip Kate rocked last year won’t tempt you if that’s not actually something you’d love.