How To Create a Minimalist Wardrobe
Minimalism doesn’t have to be a scary topic! Although minimizing can be challenging, I’m sharing some easy steps to follow in order to minimize your wardrobe!
Minimizing your wardrobe is one of the more challenging areas to minimize, in my experience. It’s so easy to attach memories to articles of clothing, which causes us to hold onto things for the sake of relishing the memory.
There is a way to find a balance though, but as with everything, minimalism takes intentionality and practice.
10 Steps To a Minimalist Wardrobe
Step 1: Set it all out
Remove all of your clothes from your closet, including undergarments/sleepwear/ seasonal wear, etc
Step 2: Choose Your Undergarments
These are typically the easiest for people to “let go of” so this is a great place to start!
If you DON’T wear socks every day, I recommend keeping about 5 pairs. If you DO wear socks every day, keep about 10 pairs of socks.
Underwear – Pick your favorite 7-10 pairs of underwear and set the others aside in a “DISCARD” pile. Only keep the underwear that is the most comfortable and enjoyable for you to wear.
Step 3: Pick Out Special Occasion Outfits
Create 2-5 “special occasion” outfits. IE – SO’s annual Christmas party / Gala or other formal event & set those outfits aside. These are outfits you will keep regardless of your donation items because everyone needs at least ONE formal wear outfit.
Step 4: Sort Off-Season Clothing
Create a “keep pile”, a “discard pile” and a “maybe pile“.
Start with your Off-season items (if it’s presently winter, start with your summer clothes.) You will be able to sort through items you aren’t presently wearing with less bias.
Pick up each item, starting with bottoms, then tops, summer dresses, etc. and ask yourself the following questions:
Do I feel confident when I wear this?
Are these flattering on my body?
How often do I wear these?
If your answer to the first 2 is no, and the last is “rarely or never”, place this in a discard pile. If you’re really not sure because the first 2 answers are “yes” but the last answer is “never”, place this into a maybe pile.
If you run into trouble putting something in the discard pile, ask yourself the following questions:
Why do I want to keep this? (if you answer just in case, place this in the discard pile)
Why am I struggling to let this go? (answers may vary quite a bit here, but I have found when I’m struggling to let something go, I have typically been attaching my identity to owning that item: ex, I might not want to discard a Michael Kors bag because that’s a nice brand, but in reality I never use the bag and I don’t like how it looks, etc. In that case, place the item in the discard pile)
Does this item hold sentimental value?
Remind yourself that EVEN IF you place this item in the discard pile right now, you still have the freedom to withdraw the item later. So for now, place it in the discard pile and move on.
Step 5: Sort In-Season Clothing
Move on to IN SEASON items and repeat step # 4 until all of your items have been sorted into a keep pile and into a discard pile.
Step 6: Curate Your Wardrobe
This step is just as important as the sorting steps. Once you’ve picked out the items you want to keep and the ones you want to get rid of, there may be some essential pieces you feel like you’re lacking, such as a white button up, simple undershirts, etc.
In this step, assess your wardrobe, what you have kept, and what you still need. This is when you can give yourself the liberty to “shop” for those items you still would like, slowly, but surely, building up the perfect minimalist wardrobe.
Some basic must-have pieces for ME, include the following:
Bottoms: High Rise Skinny Jeans, Mid Rise Skinny Jeans, Black Pants, Wide Leg Pants
Tops: White Button Up, White-Tee, Grey & Black Scoop Necks, Striped Top, Floral Top
Outerwear: Jean Jacket, Cardigan, Trench Coat
Shoes: Nude Heels, Black Heels, Booties, Sneakers, Flats
In general, I like to keep items that can each be worn with everything. This means picking tops that go with all of my bottoms, and so on. Practically speaking, this means my wardrobe is filled with basic pieces in neutral tones, which I’m more than happy with. I do occasionally add in trendy pieces, but in general, I stick with the classics.
Your “perfect wardrobe” may look very different from this, but I encourage you to think about the key pieces you would like to complete your wardrobe, and slowly but surely add those in. I’ve been practicing minimalism since 2015 and there are still some pieces, such as nude & black heels, that I still don’t have because I haven’t found the perfect pair yet. I only just recently purchased a trench coat from Thred-Up, after searching for one for a year… and I love it! Moral of the story – it’s okay to not have a “complete” wardrobe right away. Holding out for the pieces that you truly want will end up making you happier in the long run.
Step 7: Choose Your Accessories
Now it’s time to sort through your accessories including shoes, handbags, hats, scarves, and so on.
Apart from seasonal and special wear shoes (rainboots, snowboots, tennis shoes, etc), keep about 2-5 pairs of dress shoes (less if you rarely dress up/more if you frequently dress up), and about 3-6 pairs of everyday shoes.
Start by setting aside your top 3 most worn shoes. Then pick 3 others that you like to wear often, but less often than your top 3. Pick 2-5 pairs of dress shoes, then place everything else in a discard pile.
When it comes to minimizing your handbags, hats, scarves, etc, I try to sort through these items seasonally, keeping only the ones that I really enjoy and donating the others!
Step 8: Konmari-Method
Place your “Keep” items back into your closet. If you use drawers, use the KONMARI method to fold your clothes. I’ve tried multiple folding methods and folding the Konmari way is by far my favorite! If you hang your clothes, it may help to sort them by color, placing the lightest color near the front of your closet, and the darkest color near the back of your closet. This is how I sort my closet and it makes the act of getting dressed a breeze!
Step 9: Let Go!
Look at your revitalized closet and rejoice these should be only items and outfits that you love. Now look at your discard pile items and rejoice that these clothes served you well while they were in your care. Now it’s time for them to serve someone else who can enjoy them.
If you’re struggling and are tempted to withdraw an item, remember that almost everything can be re-purchased if you TRULY regret donating it. If it’s a sentimental item, consider why you might be holding onto this… and practice the art of letting go. I do keep some sentimental items such as some of my granny’s shirts, which I inherited when she passed away. I truly love wearing these items and at this point, I can never see myself letting go of them, and I feel okay about that.
Other sentimental items, I have let go of, such as concert T-shirts, etc. Initially, I feared that giving these items away would make me lose the memory, but I still have all my memories AND a cleaner closet, so it all worked out It’s okay for it to sting a little bit when you give things away – this means you’re growing as a human!
After you donate these clothes, you will feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
“It’s okay for it to sting a little bit when you give things away – this means you’re growing as a human!”
Step 10: Maximize Your Minimalist Wardrobe
I recently discovered an app called “Cladwell” after seeing it pop up on my facebook feed time and time again. Eventually, I got curious and downloaded it, and I love it!
Cladwell has helped me get the most out of my wardrobe by showing me thousands of different ways each article of clothing can be worn! It’s not only helped me get creative with my wardrobe, it’s made my wardrobe feel 10X time bigger than it actually is.
Avoid listening to busy music or watching TV while minimizing. It’s best to minimize in silence so you can hear yourself think and give your brain the space it needs to grow.
Minimize in the mornings! Typically people feel more refreshed and motivated in the mornings, and feel ready for a “clean slate” and a new start to the day. If you’re more of a night owl and clean better at night, then save this until night time to get the most out of it!
Learn how to fold the Konmari way here.
The Maybe Pile / 3 Months Rule: If you have some items that you aren’t sure whether or not you want to keep them, place them in a “maybe” pile – this pile will be stored in a box in a closet other than your primary closet for THREE MONTHS. If three months have passed and you haven’t missed anything, donate the box. DO NOT OPEN THE BOX and go through everything again – this will only cause you to want to keep everything all over again. Just trust your decision from 3 months ago, and move on. Donate the box as soon as you can!
The Re-Gifting Box: I have a small box in a closet that is specifically to re-gift. *Note small – I don’t let this box become a source of clutter* These are items that I receive as gifts or items I receive for free that would make a perfect gift. Anytime it’s someone’s birthday or there’s a holiday, I search through the box for a gift that this person may like. It’s a good opportunity to give someone a gift they can use while saving money since you don’t have to buy a newer item.