Building a Minimalist Wardrobe
I'm sure most of us are not lucky enough to have jobs that let us show up in our pajamas or underwear (or nothing at all, for the exhibitionists of the world). Expansive wardrobes stuffed to the point of bursting with different options can lead to a "nothing to wear" feeling that stems from decision fatigue. Before I was a minimalist, I was one of those people with an expansive wardrobe but could miraculously never find anything to wear. In this post, I'm going to share my tips for creating a minimalist wardrobe that will alleviate decision fatigue and that "nothing to wear" feeling.
I find that a lot of "minimalist" wardrobe blog posts (and even books) fall into the trap of assuming some set number of items will work for everyone, kind of like a broad-spectrum prescription. I'm very much not of that mindset. I don't have a wardrobe that fits the "Project 333" model, or "only 10 items" model. I have a wardrobe that's realistic for my job and my season-specific needs while still being adaptable and minimalistic in nature. I follow a few core tenets when I feel the need to revamp, change, or add to my wardrobe.
Four Core Tenets of a Minimalist Wardobe
- The most important aspect of successfully building a minimalist wardrobe is to stay true to your style. It doesn't matter if your style is t-shirt and jeans, tunics and leggings, or dresses and tights. Whatever it is, don't let the tired advice of seeking out "classic", "timeless", or "neutral" pieces distract you from what's already proven to work for you. Personally, "classics" like pencil skirts and "neutrals" like brown and tan don't work for me; but give me a form-fitting, short dress in black or a funky print and I'll rock it all day and night.
- Slow down and buy for quality because the investment in high-quality, "slow fashion" pieces will pay for itself in practically no time. Before I bought for quality, I was buying cheaper stuff that would wear out quickly. Working at a hospital and running around constantly, cheap leggings would last a month tops, and cheap shoes would wear out in 2-3 months. Buying for quality now, I've been wearing the same favorite dress-leggings-and-boots combo weekly for two years and they're all still going strong.
- Only buy what you absolutely love, and use clothes you have and love already to inform decisions to buy anything new. I might
be boring, but I like to wear the same things over and over when I feel
good in them and they look good on me. I used to make the mistake of buying just anything that was "close enough" to what I liked already and ultimately would get rid of it all after a couple of months because "close enough" usually did not equate to "good enough". Bonus tip: If I'm on the fence about buying a particular kind of item new (I'm usually not much of a sweater person), I'll try to find it secondhand at an upscale resale shop. I've found a couple of "keeper" pieces this way, like a cozy black cardigan and a cute oversized sweater.
- When curating/culling your wardrobe, keep the amount that's right for you; the "right" amount of anything is going to be determined by very personal factors and not by lists of 10 or 33 or 100 items. There's no shame in only having 10 items in your wardrobe if that's what works for you; nor is there shame in having 100 items in your wardrobe if that's what you need to feel happy. And in case you're wondering, no, I don't count socks/tights/undergarments in this equation. I do believe that good undergarments go a long way toward great outfits, but I don't count bras, socks, panties, or tights as wardrobe items.
And that's about it when it comes to my two cents on how to create or curate a minimalist wardrobe. My personal wardrobe is small compared to most, but after years of culling-revamping-purging over and over, I finally decided to stick only to my favorite pieces and leave it at that. Let's face it... typically we don't feel great in garments that aren't our favorites, so why do we keep anything that we don't love and feel great in? A minimalist wardrobe might be the last thing standing between you and wardrobe bliss. Play dress-up, have fun, and ditch anything that doesn't serve you. You deserve 24/7 fabulousness!
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