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My Minimalist Wardrobe that Functions

by Bethany

One of my goals for 2019 was to create a personal uniform. A look that is just mine and works for me. Something that feels easy to reach for in the morning. 

This goal was harder to reach than I thought. Mostly because I like things. I know I have turned over a new minimalist leaf in our lives, but that does not mean I do not like variety. I want to be able to wear dresses and pants and scarves.

My Minimalist Wardrobe Search

My limited ideas of what a personal uniform looked like started to cause me some serious anxiety. As if someone, somewhere, laid down all the rules for it and I needed to follow them. Where else to turn other than YouTube. 

YouTube was helpful, but only so far as the casule wardrobe. It was this idea that helped me shape my entire year-round closet. The idea of a capsule wardrobe and having items in storage was again, anxiety inducing. The whole point is that we were downsizing, not for me to buy bins for each season. On top of this, capsule wardobes do not work in the PNW where we have all 4 seasons in the same day. 

Ideas I took from the Capsule Wardrobe: 

  • Chooseing a color scheme (most important!) 
  • Making sure all of the pieces work together (color scheme and no trendy items)
  • Making sure the pieces have multiple purposes or could be layered
  • Using a timeless piece to build your outfit 
  • Using only the items in your closet you truly love 
  • How to use accessories to change the look

The ideas above helped me to shape my closet into what I have now. Even before this process, I thought I had a relativley “small” wardrobe. Turns out I was wrong…I ended up donating 3 boxes of clothes to my sisters and friends. Two more bags remain in the garage for a summer garage sale. 

After the initial clear out, I needed to get organized and start thinking of how I could wear these pieces in multiple ways. I turned to YouTube again for ideas and started building ‘new’ outfits. 

Today, I feel like I have a solid wardrobe that is functional and for the most part flattering. There are a few pieces I know will need to be replaced or repaired in the upcoming year. I also know I will need to buy two items, a pair of shorts and a summer dress for events and weddings. 

My color scheme is all neautrals. This was a way I could ensure everything would match and interchange well. The exception to this is the bright red tank, the bright green tank with dots, and my leopard sweater. These are the only pieces that break the mold and it makes it fun for me ot create outfits around them. 

In terms of fit, I threw out the items that I classified as “comfy”, but were really just 2 sizes too large. I of course have lounge wear and cozy pajamas, but I did not need to be wearing a sweater bag to work anymore. I focused on pieces that hit me at the right place, nipped in at my small waist, and covered my chest appropriately. 

I currently have 47 items in my closet. This includes shoes, purses, work wear, and everyday clothes. This does not include things like my ski gear, pajamas, work out clothes, and undergarments. All of these are in our hanging dresser or in a small box on the top shelf of our closet. Here is a video I made with all the items in my closet. 

How to Create Your Own Minimalist Wardrobe

1. Find Your Foundation Pieces

Do you feel best in dresses or jeans and a fitted blouse? Whatever items you enjoy wearing most should be the most plentiful in your closet. Of course, you can still own the other items, but you need to pair them down. 

Once you know what you love to wear, choose your foundation pieces. These are classic and timeless items like blue jeans, the perfect white T, a little black dress, a button down blouse, fitted tutrle neck etc. Foundation pieces are classics that you can build an outfit around. Ideally, the items you enjoy wearing most will be foundation pieces. 

2. Choose Your Color Scheme 

May I just say, you do not have to do neautrals. Perhaps you love pastels and cool toned colors or the opposite and you want bright and saturated jewel tones in your closet. You can build a wardrobe where everything matchs with color too. You will need a few basic items, but if you have the same undertones (cool or warm) in your color choices they will go together. 

3. Downsize by looking at- Fit, Function, Flatter, Form

After you have made some choices about pieces you love and your color scheme it will be time to downsize your items. The easiet way I found was by first looking st fit. Do not keep the things that are too big or too small. 

Second, look at the function. Can you wear it with multiple items or is it a speciality piece that can only be worn one way? Fucntiontionality is essential for a minimalist wardrobe. 

Next, donate or give away pieces that are cute. Yes, I said it. Give away the cute things that are just not meant for your body shape. You want to focus on what flatters you and your beautiful self, not what is cute or trendy. 

Lastly, priortize the pieces that have form to them. The items that are well contructed and tailored will typically last longer and probably fit into that foundational items category. 

3. Repair Items 

After the downsize, you may be left with very few items. Before rusing to the store to complete your wardrobe, see if you can repair any of the items you were ready to donate. Could you tailor any of them to fit your body better? This is a sustanable practice that could also save you money in the long run. 

4. Purchase High Quality 

It may be inevitable that you need to purchase a few items to make your wardrobe functional and work for you. I highly encourage you to purchase items that are high quality, even if that means a higher price point. Consider this item an investment since you will be reaching for it more often. Also try to purchase your high quaslity items from small buissnesses that have sustainable clothing practices in order reduce your impact on the earth. 

5. Only Purchase when You Need It 

Once you have found your foundation pieces, picked your color scheme, paired down your wardrobe to the items you will wear , the hardest part is only buying items when you need them. If you can no longer repair it you may need to buy it. I have a hard time with this becuase now I know the brands I love and what fits or works in my waerdrobe. In a way it has becomes a bit harder to not want to buy the new seasons items from those small stores I love. I have not yet, but I feel the temptation for the jumpsuit so much right now. 

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Downsizing, career transitions, and my freelance work have been keeping me busy this spring. I still plan on conquering the garage at some point after our summer garage sale and then the entire home will have had its first work through in downsizing. The closet was a big one for me, and I am happy to have created a wardrobe that is easy for me to get ready in the morning. 

What about you? Do you have a minimalist wardrobe? How did you get there?

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4 comments

L May 12, 2019 - 8:01 am

Um, our wardrobes have a surprising amount in common! I rely very heavily on my Everlane Pima top and and jeans, and basically am going with a silk sleeveless plus cardigan look that really gets you through a LOT of the year. Another good result of being choosier about what I bring into the house is feeling like I have the option to spend more on a perfect fit. Thanks for this!

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Bethany May 12, 2019 - 7:06 pm

Oh man, the minute I discovered Everlane, I was hooked. I am really wanting to invest in their silk shirt one of these days…I just feel like our cats would claw it and it would be ruined in one second. lol. Yes, I agree that I tend to be willing to drop a bigger chunk of change on clothes if I add an item to the wardrobe. Now that I know my brands, I have found a few things on Poshmark as well. Thank you for stopping by!

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Mel May 25, 2019 - 9:42 pm

This was a great post, creating a capsule wardrobe is one of my goals as I work towards simplicity in my life! I am naturally an item-purger and I find myself going through and gifting or donating items often. But, I am a terrible shopper! I find myself making rash decisions because I get overwhelmed. I’m looking to take a more calculated approach going forward, so these tips were great. Cheers!

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Bethany May 26, 2019 - 7:39 am

Thank you so much! I find shopping in stores to be too much for me now as well. I used to crave it. So strange how these things all change over time. I now know my brands and sizes and will order almost everything online. 🙂

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