Table of Contents
This article contains affiliate links for which I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you decide to make a purchase by using them. Learn More
You are on the minimalism warpath, and you won’t stop until everything meets your expectations, including your wardrobe.
While it served you well over the years, judging by the state of it, you know your wardrobe could do with some de-cluttering and simplifying. So, how do you start, and what do you get rid of?
Clothing is a sensitive subject since you could practically use everything in your closet. It’s just a matter of when. But does that mean that pea-colored coat you’ve only worn twice should rot away in the back? In a word, no.
When it comes to following the rules of minimalism in fashion, separate rules apply. And to guide you on what those rules are, here’s a short guide to help you minimize your wardrobe, only without making it look dull.
What Do You Need in Your Wardrobe?
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the situation, let’s start with something simple; why you need to have so many clothes.
The unofficial figure is about 20 percent. That’s the percentage of clothes women wear from their wardrobe. This means that eighty percent of your clothes go without being worn more than once. And that is a complete waste.
With so much at your disposal, it makes sense to give your clothes to someone else. Yet, most of us hang on to them. Why?
The most common reason is that you might need it someday. But, rather than thinking about someday when you may need a specific outfit in the future, it’s more beneficial if you create a simplified wardrobe that caters to all your needs.
It Takes a Lot to Let Go
But have you ever wondered why you’re having problems letting go?
To effectively clear out your closet, you must find the why behind your reluctance. It’s only then that you’ll realize how silly your reasoning was. For example, here are some common reasons:
- The item was hardly worn, and you feel guilty about wasting your money on it;
- It’s a part of an essential wardrobe, but you hardly use it;
- It was a new trend that didn’t look good on you;
- You’re keeping it for when you lose a few pounds;
- You’re keeping it for a special occasion;
- It’s a “just in case” outfit;
- It’s a gift;
- It has sentimental value.
Starting with the first few, if an item of clothing doesn’t particularly fit your style, that’s okay. True fashion dismisses the notion of one-size-fits-all. So, why would you think you need something that you saw in a magazine?
Everything is not for everyone. And if it does not come in handy for you or doesn’t look good, getting rid of it is the best step. If you feel guilty about wasting money on it, remember that the time has gone. Keeping it will prolong the negative feelings you’ve associated with it. Every time you see it, you’ll feel guilty, and you don’t need those kinds of bad vibes in your life.
As for keeping something that’ll fit “once you lose weight,” that ideology is flawed and can have a very negative impact on your mental health. Every time you open that wardrobe, feeling pretty happy about yourself, seeing that “dress for weight loss” will deflate your enthusiasm. Not to mention that it’ll only add visual clutter.
Instead of keeping the dress for when you’ll lose weight, buy new clothing once you do and treat yourself then. The great thing about having a minimalist wardrobe is that you won’t have to worry about the other thirty or so dresses or shirts already hanging in your wardrobe when you buy a new item.
Items with Special Value
Sentimental clothing aside, such as your graduation gown or a wedding dress, there’s no need to keep a closet full of old clothes if they’re only attracting insects and moths. You can donate such clothing or make a keepsake collage for the later years, but if something is so old that it’s falling off the hanger, there’s no need to keep it until it’s thoroughly damaged.
As for any items that you keep, just in case, think about the exact moment when. Will it come in handy 45 days from now? Next year? Or within the next five years?
In reality, you’ll hardly ever wear the outfit because you won’t even remember you have it. Instinctually, you’ll go for the most comfortable or stylish outfit you have and only remember the “special” outfit until later.
Think about what you actually need in your wardrobe and what you’ll realistically wear. Your wardrobe will go through a thorough cleaning once you set your mind to it.
How to Sort Through Your Wardrobe?
You’ll begin by taking your clothes out, one pile at a time. Do not push all the clothes out of your wardrobe, or you will get side-tracked or lose time and confidence in your purging skills.
You’ll want to divide your clothes into four piles: keep, throw, and maybe.
The “Love” Pile
This is the primary step you’ll start with.
For the love pile, you’ll want to put aside all the items you love without a doubt. This pile will include all the clothes you reach for all the time.
This will also include all unique event clothing, down to your favorite pair of jeans and underwear. How we’ll manage your wardrobe from this pile comes later.
The “Throw” Pile
Also known as the “nope” pile, this pile is full of all the items you know you’ll never wear. Add all the items that you never reach for or clothes you’ve only worn once but didn’t suit you. You want to be ruthless with the clothes you have.
Any clothes you wore because you wanted to make someone happy, things that aren’t your favorite, any gifts—everything goes in the throw pile.
Clothes that still have tags on them are an exception. All the items in the throw pile can be donated if they’re in good condition.
The “Maybe” Pile
The “maybe” pile is for the gray bits, the items that don’t belong in the “love” or “throw” pile because of some issue. It could be a broken zipper, straps that need to be shortened, a tear in the seam, loosening the waist—whatever it is, it can be mended. You only don’t have the time.
With the “maybe” pile, your job is to look at the clothing realistically. Will you be able to get the clothes mended soon? Are you proactive enough? If not, put them in the throw pile.
Once you’ve divided your wardrobe into three piles, put back everything that’s in your “love” pile into the closet. Put aside the “nope” pile for donation, and decide there and then whether the “maybe” pile is worth it.
Now is when the sorting out begins.
Minimizing Your Wardrobe the Right Way
With the “maybe” and “nope” piles out of the way, here’s where you start to get into the tricky part of deciding on your wardrobe.
Even with everything you love, you must create a rhythm in your style, a visual on how you want to portray yourself through your clothing.
Defining Your Style
There’s a difference between de-cluttering your wardrobe and minimizing it. Per your style, you’ll want to create a sense of expression through your clothing, makeup, and accessories.
So, for example, if your style is feminine and practical, you can keep the formal jacket or suit coat for the formal evenings. However, a glitter-spangled dress will not go with your general style, no matter how much you like the dress.
So, here’s what you do. Categorize your wardrobe into three sections: casual, formal, and party.
Separate your clothing into these three categories, and try to create a sense of style throughout. Think of it as pining things on a Pinterest board. Jewelry, bags, shoes, headwear—whatever you have, work it with various outfits and separate them by style, so you can pick each piece up whenever needed.
The goal here is to identify patterns within your wardrobe. Do you like a specific silhouette or styling choices? Is a fabric more to your taste, or perhaps a quirky element? Once you know what your favorite things are, you’ll be able to organize your wardrobe the way you like it.
Think Twice About Your Wardrobe Mistakes
You have four formal shirts, each of which is one shade darker than the next, all blue. Do you need four shirts from the same color family?
Clone clothing is one of the most boring items you can have in your wardrobe. Style and fashion, even for a minimalist wardrobe, involve experimenting with your style. Pick out the most favorite two colors you have, and donate the rest. While you may think it is practical to have similar clothing or similar styles, it’s just lazy thinking.
But that’s not all! Another thing that many minimalists hate is super-comfy clothing that’s gone past its sell-by date. Over-washed, wrung-out t-shirts, baggy pants, clothes with permanent stains, worn-out sweatshirts—yes, these may seem great for sleeping. But is this the sort of clothing you want representing you?
You’ll find plenty of fabulous clothes and pajamas for a reasonable price, so why not indulge yourself with the right clothes instead of what’s leftover? Loungewear is in another league now. And as much as you want those supposedly cozy clothes, they’ll only translate as grubby and grungy.
Design a Creative Capsule Wardrobe
You have a small selection of clothes, much smaller than you anticipated. But it’s everything you love, so you know you’ll look great, no matter what you wear.
So, experiment with your capsule wardrobe. Minimalism does not ask for a pastel, basic-colored wardrobe, so don’t push yourself. Instead, be creative with different colors and mix and match. Play with pops of color, styling techniques, and different silhouettes. Create a Pinterest board with clothing that matches what you have, and check how those outfits are paired.
Try on the different ensembles at home before wearing them out. With experimenting comes a lot of trouble-shooting. You’ll want to be sure that what you have suited your mood and nature. If need be, use something from the “party” section to add a little oomph to the look.
You never know; a wallet or a sleek formal jacket may just complete your work outfit.
Keep the Good Quality Clothes in the Front
Quality matters, especially if you have to wear an exceptional ensemble in front of other people.
When choosing clothes for a formal event or work, always keep the high-quality, premium stitching ensembles at the front. A minimalist wardrobe already does not ask for too much. But, if you have a few things that mix and match well, stick to them and add only one luxury item or pop of color to offset the formal tone of your outfit.
While the cheaper stuff works fine if you’re lounging about at home, always keep the good-quality items for special occasions. Please don’t wear them at home because I don’t go out anyways. You never know when an opportunity may present itself where you need to be dressed to the nines.
Minimize Your Accessories Collection
You’ll find plenty of grid boards online on which you can hang your jewelry. Use them. Hang your earrings, necklaces, and all your jewelry on it, the purge it of those pieces you no longer wear.
Your overall attire includes jewelry, shoes, and other accessories. Do not skip this critical step. As stated before, pair your jewelry with different clothing, and add it to the grid as a set. You’ll have an easier time searching for the one you need.
Throw away any footwear that’s falling at the seams or is scuffed. And replace any essential footwear that’s past its prime. Invest in your overall look.
Minimalism gives you a complete wardrobe without having you worry about what to wear every day.
Follow the rules correctly, and you’ll have no problem creating a minimalist wardrobe that’ll match your expectations without busting out of your closet!