There are several great helps available online for focusing on creating a simple, minimal wardrobe. Once I knew about Courtney Carver’s Project 333 , capsule wardrobes, I started downsizing the number of clothes I had just because I was tired of having so much that I didn’t use. My goal wasn’t to tend up with a specific number of pieces in my closet, but to end up with only clothing that I wore and enjoyed wearing. I had been reading about Pareto’s Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, which basically applied to clothing means you wear 20% of your clothes, 80% of the time. This was definitely true in my case. I started going through my closet and drawers piece by piece. Before I started going through everything though, I had to be able to see the benefits, or at least what I was hoping would be the benefits of having a simpler wardrobe.
4 Simple Benefits of a Minimalist Wardrobe
- Less Laundry. Once I got through the initial purge of my closet, I realized that I only have one load of laundry a week of my clothing. I’m not really sure how that changed, as you would think the number of clothes I wear would be the same, but I think I am not so quick to change outfits for different things because most of my clothes now are suitable for all occasions.
- Fewer costs associated with upkeep like dry cleaning, special detergents and longer life of washing machine. This one is pretty self-explanatory as to the benefits, I do buy the more expensive and I think better quality detergent now that I am using less of it.
- Less time and fuss when dressing. As I have gone through my clothing and ended up with the pieces that I especially love, I have naturally gravitated towards certain styles, colors and fabric textures that compliment each other. Almost every piece of my wardrobe can be mixed and matched easily which saves lots of time in trying to determine what to wear for the day.
- Able to use all of your clothing on a regular basis. Gone are the days where I am picking through my closet and find a supposed ‘favorite’ shirt that I totally forgot I had! With a minimalist wardrobe I am able to see, wear and enjoy everything that I have easily and none of my clothes get lost for weeks or months.
4 Tips to Get Started Creating a Minimal Wardrobe
- Decide how many shirts, pants, dresses, etc. you need. The number will be different for each person depending on his or her lifestyle, profession, and daily activities. For myself, I like to limit my number of tops to 12 and bottoms to 10 and I have 4 dresses. I do keep 3 sets of workout clothes as well as 2 bathing suits. Giving myself a number just helps me keep in mind how ‘minimal’ I would like to be. I am not so strict however that once in a while I am a couple pieces over or under those numbers.
- Go through each item individually. I found this to be an interesting and eye opening experience when I started to go through each item of clothing in my closet. I found I had lots of memories attached to clothes, and also lots of guilt associated with purchasing clothes that I didn’t really like on me once I got them home. Once I was able to let go and get rid of the items, I felt much lighter and ready to face the day as I faced my closet and getting dressed.
- If it’s too tight or too loose, get rid of it. This seems like it should be easy, but can actually be very difficult if you love an item that you just know you will fit back into someday, or an old t-shirt that is so comfy because it is stretched. Clothing that doesn’t fit is never flattering, and while you may want to keep one or two old pieces around for camping or cleaning the yard, you should rid your closet of the rest that just doesn’t fit correctly.
- If you aren’t sure, or the item belongs to your ‘alternate personality’, turn the hanger around so you can check back in 60 days. During my first few passes at my closet I used this method to help me ease into the idea of parting with a piece of clothing that I just knew I would wear sometime soon! By turning the hanger around opposite to how you normally hang your clothing, you mark the piece, then if you do wear it, you turn the hanger back around in the normal direction when you put the item back. That way you can see after 60 days how many of your hangers are still facing opposite, and you will know what you aren’t really going to wear.
4 Ways to Keep Your Wardrobe from Expanding
- Follow the ‘one in, one out’ rule. Once I was completely comfortable with my wardrobe and the number of clothes I had in my closet, I instituted the ‘one in, one out’ rule. Whenever I go shopping, there will undoubtedly be a shirt or pants that catch my attention. When I stop to think about what I will get rid of that the new item will replace, I can easily decide if I really like enough to purchase it, or if I want to make do with my current wardrobe, or, if I am indeed ready to switch one of my older pieces out for something new.
- Regularly assess clothing for ones that don’t fit, are too old, or show wear and tear. Even if you love your wardrobe, eventually clothing fades, stretches out, gets little holes, etc. Be sure to take some time, I like to reassess my wardrobe as the season’s change, to go through your clothes and get rid of any that are no longer in usable condition. It should be a fairly short project if you’ve been able to maintain your minimal amount of clothing!
- Make sure all pieces match. As I mentioned, I naturally gravitated towards certain colors and styles of clothing as I simplified my wardrobe. By consciously making sure all of your pieces match, you can keep your wardrobe small, but stylish. As you wear all of your clothing regularly, it is much easier to avoid the thinking that you need a new article of clothing to match those shoes, or that skirt.
- Choose classy and classic. Fashions change several times a year. Unless you have money to burn and want to go through your clothing every few months to switch things out for the latest trend, it’s a good idea to keep classic pieces of clothing in your wardrobe that won’t go in and out of style. Your personality will come into play here as you decide on tops and bottoms and maybe a couple of jackets that can all mix and match, but don’t get anything so outrageous and non-conservative that it will be deemed ‘unwearable’ next month by Vogue.
Simplifying your wardrobe is one of the ‘biggies’ when it comes to living a minimal life. It is also one of the most rewarding areas because of the increase in time it provides as well as cutting down the amount of fuss spent over your appearance.
Let me know if you implement any of the tips above and what successes you have had in minimizing your closet!