Minimalist Wardrobe

A minimalist wardrobe brings so many benefits to life. It makes getting dressed easy and fast in the morning. It helps us define our style. When you only have a select amount of carefully chosen items of clothing, you can look polished no matter what you grab! Your closet and drawers will thank you too.

When I started building my own minimalist wardrobe, I searched online for ideas. I found a lot of stuff, but it was hard for me to put it all together. I made a lot of mistakes that cost me time and money. So, I’ve laid out a fairly structured formula for you. Feel free to follow it closely or read it and then come up with your own! It’s here to help you as much or as little as you’d like.

So let’s begin! I’m not simply going to tell you what to buy, you have homework to do! So pull out a notebook and pen (and maybe some crayons) and let’s do this!

GOAL: The minimalist wardrobe we will create includes 50 items total, 33 items out at any given time/season. The idea is to have items that can easily be mixed and matched to create many different outfits with few pieces. With each season, some items will be stored, while other, weather appropriate items, added in. Wardrobe items include what we wear on a daily basis including accessories, shoes, and outer wear. It does NOT include swim suit, work out clothing, pajamas, or under garments.

STEP ONE: Determine Your Personal Style

TO DO: Look through magazines or Pinterest boards online of fashion and style and pull out anything that draws your eye. Make a collage.

TO DO: Now, below each picture that you chose, write down WHAT about it draws your eye. Is it the cut of the shirt? The color? The way it feels?

TO DO: Write down two or three words that reflect your discoveries on your personal style. Some examples might include: Edgy, Soft, Classy, Elegant, Trendy, Bohemian, Bright, Lively, Muted, Serene, Feminine, Street, Sharp, etc.

STEP TWO: Create Your Color Palette

TO DO: Take a tour of your house, look through your closet. What colors do you gravitate towards? What colors look good on you and make you feel pretty?

You are going to build a color palette for your wardrobe. This is a very important step as it insures that your items will be able to be mixed and matched to create an optimum amount of outfit choices. Here is the breakdown of your palette:

Two Base Colors: These two colors, preferably one light and one dark, will be the foundation of your wardrobe. They will serve as your “neutrals”. Some examples might include: black and white, navy and cream, gray and white, brown and tan, etc.

One Accent Color: The accent color must be a color that goes well with both of your base colors.

Two Pop Colors: These are your fun colors. They should compliment your base colors and your accent color but can vary quite a bit. These colors will be used in small doses here and there throughout your wardrobe to create interest. These colors can also vary by season if you wish. If that is the case, you will need to make a palette for each season.

Here are some examples of color palettes:

Black White Base Brown and Cream Base Grey and White Base Navy and Cream Base

TO DO: Now it’s your turn to create a wardrobe color palette.

TO DO: Also determine what type of jewelry you plan to wear. For minimalism, it is best to pick either silver or gold. Once you pick, keep this in mind as you shop later. You don’t want to buy shoes that have a silver zipper if you plan to wear gold jewelry!

STEP THREE: Take Your Lifestyle into Consideration

Once you have defined your style in two or three words and have created a color palette, you can now take your lifestyle into consideration. This includes:

-Your age

-Climate where you live

-Your daily activities

TO DO: Make a pie chart and divide it into categories of types of clothing you need. This will later help you decide what type of clothing to purchase. As a stay at home mom, my pie chart consisted mostly of “casual clothing”, a wedge of “dressy” for church and other events, and an even smaller wedge of “business” because I have a small photography business on the side. Here’s my chart:

Pie Chart

STEP FOUR: Define Which Cuts You Prefer

There are so many different cuts of clothing out there and you need to decide on a few that:

-You feel comfortable in

-Flatter you

-Reflect your personal style

TO DO: Write down a list of specific cuts you enjoy and would like to incorporate into your wardrobe. You can have a variety, but it is important to know what you like before you shop. Think through:

-Pant cut (Skinny, Straight, Boot cut, Flowy, etc)

-Neckline (Scoop, V neck, Boat neck, Halter, Square, etc)

-Waistline (Empire waist, Natural, Drop, etc)

-Sleeve Cut (Long, 3/4 Sleeve, Short, Cap Sleeve, Sleeveless, etc)

-Shoe Style (Heels, flats, pointed toes, etc)

STEP FIVE: Choose Patterns

TO DO: Pick out one or two patterns you are in love with and would like to add to your wardrobe. These might include: polka dots, stripes, chevron, floral, paisley, plaid, leopard, zebra, etc

Now that you have a solid idea of what you like and what fits your lifestyle, it’s almost time to put your wardrobe together!

But first, some notes before you shop:

-Before you buy anything new, look through your closet to see if you might already have a piece that is suitable. It must be something you love and feel good in as well as match criteria for your wardrobe (style, color, etc)

-Buy quality. You are building a wardrobe that you will keep and maintain for years! Buy clothes that will last and save money in the long run! A tip for saving money: shop second hand stores that sell high end items that were only lightly used.

-Never impulse buy. Only shop when you have very particular items in mind. Don’t stray from your style/cut/color that you worked so hard to define!

-Think about textures and try to get a mix. This will add interest to your wardrobe.

-Make sure you absolutely love any item you purchase! If in doubt, don’t buy.

The 10 Essentials for Your Wardrobe

I will now give you the ten essential items that you will want to have for your minimalist wardrobe. Remember, YOU are the one that decides on fabrics, color, cut, style, etc based off of YOUR lifestyle and personality. This is just a guideline to help you get started.

2 Pairs of pants, one in each of your base colors

1 Denim pair pants

1 Skirt in one of your base colors

2 Tops, one in each base color

1 Top, patterned in a base color

1 Cardigan or Blazer in your accent color

1 Coat in a base color

1 Pair of Flats in your base or accent color

Once you have these items, you are well on your way to having a minimalist wardrobe that works for you and works together to create lots of outfits.

10 Secondaries

Here is a list of items you may want to get for your wardrobe after you have completed the essentials list.

1 Denim in a different wash

1 Colored Pants in one of your pop colors

1 Dress in base color

1 Dress in accent or pop color + pattern

1 Chambray Shirt (These are SO versatile they can be used in almost ANY wardrobe)

1 Pair of Sandals in base or accent color

1 Pair Shoes in pattern or pop color

1 Ankle Booties in base or accent color

1 Vest for layering (Denim or any color from your palette)

1 Top in pop color

18 Seasonal Items

As the seasons change, you will put some items away and pull others out, always keeping 33 items in your wardrobe. If you follow the formula I am laying out, (or use it as a guideline and make up your own numbers!) there will be 18 of these items for you to add. Depending on your climate, these might include:



-Heavy/Light/Rain Coat

-Tanks and Tees

-Tall Boots

-Flip Flops

-Additional Cardigans/Blazers/vests

-Dresses and Skirts

Remember to stick to your style guide with these! When I did my summer wardrobe and winter wardrobe, I used much of the same formula for both: one top in each base color, one patterned top, one pop color top. Don’t let these extras be random! Decide what you need to complete your wardrobe before you shop.

12 Accessories

At last we arrive at accessories. They account for 12 items in your total of 50. This is probably the area you may go your own direction with most as accessories play a big part in defining our own unique style. However, I thought a general format might still be nice. They include:

1 Heavy scarf in base or accent color…opposite of your coat

2 Light weight scarves in pop colors, pattern, etc…have fun!

2 Statement Necklaces in your metal of choice

1 Pair of Hoop Earrings in your metal

1 Pair of Dangle Earrings in your metal

1 Pair Earrings in pop color and /or pattern

1 Belt in accent color

1 Set of Bracelets in your metal

1 Style Hat

1 Pair Stylish Sunglasses

I did not include a purse in this count because I do not personally wear my purse as an accessory. It serves a very functional purpose in my life. However, I have still matched it with my wardrobe.

Style Tips

Finally, once you’ve got everything you need to make up your minimalist wardrobe, think of ways to change it up. This might include:

-Juxtaposition of styles (like wearing jeans and heels)

-Tucking in/half tucks

-Rolling and cuffing


-Adding a belt

And when you’re done, I highly recommend selling/donating any of your previous wardrobe that no longer fits into your minimalist one! Don’t let them hang around and take up space in your house! When pieces from your wardrobe wear out, replace it with an item of equal.

Have fun and feel put together every day!


  1. Great article!!! really well thought and laid out this will be really helpful for those just getting into the capsule wardrobe process! Do you still find yourself tweaking your ideas on having a capsule wardrobe?



  2. I did it! Well, the planning part anyway. I’ve never really thought about how much time I have spent staring into my closet not seeing anything that makes me feel good when I wear it. Thanks for the great outline!!


  3. […] However, I do not want to spend hours getting ready in the morning. I simply do not have the time to do that. Nor do I think hours in front of the mirror is healthy. So I have come up with my own minimalist beauty routine and some ideas for yours! If you want suggestions on how to quickly dress your best in the morning without rummaging through clothes that don’t go together, see my blog on The Minimalist Wardrobe. […]


  4. I feel overwhelmed just looking at this list. But then again, I also feel overwhelmed by the store and feel like what I buy is haphazard. Maybe crafting/designing a wardrobe and THEN shopping for the clothes like you suggest would help me focus my efforts…


    • Yes, it’s a lot of work up front, but will save you a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed in the future! Start with the 10 essentials and just focus on those and don’t worry about the rest until you have those!


  5. Pinterest has really been helpful in determining my style. I also pst my wardrobe items do that when I am out shopping, I have a visual to refer to. I still make mistakes but I return them immediately. Can’t wait till some items are worn out so that I can justify purchasing new utems that are more me.


  6. This is actually the first how to make a minimalist wardrobe that I’ve seen that actually makes sense to me, I love how you included the possibility of mixing up the way you wear the items to create more interest.

    I’ve narrowed down my wardrobe to the stuff I naturally wear, it’s still a bit random but I’m happy with it, and when stuff wears out I’m just going to replace with purpose, because I already know what colours I like.


  7. This is THE most complete yet simple, digestible and doable ‘formula’ on capsule wardrobes I have read–and I’ve read and pinned a lot! Kudos and thanks for sharing. Glad to have found your blog via Becoming Minimalist today. I’d love to read more about other decluttering specifics you employ for books, adult and children, as well as kitchen organization. Thanks.


  8. […] 5. Men lige så meget som købs tanker fylder i mit hoved, gør tankerne om at have mindre det også. For måske er det kun gennem mindre at vi kan få mere af det der betyder noget. Ih den er kompliceret denne verden. Måske er jeg ved at blive overbevist om det der minimalisme. […]


  9. Excellent guide! I am a man and I live in subtropical weather so the pieces are different, but the system is so elegantly simple it is easily adaptable.

    I have been practicing minimalism since 2010. At this point my wardrobe is around 25-30 pieces housed in a 38L duffle bag. But lately I have grown tired of my all-black-everything scheme, and the colors/patterns guide here provides some great ideas.

    Bewarned though: when your wardrobe is nothing but curated essentials that you’ve heavily invested in, adding pieces become more difficult because each item matters and tend to cost more.


  10. Im missing a bathing suit, mittens and a woollen hat as seasonal clothing and accessories. Also socks/ thights, and hair accessories.


  11. […] However, I do not want to spend hours getting ready in the morning. I simply do not have the time to do that. Nor do I think hours in front of the mirror is healthy. So I have come up with my own minimalist beauty routine and some ideas for yours! If you want suggestions on how to quickly dress your best in the morning without rummaging through clothes that don’t go together, see my blog on The Minimalist Wardrobe. […]


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