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:
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:
-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:
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
-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.
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:
-Tanks and Tees
-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.
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.
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!