4 Tips for Having a Minimalist Wardrobe

4-Tips-for-Having-a-Minimalist-Wardrobe

I’m the least likely candidate to be giving fashion tips, but ever since I posted the video of my minimalist summer wardrobe, I’ve gotten question after question after question about my wardrobe. So, in an effort to answer a few of those questions, today I’m sharing four tips for having a minimalist wardrobe.

1. Only Own What You Wear

Are you wearing everything you own on a regular basis? If not, why are you hanging onto it? It’s just taking up space in your closet and cluttering your life.

Don’t know what to keep and what to get rid of? Try the one-year wardrobe project that J.D. from Get Rich Slowly did. Personally, I think you could probably accelerate it to three or six months, if you want to get a move on your clutter more quickly.

2. Mix and Match

Never buy something that can only be worn with one item you own. If possible, only buy items that can be worn with just about every other item in your closet.

Jessica shows her Mix and Match wardrobe here. Good Housekeeping shows some basic Mix and Match wardrobe pieces here.

3. Know Your Colors

About ten years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the concept of color palettes. Up until that time, I just wore whatever I found at the thrift store or got off the sale rack. I didn’t really feel great in many of the items, but they were inexpensive, so that’s what mattered–or so I thought.

But after discovering what my color palette is and switching to only wearing clothes that are my color, I’ll never go back. Wearing your colors instantly makes you look more youthful and energetic. Plus, I find that shopping is so much more efficient because I can scan the racks for my colors, instead of having to look through each and every item.

You can take a free color analysis here (I’m not sure how accurate it is since it’s online, but it might be fun to do.) Also, you might consider checking out a copy of Color Me Beautiful from the library.

4. Accessorize

A few accessories can make a big difference and can spruce up a small wardrobe in amazing ways. For instance, if you only have six tops, but you have three scarves and two necklaces that match with almost all of those tops, you just extended your wardrobe possibilities quite a bit. Best of all, most accessories can be very inexpensive. You can even make your own.

In the cooler weather, scarves are my favorite. The whole figuring out how to wear them used to scare me–especially because I’m no fashionista and can never seem to pull off the cute looks others do. Jen from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, generous friend that she is, bought me a scarf and taught me how to tie it. After wearing it a few times, I was sold. I went out and bought a few more scarves and I’m now rarely seen without a scarf in winter!

Watch Jen’s video here on how to tie a scarf. You can also check out her post here. Also, Tip Junkie has a post on 12 Trendy Ways to Wear a Scarf.

Having a minimalist wardrobe will not only save you quite a bit of money (the less you shop, the less you spend!), but they will also help to simplify your life. I know I might be weird, but I find that it is so easy to get dressed in the morning when you only have a few options to choose from. In fact, I’d rather have a few items that I love and feel great in, than a closet full of clothes that I don’t really like, don’t fit that well, and haven’t been worn in a number of months.

photo credit

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Comments

  1. says

    I do agree this is a great idea, but harder for someone who works full time in a professional office environment. I know it is probably my own insecurity more than anything, but I would hate to wear the same things over and over. So what I do is, as you said, make sure you aren’t hanging on to items that you never wear and having a decent range of options, but still limiting it so it’s not overwhelming. I have five pairs of work pants that I literally wear once a week each and then pair tops with those pants. If the pants are plain colors, it is easy to match most items with them. I have three shades of grey pants, one black and one brown and nearly every top I own can be worn with one of those. I do have a few tops that only look good with jeans, but only a few. I would for sure have less clothes if I knew I was not going to work outside the home again, but for now, I just follow those rules, just to less of an extreme.

    • laura says

      I agree. This is a nice idea, but certainly not for everyone. I also work in a professional office. I have pants, tops, cardigans and suit jackets that can be intermingled. Only having a few outfits and wearing them continuously would appear rather unprofessional. By no means is my closet full, but I have options. The weekends on the other hand……..LOL. I own one pair of jeans and tops. :)

    • Kelli says

      I though the same thing when reading this article, I am sure it is easier to have less clothing options if I was a stay-at-home mom, but I am not I work in a professional setting where I am required to wear dresses or suits…which isn’t practically then to wear on weekends.

    • Christine says

      I agree with this statement. I love the idea of minimalist, but I recently went back to work full-time after being a SAHM for a few years. Additionally, we’ve moved 1300 miles south of our prior home – big climate change. What a scramble to have two wardrobes (home and work) for a new climate. I’m trying to be minimalist, but it is so hard when you are in a new environment, a new climate and a new culture (SoCal vs PNW – fleece just isn’t as fancy here in socal).

      But thanks for the reminder. I’m going for high value basics (trouser jeans) and a few pieces that can help my wardrobe transition through the seasons – cardigans.

    • Jessica says

      I work in a professional environment, but I have a tiny wardrobe. No one notices or cares if you wear the same plain black pants on Thursday that you wore on Monday.

      • says

        I agree. Maybe it depends on where you work, but the people in my office probably wouldn’t notice if I wore the same thing all week.

        I have a pretty tiny wardrobe too, although in the winter my sweaters seem to take up a ton of room.

      • Stephanie says

        I too used to work outside the home. One day it dawned on me that I didn’t remember what anyone wore the day before, so why should I worry if I wear the same basic pair of pants more than once a week? Same would go for a skirt if my job was such that I chose to wear one.

        • Rachael says

          It might be different for teachers. Once a third grader told me, “you wear the same thing every day.” I wasn’t offended, but the kids do notice!

          • Angie says

            I so agree! My third graders are quick to tell me when I “look” better that I did yesterday. They even notice my makeup, shoes, etc. But they are also quick to compliment me and make me smile! Love my thirdies!

        • says

          I had a very professional job for years, where people paid close attention to one another’s wardrobe and appearance. I kept things “minimalist” by having only a few, very basic bottoms, and a larger variety of attractive tops (about three weeks’ worth). All my shirts, blouses, and sweaters looked good with dark pants or skirts, so I never had to worry about creating an “outfit.” I just picked a top I liked, then chose either a skirt or pants in black or grey, and I was good to go.

      • Laura says

        As I stated, it’s not for everyone. I work in a law firm and quite frankly if I wore the same things a few times a week, it would be quite noticeable. I think it also depends upon where you work though, so, if you’re able to do so, then by all means do so! LOL. For the record, I did not state that I have dozens of pants, suits and jackets. I’m merely stated that I do have a few more options than owning just 2-3 pairs of pants, etc.

      • Rachel says

        I actually tried the minimalist approach at work and was written up for it. So it really does depend on the industry you are in, and your boss.

        • Jessica says

          True. I imagine if you work in fashion or another high end/image-conscious business, it’s different. I know that noticeable pieces are harder to recycle, but I think with a basic black skirt or pair of pants, it would be pretty hard for anyone to even notice when it’s paired with a different top. I have more than 2 or 3 also- I have enough bottoms to last a week, because sometimes I spill stuff or get dog hair all over me. Most people still seem to consider my wardrobe pretty minimalist, though. Bf asked “how is there anything left?!” the last time I donated. I repeat outer sweaters and wraps a lot, too, but so far no one seems to care. That sucks about getting written up! Seems like if you’re neat, clean, and presentable, they should mind their own business.

        • says

          I can’t for the life of me think of a rule at any place I’ve ever worked that said how many outfits you had to have to work there! Unbelievable! Maybe I’m just not understanding it correctly.
          I agree with the basic color slacks and then a variety of tops. I need a variety or I get bored with wearing the same things, even if I think nobody would notice or care. I see people in my office with the same sweater or jacket on every day, but that’s just because it’s always cold in there so everyone keeps something at their desk to wear. I don’t even think twice about it anymore.

      • Lora says

        I worked in an office with a professional dress code and had a minimalist wardrobe. I have less now as a SAHM mom, but then I had a total of 7 shirts per season, 3 pairs of pants, a skirt, and 2 jackets to spice things up. I also had 2 pairs of heels at any given time. My coworkers had much more elaborate wardrobes, but no one ever commented, and I doubt many people even noticed. I really think that our mothers were right when they told us that people are too busy thinking about themselves to think about someone else. :-)

  2. says

    Well, I only own seven shifts and fit the minimalist category since I only own what I wear, but four of my shirts are homeschool alumni t-shirts. so I fail at the style part. However, my logic has always been own what I wear. And I’m a hiker and biker and always outdoors. T-shirts are my world and really own need one shirt that’s not a T-shirt.

  3. says

    I have always been terrible at buying clothes for myself. I cringe at paying more than $10 for a shirt, but then I won’t wear it if it doesn’t look good. I think sometimes being an extremely thrifty person worked against me because I was always so intent on finding a bargain and scarfing it up that I didn’t pay enough attention to whether I really liked it. Duh.

    Took me a loooong time to just suck it up and pay a little bit more for a few items I love and in the long run I have found that I actually save money because they last longer and I get more use out of them. They still have to be on sale with a coupon of course, but now I am more careful to choose things that make me look and feel good instead of the $3 clearance rack item!

    Awesome info as always. I feel the need to clean out my closet now ;)

    • says

      I agree entirely. I am the same way — always wanting to find a great deal. Then I would buy something because it was “ok” and cheap. And of course I never wore it, but couldn’t let myself buy something else because I “already had stuff”. Now it makes more sense to spend more money, less often, and feel good. :)

    • Jessica says

      So true. Today I spend $70 (!) on boots. The big selling point for me was free shipping and free returns (and cash back from Ebates!). I have neither the time nor inclination to shop in person, and I found that I was buying several cheap pairs that didn’t fit or fell apart, and then I didn’t want to pay shipping to return them. If they last 2 years instead of 1, they didn’t cost me any more than the cheap pair would have. It’s really nice to feel put-together.

      • says

        Goodness – I just spent $115 on my boots so don’t feel bad. They are bjorn and will last forever though. I keep my shoes forever and have to have extremely comfortable shoes so that’s my excuse LOL!

        In that same trip I bought a pair of shoes because they were cheap (great brand name, but on clearance)….came home and told my husband how much they were and his response made me return them.

        He said “do you even like them – you told me how much they were and how much you saved, but didn’t go on and on about how much you like them like you did with your boots.”

        • Jill says

          I love that question. I was in the habbit of buying things because they were a good deal not because I really needed them. I think I am going to start asking myself do I really like or do I likeit because its a good deal? Thanks

  4. peever says

    I am working on being better about being more minimalistic. I am good about purging my closet every 3-6 months and I’ve gotten much better about only buying something if I love it and not just because it’s cheap, but I can’t get buy with only having 6-7 outfits. I’m fortunate that I usually find some really great deals at thrift stores on nice quality things that I love. I rarely spend more than $5 on any of my clothing, but I honestly manage to permanently stain my clothes nearly as often as my children do and I’d never make it through a season with only 6-7 outfits. I also think it’s a little depressing to get dressed with so little options! So I agree, but I need a little more. :)

  5. says

    I love this post. I remember throughout college that my roommates would totally fill their closets, 5 drawer dressers, and two tubs under their beds with clothes. I could never understand how someone could have so much AND lug it to college. I have one drawer of clothes and half a closet full. Its only been recently that I added new summer clothes (all dresses). I filter out my closet every three months. My finace has twice as many items in his closet and drawers than I do.

    Another tip though, if you find something you like, buy it in multiple colors. I have the same style shirt in my favorite colors. That way I have a style I love (which is rare for me; I love layering and that isn’t in right now), in multiple colors. This makes it really easy to mix and match!

    • says

      I to the multiple-buying thing too! In fact, I currently only have 2 styles of shirt I wear, but I have each in several colors. Glad to hear I’m not the only one to do this.

      • Laura says

        LOL LOL This makes me feel better. I HATE shopping and when I do I’ll find a top and buy two in neutral colors! I just did so this weekend!

  6. says

    great tips. I would also add to the mix and match…layering. This is how I am able to use some of my summer clothing in the fall and winter.

    These tips are also really useful with keeping my kids clothing under control.

    • Sarah says

      I do this too. I have a handful of shirts that are all the same in different colors, so I’ll mix and match which one is on top and which one is accent. And in the winter I can do a more sporty look with a long-sleeved tee under one, or more sophisticated with a jacket on top (with a scarf, I now know!).

    • says

      I would agree, especially with the kid’s clothing. I have two boys who haven’t outgrown their t-shirts and some polos from summer yet, so instead of buying an entire wardrobe for school/cold weather, I added only a few long-sleeve shirts and some jeans, then got each of them a white, and a navy long-sleeved t-shirt to put under all those summer clothes. Worked great!

  7. Meg says

    With the expense of maintaining a professional uniform, I find it easier to just make a “uniform” for myself for work. I own 4 identical black skirts, 8 pairs of black tights, 5 long sleeved black t-shirts, and 5 cardigans in different colors. I may look boring, but, unlike some other people on my office, I always look appropriate. I am knitting myself some new sweaters, but other than that, I’m very happy with this wardrobe.

    On weekends I wear other clothes.

  8. Sara Z. says

    I’m working on minimizing my wardrobe as well as my daughter’s (she get’s a lot of hand me downs from my nieces). I love the idea of having just a few items that I can mix and match, but I have never been successful at pulling it off! Maybe this is my year :)

    By the way, I tried the color palette link. Maybe it will work out better for other ladies, but I completely disagreed with their assessment. Most of the colors it suggested are exactly the kind that make me feel washed out and frumpy :( I’ll stick with my instincts! I may try the Color Me Beautiful book though :)

  9. says

    Thanks for the tips! I’m pretty good about sorting through my clothes each season and reselling anything I don’t regularly wear. My weak spot is buying stuff mainly because it’s on clearance, but maybe it’s not the most flattering or best fit. I really need to focus on quality over quantity – the few expensive pieces I’ve invested in, I’ve been able to wear over and over again and always get compliments on.

  10. Tania says

    I love these tips and these ideas but the first one doesn’t work for anyone in a professional environment. I never wear my full suit but every few months I need it or if I were interviewing for jobs, I’d need it everyday. I also might not wear a certain jacket all fall, winter and spring but days in the office during the summer require it. Tie in “weekend” clothes and things automatically get a bit more complicated. I’d rather own a few more items I don’t wear frequently if ever than have to buy a $100 suit for an interview or have to go shopping for a dress for a wedding or the like. Short term give for long term gain. Love the other tips though!

  11. says

    Love this! One thing I will say about Color Me Beautiful – it leaves out some GORGEOUS colors. There are two colors that look good on pretty much everyone: (and they happen to be very “in” right now) coral and mustard. In some variation, whether it be necklace, printed skirt, cardigan, or simple shirt, this color can be a staple in anyone’s wardrobe. Talk about making your coloring pop and look youthful!

    I mention Color Me Beautiful in this because I worked in retail and had a beautiful woman with olive skin, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes question me when I brought her a coral top. She said it wasn’t in her color palette. It is now!

    I need to go clean out my closet again….

    • says

      Coral and mustard don’t work so well for those of us with super pale skin. I have to wear the lightest makeup, and most companies don’t even make it light enough for my skin tone. Plus, I can’t stand either of those colors!

      I’m better off in red, navy blue, white and pastels. My wardrobe consists mostly of the first 3 (white blouses, with some red and blue) and a few pastels. I do own some black skirts, but black on top just leaves me looking very washed out (people ask me if I’m feeling okay when I wear black).

      I’m pregnant some part of every year (for the last 10 years) so my maternity clothes are a more regular part of my wardrobe. Thankfully I was able to get several great white blouses from Land’s End Business in the clearance section for $6 each. (They don’t shrink and they wear very well). My preferred outfit is a white blouse and a skirt every day. I’m home all day, but this is what I find to be the most “me.” (I’m NOT a t-shirt person at all).

      I also wear an apron every day. I have one for gardening (green), one for baking (toile), and one for cooking and canning (red). (And on any given day I may wear all three!) These protect my clothes and make them last a lot longer.

        • Kathy says

          I have also found Land’s End shirts wear very well. And the customer service is so great – if there is a problem they will take care of it.

      • says

        I’m pale too! I’ve seen pictures of you on your website – I’m about that pale too and have the same issues finding makeup. And I dye my hair red. It’s “cool tones” all around! Something about those colors just brings out natural warmth in every skin tone. But if you don’t like the colors, it’s a non issue.

        • says

          I wear Mary Kay’s Ivory 100 in foundation and Ivory 1 in concealer. I went to a Mary Kay party in college and I was amazed to finally see makeup in the right shade.

          The only powder that is light enough if Lancome’s translucent, but they discontinued it (this is the second time now; enough people complained that they brought it back once before, but I doubt they will a second time). I don’t know what I’ll use when mine runs out, because all the other powders seem to have shades of orange in them, and they’re too dark.

          The foundation and concealer usually last me 18 months (I just wear them around my eyes), and the powder even longer. I’ve bought the powder at Black Friday before when they have specials at Lancome (free lipstiscks and such with purchase), and that weekend you get double cash back from Ebates. I’m getting low on loose powder, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

          • says

            I bought my makeup from Everyday Minerals when they were having a clearance. For $32 and some change, I got 6 containers of loose foundation (unfortunately the color is no longer available – glad I bought 6!) and two lip balms. Shipping was free on orders over $15.

            The powder goes on very light and blends well. I’m a nurse who works night shift, and this stays on all night long.

            They do have a neat “find your perfect color” system. You select your skin color “fair, medium, dark” and they send you little tubs in all the shades of that color. Cost is $5. They often have other fun promos, like right now they have free blush on orders over $21. I’ve been VERY happy with this company. Best of all, they use as much organic materials as possible!

    • Andrea says

      I can pull off coral easily, but I look horrible in mustard. I love it, too and wish I could wear it!

    • Heather says

      I just bought myself a mustard v-neck blouse at a yardsale this weekend. I disagree with the poster below me, I have the fairest of fair skin, and red hair, so dab on some coral blush and lipgloss with that top and I am good to go.

  12. Brittany says

    I have had the best luck in the past few years getting tops on clearance at Kohl’s, specifically the sonoma brand. I think every top I’ve gotten, probably 10 so far, has been in the $5-12 range. As far as bottoms, I wear mostly jeans in public, and most of mine are 3-5 years old (from high school!), but I did get a pair just last year for $10 at Walmart! I usually wear a t-shirt (not sloppy, not skin tight), jeans, and tennis shoes. It works for me!

    This spring I’m going to finish my schooling and be an RN, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to build a scrub wardrobe. I like the idea of everything mixing and matching. Maybe pick 3 colors of bottoms and try to have every top go with at least 2 of the bottoms?

    • Dawn says

      I worked as a RN for many years. One thing that I did after a few years of nursing was switch to solid scrubs. It was much cheaper to own 3 nice solid uniforms than buy lots of the crazy bright prints. I worked in a cardiovascular intensive care unit after I was a nurse for a while and noticed that all of the male nurses wore solid colors, often just one color (green, blue, etc.) I also can tell you as a long time nurse that you will appear more professional to your patients and physicians. There is much opinion about this – But I always felt more confident and professional in my navy scrubs (navy also hides stains well especially blood and betadine) Good Luck!

      • BethB says

        I agree with regard to looking professional. My husband was in the hospital for 50+ days in 2010 (four different stays) and I spent a lot of time walking around the complex. Single color scrubs or conservative prints look a lot more professional and comforting, IMO.

      • Holly says

        I work in the CVICU at a pediatric hospital, and we are encouraged to wear bright, colorful scrubs with patterns since we are caring for children. It makes their environment more warm and friendly. I am thankful that we don’t have to stick with solid colored scrubs. There have been multiple occasions when I have used my fun scrubs as a distraction for kids when starting IVs, lab draw, and other uncomfortable procedures. I guess it just depends on your work environment!

    • Amie says

      I’d be careful buying too many scrubs if you don’t know where you’ll be working. The hospital in my town, where my mom was a nurse, has moved in recent years to a dress code of blue (many different shades are acceptable) and white. The floor nurses are only allowed to wear these colors, with the exception of the maternity floor which wears a different color to distinguish themselves for security reasons. Not sure how many hospitals, or even clinics, are operating this way, just something to keep in mind. Best of luck to you!

      • says

        I agree about the scrubs. My mother (nurse) and sister (med tech) are allowed to wear pretty much anything. My husband, however, could only wear black and white, so after purchasing purple scrubs for school, we had to turn around and buy black ones for the cardiac unit he was working with.

    • Emily says

      I’m an RN in a hospital and I would recommend buying 3 sets of scrubs. I just own 2 pairs of scrub pants (1 black, 1 navy) and 3 different colors of tops. They are printed tops, but are not super bright or wild. I have worn the same scrubs for 3 years now and haven’t had to buy any new ones. The next time I buy scrubs again, probably later this year, I am only going to buy solid colored tops.

      • says

        My hospital only lets me choose between navy and white scrubs. I don’t like the idea of wearing white (because I don’t have that many white tanks to wear underneath), so I just wear all navy. I would suggest you buy 3 sets of scrubs if you plan on working 3 12-hour shifts. It’s a lot less laundry.

  13. Jenny says

    Great tips! I’ve got about 5 shirts that I consider my “work shirts” ( I’m a SAHM).. they are shirts I don’t mind if they get dirty,sticky, paint covered, etc. With 2 little ones it happens alot! Then I probably have 5 nicer shirts that I wear out and about when we go shopping, out to eat, etc :)

  14. Teresa says

    I also tried the color assessment out of curiousity. I wanted to see if it would agree with other assessments I’ve done. It was completely off, as the above poster mentioned. I think it’s too general. It didn’t even ask about skin undertones, which make all the difference.

    • Charity says

      I tried it too… wasn’t that helpful. I wish it were because I have such a time with this subject! I here all the time “you’d look good in anything” which to me means nothing I wear ever “pops.” And aside from that I know it can’t be true!

  15. Esther says

    Thanks Crystal for this post! I’ve been working on weeding out my wardrobe and it’s been great. I do find that since I work outside the home in an office, I have two separate wardrobes, but I’ve been trying to have some overlap between the two by using basic mix and match pieces with various accessories. Now, if only I could get my kid’s wardrobes under control! Little kid’s clothes are just so cute! :)

  16. says

    Quality is important to consider, too. I’d rather pay a little more for those good staples that will last than go through more of the cheaper items. I find they look nicer overall.

    I love the sentiment behind this idea. When it gets tricky, though, is when pregnancies are thrown into the mix! I have four beautiful kids, and my oldest just turned 7 (youngest is 5 months old). I have been pregnant, breastfeeding, and on my way up or down for the past 7 years! It makes a more minimalist wardrobe more tricky because I have the size up from the norm before maternity fits and for after the baby, plus different styles for nursing ease and the different size I am on top while nursing…

    Maybe it comes down to have several sizes of minimalist wardrobes for the seasons around pregnancies? I’m still not sure how it works! ;)

    • says

      Elastic waists skirts and blouses with a little give :) I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for the last 10 years (my oldest is 9 and I’m expecting number 7 right now) and I’ve found that elastic waisted skirts are helping me at the beginning of the pregnancy and afterwards as well. I never thought I’d say that when I was a teenager, but I didn’t know how much my size would change! (When I was in high school I told my mom I would ALWAYS tuck my shirts in and never wear them on top of my pants like she did. My mom burst out laughing! Now I wish I could tuck them in!)

    • Heather says

      My four sound about the same ages as yours, but older by two years. It’s hard; I always had to have a lot of clothes: Pre-babies normal, early pregnancy, big pregnancy, 9th month-losing my mind-impulse-purchase, “fat” clothes, nursing bras, and the new normal. The pre-babies normal are donated now, sadly! I avoided buying dresses because it just made me sad not to wear them while nursing. I also worked during my first pregnancy, so I had to have maternity work clothes – expensive. Didn’t need those for the other pregnancies. And then pregnancies in different seasons . . . .

      I would say don’t try to go from maternity straight back to your normal clothes. It’s really helpful for the morale to have some “fat” clothes to bridge that gap.

      • says

        Yep. My baby is six weeks old today, and I had to buy “fat” jeans last weekend because I’m still not back in my regular jeans. (They are VERY unforgiving. I’ve actually lost all the weight, but I haven’t lost the inches yet. But I got cleared for exercise today, so it’s only a matter of time!)

        I discovered that during pregnancy is actually the best time to go through one’s closet. I simply asked myself about each item, “Am I excited about wearing this again someday?” and if the answer was anything other than an enthusiastic “Yes!” I got rid of it. Didn’t actually trim my closet much, though, because I’m pretty good about not buying clothes I won’t wear.

      • Rachael says

        Have you tried a nursing dress? I bought one for my daughter’s baptism and it is one of the most flattering items I own. I got it from a company called Breast is Best.

    • Valerie says

      I agree. Whenever I think about a minimalist wardrobe, my main issue is pregnancy (especially early pregnancy before I need maternity clothes and then post partum when I don’t fit into my regular clothes yet). I like jeans quite a bit, so I keep a few different sizes. I have been able to throw a few pairs out though and just keep my favorites in each size.

  17. says

    I think having minimalist wardrobe is a great way to save money. I do like to spend a little more on my clothes, since I wear one pair of pants 2-3 times a week (That’s a lot of laundering) or at least make sure it’s good quality. I also try to choose “not too trendy” pieces so they aren’t dated after one season.

  18. Jessica says

    Thanks for the post- I try to do the same thing, with a few more pieces added in. I work 4 days a week and it is obvious to me if someone is wearing the same shirt with a scarf, or without it. I try to have 10 shirts and 3-4 pairs of pants to mix and match.

    Luckily we are casual in my office, so my work clothes and leisure clothes are all the same!

    I have also found hang or laying pieces flat to dry extend their life versus putting in the dryer, they will stay looking newer, longer.

    • says

      I’ve noticed several people have said that they notice about shirts. It’s interesting, because a man can wear a white shirt and a suit everyday, and just change his tie. (He can own several of the same white shirts, though).

      Why can’t a woman wear a button-up blouse every day, in that same basic manner? Whether she’s wearing it with a skirt or pants, or a scarf or different jewelry, it’s the same outfit.

      If you have several of the same blouses (a basic button up) in one or two colors, it should be sufficient. Yes, you may need enough for the week, but once you find a blouse you like on sale, you can just buy more of them. It might look like you’re wearing the same shirt even when you’re not, but men do this all the time. No one says he has to wear a blue shirt, then a striped one, then a white one, then another color, etc.

      Also, I just started using spray starch, and what a difference it makes in getting a crisp blouse!

  19. says

    I entirely agree. It saves money, time, and sanity to have fewer pieces. Through trial and error, I think for the “going out in public” or “work” clothes it is definitely worth spending a little more money so you really love how you look in them and that they withstand constant laundering, which is necessary for a minimalist.

    For people who say they work in a business environment and can’t implement this: I teach college in the evenings and last year had only one pair of nice slacks and had about three or four tops with two jackets and a nice sweater that I would mix and match and layer. Worked for me. I guess it would be a different situation if you HAVE to wear a suit or something.

  20. Julie says

    I love the idea about the one – year wardrobe. I work full time out of the house, so I will need more clothes, but I am going to give it a try. I have 2 closets in my bedroom and will cram everything in one and slowly move everything to the other one as I wear things. This will be done just in time for when my boyfriend moves in.
    I am going to do the same with my shoes….

  21. Mary S. says

    I think a couple of these are good tips no matter what. I personally like having a few more options and a lot of people are saying that working outside the home increases the amount of clothes they need which is true. But if you own only things you love and wear, make sure everything fits with more than one outfit and know how to dress outfits up or down with the right accessories then that is the perfect minimalist wardrobe for you.

    The number of items you own may be three times the number someone else owns but it may fit your life perfectly. I try to not get caught up in specific numbers of outfits. I think these are great tips for everyone to have a functional wardrobe that works for you.

  22. Jacci says

    Great post! Your blog, getrichslowly.org and frugalgirl.com are my three go-to blogs every morning. I LOVE when you guys mention each other.

  23. Coral says

    I disagree with the posts that say if you work you must have more clothes. I work in a business casual office. No jeans allowed. I have one week’s worth of summer and one week’s worth of winter clothes. No one cares if I wear the same clothes every week. I have a few nice skirts and different tops. For weekends, I tend to just also wear the same clothes. I’m comfortable in them, so why not? In fact, I’ll even be taking most of the same wardrobe with me to Disney World. Again, it’s business casual, but I look nice – it’s not frumpy clothes at all. Most of my current wardrobe comes from Cato.

  24. Danielle B says

    I’m working hard on losing weight right now, so I’m not even letting myself think about what I’m wearing. My wardrobe is HORRIBLE at its current state, but it’s just not the main focus of my attention at this moment. I really look forward to spending more time and little bit more money on it in the coming months though.

    • Sarah says

      That’s where I am too. I had a baby back in April and I had been working on getting down before then. Now I’m starting all over and I’m feeling quite discouraged. I know I am frumpy, but I’m sure a lot of that has to do with my self-image. I also refuse to spend money on clothes right now- it’s like giving up and resigning myself to always being fat. I’m going to try the scarf thing this fall and winter, and by next spring, I’ll be ready to do some shopping.

      • Andrea says

        If you can sew, you can probably alter some of your tops to fit better. I’ve seen no-sew ideas on Pinterest, too.

    • says

      I’m working hard on weight-loss too right now. The crazy thing is I’m finally actually happy with much of my wardrobe (because they’re now making lots of nice plus-sized clothing) and am already feeling a bit sad for when my cute new(er) dresses will be too big! Although, it will be a good thing too, I know.

  25. Brittany says

    I save money by buying only those clothes I can’t NOT buy. If I’m trying it on thinking, “do I like this?” or “it’s almost perfect, except…” I put it back and wait til I find something that is perfect. I’d much rather have just a few things I LOVE, than a drawer full of “look like crap, but it was cheap.”

  26. says

    I think the point of tip #1 is to not hang on to clothes you don’t like or don’t look good on you and because of that you don’t wear them just because you got a good deal on them. There are always things that are good to have on hand even if we don’t wear them but a couple of times a year. For instance, my husband is a pastor and hospice chaplain. He dresses in khaki’s and nice shirts normally, but he also needs a nice, well made, good fitting suit for weddings and funerals. Just because he doesn’t use it often – doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it in his closet.

    Everyone’s needs are different as to the number of outfits, but I think the principle of not keeping what you don’t wear is valid for everyone.

    • Andrea says

      This is one of the reasons why I don’t like these types of recommendations. Some clothes are made to last for decades!

      My husband’s black suit may get worn two or three times one year and then not again for 18 months or more. His suit cost $500 about five years ago and he’ll have it for many more years to come. Same thing goes for my long wool dress coat (it was free, but I’m not about to buy a replacement!).

  27. says

    I’m still working my wardrobe down, I fall into the same trap as others of buying items just because they’re cheap. It’s taken a long time to learn what colors, styles and brands look good on me (and last!)

    One thing that helps me let go of items is to ask myself how many other of the pieces I own would I choose to wear before this particular one. Often I realize that something that I was telling myself I might wear is very low on my list!

  28. beth b says

    I think Minimalist Wardrobe means something different to everyone. Like Crystal always says, what she does may not work for someone else.

    For me, clothes have always been A Thing. Having an insanely large wardrobe when I was in my early 20s (Um, 40 sweaters. Really.) contributed to the problems I had with credit cards. I’ve since reformed, thank goodness.

    It boils down to determining the amount of clothing that works for your life. How much closet space you have, how much trouble you have deciding what to wear on a regular basis, whether you like wearing the same few pieces or need more variety, your laundry habits, etc .. Not putting away laundry because your drawers and closets are too full might be a sign you have too much. :) Frequently panicking because you forgot to do laundry and have nothing to wear could be a sign you have too little.

    I work outside the home part time. While there is some overlap between work and Mom clothes I always change before work so I look more fresh or dressed up. I also have the weird category of concert black for concerts and gigs. My performance wardrobe needs to include various levels of formality for different temperatures as well as adherence to a fairly strict dress code so it can be challenging.

    I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I need and want my wardrobe to be. The change in how I shop is amazing. Not only am I fiscally responsible but I’m much more mindful. No longer do I buy something because it’s a good deal or a fun item I’ll never wear (hello red satin high heeled sandals ). I enjoy clothing just as much as I ever did but now I feel better about my purchases.

  29. Janie says

    Personally, I LOVE having lots of clothing options in colors that look good on me. I feel good when I can wear cute, distinctive outfits, and not just the same-old, same-old. But, to each his own. :)

  30. says

    Someone else told me that with my skin color I should wear brown instead of black.

    I agree, but finding things in brown has been so difficult that I now buy things in black again and that simplified my life. I would suggest shopping with an honest friend and holding up different color shirts to see what colors look best on you.

    I totally agree about the scarves!!! Here in South Dakota I need all the warmth I can get for 6 months out of the year and they are perfect for that!

  31. says

    I just wrote an article (which was featured on the Krazy Coupon Lady website!) which talks about how to plan a clothes swap. Check it out here http://earningmytwocents.blogspot.com/2011/09/free-clothes-for-frugal-fashionistas.html. Clothes swaps are a great way to keep your wardrobe up to date, purge clothes you don’t wear or don’t fit, and benefit and bless your friends. You can take home “new” clothes and keep some excitement in your wardrobe. I personally swap all the time and find that at least one article I wear each day I got for free at a swap, and I get compliments all the time.
    It’s not all about what you have or if you have a lot in your closet, but how you wear it. Sometimes wearing a shirt with a different skirt or pant can freshen up an outfit, and a new accessory can make a real difference and easily keep you looking fashion-forward without a big purchase or a lot of new clothes cluttering up your closet.

  32. Jessica says

    I really enjoyed this post. I am loving the Old Navy tall section with discount codes, and, happily, feeling like I’ve got a cohesive wardrobe this Fall. I’ve got a brown pair of pants and a brown skirt and a few pairs of black pants, a pair of boots in brown and black, and one brown and one black bag. I picked a basic neoprene laptop type thing in a nice shape. It’s waterproof, can be washed, looks appropriate at the office, but isn’t too stodgy for happy hour or the weekend (and it looks gender-neutral enough that my guy offers to carry it for me, which is a HUGE plus; I have back problems). I’ve organized myself into little zipper bags (I love cheap GPS travel cases for this) so I can just dump the contents of one bag into the other when I need to switch. I still tend to wear one color for the first half of the week so I only have to switch once. I keep it mostly empty, which means I can shove a lunch or a few groceries in there when I need to. Several of my sweaters are neutral (white, cream) and so they can go with anything. I’ve pretty much switched over to skinny pants with (conservative, flat-heeled) knee-high boots. There have been a lot of days where it’s wet, but not really rainy enough to warrant rainboots, so this has worked out well. It’s also one of the only types of shoe that goes with both pants and skirts. I tossed the summer clothes I hadn’t worn all season in a donation bin and put the rest in spacebags. It’s nice to know that I’ll open them up in a few months to find things I actually like, and having the extra space in the closet is wonderful.

    I agree that you have to keep a few things you don’t wear that much (like a really warm jacket, for example) but I like having staples be the majority.

  33. says

    I personally follow the old ways of having house clothes (nice t-shirts and jeans- very casual) and a few going to town/church clothes (skirts, nice pants and dressier blouses). I purged my wardrobe a lot this year, and invested in fewer better quality pieces which will last. I am in no way a clothing hoarder nor a minimalist. I like to think I am in between…

  34. says

    Boy the -only own what you wear- just wiped out 2/3 of my closet-lol. Im inspired to clean it out. I have a bad habit of hanging on to clothes that “will fit” and then I run out of room for those that “do fit”. Thanks for sharing.

  35. says

    When we moved to China 4 years ago, we (my husband and I) were only permitted to take two fifty pound suitcases each. That meant anything that we didn’t wear or use often was out! After leaving a lot of my clothing in storage for two years, I realized that I never missed it. Now I pride myself on my small wardrobe, and really try to keep it down to what I really wear and really like. Thanks for the reminder!

  36. Kathy says

    This post- and the followups – are great! As a plus size reader, I think this is even more important. A decade ago, the plus size clothing industry started expanding :) and now we have lots to choose from. It’s very easy to get carried away and buy too much. Simple, clean, fairly fitted clothes in neutral colors (not just “slimming” black) generally look best, with some zing added through scarves , jewelry. I think it’s even more important for a plus size shopper to buy the same item in several colors if the item is particularly well cut. While there are lots of choices, a lot of clothes still are modeled after the “let’s hide her in a tent” philosophy.

  37. Leighann says

    I think this would work great for me! My only problem is that I just don’t wear scarves, and I tend to not wear much jewelry, unless it’s a special occasion; I might throw on a pair of earrings, and my wedding rings, but most of the time the rest of my jewelry stays in the box. I’ve bought scarves, but never seem to wear them; I just don’t feel right in them. Oh well, I’m a t-shirt and jeans girl, anyway – although it is time to clean the closet out!

  38. Angie D says

    Thanks for the tips! I think my whole house needs a “what would Crystal do” approach. LOL! I need to be more intentional about this, but working on it. Most of my inventory is solid-colored tank tops, SS Tees and LS Tees and I love my scarves too!

  39. says

    An easier approach I’ve read relating to item #1 is to turn your hanger in the opposite direction after you’ve worn an item of clothing. Then you can see what you’ve worn without having to move your clothes between rooms (side note: this works best when the rod in your closet doesn’t fall down, as mine did a few days ago).

  40. Kimberly says

    This has been a blessing! Thank you Crystal! Now I just need to figure out where to find a good pair of Corduroys for this fall/winter season… then I can move forward from there!! Any suggestions?

  41. says

    I am so thankful you posted this. I have been thinking for weeks about cleaning out my closet and that I needed to look up your previous post on the minimalist wardrobe. I’m not quite ready to reduce that much, but I’m working on it.

    I work in a professional office and wear the same clothes a lot! Sure I would like to update a bit, but we have no credit card debt and are working very hard on paying our house off in the next few years. Some of the ladies I have worked with wear amazing clothes – and also have a lot of debt and stress.

    I also read Jessica’s post recently and think it is time to rethink my whole wardrobe. You can still be stylish and cute, without being overwhelmed and spending lots. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement.

  42. says

    I enjoyed the post, and agree with it in theory, but I’m not sure it works for everyone. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my kids end up staining my clothes with messy hands often. If I had just a few tops and got stains on them that couldn’t be cleaned, I’d feel the need go out and buy a replacement (and end up paying a higher price) to have stain-free clothes. Currently, I pick up things I love at garage sales or thrift stores for less than $1. I can afford to have lots of things to wear so that when something gets permanently stained, I have other options.

    • Andrea says

      I wear the stained things at home on the days I know we’re not going out and keep other things for days that we leave the house. Sometimes, the stains fade after a few washes. I have one top that got stained the first time I wore it. I added a scarf and no one can see the spot. If I can juggle the time correctly, I don’t change in to my going out shirt until we’re almost ready to leave.

    • Sara says

      Once I had a child I was shocked by the amount of stain management required of me! Now I just google remedies for each type of stain – about.com has become my very best friend! I have yet to have a stain that site has not had a remedy for. The only stain I couldn’t remove using their methods was permanent ink, but to be fair the site did warn that ink might not come out using any method!

      • says

        Ballpoint pen ink comes out with hairspray. I’m not sure I know of any remedy for permanent ink, though.

        Shout gets almost everything else out–except for blood. Hydrogen peroxide is best for that.

        And we’ll see how my new homemade Oxiclean holds up to Shout.

        • Sara says

          Interesting! I’ve never used Shout, because honestly pre-child we rarely had any stains. It seems that all the remedies I’ve used from about.com are random grandma-style remedies – boiling water for berry stains, cold water and bar handsoap for blood stains, vinegar for others, etc. Thanks for the tip!

          Perhaps you have a good tip for baby spit up stains? All of my son’s newborn stuff was DISGUSTING after a couple years in storage. Apparently the Dreft stain remover I used for his clothes didn’t cut it for the long haul, and maybe I was too sleep deprived at the time to realize the stains weren’t fully out??? Or perhaps Dreft just masked it somehow? Thankfully I’m having a baby girl so I wouldn’t have reused his stuff anyway, but I’d like to have more success with her stuff if we’re not done having children. Thanks!

          • Erin says

            We don’t get too many stains, but when we do, they are doozies! I’ve found Shout to be very ineffective. I end up using old school products like Fels Naptha soap, but I still haven’t removed the latest stain–a faint poop stain on my daughter’s adorable (and brand new!) pants. When my son was a baby, I found the best stain remover to be Totally Toddler. His stuff was pristine. The problem is, this stuff can be difficult to find and it doesn’t seem to go on sale!

          • Andrea says

            Many types of fabric will yellow when stored in plastic or (especially) in cardboard. If it is exposed to extreme heat (like in an attic), it will yellow quicker. It seems that some types of laundry detergent actually make it worse. I’ve had this happen to plain cotton fabric that had never been used.

            Before storing clothes (of any type), launder them without fabric softener and do a second rinse to make sure the soap is completely rinsed out. Store in acid free containers, preferably inside the house where they won’t be subject to extreme temperatures.

            Hanging the wet clothes in the sun will sometimes lighten the stains.

        • Stephanie says

          I love Shout- I will soak the stains overnight before washing and everything (except sharpie maker which doesn’t come out of anything) including blood comes out. Stain remover has saved us so much money and our clothes look pretty good.
          Another thing I do to reduce wear and tear in the washer/dryer is wash all the clothes inside out. It takes a few extra minutes but over time the clothes stay looking nicer longer.

  43. says

    Thanks, Crystal! This post inspired me to go through my clothes and get rid of many items I rarely wear. I’m also trying to get better at the mix and match concept. Anyone know of a great store for buying inexpensive, cute scarves and accessories?

  44. Meredith says

    I have probably more clothes than crystal but I still don’t have a big wardrobe. I am a sahm. However, I can’t just wear one color all of the time. I have about one shirt in each color and pair it with my jeans or khakis. I have a few dresses that I have hung onto over the years that I wear from time to time. I also have a few extra sweater cardigans. Other than that, it’s pretty simple. I worked in jewelry in college so I over purchased a bunch of things that I can accessorize with. That was a long time ago but the stuff still works! Different colors just make me feel good so I like to keep a good pallette around!

  45. Andrea says

    I work outside the home full time and I am sure have more then what I need in some areas. I only have 4 pairs of work pants, 2 black, 1 brown and 1 gray so I have to wear the same pair twice each week. I will spend too much on shoes but I keep a pair of shoes for 4 0r 5 years so I do not mind spending $70 on a pair that will hold together good and are comfortable. But I love tops, I probably have 10 for each season that can be worn with any bottoms. I wish I could get into accessories though to spruce up my closet.

  46. Amy says

    These are great tips! One day, I will go through my closet and purge. I have so many sizes of clothing in there, but really almost nothing I wear. I have been pregnant or nursing for the last ten years and my size is always in fluxuation, but some things I have not worn in three babies!

    Anyway, I love the cardigan in the picture, and gray is one of my colors. That whole outfit is very “me”, I think. Any idea where it came from?