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How I’ve Simplified My Wardrobe

My Minimalist Wardrobe

When I first started blogging, I had a barebones minimalist wardrobe with just 6 tops and 6 bottoms, and that was it. For real.

I did a video on my minimalist wardrobe and people could not believe that that was possible. But I’m just such a simple person that it worked for me.

Yes, I re-wore many things over and over and over again. Yes, people saw me in the same outfits all the time, but I honestly didn’t care because it kept my life so simple.

It eliminated decision fatigue, it made it easy to keep my closet organized, and it freed up time and space in my life for things that were higher priorities to me than how I looked and dressed.

Over time, as I’ve done more speaking engagements, interviews, business meetings, TV, and video, I’ve realized I need to adjust and expand some from my long time “6 tops and 6 bottoms” wardrobe. (I quickly found that one dressier/business outfit just didn’t cut it — especially when I was on a 3 or 4-day business trip!)

My Minimalist Wardrobe

At first, this was really hard for me. I don’t like shopping. I don’t like messing with figuring out clothes and outfits. And it just felt stressful — especially when I would need to get something new because I’d be doing a video interview and they’d say I needed to wear a solid color top or dress that matched with this type of background and wasn’t in these colors.

I took some time to really evaluate and figure out what would work best for my current life season, allow me to have enough options to choose from for different occasions, and also not result in me having more than I need or use.

Instead of having a set wardrobe standard where I only have X number of outfits, I’ve arrived at a really great happy place with what a minimalist wardrobe looks like for me based upon principles, rather than specifics.

My Minimalist Wardrobe

These are the principles that have helped me embrace a minimalist wardrobe while also feeling great about myself.

{Keep in mind that this is what works for me, and different things work best for different people. I encourage you to take from this what you can, and then adopt it to fit your lifestyle and individual preferences.}

1. Know Your Colors

If you pay attention to what I wear, you’ll notice I only wear a couple of colors — mostly greens and blues, with a few other colors thrown in. I have found the colors that I absolutely love, that make me feel great, complement my skin, and make my eyes pop.

Knowing my colors has also helped simplify shopping for me! When I walk into a store, I don’t feel overwhelmed by all of the choices. I go straight to my favorite colors that I know will make me feel great.

I highly recommend the helpful book Color Me Beautiful to help guide you through the process of figuring out what your best colors are. I also found the book, Help Me Jesus I Have Nothing to Wear to be helpful, too.

My Minimalist Wardrobe

2. Know Your Style

There are different styles for different people, and there are different styles for different body types. The Dressing Your Truth course helped me figure out my style, completely changed the way I dressed, and made me feel much more confident about myself each day.

With the help of this course, I discovered that I like and look best in classic styles, tailored items, and straight lines (I’m a Type 4). Those beautiful, flow-y shirts that look SO gorgeous on some of my friends simply do not work on my body type. (Seriously, I look like I’m wearing a bag when I try on something like that. Plus, I just feel plain frumpy — despite how cute it looks on someone else!)

Parts of theDressing Your Truth course are a little “out there” and weird to me, but I found the core principles of this course to be truly life changing. You can read my review about it here.

Note: The course is a little bit pricey, so I recommend trying out the Dressing Your Truth eBook first to see if it’s really worth it for you. There are also a number of free videos online with more information that will give you a great peak into what the course is about. If you find these helpful, then you might want to try out the full Dressing Your Truth course.

3. Only Own What You Love

In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the author says it is important to constantly ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” Take a look at your wardrobe piece by piece and ask yourself this question. Don’t hang on to anything you don’t like anymore, doesn’t fit you, is worn out, might be the wrong size, or that you don’t absolutely love wearing.

Think, “Am I wearing this because it looks cute on someone else? Or is it because I really love it?” As with everything in life, comparison steals joy. Focus on what works for you, and what makes you feel amazing when you put it on.

Get rid of anything that does not make you feel great every time you put it on.

My Minimalist Wardrobe

4. Shop Your Closet First

It’s so easy to feel discontent and think that you need more clothes or “don’t have anything to wear”. But when you feel like that, instead of running to the mall or to shop online, start by looking at what you already have in your closet.

It’s possible that you have a closet full of clothes that you aren’t wearing. Start there.

Go through what you already have and ask yourself, “Do I love this? Have I worn this recently? Could I pair this with something I already have to make a ‘new’ outfit?

Just by going through what you already have, you might discover some items you completely forgot about, put together some new looks, and realize you don’t even need to go shopping at all!

5. Only Buy What You Absolutely Love

This goes hand-in-hand with only owning what you love. There is no point in buying something that you don’t absolutely love.

When you’re in the dressing room, make sure you are 100% convinced that this item you are thinking of buying is your style and color, that it fits well, and that it pairs well with other pieces and accessories you already own.

If not, don’t buy it. Just don’t.

Otherwise, there’s a good chance you won’t wear it. You’ll keep it in your closet for the day when you find “the perfect shoes to match” or “the right pants to go with it” or for when you get back down to a size 8 again.

Save yourself the trouble, the clutter, and the money and just don’t buy it in the first place. I don’t care how good of a deal it is, it’s not a good deal for you if you don’t love it and aren’t going to wear it regularly!

My Minimalist Wardrobe

6. Aim For Versatility

People usually think I have more clothes in my closet than I do, because most of my clothes are quite versatile. I aim to have most items in my closet be things I can mix & match and use to put together different looks and outfits.

For instance, I recently got three dresses from Stitch Fix (see my completely honest review of Stitch Fix here). I kept them not only because they fit so well, but also because I instantly realized I could wear them during both the summer or winter months. In the summer months, I can wear them as a sun dress with sandals. In the colder months, I can add leggings, a cardigan, and a scarf for a completely different look.

Note: Putting Me Together is an amazing blog that gives moms very practical and doable ideas for mix and matching clothing pieces to come up with an almost endless number of different cute and simple looks. I highly recommend checking it out!

What are your favorite tips, tricks, and resources for simplifying your wardrobe? Tell us in the comments!

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51 Comments

  • Lana says:

    I had wondered if you expanded your wardrobe because of speaking. I am EXACTLY like you. In fact, in college, I had a schedule where I wore the same outfit every Tuesday, a different one every Wednesday, and so forth; it really helped lower the stress in that season of my life. I haven’t owned more than a weeks worth of clothes in a decade. It also helped because I spent several years in SE Asia where I only needed summer clothes.

    but then I moved to a place where it gets really, really cold, so now I have to own multiple layers, and different kinds of pants (wool, snow, regular, etc). Currently it’s a nightmare for me. Clothes are everywhere because I can’t keep it straight. On top of this, I’ve got five pairs of shoes (sandals, hiking shoes, tennis shoes, rough snow boots, light snow boots) PLUS iceskates and snowshoes. I’ve never owned five pairs of shoes in my life, so again, it’s overwhelming.

  • I don’t know if I have a minamalist wardrobe, but I do get rid of things that do not work for me. I’m given a lot clothes though, so I always want to give what has been given to me a real chance before I send it on its way…mainly out of courtesy for the giver, and because I do not have the money to go out and buy brand new things.

  • Chris Muller says:

    Hey Crystal – I’m by no means a fashion expert (lol) but I just wanted to comment on your mention of decision fatigue. This is something that all of us experience but few of us realize and do anything about. It happens all the time with the simplest things. I love the tips you’ve laid out to have a more minimal wardrobe and reduce decision fatigue. It might seem like a minor adjustment, but with all of us having crazy busy lives, any small adjustments we can make to save time and brain power is worth it. One thing I’ve recently started doing is simplifying our dinners. We’ve picked out 3-4 basic, easy dinners and bought the ingredients in bulk. We will do the same, easy dinner on the same night each week for 3-4 weeks. It can get bland, so we try to tailor it, then find new easy dinners for the next 3-4 weeks (if that makes sense). What it’s doing is reducing decision fatigue, saving us time, saving us money, and allowing us to focus on more important things (like getting the house ready for the baby!). Anyway – great post 🙂

    • Katy says:

      Chris, I really like this idea. My husband and I are lousy cooks and wait until the last minute to decide what to eat. That’s ok if you are only feeding yourself but we have kids and feel guilty that we only decide what to prepare by firing squad, if you know what I mean.

    • I LOVE this idea! Thanks so much for sharing, Chris!

  • Beth says:

    One part I struggle with is the idea of only keeping clothes you love. I get what you’re saying–don’t just fill your closet with a large quantity of clothes that you never wear. I also wholeheartedly agree that we should be ourselves and not just wear something because someone else does. But, to me, insisting on only clothes we love seems to be giving clothing too much importance in how we feel about ourselves and our peace of mind. There are lots of times I “settle” for the black t-shirt that is fine, but I don’t love, or I wear something so many times that it is threadbare and yet it isn’t in the budget to replace it. I also get a lot of the clothes that I have as gifts from others and so they aren’t always “perfect” for me, but I just remember that my peace doesn’t come from a perfect sweater or tidy drawer.

    • Great words! To clarify: I was referring to not keeping things that we don’t like and, as a result, never wear. Stuff like this is just cluttering up our lives.

      However, I think that a grateful spirit is the most important thing to clothe yourself in. 🙂

  • Just wanted to say thanks for linking to Putting Me Together. I just spent half an hour looking around the site–very inspiring!

  • Laura M says:

    I appreciated your post and the links. As a busy SAHM, I find it hard to shop for clothes. Do you have some favorite brands that you find are good quality (i.e. can handle being worn over and over) and yet within a reasonable budget? Do you actually shop at concrete and mortar stores, or do you use the internet? Thanks!

    • When I do go shopping — which is pretty rare — I usually go to Target or Kohl’s. I personally find that their clothes hold up just as well as more expensive brands in almost every case.

      • Guest says:

        I also have a limited wardrobe but I have to respectfully disagree about quality. When I buy a summer dress at Target, it absolutely does not compare to a summer dress from J. Jill (I love their clothes but buy on sale!). I’ve had one dress from J. Jill for about five years and I wear it year round. I’ve never had a Target dress that I was able to wear that long AND they’re typically much thinner fabrics.

        • I don’t know that I’ve ever bought a dress at Target… I’ve only purchased jeans, tops, accessories, and shoes — at least in the last 4-5 years there. So it’s very, very possible that their dresses don’t compare. 🙂

          And I mostly buy clothes online or from Kohls, but have bought a few things here and there from Target.

          Thanks so much for chiming in!

      • Laura M says:

        Thanks for the reply!

  • I love this post! I’m going to share it on FB tomorrow.

    Something I do to keep my wardrobe simplified is go through my clothes twice a year – once in fall and once in spring.

    During my autumn clean out, whatever spring/summer clothes & shoes I didn’t wear the past season – or the ones I wore a few times but didn’t feel good in – were donated.

    I’ll do the same thing shortly after the New Year begins – whatever fall/winter clothes & shoes I don’t wear this year will be given to a friend or Good Will.

    It only takes about an hour or two to go through my clothes each time so it’s a great way for me to keep my wardrobe simplified without having to put a lot of time, thought or effort into it.

    I’ve enjoyed seeing how your wardrobe has expanded over time – we’re a similar size & skin tone so you give me great ideas for simple but cute outfits I can pull together by using things I already have on hand 🙂

  • I totally need to do a wardrobe overhaul and this is a great guide for when I can make the time to get started. I definitely have things I don’t love or haven’t worn in a while and have other “holes” where I’m missing staple items. Thanks for the inspiration– and I’ve definitely noticed the pretty blues and greens in your scopes! They look great on you! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I love this so much and can’t wait to do it! My current issue is that we are still hoping for another child. So right now my closet is home to every size from 0-12 as well as a box of maternity clothes. Not having the funds or time to replace these items as I need them I’m the future (hopefully 😉 ) I feel obligated to keep it. Once I feel confident my child bearing time is behind me I will have one clean and easy closet!!

    • One thing that helped me during the childbearing years was to put the doesn’t-fit-right-now items in a tub in storage. That way, they weren’t in my closet when I wasn’t wearing them, but I could easily access them when my size changed. 🙂

  • Becky says:

    I’m not a big fan of paid apps, but recently purchased an app called Stylebook ($3.99, I think). You take photos of items in your wardrobe, mix and match looks and add to your calendar. It helped me visualize the many outfits I can make with a small wardrobe and takes the stress out of planning. It also gives you stats to help identify items/outfits that aren’t being used (which is a good indicator that I don’t love them).

  • Barb says:

    I have been applying the “keep what sparks joy” concept from that book for about a month now and it has made a big difference. I got rid of a lot of things that realistically, I was never going to wear. It makes my heart feel good. 😉 What a simple, straight-forward idea.

  • Rachel says:

    I just had to rebuild a wardrobe from scratch after having my first child. I literally had nothing to wear! I embraced all the principles you mentioned here when creating my new wardrobe. It was a little stressful and a lot more work to find clothes that really look good on me and that I truly love. Post baby, it would be easy to settle for “good enough”. But I really do love my new wardrobe and it will help me feel better going back to work. Thanks for all the great reminders. Putting in the work is worth it, because then you really don’t have to put in the work everyday to get dressed!

  • Drea says:

    Thanks for this post. As a mom of two I’ve accumulated so much and the loads of laundry and clutter have become ridiculous! I’m in the process of decluttering and I found an online consignment shop that has taken a few items off my hands for cash or trade called thred up. Looking forward to embracing a more minimalist lifestyle.

  • The Dressing Your Truth eBook is free for Kindle today. Yay!

  • Hannah Beth Reid says:

    Thank you for these tried and true tips! Way to go giving a shout out to the Amazing Audrey of Putting Me Together! Her blog is so inspiring to me to mix up the things I already own and not to buy things that don’t fit your needs.

  • Great post! I try to go through my closet regularly. I take unwanted clothes to a consignment shop that pays me 50%, and clothes that are not accepted at the consignment shop are donated. I find that keeping clothes I do not like makes me feel like I have to wear them! It is not fun wearing clothes that do not fit correctly or that are uncomfortable. The best solution is to take them out of your closet so there is no pressure to wear them!

  • Amber says:

    The Stylebook app is a great way to keep track of what you have and out outfits together. They have a calendar where you can pre plan your outfits as well as an option to plan ahead what you are going to pack. It’s awesome!

  • Holly says:

    I have a question about dressing your truth. Do you stick with the type 4 colors, or do you base your colors more off the two things you mentioned and just use DYT for style of clothes? I recently purchased it and I am a type 4 as well…I am waiting for my style card to come in the mail!

    • I stick mostly with Type 4 colors, but I don’t wear all of them since I don’t think they are all my colors. But I stick mostly with bright and bold hues with a few muted tones thrown in because I love them and I think they make my eyes pop.

  • Great post! I’m always looking for ways to simplify life. I also really enjoyed the video you posted about Jennifer L. Scott’s ten-item wardrobe, and I’ve been working to hone in on the best items that I can wear again and again.

    I purchased the Dressing Your Truth course when you first posted about it and have found it to be really helpful (as long as I tune out the “spiritual” stuff), not just in helping me determine my wardrobe, but in accepting certain personal attributes (I’m a Type 1). Have you figured out your secondary type and brought any of those styles into your wardrobe?

  • Just found your site and loved this post in particular. I read the Tidying Up book last year and, while I thought she was a nut case, I find myself always asking – Does this spark joy? before I buy anything. I also fold and fill my drawers like yours are in the pictures thanks to that book. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the ebook link about dressing your truth. Looking forward to checking that out and to your future posts. Blessings!

  • Federica says:

    Rule #1 that works for me: for every new thing that comes into the wardrobe, one must go. This is true for clothes, purses/handbags, and shoes. I love shopping and grew up around fabrics and colors (I am from Italy and several family members are tailors/seamstresses), however, I very much approach my wardrobe as I do my budget.

    By that, I mean the following: I have space for the “basics” in my colors (warm, “earthy” tones of brown, butterscotch, red, beige) and then I leave a small space for the “splurges”, such as the baby pink handbag or the fancy hat that perhaps I wear once a year and I keep for 20 years. All the while, keeping rule #1 above valid.

    This approach saved my sanity and my wallet – otherwise I’d be overflowed and over-spent on hats of all shapes and colors, which are my one true weakness 🙂

  • Audrey says:

    Crystal, thank you SO MUCH for mentioning my blog! I love that you’ve been simplifying your wardrobe, and as much as I personally love clothes and (used to) love shopping I have been simplifying my wardrobe more and more. Ever since becoming parents both my husband and I talk about decision fatigue often. I didn’t know it was a real thing–I thought he made up the term, haha!

  • Joy Boraine says:

    Thank you so much for this…I always wondered if I was weird because I had a minimalist wardrobe and dressed the same each day of the week every week when most of my friends have clothes spilling out of every wardrobe they own. I have now ventured into having a set of outfits for 2 weeks, so I only wear the same outfit every two weeks – haha!!!! I also arrange my clothing by outfits and accessories, so in the mornings I just grab a hanger and its got everything I need.
    I hate shopping too, but deciding what I want to add when I am at my wardrobe helps eliminate the stress of going shopping and searching for something. I keep my criteria simple too…white crisp shirt – any style or material type. So if I see one I like…I take it.

  • Dawn says:

    I have been wanting to try Stitch Fix…sounds fun! I need help with my wardrobe. ?

  • Nicole says:

    It would be great to have someone who can put things together for you. I don’t have the time to run out shopping with my boys being so little. What a great idea!

  • Julia says:

    Stitch Fix sounds interesting especially since I started working full time! I have 2 teenagers that don’t drive and a self-employed husband (so not a lot of free time) and with college looming ahead, not a lot of wardrobe cash. It could help me find items to add to my meager work clothes wardrobe and save me time!

  • Shannon says:

    I, too, want to simplify my wardrobe… and yet feel good about myself with fresh new things here and there. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • Kris says:

    I have SO many clothes I don’t have enough room for all of them. I normally give my clothes away to a homeless shelter but with so much and recently losing my job, I was wondering what the best idea is for getting rid of them. Is there an online store I could send them to and have them sell for me? What is the normal % of the cost could I expect to receive back?

  • Ashley says:

    Where did you get the blue dress in the picture above? I love it!

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