How can you have a minimalist wardrobe and look stylish and good on different occasions?
In this article, I will guide you through this process with 4 easy-to-follow steps. And don’t you worry. Nothing will be missing in your closet.
There are plenty of reasons to build a minimal wardrobe. Maybe you need one to travel or you’re trying to live a more minimal and conscious lifestyle. Whatever the reasons are, the process will be the same for every situation. You need to figure out your lifestyle needs to figure out what clothes deserve a spot in your wardrobe.
I spent three months abroad and had to carry a lot of things with me whilst moving. I had a few kilos of camera gear, heavy and energy-sucking university books. Oh and notebooks (bullet journal fan here). For that reason, my whole wardrobe had to weigh maximum of 20 kg so I could fit everything in my bags. I tell you, it was not easy carrying all this on the train with me. In the end, it wasn’t unnecessary effort. I could have brought even less with me.
The goal of this article is to guide you through the process of building your minimal wardrobe. My experience’s role in this article is to help you a make better judgment of what you need.
I’ve simplified my method to 4 simple steps that you can follow to get to your minimal closet.
#1 Wardrobe detox
I know what is. The overwhelming feelings created by having too many things. You want to get rid of everything, but it isn’t that easy. Also, that’s not the quickest way to achieve a minimal wardrobe. There’s the chance you’re getting rid of things you might need till you find a better replacement. Until you get an idea of what your personal style consists of you should keep things that you’re still wearing a lot. Even if you don’t like them so much anymore. So ask yourself the following questions before starting to declutter:
What activities are you going to be attending/doing the next couple of months?
- Do you have a big vacation and need hiking gear?
- Are you also going abroad for a few months?
- Do you plan to move to a camper and travel around?
- Do you have upcoming events on your agenda that ask for some kind of dress code?
Answer these questions and write down the things you have and the ones you’ll need. Think about the upcoming events in your life to help you make these choices.
What are your lifestyle needs?
These last questions help you find out what you actually need from what you simply crave for. A wardrobe built around craves results in clutter. A wardrobe built around needs results in an intelligent and minimal wardrobe.
And the best way to build a minimal and intelligent wardrobe is exploring the concept of a capsule wardrobe.
So, what do I mean by a capsule wardrobe? It’s simply a well-organized wardrobe containing your favorite pieces, ones that you can wear over and over again without much thought. A capsule wardrobe makes life easier because it provides you with multiple outfits. Although it contains fewer pieces, each one is well thought out and of high quality. See here how to build one from scratch.
You don’t need to follow all the rules of a capsule wardrobe. Start by creating an all-year-round capsule of clothes that are essentials. This can be a good start to creating your own minimal wardrobe. Take advantage of my free capsule wardrobe planner to serve as a base for you revamped closet. It’s packed with tons of information and exercises to help you find your personal style based on your lifestyle. Enter your info below to get it via email.
#2 Dive deep into your personal style
A minimal wardrobe should have all the things that showcase your personality. Your favorite fabrics, colors, shapes and patterns. It’s important to know what are the things you love. That way you don’t get caught away with trends and clutter your closet again.
For that reason, I help you build a closet based on your lifestyle. So you don’t create a closet full of statement pieces that look pretty but you’ll never wear.
I have a list of 36 wardrobe essentials that you can trust all year round to serve your closet needs. You can look up these basics to help you find the ones you need and should keep in your wardrobe.
Sometimes we get bored with our clothes and want to get rid of our own basics. Keep them till you find a better replacement that will serve you ages.
Write down what’s already working for you in your closet. I love Un-fancy tip of photographing your outfits for two weeks. This exercise helps you see what type of clothes you love already but haven’t noticed. What patterns? What silhouettes? What colors? What’s missing? Here are some orientations.
- Document your outfits for two weeks and write down what you like about your looks.
- Make a Pinterest board and save styles you fancy and work with your lifestyle. See my Pinterest boards to get some aesthetic ideas.
- Build a color palette for your wardrobe with my help.
#3 Create your to-go outfit formulas
The secret to a functional and easy minimal closet? To-go outfits formulas. The good news is they don’t need to look all the same.
My rule for choosing tops and bottoms is making them all interchangeable. By doing so, you can have multiple outfits with fewer clothes.
With 5 tops and 5 bottoms, you should have about 25 outfits and you can also use style tricks to get even more. Like tee under a dress, or dress under a pair of jeans transforming it into a top 😉
I pay attention to my new purchases so they can go with other pieces I have already in my capsule wardrobe. I like to create a wardrobe color palette. That way all pieces in my wardrobe kind of go together whatever outfit formula I pick in the morning.
Yup, you can create a minimalistic wardrobe that doesn’t have only neutral clothes.
Now, what are to-go outfit formulas? They are simple and easy clothes combination that don’t demand much effort.
- Tshirt + jeans + sneakers
- Blazer + top + jeans + loafers
- Blouse + midi skirt + sandals
- Band tee + blazer + jeans + booties
- Little black dress + booties + leather jacket
- T-shirt dress + sandals + jeans jacket
Give these formulas your twist based on your lifestyle and taste.
#4 Buy smart
After you’ve done a wardrobe detox, explored your personal style and selected your to-go outfit formulas you have achieved the core of your minimal wardrobe.
Make a small study of what pieces are missing, either these are seasonal items or basics. Following make a list of things you need.
Take into consideration that having a minimal wardrobe you won’t need to update it all the time. This is why I advise you to choose high-quality pieces that you can wear all the time.
High quality, ethical and slow fashion can be a bit pricey but it is doable on a budget as well. I like to make a list of things I need before each season starts. I use it to look out for second-hand pieces in shops and online platforms. Older clothes were made with higher quality and last longer. If I need something new, like something I can’t find second-hand, I check affordable ethical fashion brands in the area I live (Germany) like Armed Angels and ethical marketplaces like Wertvoll. My favorite North American brand for basics is Everlane. They have often good shop deals like Choose What You Pay.
Another idea is attending/organizing a clothing swap with your friends. Sell your old items on Depop, and organize cool flea market day to get some money for new pieces.
Sounds like a lot of work to get affordable fashion but it’s fun and good for the planet kind of work.
Below I will list the items I wore to the max while abroad so you can get some inspiration to build your minimalist wardrobe.
These are the items I wore the most on my 3 months abroad (see my complete summer capsule wardrobe here). I will also list also items I added for other extra activities like sports and long weekend trips.
- 5 tops
- 5 bottoms
- Denim jacket
- Warm jacket
- Vintage dress
- Little black dress
- Tee dress
- Sport Clothes
- Hoodie sweater
- Sports set
- Rain jacket
- Birkenstock shoes
- Comfy white sneakers
- Chic pair of sandals
- A minimal Jewelry set
- A pair of statement earrings
- Tote bag
- Chic crossover bag
- Another backpack for cameras
- Sewing kit
That’s it. Keep in mind your wardrobe is an evolving thing, you go through many iterations over a lifetime. Your lifestyle can change and your taste too. Reevaluate again your minimal wardrobe when you think it’s time for a change.
What basics are you going to include in your minimalistic wardrobe?