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The movement toward minimalism has impacted interior design and home organization in significant ways, but it’s also affecting people’s closets. Many people find that their closet is cluttered with items they no longer wear, whether because the piece no longer fits, it’s out of fashion, or it’s no longer to your tastes. 

If you want to make your wardrobe more minimalist, you can save with your shopping budget and also transform your look to one that is classically stylish. 

Before we list the essential items you should have in your minimalist wardrobe, let’s go into the steps for decluttering your closet and minimizing the pile-up of stuff. 

How to Achieve a Minimalist Wardrobe

There are some simple steps to follow to curate a conscious closet and minimize your wardrobe for a classic and simple style:Pull out all of your clothes, shoes and accessories. 

It’s hard to fully minimize if you don’t do it all at once, so the first step is to bring every apparel item out of your closet, dresser, and storage cabinets. Don’t forget the jackets and shoes in your hall closet, and be sure to make a pile of all of your jewelry, belts and accessories. Put everything in one spot.

Place everything on your bed, so that you can tackle everything from one place. If all of your clothing, undergarments, coats and shoes won’t fit on the bed, that’s ok! The key is to place everything together at least in the same room so that you don’t miss anything. Don’t forget the hangers! A hidden trick to a conscious closet is matching hangers, which keep things looking organized and straightforward. Create a pile of the low-hanging fruit. 

Make it easier on yourself by starting a pile of the low-hanging fruit, or items that you definitely want to get rid of. These should be things you don’t like, articles you haven’t worn in a while, or clothing that went out of fashion long ago. Place them in a garbage bag or box. If you wish, you can create two separate piles, one to donate and one with items you might be able to sell on consignment. You might need a third pile for worn or stained items to throw away. Get rid of the ‘goal’ items.

Most people have some clothing that they hold onto because they dream of fitting into it someday, but now is the time to close the door on those pieces. Keep your goals, and consider implementing a plan for achieving them, but dump the stuff. If you’re dedicated to your goal of exercising and eating right, you can allow yourself one or two ‘goal’ items. However, you should set a deadline for yourself – if you haven’t achieved your goal by the date you placed, then it’s time to let the items go, for good. Take on your “Ice Queen” persona, and cut the sentimentality.

You’re likely to experience a little bit of sentimentality about some items. That sweater that you wore on your first date with your now-husband, your favorite T-shirt that’s seen better days… but it’s no time to be sentimental. Keep the photos of you wearing these items, but get rid of the clothes. Give those rarely or never-worn beautiful items a better cause.

Many of us have held onto our prom dresses or wedding dress, but they’re just gathering dust. There are plenty of nonprofits for these types of items, and they will take the beautiful gowns off your hands and give them to someone who needs them. If you have other luxury items that you don’t wear because they don’t fit or flatter, these can also be donated or put on consignment so that a new wearer can enjoy them. Repeat every quarter.

The first time you go through your closet, you’ll probably clear out a lot of stuff. However, the trick to maintaining a minimalist wardrobe is to keep minimizing as time goes on. Every three months or so, schedule another closet-clearing day to go through everything. It’s a good idea to have this date coincide with reviewing your progress on your fitness goals and potentially get rid of those remaining ‘goal’ items.

Essential Items for a Minimalist Wardrobe

Now that you have condensed your wardrobe and thrown out (or donated) the pieces you don’t need, you can review the items you’re left with to make sure you have all of the essentials. Here’s a helpful list of the essential elements for every minimalist’s closet, including a limit for how many options you should have for each item:

  • Limit your accessories to one or two of each. We’re talking about handbags, belts, hats, scarves, and glasses. Rimless glasses are great for a minimalist look since they open up your face because there are no frames. If you need vision enhancement and you don’t like wearing contacts (or you want to change up your look with glasses), rimless eyeglasses are a great choice.
  • Undergarments. You should have enough socks and underwear for one week, plus three bras (i.e. one nude, one black and one strapless or convertible), and 3-4 cami tank tops. 
  • Short-sleeve shirts or T-shirts. Start with five, and try to pare down from there. 
  • Long-sleeved shirts. Keep 3-4 long-sleeved tops. 
  • Sweaters. You should only have four sweaters, in total. If you live in a warmer climate, consider keeping only two or three. 
  • Casual dresses or skirts. Shoot for a maximum of two or three, with a mix of skirts and dresses (i.e. one skirt and two dresses, or one of each). 
  • Jeans. Keep only the 2-3 pairs of jeans that make you feel good and flatter your body. 
  • LBD. Every woman needs one little black dress. 
  • Exercise gear. Keep two pairs each of running shorts and exercise pants (such as leggings), and 2-3 exercise tops. You only need one pair of running shoes. 
  • Business clothes. You should have at least one suit or professional outfit, but you may need 2-3 if your career requires more dressed-up attire. Remember, you can make a skirt, dress or even jeans look fancier with a blazer or cardigan. 
  • Pajamas and lounge clothes. Keep only one or two sets of lounge clothes or pajamas. You can minimize further by using your exercise leggings and casual tops for lounging. Don’t forget your bathrobe (only one). 
  • Shoes. You can reverse the numbers of heels versus flats depending on your style, but a minimalist wardrobe probably includes just two pairs of flats, two pairs of sandals, one pair of heels and one pair of boots. Make sure your shoes are all good quality and comfortable. 
  • Swimwear. Keep just two swimsuits. If you live on or near the beach and you’re there several times each week, you might need three.
  • Coats. You only need one heavy winter coat, but you probably also need a rain jacket or shell, a light coat such as denim or leather, and two blazers. 

Budget-Friendly Ways to Add to Your Minimalist Wardrobe

It may seem counterintuitive to talk about adding to a minimalist closet, but you just got rid of a lot of items. Some of the stuff you tossed may need to be replaced, especially if they were staple items that just didn’t fit or had stains and holes. 

There are a few ways to shop consciously as you add essentials to your minimalist wardrobe:Shop secondhand stores first. Thrift stores and consignment shops are great for shopping as well as donating. With a minimalist wardrobe, the focus is quality. However, quality items may carry a hefty price tag if you buy them brand new. You can often find some high-quality and even brand-name pieces on the racks of secondhand stores. It may take some extra time, but finding a barely-worn brand-name piece at your local Buffalo Exchange feels like a huge success for your closet and your wallet.

Save up for the expensive stuff. Even though you’ve just gotten rid of most of your closet, there’s no need to replace the staple items or essential pieces all at once. For big-ticket items such as your dream winter coat or high-quality jeans, you can start a separate savings jar to ease the strain on your wallet. Focus on the big picture, which is quality over quantity. By wearing all of your clothes and having fewer pieces, you need items that will last. Saving up for something that you can wear for years is more worthwhile than having to replace it every six months when it gets too worn out. 

Look for sales and deals. You can build your minimalist wardrobe smart by buying some things at the end of the season or in the off-season. For example, you may be able to get a considerable discount if you buy your winter coat at the beginning of spring or in the middle of summer. Many stores also offer sales throughout the year or discounts if you sign up for their email list, and their newsletters may include even more discounts. Browse for online shopping coupons using sites such as RetailMeNot to find even more coupon codes and discounts. You can also install browser extensions such as Honey to have these sites hunt for online shopping coupons for you, finding the best discounts and applying them to your online cart automatically.

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Karla Urwitz

As a full-time career oriented mother of one, I love to chat and write about topics that matter to me in my life. My day has to starts with a cup of joe and usually ends with exhaustion. I have a passion for cross stitching and of course spending time with the kiddo. I am always on the look out for topics to write about like recipes, healthy living, and products I find fascinating.
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