A reader emailed recently, reminding me to write about a minimalist wardrobe. Despite my poor photography and video skills, I’m forging ahead.
A minimalist wardrobe makes looking good and getting dressed faster and easier. It also makes it possible to have nicer things on a tight budget. Sound good?
Why I love having a minimalist wardrobe
Why would a lady choose to have fewer clothes rather than more?
Having a small wardrobe simplifies my life.
It only takes me seconds to pick out what to wear, and everything in my closet goes with almost everything else. There is no decision fatigue with a tiny wardrobe. Ah, I love the freedom of limits!
Everything fits me perfectly and is flattering.
I don’t keep clothing that is ill-fitting or that makes me feel “wrong”, either because it’s flawed or sloppy or just not my style.
It’s not worth the stress and time wasted to keep things in your closet that aren’t perfect for you. Think like a French woman, and have a well-curated small wardrobe of items that are totally “You“.
How to create a minimalist wardrobe
- Define your style in a few words. Mine is “Librarian with an Edge“. I like classic clothing in somber colors and with modest cuts, but with a little bit of an edge so it’s not too boring or schoolmarmish. So for example, I have a classic black leather jacket with lots of zippers. A black-and-white striped tee with mesh cutouts in the back. A little bit of red here and there to make things pop. Etc.
- Choose 2-3 main colors and a couple of accent colors. Mine are black, grey, white and navy with pink and red for accent. Choose colors that complement your skin tone and personality. Interestingly, things that you like aren’t necessarily the most flattering. Ask honest friends for feedback.
- What type of fabrics do you prefer? Most people fall into two camps: loose and drapey, or structured with clean, geometric lines. (See Modern Mrs. Darcy’s post about this.) I am firmly in the latter camp. Anything baggy or loose makes me feel crazy and gross, like something is dripping off my body. Ew. But that looks perfect on some people. My oldest daughter looks beautiful in drapey, feminine fabrics that move, and that’s what she’s most comfortable in. Vive la difference!
Note: if you’re familiar with the “4 types” parlance, I am definitely a Winter. What’s your type? You can check out Color Me Beautiful for more info.
Remember “getting your colors done” in the 80’s, or was that just me? My mom was a “color stylist” and I remember her doing color workshops. I would watch how people looked when she draped those different-colored scarves under their faces – they would go from glowing to haggard and sallow and back again, in a moment. That was enough to convince me!
Knowing what colors work on you is KEY, and they may not be your favorite colors either. I see people wearing the wrong colors for their skin type all the time, and it makes a huge difference in their personal appearance.
If you’re struggling with this, try creating a Pinterest board and pinning styles you like. My style board for general inspiration is called French Girl Street Style, but I also have one for my StitchFix stylist that features “my” specific colors and cuts. After you’ve collected a few dozen, analyze them to see what they have in common.
Ask others for input too. Sometimes other people can spot our style more easily than we can.
Those wooden hangers were a present to myself. I got them at IKEA very inexpensively. Some people love velvet hangers, but I find that those break easily, and I have no problem with my clothing falling off the wood. Since they’re thick, they don’t leave hanger marks.
And I think they look prettier than other hangers. Plus, having a limited number means that when I run out of hangers, it’s time to get rid of something. A built-in limit!
And here’s the list of what’s in my minimalist wardrobe. I’m not including dressy clothing, just the things I wear everyday for casual or business casual.
- Black cardigan – 2
- Ivory cardigan
- Grey cardigan
- Black v-neck pullover
- s/s Black button down
- Black pinstriped vest
- Black and ivory shell
- Sleeveless black top
- l/s Black & white striped top
- l/s Grey & white button down
- s/s Navy cable knit sweater
- s/s Blue striped button-down
- l/s Red top
- l/s White and red striped top
- Sleeveless pink shell
- s/s Blue & cream striped sweater
- Sleeveless pale pink shell
- Sleeveless ivory shell
- Navy chinos
- Dark grey jeans
- Black jeggings
- Royal blue skinnies
- Navy blue skirt
And then I have a small collection of scarves and of course shoes, flats ALL. I don’t wear heels!
About half of my wardrobe was thrifted. The other half, most of them my very favorite pieces, came from StitchFix. (Here are my tips on helping your StitchFix stylist nail it.)
I have become more impressed with StitchFix recently because a few months ago, I returned two items that had not worn well (they both started falling apart after one gentle wash). I felt the quality was lacking for the price I paid, and I let them know. They gave me a full refund, no questions asked.
More help curating a minimalist wardrobe:
Courtney Carver’s Project 333 – Courtney is the maven when it comes to minimalist wardrobes!
In her book, Lessons from Madame Chic (love this series, have all of the books), Jennifer L. Scott talks about the “10 item wardrobe” and how liberating (and French!) it is.
Do you have a minimalist wardrobe? Why do you love it?
Love this post? Pin it please. Thanks!
Great post today! LOVED the video! Thank you! Interesting info on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s post regarding different fabrics.
I have been dragging my heels about trying stitch fix, but will have to give it a try. In past posts, you seem to be fairly pleased with their items & service. (And Modern Mrs. Darcy as well.)
Love the videos.
Ooh, I love all the resources, Carrie and your closet is beautiful! I like classic looks paired with bold colors. So maybe a modest blue jean skirt and black tights paired with a bright pink or red top that makes the whole outfit pop. 🙂
Forgot to mention in above comment…Love your stripes. I have a few striped shirts also. It always makes me happy to wear them.
Thanks, I love them too!
Thank you! And that sounds like my kind of outfit. 🙂
Thanks, I’m working on it. 🙂
Linda, yes I am, especially since they were willing to take back items that were of unacceptable quality.
Mrs. Picky PIncher says
This is a great idea! I’ve been slowly parsing down my own wardrobe over the last six months. I think it’s all about having pieces that will look great year-round. I’m learning about the importance of accessorizing to give outfits a different life, too. I still have a ways to go, especially in adding more vibrant colors to my wardrobe, but I don’t spend NEARLY as much money on clothes now compared to what I spent two years ago.
I’ve had a minimalist/capsule wardrobe for the last couple of years. I love it!! I even put together a minimalist wardrobe for my boys. I can’t switch my hubby over, he feels like he doesn’t have enough clothes otherwise…hahaha!! It is so easy to get ready in the morning now! The only thing that I need to collect a few more things for is for church clothing/nicer outing clothing. I am just super picky and can’t find things that I like.
Thank you for posting, and especially for sharing the link about not wearing heels. At 5’2.5″ it’s daunting to think of giving them up altogether! But something great to consider. I also love the Madame Chic series. I’ve wondered why, though I admire Jennifer’s style and the way she presents herself, I don’t feel or look good in the types of clothes she buys. Now I know – fitted/drapery and shiny/matte!
Sarah Prince says
I have never been able to just find my own style. I’ve lived in hand-me-downs for years. But everyday I look at my closet and I want to just through it all out and only keep the few pieces that I love. Maybe I’ll make this part of my goals for next year.
Like Sarah above I’ve never been able to find “my” style. I have an idea of what my style would be but it’s so hard for me to define in actual clothing. I love this though. You’ve nailed it! I love all of the patterns. Do you switch out wardrobes entirely with season? I know I could do this because I already only wear the same 15 things but it’s so hard to let things go!
@Heather Great question! I live in Georgia, where we have mild winters and long, hot summers. So my wardrobe doesn’t change much. I just add a cardigan and coat and scarf on top of whatever, that’s why the short sleeved shirts remain in the pic. It’s going to hit 65 today. :-/
I enjoyed reading this Carrie, I am trying to catch up with all your latest post :-). My motto is: few things of good quality. So I still have outfits that I used to wear more than 20 years ago. Thank you for sharing this.
@Emily – That’s a great motto! Too many times, I’ve gone too far into “cheap” rather than “frugal”. 🙂
I really need to put this into practice!
Girl, you are no joke.
This is a great, definitive list.
OMG you are a true workhorse and researcher.
I just wrote about my forced minimalist wardrobe, as some that lives apartment less, moving from one petsit to the next in NYC. Do I live up to your hopes?
Living sustainably on $100/week in NYC