How to Create a Minimalist Wardrobe

As one of the biggest parts of my minimalist journey has been my decision to create a minimalist wardrobe, I thought I’d share the five most important things to do if you want to minimize your wardrobe.

If a full-on capsule wardrobe is a bit much for you, this will be a nice middle ground. I don’t want to limit myself to an actual capsule wardrobe, but I like to loosely base my wardrobe on that model. Minimalism isn’t just about limiting yourself to a certain number of items, but about being intentional with everything you buy.

First, it’s important to have particular reasons for why you want to create a minimalist wardrobe so that it won’t just be some trendy idea that you’ll eventually get bored of. Here are some quick reasons I think a minimalist wardrobe is a great idea:

  • You’ll save money.
  • Getting ready will be quicker and easier.
  • Your style will be more cohesive.
  • Your clothes will last longer (because you’ll be able to invest more money in good quality items).
  • You’ll stop feeling so pressured by society to keep up with trends and continue accumulating more.

I think those are the most important reasons why I decided to create a minimalist wardrobe. Yes, I wear a lot of the same items all the time. And yes, I’ve had people look at my wardrobe and ask if that’s all the clothing I own. But I think minimizing the amount of clothing I own has been a really wise and beneficial decision that has made my life easier and has increased my level of contentment with what I have.

So here are five important guidelines for creating a minimalist wardrobe:

Define your style

This can seem daunting and restricting to a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to be. A good way to do this is to create a Pinterest fashion board. Most likely, you tend to gravitate more towards a particular style, or at least a few certain styles. You might even repeatedly pin the same particular items or types of outfits (I know I do). Base your wardrobe on this.

Find what works for you, and be practical. Choose a style that works for your everyday life. Find styles that reflect your personality and suit your body type. Don’t feel like you have to keep up with certain trends. Go for what feels right for you. As a creative person, I feel so much more confident when I’m wearing clothes that reflect my style. But I’m always looking to different sources of inspiration and letting my style evolve.

Get rid of excess

In our society, we’re encouraged to thoughtlessly buy random clothes that we’ll likely only wear once or twice. So many of us have clothing items we don’t really want or need. It’s incredibly liberating to free up space and get rid of useless stuff that’s just cluttering up your home.

This can seem daunting, but I actually find it incredibly fun. If you light a scented candle and put on some music, this can be an enjoyable activity. Sort through your clothing and get rid of the stuff you don’t want or need. A good way to do this is to create three piles. A no pile, a yes pile, and a maybe pile. A good rule I’ve heard is to put the maybe pile in a box and if you haven’t worn any of the items in a few months, get rid of them.

Even clothing donation has an ethical component that we need to take into consideration. Here’s a really helpful article from Darling Magazine that explains how clothing donation can get kind of sketchy. At the end of the article, you can find some alternatives to the usual places we’re told to donate clothing to.

Find staple items

You want to be practical when you create your wardrobe. You don’t want to choose a bunch of items that aren’t neutral at all and don’t go with any of your other clothing. Find things that can be mixed and matched. I personally don’t like patterns except for stripes and plaid, so this makes things a lot easier. Going for neutral colors also makes things much simpler. However, you don’t have to be limited in this way.

Find staple items that work as a foundation for your wardrobe. An example of this would be jeans, a white t-shirt, white sneakers, or a denim jacket. These are things that are pretty neutral and go with lots of things. Whenever you buy items, consider whether they’ll go with your staple items. You don’t want to buy things that don’t go with anything you already have.

Shop ethically

In a previous post, I talked about how minimalism isn’t just about having fewer things, but about living ethically. This is definitely true when it comes to your wardrobe. You can buy fewer items, but if you’re still shopping from unethical fast fashion stores, it is a bit counterproductive. This was something I failed to understand at the beginning of my minimalist journey. Then I saw this really important documentary called The True Cost (which is on Netflix, FYI), and it completely changed my view of fashion.

It’s not about spending less money, but spending money wisely. Now that I’m keeping my wardrobe minimalist, I try to invest more money than I used to on particular items from ethical brands. Shopping from quality brands ensures that your items will last longer and that you won’t need to keep buying more and more to replace cheap items that have fallen apart. I wrote another post about seven of my favorite ethical brands, so I recommend that you check those out. Also, here’s another, longer list of brands. Shopping secondhand is also a really ethical option and is just as beneficial as shopping from ethical stores (if not more so).

Shop intentionally

Creating a minimalist wardrobe takes a lot of intentionality and self-control. You’re no longer impulsively buying whatever you want, but you’re deciding to think through all your purchases. Personally, I like to only buy items that I’ve wanted for a long time (usually months). This ensures that I’m not just following trends or being impulsive. It might be helpful for you to create guidelines like this for yourself.

People say that you shouldn’t buy multiples of the same kinds of items, but I actually completely disagree with this. For example, I know I will always wear knitted crewneck sweaters and plain crewneck t-shirts, so I think it’s much wiser to buy several of those items than to buy items I might not wear. If you always gravitate towards certain items, buy those. Only buy things you are certain you are going to wear again and again.

I hope these tips helped inspire you to create a minimalist wardrobe or to continue on your minimalist fashion journey.

I have to admit that I’m not always strong when it comes to sticking to my own rules for my wardrobe. Sometimes you get bored and add too many items to your wishlist. Sometimes you make impulse purchases from stores that aren’t ethical. But we’re all on a journey, and it’s important just to try to be intentional about your clothing.

It’s also important to remember that clothing doesn’t define you. You are so much more than what you wear. I get into the habit of thinking that my clothing somehow defines my personality on a profound level, but that’s kind of ridiculous. My style is always evolving. I know that when it comes to other people, I pay a heck of a lot more attention to who they are than what they wear. We should always keep material things in perspective. That’s pretty much the point of being a minimalist.


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