The point of simplifying and minimizing your wardrobe is not to get to a certain number – for me anyways. I haven’t counted how many clothes I own (outside of my current capsule) and I don’t care for the number. What counts for me is how satisfied I am with my wardrobe, and my satisfaction has increased tremendously since I downsized my closet. While I have fewer clothes than ever in my closet, I feel more content about what is in there. In the last few months since I started the capsule wardrobe I have never, seriously never, had a “a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear”-moment.
So here go my 10 tried and trusted tips to simplify your wardrobe and enjoy all the items in it:
1 Get rid of the excess
There really is no way around it. If you want to simplify your wardrobe you will have to get rid of stuff – and I don’t mean the three T-shirts in the back of your closet that have stains in them, I mean a proper closet clean out. I highly encourage you to take everything out of your closet, just as Marie Kondo suggests. Seeing the amount of clothes you own is really powerful and will get you in the mindset of working towards a more enjoyable wardrobe. Also, evaluate each item individually. While I like Marie Kondo’s criterium of “does it spark joy?”, it can feel a little abstract at first. So add more “hard” criteria like “have I worn this in the last 12 months?”. But try to remind yourself that ultimately you are not trying to find items to get rid off, but items that you want to keep.
2 Assess your pattern
While you spend some quality time with your closet during your clean out, assess potential patterns you follow when you shop. Are there things you tend to buy more easily? Do you own several T-shirts with the same pattern? Do you have more skirts than you ever intend to wear? This knowledge about your spending will come in handy later in the process when you fill in the gaps in your closet.
3 Get to know your wardrobe
We tend to forget what we have in our wardrobe because usually there are quite a lot of clothes in there. Think about it, which items in your wardrobe do you love to wear. Which items get the most wear? Which item gives you the biggest bang for your buck? Which items gather dust? Why do you not wear them? Have you moved on – stylewise or sizewise? Were they a purchase you regret?
4 Think about your style
While you get to know your wardrobe, also get to know your style. What is your style? What is an outfit your wear over and over again? Why do you wear it all the time? Try to assess the fit, the cut, the pattern, the color, and the garment to get as much intel on your style as possible. Pinterest can be a great tool to find inspiration for your style and how you would like to develop it further.
But while Pinterest is a great way to find inspiration, you shouldn’t solely rely on Pinterest to get a feeling about your style. Pinterest with its beautiful photos can make us dream about a certain way of dressing that is not sustainable in our everyday life. I strongly believe that to evaluate your style, you need to look inwards: inside your closet and inside yourself.
5 Have a functional assortment of basics
If you want to rely on fewer items in your closet, you need a functional assortment of basics that are versatile enough to be used for several outfits. The basics that will work best for you depend you your personal lifestyle (playground or corporate office or somewhere in between?), but most women will get great wear out of these five pieces: a white T-shirt, a pair of jeans, a grey cardigan, a long sleeved Breton shirt, and a blue button-down shirt.
6 Come up with a color scheme
A coherent color scheme can really help in terms of the number of possible combinations in your wardrobe. Once you’ve assessed your style, think about a color scheme and stick with it. Most likely you will rely on neutral colors, because they are the most versatile. But wait don’t zone out just yet because I’m not saying you should only wear black and white (as in true minimalist stereotype). You can for instance create a color scheme out of darker neutral colors such as black and navy and pair them with light pastel colors such as a pale yellow or blush. My point is: it needs to be coordinated and you need to have a critical mass of neutrals. If you have lots of bright-colored pieces, chances are you won’t be able to combine them as well, because only few people can pull off the color-clash look – and be comfortable in it. The same goes for patterns. Having several bold patterns usually constrains your pairing choices and requires you to have more clothes – unless of course pairing patterns is your thing.
7 Start uniform dressing
The simplicity of my wardrobe and my satisfaction with it increased so much when I embraced the concept of uniform dressing – it really is such a powerful tool (heck, I even wrote a free guide on it that’s how much I love it!). Thanks to my uniform, my closet is streamlined and highly functional, and I can get dressed in a minute – and still look put together. My winter uniform is as simple as it gets: jeans, button-down shirt, and a comfy knit on top if it’s cold.
8 Challenge yourself
Limiting your wardrobe for a set amount of time can be a great way to experience that you actually can be happy with fewer items. A capsule wardrobe is a great way to limit your wardrobe. But, wearing only 37 or 33 (or whatever THE number currently is) pieces for 3 months can sound intimidating. So here are two other concepts that will be a great starting point for simplifying your wardrobe to great pieces that you love to wear.
Five Piece French Wardrobe. The idea is that you build your wardrobe around basics and only add 5 high quality pieces per season to update the wardrobe.
30×30. The idea is that you wear 30 pieces for a month. This sounds a lot less scary and is a great way to better get to know your style. Because let’s be honest. Sometimes “our style” in our head is somewhat different from the daily choices we make when we stand in front of the mirror.
Also, who says that you can’t make your own rules? I made my own rules for this winter capsule and I can only encourage you to tweak the rules of the wardrobe concept to make it work for you.
9 Make a shopping wish list
After you have decluttered you will feel that there are some gaps in your wardrobe that need some filling. Withstand the urge to go shopping immediately! Think about it first and make a list of items you want to purchase. Be as specific as you can and think about what that piece will add to your closet. And then… wait. Withstand the urge to go shopping after you wrote your wish list. Instead, live with your closet for a few days or even weeks and tweak your wish list as you go. You really thought you want and need that flare jeans, but you keep wearing flowy summery dresses all the time? Maybe the flare wasn’t that important for your wardrobe to function. Or maybe the flare was just something you thought you should have in your closet. Or maybe dresses reflect your current style better. Either way, delaying the shopping allows you to come to these insights without spending your money on something that you will purge a few months later.
10 Don’t shop the sales
I saved that for last because now you hate me. You don’t hate me, do you, because you know that I’m right. Haven’t we all come back from the sales with clothes that we hardly wear? Haven’t we all come back from the sales with clothes that we thought will fit in a few months and then we would be so happy about the bargain? Haven’t we all come back from the sales with clothes that we thought we should have in your wardrobe, but never ended up wearing because the should doesn’t fit our lifestyle or style? Yes, yes, and yes. So withstand the urge and don’t shop the sales – unless it’s an item on your wish list. Then of course, enjoy your steal!
I hope you find these tips help you simplify your wardrobe and allow you to find more satisfaction with the clothes you own.
Let me know how your process is going!