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How to Build a Minimalist Wardrobe 

How to Build a Minimalist Wardrobe 

A minimalist wardrobe isn’t for everyone. The idea of it is intriguing: simplify your choices, limit your options, and have a functional uniform like wardrobe. These days, anything that will make life easier seems like a good idea. Personally, though, it’s not for me. I have, however, been inspired by the concept and focused on creating a more curated wardrobe.

Before you jump into the idea and donate most of your clothes, see if it’s right for you. It might just be, or, you might be motivated to streamline your style, make it more straightforward, but keep a certain level of variety.

How to Create a Minimalist Wardrobe

How to Build a Minimalist Wardrobe

Challenge Yourself

Take a minimalist wardrobe out for a test run.  This week we’re challenging our readers to pick ten wardrobe basics and only wear them, in some combination, over the next ten days.  This will do a few things.  First, you’ll see how comfortable you are with limited options.  Second, you’ll see what your core basics are and discover where you have voids.

I’ve been rocking a limited wardrobe for the last month as I approach the end of my pregnancy. I’ve always appreciated the simplicity of a maternity focused wardrobe, but end up missing the variety from my other clothes. What is eye opening is truly how little we need and how much we rely on our go-to pieces.

Pick Your Neutrals

A functional minimalist wardrobe comes down to having the right basics and to get your basics down you need to pick a color. Black, of course, is a go-to. Pair it with white, navy, grey, prints and patterns with a black base and then, if you want, a pop of color like red.

Alternatively, you could use dark grey as your primary color, and pair it with navy, cognac, black, white or cream. Grey, because it’s softer than black, gives you more options with color, especially if you’d like to incorporate a dusty pastel or rich jewel tone.

Finally, choose your hardware. Keep your accessories, shoes, bags, belts and any button, or zipper details on your clothing to either gold, silver, gunmetal or black. It will help create a cohesive look with limited pieces.

Select Your Items 

The pieces you choose as part of your wardrobe will be unique to your needs, body type and lifestyle.  That’s why trying this out for a week or two is so important.  We recommend starting with ten pieces as part of the challenge because it will help you see what you need more of and how much more you’ll need.  When the challenge is over, you might need 25 or 35 pieces.

It’s important to: 

Only Wear What You Like: For example, if you don’t wear skirts, don’t include one in your capsule.  Stick to what you like.

Follow the Rule of Three: To ensure that every piece in your capsule will get enough use be sure you can wear it at least three ways.

Have Patience: This takes time, don’t jump head first into purging all of your clothes. Instead, take baby steps.  Gather your new capsule and keep it on a rolling rack outside of your closet.  Add and remove pieces as you discover what you like, what you’re not wearing and what you need. I would give it a full season to narrow down your core pieces and find the best way to make it work for you.

Buy Quality

Will you save money with a minimalist wardrobe?  To a degree, if you think long term rather than short term.

By pairing down your options to only what you love and will wear frequently, it’s important to buy the best quality you can afford. Practically, if you are organizing this kind of wardrobe with disposable items (i.e. all H&M or Target) you will constantly be replacing items and your outfits will lack a level of sophistication.

This article on Where to Splurge, Spend and Save in Your Wardrobe is extra helpful if you are going down a minimalist path.

Thinking of going down the minimalist wardrobe path?  Our FREE Four Week Wardrobe Challenge will help you discover your personal style, weed out your current wardrobe, and get you organized before you try out Ten Items in Ten Days.

Let us know your thoughts!  Are you considering a minimalist wardrobe? Are you inspired by simplifying your choices?  Pop your questions and comments below.




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Cheryl Olds

Thursday 24th of January 2019

Hello Megan my name is Cheryl and I’ve been reading your articles on the 4 week challenges. I am on the 2nd week and have a question for you. I have crohns and my weight goes up and down so I have several sizes.Do I save my favorites in all the different sizes or just concentrate on where I am today? I’m am 56 and I have found I really like nydj so I have purchased a few pair of their jeans. I loved silvers for years but they don’t seem to fit like theyuse to. I have probably 25 pair if jeans so were do I go from here. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Cheryl

Megan Kristel

Sunday 27th of January 2019

Hi Cheryl, Fluctuating weight due to a health issue would certainly require you to keep more than one size on hand. That said, I would only keep the best of the best and edit down what you currently have. Depending on what you need, consider keeping just one size up, and one size down, or a variation of that. Also, think about the best way for you to organize your clothes. For example, does it make sense to keep all your jeans together, regardless of size, or, keep all categories together and organize by size?

Also, NYDJ is a great brand of jeans, so it's awesome that your already buying better fitting, higher quality brands. You likely don't need 25 pairs of jeans, even if you're holding on to multiple sizes. Personally, I have 2 -3 pairs of dark wash in a variety of cuts, one pair of black, one pair of grey, a white for the spring and summer, one pair of "boyfriend" and one pair of distressed, so about 8 pairs that I wear with frequency.

I hope that helps! Be well, Meg

Rebekah Summersby

Thursday 25th of October 2018

I have a capsule wardrobe and alternatively love and hate it depending on my mood. Ive loved how easy it has been to pack for trips and to decide what to wear on the fly. Also since im moving alot at the moment, less clothes, less to pack. I dnt stick to 'the rules' as precisely as the articles say but ive made it work for me. What im struggling with is a winter casual/nice flat thats not too dated. Ballet flats arent warm enough and i dnt want to always have to wear my boots. Any help would be appreciated. Your article has helped to remind me that making a capsule wardrobe work for me is more important than sticking to the hard rules. Thanks

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 31st of October 2018

I always go for a flat ankle boot instead of ballet flats in the cold months, but let me see what I can find.

And yes, it's not about hard rules, make your own guidelines. Remember this is suppose to make your life easier ;)

Jocelyn Champagne

Wednesday 24th of October 2018

My primary residence is in the Phila. area but we own a condo in Pittsburgh and spend a good bit of time there. I am interested in a minimalist wardrobe to keep there so I don’t have to take any clothes when I travel. How do I start?

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 31st of October 2018

I would start with the basics you wear in Philly and buy multiples of your favorites. Because you're staying in the same climate you likely just want to duplicate your core pieces. Then, when you pack to visit the condo, you can bring along special pieces, scarves and accessories.

Patticia Hornbeck

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

I have been working on a capsule wardrobe for a year now. I have discovered that it's not for me, however it helped me a great deal going through the process. Scaling down my wardrobe to the things I really love, picking good quality basics, having pieces that coordinate with multiple things in my wardrobe. It also has helped me shop with purpose. I'm not there yet but I believe it a work in progress. Patricia

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

It's nice to hear that it's taking you a year to build out your capsule. It does take time to figure all this out. Sounds like you're on a great path!


Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

I love your articles. Here is where I get stuck, I am 47 years old and I have a hard time finding stylish things that do not look to young or too old. I am sure I am not the only woman out here that has this same issue.

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

Thanks Kerry. We hear a lot of women talk abut "age appropriate" dressing. The trick, I think, is to focus on fit and your lifestyle. Also, consider the stores you are shopping in. Most stores cater to a specific demographic, and in order for their merchandise to work for you, you need to be part of that group. The pieces we feature here are generally what we would consider "ageless" if that's helpful.

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