What is a minimalist wardrobe? How do you build one?
Learn this and more in under 10 minutes.
The Minimalist Wardrobe Fundamentals is an approximately 8 minute read and will teach you…
… what qualifies as a minimalist wardrobe (A LOT of people get this wrong)
… the benefits of having one (why you should care)
… how to actually start building your minimalist wardrobe (we give you the exact steps)
… and how to stay on the right path once you’ve laid your foundation (so that you don’t fall back to old habits again)
As a BONUS, at the end of the page, we provide a way for you to fast-track your minimalist wardrobe journey with the help of a professional sustainable stylist.
You’ve seen the perfect wardrobes on Instagram. Filled with only neutral colors and way too few clothes for your lifestyle.
“Looks great, but I could never be a minimalist” is a common reaction. Maybe you enjoy wearing a lot of color and your lifestyle requires a bigger wardrobe.
While these Instagram wardrobes can be considered as minimalist, they’re not the definition of the term. A minimalist wardrobe is simply a wardrobe, that doesn’t include excess pieces of clothing.
A person whose lifestyle calls for professional outfits, activewear, attire for fancy occasions and outdoor clothing, will naturally have a larger wardrobe than someone who can wear the same clothes to work and at home, and doesn’t have hobbies that require special clothing.
Your wardrobe should never dictate your lifestyle. It’s the other way around.
No matter the size of your wardrobe, certain pieces of clothing can bring down the total number of items in your wardrobe.
These so called wardrobe staples are what you build your whole wardrobe around. They work as the connecting garments to help you get as many outfit combinations as possible.
This is what allows you to have a small wardrobe, without sacrificing your amount of outfits.
A minimalist wardrobe is often linked together with ethically and sustainably made garments. Being as small of a burden as possible to planet earth is definitely a part of minimalism.
However, sometimes you don’t have the chance to make the ethical and sustainable choice. It might be a matter of budget or availability.
And that’s fine. Just be mindful that the alternatives are there.
More and more conscious clothing brands are popping up all the time, so availability is becoming less of a concern. It might even feel overwhelming to find the brands that are right for you.
To help you get started, we have partnered up with a handful of awesome ethical & sustainable clothing brands, which you can see here.
A minimalist wardrobe will have a positive impact on both your personal life and our globe.
“What should I wear today?” will be a problem you can forget about. Decision fatigue is a real thing, and starting your mornings with less friction has been proven to make your whole day better.
Just take high achievers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs as examples. They both definitely had minimalist wardrobes, and were known to wear the same clothes basically everywhere.
Zuckerberg has even publicly stated that the reason for him wearing the same gray t-shirt all the time is to minimize the need of decisions in the morning.
Of course you don’t have to go this far, but you get the point.
Another huge benefit is that you’ll get rid of all the bad stuff that comes with compulsive and mindless shopping.
The obvious one is that you’ll save so much money on not going on regular shopping sprees.
If we were to get the stats on how much money we’ve used on clothing in our lifetime, most of us would probably agree that the value we’ve gotten out of it all is much lower that the price we’ve paid.
It doesn’t have to be like that, however. It’s actually possible to turn that equation upside down and make our clothing investments have a positive ROI (return-on-investment).
A $50 dollar shirt can bring more than $50 worth of value in your lifetime, as long as the purchase is carefully considered.
When you eventually do buy one of the garments that goes into your minimalist wardrobe, it feels so much better.
You’ve thought about the purchase. You’re sure you’ll enjoy the piece of clothing for a long time. It goes well with most of the clothes you have in your wardrobe. You’ve considered alternatives.
This kind of purchase feels a hundred times better and you will feel more attached to the piece of clothing as well.
Sure it takes some effort, but it’s definitely worth it.
By choosing not to shop fast fashion, you’re becoming part of the solution instead of the problem. The fashion industry is the number five polluter in the world, which is something that can’t be brushed aside.
As mentioned earlier, fortunately there are several sustainable clothing brands to choose from nowadays.
If you keep making more conscious choices and only do well thought out purchases, you will make a difference.
Another thing that gives an incredibly good feeling is empty space. It almost feels like a huge weight have been lifted off your shoulders, when you minimize your wardrobe.
It’s very rewarding to see a wardrobe which not only isn’t jammed with clothes, but only has garments that you absolutely love.
It feels good to own less. It feels good to know that whatever given time or place, you know you’re only going to wear clothes you love, simply because you don’t own anything else.
For all of these reasons, we think everyone should strive for a minimalist wardrobe. The look of it is very personal, yes, but every single one of us can benefit from having one.
Okay, now you know what a minimalist wardrobe is, and you’re convinced why you should strive for one. The question that remains is, how to build one?
Firstly, you need to prepare yourself mentally. Depending on what your wardrobe looks like now, it might be a long and tedious journey to achieve your end goal.
Even in the best case scenario, it won’t be an overnight transition.
Even if you’d happen to have the budget to buy everything that’s going in your wardrobe, you need the time and patience. It’s vital that you take it slow and make decisions you’ve really thought through.
Otherwise it won’t be long before you’re suddenly not really feeling the ethically and sustainably made high quality silk blouse that was supposed to be one of the staples in your wardrobe.
Believe us, it’s way harder getting rid of that kind of clothes, than cheap clothing from your fast fashion days (which isn’t easy either).
Of course our lifestyles change and sometimes we make mistakes, but do everything in your power to eliminate these situations.
What are the activities you enjoy? What kind of outfits does your work require?
First try to come up with clothing that’s versatile enough to be worn in several settings of your life.
Of course you can’t go running with the same shoes that you attend your fabulous monthly gala with, but you might be surprised with how versatile a piece of clothing can be.
Easier said than done for some people (and this is exactly why we offer the possibility of having a professional stylist help you).
Basically, it comes down to finding the pieces of clothing that makes you most comfortable. What kind of clothes do you feel represent your personality the best?
The hard part is that we’re constantly changing. Something that was you last year, might not feel right anymore. Fortunately, the frequency of these changes lowers as we get older.
Try to spend a whole evening just browsing Instagram or Pinterest for different styles.
What feels like something you’d be comfortable in?
The minimalist wardrobe journey should always start with going thoroughly through what you already own.
A good general tip is to turn all your hangers the wrong way, and as you wear garments, put them back the right way. Within a week or two, you’ll easily be able to separate your go-to’s from the garments you might consider parting with.
Your current wardrobe might very well have clothes that are underrated or even totally forgotten by you. After all, at some point in your life you’ve felt that all the clothes you own have been worth spending money on.
Of course many wardrobes include results of impulse shopping that has no place in your life.
This is the most crucial task in building your minimalist wardrobe. It’s also the most difficult one.
Getting your key staples right, because they are the pieces that help you minimize your wardrobe.
By getting these right, you’ll not only have a small wardrobe, but tons of outfit combinations to never get bored with your wardrobe.
Unfortunately this article cannot give you your key staples. They are dependent on your both your lifestyle and personal style.
Summing up Elizabeth Joy’s great article about getting rid of clothes, if you’ve decided that a piece of clothing has no place in your wardrobe, you have 4 alternatives.
You can share them with your friends. Sometimes something that doesn’t fit your life anymore fills a need in another person’s life. That’s the perfect equation.
If your clothes are in good condition, you can sell them. ThredUP is a great way to get some cash for your old garments!
Donating your old clothes to consignment and charity shops is always an option too.
Lastly, if the clothes you’re getting rid of are so worn out, that they’re beyond repair, you can recycle them!
Most of us have probably started something new and exciting and gone back to our old habits after a few weeks or months.
Building your minimalist wardrobe doesn’t come easy and there will be challenges along the way. Setbacks are natural and not a reason to quit altogether.
However, trying to avoid these setbacks with the best of your ability, will make everything easier and more fun for you.
After all, building a minimalist wardrobe is not a punishment (although sometimes when you’re at your weakest, it might feel like one), but a way to make your life better.
Here are some ways to stay in the right path.
Shopping can be very addicting. Especially if you’ve done it for fun for years.
The best tip to fight the urge to shop, is to unsubscribe from all promo emails. Same goes for following brands on Instagram.
Simply eliminate the temptation. This alone will make a huge difference.
Another good tip is to host a clothing swap. It’s where you organize a get together and everyone brings clothes they don’t use anymore, which you then swap.
Fun, social, conscious and free.
If you find yourself cursing this whole minimalist thing when you know that it would be more fun to just go out shopping and buy whatever you want, go back to the benefits section of this page.
Better yet, write your personal reasons for starting this journey down now, so that you can go back to them when you start to doubt yourself (and trust us, you will).
Put them as your phone wallpaper. Make them your morning mantra. Do whatever it takes to remember why you made the decision to minimize your wardrobe.
Now it’s time for our shameless plug. This is the main reason we exist.
Follow us on Instagram for inspirational wardrobe and outfit posts.
Read our blog to see how our bloggers approach minimalism.
Join our Facebook Group to take part in the discussion and to get help from the community.
Subscribe to our email list to get regularly updated of everything we do.
Go all in on this and we promise you that it helps you stay motivated!
Achieving a minimalist wardrobe is harder for some than for others. Some of you might have been doing this for a while and the only thing you need is motivation to stay on the right tracks.
But for others, some of the tasks, such as finding your style and pinpointing your wardrobe staples, seem impossible.
Or maybe you just don’t have the time to take the long way and do this alone.
This is why we have partnered up with sustainable fashion stylist Lauren Engelke, to help you get everything right in a 30 minute video call.
Working with a stylist is not just for wealthy people. Well, to be honest, it usually is… but not in this case!
Lauren has offered to do 1-on-1 video call styling consultations, specially designed to help you in building a minimalist wardrobe, for $75 (+ tax for EU customers).
A little bit about Lauren…
She has been a stylist for 4 years, after starting her career as a tailor. Lauren believes that fit is everything- the way the clothes fit your body, and also the way they fit your personality!
Lauren’s clients include Lands End, Sears, and Kohl’s, among others. She is represented by the Rock Agency in the Midwest and Bella Agency in NYC.
Everything will start by Lauren emailing you with some questions to get to know you and to be able to use the 30 minute call as effectively as possible. In the same email you’ll schedule the exact time for the call.
The call will be a video call through Skype or FaceTime. It’s important that you’re at home for the call, so that Lauren can see your wardrobe.
The consultation is suitable for everyone wanting a minimalist wardrobe.
It’s totally fine if you have never even given your style another thought until now. Lauren has worked with all kinds of wardrobes and nothing will be new for her.
After the consultation you will be on well on your way to your minimalist wardrobe, with a good level of confidence to continue on your own.