How to start your minimalist wardrobe

Minimalism began as an art form in the 1960s and has since been become a lifestyle. You can apply minimalist to any part of life, but committing to a minimalist wardrobe is the easiest place to start.

Having more clothes often means we enjoy them less. We have a full closet, yet nothing to wear. Minimalists subscribe to the idea that by owning less, we free up the time, energy, and money to get the most out of life. As Marie Kondo would say, we should only wear clothing that “sparks joy.”

The more intentional we are about what we keep in our closets, the freer we are to seek fulfillment.

To establish your wardrobe, you will have to purge your closet. The hardest part is choosing what to keep. Here’s your step-by-step journey.

Step 1: Think About Your Daily Needs

Minimalism is as much about self-awareness as it is about practicality. To build a sustainable closet, we have to ask who we are, what we do, and what our goals are. This helps us determine what we truly need.

Think about where you live and what you do. Living in a hot climate means you won’t need a lot of scarves and gloves; if it’s cold most of the time, a few shorts will do. It’s also important to be realistic about your lifestyle.

Not big on partying? Toss the stilettos or the dozens of bow-ties you’ll never wear.
Never going to hit the gym? Donate your sports shoes to someone who will use them.

The caveat to this is that these things can still bring us joy. Maybe you don’t have a reason to wear a certain outfit regularly. That’s ok. If you look forward to events where you do, keep it.

As long as you’re enjoying your clothing more, you’re doing it right.

Step 2: Choose Your Style

After you’ve made practical considerations, it’s time to think about style. Think about your favorite clothes, as well as the ones you spent the most money on. Chances are, you already have a personal style – you may just not know it yet.

Do you lean towards whites or bold colors? Prints or solids? What is your favorite fabric?

What you feel most confident wearing? For some, this may be gym clothes; for others, a suit and tie. These outfits should be the anchor of your closet.

Step 3: Think About Laundry

Just because it fits your style, doesn’t mean it fits your life. If you can’t afford dry cleaning, don’t buy an expensive suit. Likewise, don’t buy sequins if you aren’t going to hand-wash.

Remember, minimalism is about making your life easier and more enjoyable. Find outfits that match both your aesthetic and your routine.

Step 4: Choose a Color Palette

Having a color palette increases the mixability of your pieces. This means most of your clothes will match and you’ll save time putting outfits together.

Picking a color theme goes hand in hand with choosing a style. Maybe bold colors give you more confidence or wearing all black makes you feel sleek.

Choose what makes you feel the most like yourself and stick to it.

Step 5: Find Creative Ways to Get Rid of Clothes

The number one rule: if it’s too big, too small, or reminds you of your ex, get rid of it. Once you choose a personal style and color palette, you’ll also want to get rid of clothes that don’t match.

To avoid tossing them into a landfill, use one of these alternatives.

  • Donate: to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or friends
  • Sell them: many independently-owned thrift stores will give you money or store credit for well-preserved pieces. Take three items you aren’t going to use and exchange them for one that you will
  • Swap parties: Gather clothes you no longer wear, throw them in a pile, and invite your friends to do the same. It’s a great excuse to get everyone together, and you can trade pieces of clothing over a bottle of wine
  • Upcycling: this involves some crafting skill, but there are plenty of youtube videos about how to repurpose old t-shirts into bags, dresses, and even shoes. Take something you don’t use and make it into something you do

Regardless of how you choose to dispose of your clothes, make sure the ones left perfectly fit your lifestyle and aesthetic.

Deciding What to Buy

Once you have streamlined your closet, you’ll be more aware of what you add to it. When shopping for clothes, ask the following questions.

  • Does it fit? Clothing should fit without being altered or altering yourself
  • Does it match? Consider whether you own the pieces necessary to make an outfit
  • Will I wear it? If you can’t envision an event where you would wear it, don’t buy it
  • Do I have something similar? If it serves the same purpose as something you already have, you don’t need it
  • How long will it last? Buying trendy clothes isn’t off-limits, but consider the lifespan of your purchase
  • Does it spark joy? This is better phrased as, “Will it spark longterm joy?” If you feel differently at home than you did at the store, return it

Defining your style and color palette should take out most of the guesswork. If you have doubts, give it a day and come back to it. You might spend more time thinking about your purchase, but this saves the hassle of getting rid of it later.

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