Would you like to create a capsule wardrobe and start saving time, money and energy? If so, here are my top 20 minimalist wardrobe tips to help you get started!
As a former shopaholic turned minimalist, these are hard-earned lessons. At one stage, my “closet” took up an entire spare bedroom and I had over 100 pairs of shoes. Also hidden in my closet was a lot of guilt, shame and limiting beliefs about myself and my clothing addiction.
Decluttering was NOT easy and in all honesty, it took me several years to make any real progress. It was a long and painful process but in the end, I’m grateful because I learned so much—about myself, my wardrobe and minimalist living in general.
In fact, you could say that decluttering my closet was the “spark” that kickstarted my entire minimalist lifestyle. If you’d like to create a similar change in your life (or you just want to create a minimalist wardrobe you love) then here are tips and resources to help you on your journey.
Tour My Minimalist Wardrobe
Before I share my minimalist wardrobe tips, I thought you might like a sneak peek into my closet!
It’s not “super” minimalist—I’ve definitely gotten by with fewer clothes in the past—but it’s what feels good for me at this stage in my life. (And that’s so important to remember! Minimalism is not “one size fits all”. Instead, it’s about doing what’s right for YOU!)
20 Minimalist Wardrobe Tips
GET COMFORTABLE WITH REPEATING OUTFITS
I used to think that in order to be stylish, I had to come up with new “looks” all the time—but honestly? When I look back on that time of my life, I can see that I never felt very confident and I’m sure that it showed.
What has worked a lot better for me is having a uniform (a few “go-to” styles I can wear all the time) and quality basics that I wear on repeat. I feel so much more stylish and confident, plus I never have to worry about what to wear!
PAY ATTENTION TO FABRICS
When I first decluttered my closet, one of the best things I did was to pay attention to fabrics. I started looking closely at the clothes I wore all the time (and the things I never wore) and I realised there were some definite trends.
Natural fibres like cotton and linen were on high rotation in my everyday wardrobe, while fabrics like polyester sat in my closet unworn. Armed with this information, I was better able to curate a minimalist wardrobe full of clothes I actually like wearing!
This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your polyester too but I do recommend paying attention to what you feel comfortable in. Look for your own trends—the more you know about what you like wearing, the easier it will be to make good decisions.
DEFINE BOUNDARIES + CREATE RULES
What will you (or won’t you) wear? Personally, I know I never wear wide-legged trousers, the colour yellow or anything dry clean only.
There isn’t anything wrong with these types of clothes but personal experience has taught me not to bother buying or owning these things—I just don’t wear them! Creating these “rules” for myself has made closet decluttering and shopping so much easier.
BORROW INSTEAD OF BUYING
A simple minimalist wardrobe tip is to borrow clothes that you know you only need for a short period of time. For example, if you need a dress for a special occasion or a warm jacket for a ski trip. You might be surprised what you can find if you take the time to ask.
UNDERSTAND YOU CAN ADMIRE A STYLE WITHOUT WANTING TO WEAR IT
I use to spend so much money on things I “loved” but never wore and I could never figure out why … until I realised that I can admire a style without needing to wear it. It’s like going to a museum—you can appreciate different styles of art without wanting it all in your living room.
This might sound like common sense to some but for me, it was a game-changer.
AVOID CLOTHES THAT REQUIRE SPECIALTY UNDERGARMENTS
… unless you already own them and are 100% comfortable wearing them.
For example, don’t buy a dress knowing you need to go out and buy a speciality bra before you can wear it.
BE HONEST ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU’RE WILLING TO SUFFER FOR FASHION
I used to tell myself that I felt “great” in stiletto heels and tight pencil skirts … but in reality, I was always reaching for flat sandals and t-shirt dresses.
Once I got honest with myself about the importance of comfort in my wardrobe, I stopped buying (and holding onto) anything that didn’t meet that criteria.
KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY WHAT YOU WEAR
OK, I know this is something that most people “know” on an intellectual level but at the same time, I think many people struggle to truly believe it.
This is why we hang onto clothes that no longer fit or struggle to say goodbye to items that remind us of different stages of life. We’re still attached to who we used to be in those clothes (or perhaps more accurately, who we “thought” we were) and so letting go feels hard.
If you struggle with this, I recommend investing time into working on your self-worth. The more confident you feel about yourself, the less you’ll need your clothes to define you.
GET TO KNOW A GOOD TAILOR
If you have a closet full of clothes you never wear, odds are that poor fit is at least partially to blame.
Here’s a reality check for you: if you buy read to wear fashion (99% of what’s on the market), then you’re always going to struggle with fit issues. This isn’t about your size—it’s about body shape. No one pattern will ever fit everyone’s body!
You can’t expect that everything you buy off the rack will fit you, so finding a good tailor is a must. I know it’s can feel like an added expense but think about how much money you’ve probably already wasted on things that don’t work for you?
Paying a little more upfront will probably save you more in the long term (plus you’ll feel good wearing clothes that actually fit your body!).
Tip: Before you shop, it’s important to know what a tailor can and can’t do.
DO A WARDROBE AUDIT
So many of our wardrobe challenges stem from a clack of clarity—for many people, what they think they like wearing and what they actually wear are two completely different things. This is how you end up with a closet full of clothes you never wear.
If you want to create a minimalist wardrobe, one of my top tips is to start by doing a wardrobe audit. Take a long hard look at what you actually like wearing (and why) and then use this information to make informed choices about your closet. I can promise this will change the way you dress and shop.
Not sure how to do a wardrobe audit? Then to be sure to check out my One Day Closet Cleanse program. I’ll teach you a step-by-step process of how to declutter your closet, including a bonus “Wardrobe Audit” workbook.
This is the key to really understanding your style (say “goodbye” to buying things you never wear and “hello” to a functional closet full of items you actually wear!).
SHOP WITH A LIST + ALWAYS DO RESEARCH FIRST
Let’s be honest—clothing shops are designed to manipulate you. Everything from the displays to the music (and sometimes even the smells!) are carefully chosen to encourage you to buy. Millions and millions of dollars are spent on consumer research because retailers want us to make impulsive decisions.
A simple but surprisingly easy way of combating this is to always shop with a list and to do your research first. Know what you need and be specific.
If you want black trousers, then what style? What fit? And what fabric? I like to read reviews too—you’d be surprised what information you can find online. Narrow it down to a few specific options (or at least have clear criteria) before you get to the shops and you’ll be less likely to be influenced by marketing gimmicks.
LET GO OF “PERFECT”
Are you searching for the “perfect” little black dress? (Or insert whatever item’s on your current wishlist?) If so, you need to stop.
I know that minimalism is all about the pursuit of quality over quantity but in my personal experience, you have to be careful not to let an obsession with quality get out of control.
Why? Because there is no such thing as perfect and if you’re obsessed with achieving it (in your wardrobe or in any part of your life) then you’ll never be satisfied. Accepting this is an essential part of achieving a minimalist wardrobe and an overall minimalist mindset.
HEMLINES, NECKLINES + MORE: KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE!
Most people favour certain hemlines, necklines, waistlines, and more. Knowing what you do (or don’t) like is essential to creating a functional minimalist wardrobe.
EXPERIMENT WITH GOING WITHOUT
Most of us have nearly 24/7 access to shops and as a result, I think we’ve become accustomed to having our needs immediately satisfied. For example, if I’m trying on a dress and I don’t love how it looks with the shoes currently in my closet, it’s incredibly easy to buy a new pair.
I can hop on my phone and place an order within minutes or I can pop out to the shops at all hours of the night—right?
It might be easy to do but experiment with resisting the urge. Get used to “making do” with what you have. It will help you resist impulse buys and you’ll get a better understanding of what your actual closet needs are.
Related Post: How to Be Happy With What You Have + Stop Wanting More
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR FAVOURITE ITEMS
One of the challenges of having a smaller, minimalist wardrobe is that you need to take care of your clothes! Here are a few tips that have helped me:
- Wash your clothes less often – I know that depending on your lifestyle this can be a challenge but this doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. Try airing out your clothes before you toss them in the laundry pile.
- Avoid the dryer – When I moved to Australia from the US, I was surprised to learn most people here don’t use a dryer. At first, this was an inconvenience but I’ve since learned is a gift—air drying is so much gentler on your clothes!
- Read (and follow) the care instructions – this should be a no-brainer but I’ll admit I used to be guilty of this all the time! Now I’m more careful and honestly if I’m not willing to follow the instructions—I don’t buy it in the first place!
ORGANISE YOUR CLOSET
Personally, I find that having an aesthetically pleasing closet really helps me to maintain a minimalist wardrobe. I don’t want to clutter it with excess clothing because I enjoy looking at the beautiful and function space!
Some easy tips: use matching hangers, arrange your clothes by colour and style, and use storage bins that match your overall decor for small items.
Also, I recommend taking a picture of your closet once you’ve organised it! Keep it somewhere handy (like on your phone) and look at it before you make any new purchases.
- Do I physically have space for a new purchase?
- Do I already own something that will do the same job?
- Does this new item fit my existing style? (This is especially helpful with colours—referring back to a photo will help you identify what doesn’t belong.)
CHOOSE VERSATILE ITEMS
Keep or buy items that can serve multiple purposes. Here are some examples:
- A denim shirt looks great on its own or you can wear it as a jacket
- A simple t-shirt dress can be worn in the summer with sandals or you could add tights, boots and a cardigan in the winter
- High-quality tanks or camisoles can be worn alone or under sweaters, jackets, etc.
Be wary of pieces that are hard to layer (billowy sleeves or strange necklines) or items with limited uses.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE
I can almost guarantee that the more time you spend looking at other people’s wardrobes, the less content you’ll feel with your own.
To help with this, I stopped buying fashion magazines, I no longer read any fashion blogs, and I’m mindful of who I follow on Instagram.
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO MAKE MISTAKES
Odds are you have a few “mistakes” hanging in your closet and trust me, I know it can be difficult to acknowledge. It’s never own up to a bad purchase. Instead, it’s easy to pretend it’s not a bad purchase. (“I really do love that dress! I’m just waiting for the right time to wear it.”)
I know it’s not easy but give yourself permission to own up to your mistakes. In doing so, I can promise it will be easier to let go and you’ll learn from experience, which means you’ll make fewer mistakes in the future.
STOP TAKING IT ALL SO SERIOUSLY
And finally … here’s a bit of tough love: at the end of the day, no one really cares what you’re wearing.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop caring completely but honestly, be mindful of how much time, energy and money you’re putting into your wardrobe. Is it really a priority? Or are there better things you could be doing or worrying about?