Last week I shared a photo of my minimalistic wardrobe on social media. I was shocked at the number of responses I got asking for help and tips to address their wardrobe. So today I thought I'd share my experience over the past couple of years and offer some suggestions for not only addressing your wardrobe but your home in general.
Minimalism was never really on my mind until we decided to downsize and move into a tiny 800 sqft bungalow.
We were not only moving to a smaller house, but from 3 acres in the country to a postage stamp lot in the city. That decision made me keenly aware of how much "stuff" we had and caused me to question if we truly "needed" it all.
Moving has a way of igniting my desire to purge, organize, and start over. As I began packing for that move I began eliminating excess as much as I could knowing that space was going to be a huge issue in the next home.
One of the areas that needed the most addressing was my wardrobe. I'm a natural "saver" because "what if I need this?"...and my wardrobe reflected this. My closet was overflowing with business attire from my former teaching career, dresses from the various weddings I'd been in in recent years, maternity clothes from two close pregnancies, hiking and biking gear as those were our favorite hobbies (pre children), and I couldn't throw anything away because "what if I needed it?" and it could always be used as "work clothes" while working on our fixer upper or in the garden. It was overwhelming to say the least.
That's when I came across the idea of a minimalistic wardrobe. In theory it sounded amazing! I loved all the beautifully curated wardrobes floating around Pinterest...but the reality of turning my mess of a closet into something so beautiful was daunting.
Over the past three years I've moved twice and lived out of a box of limited clothing for months at a time during the transition...though that experience I've learned to live with less and zeroed in on what I truly want and need in my wardrobe.
Here are 10 tips I've gathered over the past few years that I hope will help you not only address your wardrobe but really any area of your home that you desire more minimalism.
1. Define you're why. This may sounds silly, but we all have different motivators for why we do things and it's important to identify your personal motivator. For me, my desire for a minimalistic wardrobe was about space, time, and organization. We have lived in small homes with limited storage and the clutter of an overstuffed closet stresses me out. Clean and organized spaces bring me peace and allow for clear headspace. Also time necessary to dig through my clothing to find the "perfect outfit" was also overwhelming and discouraging.
2. Less is truly more. Before I began actually going through my clothing I noticed that I was grabbing same items over and over and avoiding others. I realized that while I may have 20 shirts, I was only actually wearing 5 of them on a regular basis. Those other 15 were just taking up space. Once I removed that I almost instantly became happier because I was excited to choose one of my 5 shirts vs. overwhelmed by the 20 options I had before.
3. Noticed patterns. Look at your favorite items and likely you'll begin to see a pattern of your "style"...this took me a few years to zero in on because I had been buying things because they were trendy or others told me they looked good on me. Over time my style began to emerge. Now my wardrobe consists of neutrals (gray, tan, white), olive green and black, with the occasional pop of maroon or blush pink. These are the colors I have always felt most comfortable in and naturally grabbed, so eliminating the distraction of other colors made my wardrobe cohesive.
4. Start small and keep a list. I don't recommend going all Kon Marie and trashing anything in your wardrobe that doesn't bring you joy - at least not all at once. It's easy to just want to start fresh, but truly this evolution takes time and requires a mindfulness in order to be sustainable. Eliminating things you haven't worn in months or don't fit is step one. Once those items are gone you'll feel so much lighter and your closet more visible. Then begin identifying items you'd like to replace - maybe your favorite T is wearing out, or your sneakers aren't the color you'd like. Or maybe you've never owned a good fitting jacket and would like to add that to your wardrobe. Make a list of these items and keep it with you (I keep mine in the notes app on my phone) so that when you're out shopping you can be mindful of what you need to add to your wardrobe...don't purchase anything until you find the PERFECT thing...and don't wait until you need an item to start looking for it - chances are you'll settle for something you don't love.
5. See your wardrobe as a whole. It's easy to go shopping and see an item you might really love, then get home and realize you have nothing to wear with it. So you either never wear that item or you end up buying more just to make that outfit work. Once you identify the color theme of your wardrobe you are better able to add to it cohesively. I am now able to pass on that beautiful mustard sweater I fell in love with at Target because I know it's not going to mesh with what I have in my closet.
6. Set limits. As I began purging clothes I realized that I could indeed live with less, but I still wanted options..specifically with tops. I also began to notice that I naturally had accumulated things in sets of 3...so I went with it. I narrowed my jeans down to 3 favorites, and dresses (which I rarely wear) down to 3 versatile options - summer/winter/formal. I then set limits of 3 of each color for tops - 3 neutral, 3 black, and 3 green -- this helped really reign in my random shopping trips to Target!
7. Start with a spending freeze. We're impatient, we want to fix things right away. It's easy to want to toss everything you hate and replace it immediately with things you love. So start with a spending freeze and challenge yourself to wear what you already own for the next 30 days. During that time be mindful of what you're choosing. What patterns arise? What color choices/styles do you prefer? What items do you want to add to your wardrobe? What types of clothing do you need to avoid?
8. STOP! Once you have a wardrobe you love, just stop. There's no need to mindlessly wander the clothing aisles at Target wondering if there's something you need - you don't! Live with your wardrobe for a few months or a season before reevaluating.
9. Start today. There's no perfect time to start, don't wait. You're ready to take small steps to eliminate the clutter so you can better focus on things that matter most to you.
10. Do what works for you. There's no perfect formula for this, friends, you've just trust the process and do what works for you. These are the things that have worked for me, but they may not be for you, that's ok! Find what does work for you and run with that!
That's it, friends. I hope these tips are helpful. I have found them useful not just for my wardrobe but have used the same steps for addressing our kitchen, bathroom, and miscellaneous storage.
The more we live with less, the more space we have for living!
Please consider sharing with a friend if you think they'd find it helpful and I'd love to hear what you think or how you've used these tips to address your wardrobe or home!