Have way too many clothes for the space you are living in, or maybe you are overwhelmed by the number of choices in clothing that you have when you get up in the morning? A minimalist wardrobe will be perfect for you!
Building a Minimalist Wardrobe
When you have very limited closet space in your home you have to be careful about everything you bring into it. On occasion, I love to go clothes shopping to change up my wardrobe. I like new (to me) things but I also like to spend very little on my clothes because I get them at rummage sales or thrift stores and then I either sell them or give them to someone when I’m ready to move on or if they no longer fit.
But if you checked out my tour of our 400 sq foot home, that we lived in 5 years ago you know that we didn’t have much closet space and personally I’d rather not fill what we do have with clothing! It was in this home that I learned how to have a minimalist wardrobe. In the next home we had, we barely had room for clothing because there were no closets, it was so old!
We’ve also lived in just 380 square feet (as a family of 5!) and I was happy to discover that when we moved in, I didn’t have to clean out any clothing. My wardrobe was already in a minimalist state and I didn’t need to pare it down to move in.
Today I’m sharing how I keep a fun minimalist wardrobe. These ideas are easy and things that anyone can do to help save space in your closets and keep your wardrobe simple. Not only is a simple wardrobe perfect for small spaces, but it creates much less of a headache in the morning when you are picking out what you want to wear for the day. Here are a few of my best tips for creating a minimalist wardrobe.
The kids’ clothing. More than enough for all of them! (One bin for tops, one for bottoms, and one for pjs. Baby has an extra bin for one piece rompers/outfits.)
Keep Less Space for Your Clothes
This concept is pretty simple. If you have less space for clothing, you will keep less clothing! If you have space, use your closet to organize something else instead of filling it with clothing. Create that linen closet that you already wanted or find room to organize some cluttery items that just don’t seem to have space.
We had too many clothes cupboards in one of our homes. Instead of thinking that I should fill them all up, I turned one into extra pantry space so that we can still shop at Costco and store the larger amounts of food while we are on the road.
Right now we have exactly one closet for hanging items (for all of us), one shelf closet for children’s clothing (which I keep in fabric bins for drawers), and small 3 bin shelf (for my husband and my clothing), and one dresser that we each have a small drawer in. You can read more about ideas for Minimal Children’s Clothing here.
Something else we’ve done is create a family closet. When all the family’s clothing must go in one closet, it’s easy to pare down to just what you need!
When Something New Gets Brought In, Something Old Goes Out
I use the rule that if I bring a new article of clothing in, something else that I’m not wearing as much needs to go out. Another good rule to follow when you are first starting to simplify your wardrobe is that when something new comes in, 2 or 3 things go out.
It’s a very painless way to keep your clothing closet thinned out. Then you keep it cleaned out and you can still change it up when you want to.
In our space, I only keep enough hangers for the clothes we currently have. If I went to the store to buy more hangers, I couldn’t just buy one. I would have to buy at least a pack of 10 which would make it tempting to add 10 more items to my wardrobe.
To keep from being tempted, I created the rule that I cannot add any more hangers to the closet. That means if I bring something new home, something must go otherwise I simply won’t have space for it.
My husband and my clothing that is not hung. (Jeans, shorts, pants, lounge, etc.)
Remove Seasonal Clothing from Your Minimalist Closet
Up here in the North, we need a good amount of winter clothing as our winter runs for the majority of the year. Winter clothes take up so much room!
Instead of keeping all your clothing out all the time, put away the seasonal clothes into a plastic tote during the offseason. I don’t think you are going to wear that sweater when it’s 100 degrees out! This idea will help your clothing closet stay the most functional. Plus you won’t be storing a bunch of clothes in there that you aren’t wearing at the moment.
Plus when you pull them out during the correct season it will be like getting all new clothes again because you haven’t seen them in a while.
Keep Only What You REALLY Wear for Your Minimalist Closet
Do you have an outfit that you like? Or you wore once and swear you will wear it again but as of yet, you haven’t? Time for the outfit to go. If it’s nothing something you really need and you don’t really know if you are going to wear it again, sell it or donate it.
This can be a tough one when it comes to what you spent on the outfit. Many times we are keeping an item in our closet that we only wore once or twice, or maybe even never at all, just because we paid a lot for it.
If it’s taking up space in your closet that you don’t really have and don’t intend on using it again, you must let it go. Find someone to donate it to if you need to, but let it go.
Keep Only What You REALLY Wear Part 2
Have you recently stopped working outside the home? Then do you really need those suits or business clothing anymore? Only keep the clothing that is actually practical for you to be wearing at this time in your life.
The same goes for those that are trying to lose weight. There’s no need to keep all your clothing (random sizes) in your closet at the same time. If you want to keep the smaller clothing, then just put it away until you get to that size. It will be like opening a present when you get to get out that plastic tote of smaller clothing!
One thing to remember with this step, don’t toss out clothing just because you don’t use it every day.
If you clean out your closet because you generally stay at home and only keep the comfy clothes. What happens when you go to town? Or go to church? Or have a get-together? Consider all of your normal activities before you fully clean out the closet.
Keep Minimalist Clothing That Goes Together
Have a zebra print skirt but no shirt to wear with it? Time for that to go. If you have a limited clothes closet…try and fill it with cute basics that go with many different things rather than single outfits that must go together.
Regular jeans, shorts, and neutral colored skirts are great staples. Then you can add fun shirts to go along with all those staples.
I have a number of basic tank tops. (My all-time favorite is from Duluth Trading!) In the summer I wear them with skirts and shorts, in the winter/fall/spring I put them on with a cardigan. Just those few basic tanks tops make up the majority of my wardrobe because they are so versatile.
A few of my tank tops. I love these!
Build a Minimalist Wardrobe that Makes Sense
Finally, if you are needing to build a new wardrobe altogether or are lucky enough to start from scratch, you have the perfect opportunity to put together a great basic wardrobe that will fill all your needs. As I mentioned above, I enjoy having a few basics that create so many different outfits. It really helps me to make the most of my wardrobe!
I’m not a fan of t-shirts or long sleeve shirts. In the summer I’m all about tank tops and in the winter, cardigans and hoodies are my best friends. I use the tanks plain in the summer and under the other shirts in the winter. This way I can mix up several colors of tanks under the cardigans and get a different look every time.
For jeans, I have 2 pairs of basic pairs that I can use year-round and prefer skirts that are maxi or knee-length. I pair these with tanks in the summer and the tank/cardigan combo in the winter. In the winter I also add a pair of leggings underneath.
Along with a few pairs of capris/shorts that I use in the summer (mostly for gardening or outside work), and some dresses for church and town, this makes up my entire wardrobe. It’s pretty basic. But for me, as long as my clothing is comfy, modest, and useful, it makes up the perfect minimalist wardrobe.
You might also want to consider Repurposing T Shirts for something fun and different to do while you save money on your wardrobe!
And if you DO happen to need to add to your minimalist wardrobe, I would recommend finding used clothing online if possible. Here are some of my favorite websites to clothes shop online.
Just getting into minimalism? Here are some of my other articles that you might enjoy!
- How to Downsize Books
- What It’s Really Like to Get Rid of 75% of Your Things
- Maintaining a Minimalistic Wardrobe
- Frugality vs Minimalism (Becoming a Frugal Minimalist)
- How to Organize and Downsize Toys, Games, and Movies
- Why You Don’t Have to Downsize to Live Simply
What steps do you take towards building a more minimalist wardrobe?
This article on Creating a Minimalist Wardrobe was originally published on Little House Living in October 2013. It has been updated as of February 2020.