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Setting up a minimalist wardrobe isn’t something you can or should do overnight. When you are used to shopping for fun, stuffing you closet with lots of ‘bargains’, ‘must-haves’, and ‘hot’ items, as well as know the feeling of never having anything to wear, it’s about time to start setting up a basic, or minimalist wardrobe.

“But wait, a minimalist wardrobe, does this mean I will only be able to wear black or one other colour as of now?”

“Does a minimalist wardrobe perhaps entail I will have 5 exactly the same blazers hanging in my closet?”

What is a minimalist wardrobe?

A minimalist wardrobe can perhaps have multiple meanings, but for me it comes down to having one small, basic set of high quality clothes.

In this minimalist set of clothing every item combines well with every other item (or in the ideal world at least; for me this is still work in progress … ).

Also, when shopping for something that is needed (say a new sweater or vest), the new purchase should combine well with most of the items in the minimalist, basic wardrobe.

What’s the difference with a capsule wardrobe?

To be honest, I don’t know and I don’t care. There are many phrases and ‘rules’ out there for building a ‘capsule’, ‘French’, or minimalist wardrobe.

So far, no one else’s blueprint has worked for me and I predict it won’t work for you either.

My advise: take whatever tips you think might work for you and start experimenting.

Your minimalist wardrobe starts with a closet clean out

When you are new to purging, I recommend to first read more about how you can clean out your closet with 4 simple habits.

These four habits will help you become more aware of what items you have accumulated over time.

They will also help you to start notice ‘trends’ in what you buy and what you wear, as well as if there is an overlap here. Ideally there is but it happens qjuite often that people buy stuff they never wear 😉

For example, I’ve had a period in my life where I would buy all kinds of blouses, blazers and classic skirts. Typical office wear, yet I didn’t even work in an office back then and preferred to wear jeans, a T-shirt and a vest or sweater anyway.

“The sculpture is already
complete within the marble
block, before I start my work.
It is already there, I just have
to chisel away the superfluous material.”

~ Michelangelo


Nowadays I do wear skirts, neat blouses and blazers more often, and so for me these are the most important basics.

Start building your minimalist wardrobe in your head

Once you’ve got an idea of what you enjoy wearing, it is time to inspect all other items in your closet (the items you either don’t wear or don’t like to wear) very closely and answer a few questions:

  • Do you need this particular item (for work for example?)
  • Have you worn it in the past year?
  • Is the item damaged?
  • Will you (have someone) repair the item?
  • Are you keeping it for some special occasion?
  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Was it an expensive item?
  • Would you buy this item again should you run into it in a shop today?

The answers to these questions can tell you more about why you are keeping an item, wearing it even though you don’t like it, or saving something for one day …

Keeping a special dress for a special occasion – especially if it was a really expensive dress – totally makes sense from a ‘don’t throw something away that has cost you a lot of money and might come in handy one day’ point of view.

However, how long has that dress been taking up closet space already? Does looking at the dress make you happy, or – as Marie Kondo would say – does it spark joy?

Does it even (still) fit you? Will it fit you by the time the occasion is about to happen?

Would it perhaps be an option to sell the dress and put the money in a savings account, for you to use when ‘the occasion’ will indeed take place?

Consider multiple options of why you are keeping certain items that you don’t (like) wear(ing) and ask yourself what the worst scenario could be when this item would one day not be in your closet anymore.

Time for action: toss items to make your basic minimalist wardrobe visible

“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”

~ Michelangelo

Just like Michelangelo chiseled his way toward his next sculpture, you will toss your way toward your basic wardrobe.

Your minimalist wardobe is already in there, there are items in your closet that together form (the basis of) your minimalist wardrobe.

It’s just that because you collected all this additional stuff, it has gotten difficult to recognise your basic style.

Therefor, once you’ve taken the time to answer the questions above, add some action to it by tossing items!

You can either give them away, sell these clothes, or – when they are in a bad state – throw them away.

When you are brave and feel like spending a whole day to tackle all your clothes at once, this is a very effective way of creating a minimalist wardrobe.

What also works is to set less ambitious goals, for example by committing yourself to toss one item per day for a whole week.

After one week you will already have gotten rid of 7 items. That’s a good start that will help you gain the self-confidence you need to tackle the rest of the clutter.

How many items are in a minimalist wardrobe?

Some say a minimalist (or capsule) wardrobe should count 33 items. Others go for no more than 50 and real hardcore minimalista’s manage to reach a 10-item closet.

Long story short: there is no ‘right’ answer to this question. Or perhaps there is one: go with what works for you.

As long as you have minimised the amount of items in your closet by getting rid of what you didn’t wear or didn’t like, I’d say you already did a great job and can now enjoy a closet full of items that you love

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