Recently I really got into the idea of living simply, and I think simplifying one’s wardrobe is a key aspect of this sort of lifestyle. The main goal of minimalism and simple living is to stop worrying about material things so that you can focus on the things that really matter. While I think fashion is fun and can be an artistic outlet and make people feel more confident, at the end of the day clothes are just clothes and we shouldn’t spend too much time (or money) worrying about them. We should focus on what really matters, which is a person’s character and values.
You may have heard of the capsule wardrobe trend. I do not have a capsule wardrobe, although I definitely wouldn’t mind creating one at some point in the future. My concept of an intentionally planned wardrobe isn’t far off of a capsule wardrobe, but it’s slightly less intimidating as it doesn’t limit you to only a few essential pieces.
One of the main things that has made me hesitant about going all in with creating a more minimalistic wardrobe is that I’ve often been worried that people would judge me for wearing the same things all the time and hardly ever buying new items. But this is a really shallow and snobby way of looking at fashion.
If you’re fashionable and have a unique personal style, who cares if you wear a lot of the same items over and over again? Don’t let American consumerist culture convince you that you always need more.
American culture is pretty much all about excess. Anyone who isn’t from America will tell you that everything is bigger here. The stores, the servings, the cars. And this usually applies to people’s wardrobes as well.
I am often amazed by the sheer amount of clothing my classmates at college have. There are many girls who I swear never wear the same outfit twice. I have no idea how they have room for all that clothing, but it’s actually pretty normal in America to buy more clothes than you can ever realistically wear.
When I was younger I used to buy clothes just for the heck of it. Because of this, I ended up with a lot of items that I never actually wore. But as I got older, I stopped finding shopping fun (seriously, I usually hate shopping for clothing in stores), and I significantly cut down on the amount of clothes I bought.
Now I honestly much prefer having a smaller, intentionally planned wardrobe because I feel like it reflects my style way more, it makes getting ready easier, and it’s way cheaper. Plus, I like having items that I get attached to and wear over and over again because I feel like they become more “me” that way.
So I’m going to share a few tips on how to be more intentional about creating your wardrobe. These tips have definitely helped me these last couple years. I hope they get you to consider going more minimalist with your wardrobe.
1. Create a specific style
This is a really important part of planning and creating your wardrobe. If you don’t have a particular style, your wardrobe will have no direction and will be kind of random and disorganized. Are there certain styles you find yourself gravitating towards over and over again? You don’t have to narrow down your style too much if you don’t want to limit yourself, but at least have a vague idea of what you like.
I absolutely love Pinterest because it’s where I get my aesthetic inspiration, especially for home decor and fashion. Pinning outfits to my fashion board has helped me figure out what kind of clothes I want to buy and what kind of looks I want to create with my outfits. I tend to repin the same sorts of outfits, so this has helped me realize which items I like best. Because of that, I don’t shop for clothing with no idea what I’m looking for, and I look for items that will create a certain aesthetic.
My style is quite casual and tomboyish, and I generally prefer neutral tones and don’t usually like patterns except for stripes (or plaid for button-ups). I love Asian and European fashion, so I try to recreate looks that are in fashion in those parts of the world.
2. Find out what looks good on you and what you feel comfortable in
This is also a really important step in planning your wardrobe. If you don’t feel confident and comfortable in your clothing, you’re not going to want to wear it. It’s important that you choose items that work for you. There are a lot of clothes that I think are cute but that I would never wear myself because they’re just not my style or I wouldn’t feel comfortable in them. In the last couple years I’ve realized what clothes look best on me and what I feel most comfortable in.
I love skinny jeans and usually prefer loose-fitting tops with high necklines. I also only wear flats because I like to be comfortable (and funnily enough, I also like being short). I love sweaters, crew-neck t-shirts, and knitted cardigans. Now that I know what my “signature” pieces are, I have a definite idea of what I like when I go shopping.
3. Look for certain pieces
This kind of goes along with the last point. When you shop for clothing, have certain items in mind. Don’t just choose whatever items you think are cute, but choose items that you planned on buying. Be practical with what you buy. Is the item something you’ll actually end up wearing a lot? Does it really reflect your style, and would you be comfortable in it?
I much prefer shopping online because I find it much easier to find what I want when I can search for specific pieces. It saves a lot of time browsing through racks of clothing, and I also like that I can see the items on models (as I find trying stuff on to be so tedious). However, I advise caution with online shopping if you’re not sure of your size or don’t feel confident in a lot of clothing.
4. Buy interchangeable pieces
This is a really important part of creating capsule wardrobes. One of the rules of shopping for capsule wardrobes is to buy staple pieces that go with almost everything. I’m going to steal this rule for my slightly less intimidating intentionally curated wardrobe.
When you buy clothes, don’t buy items that are great on their own but hardly go with anything. I’ve done this with jeans before. I’ve bought jeans that are really cute with certain items but look weird with most shirts. For this reason, I haven’t gotten as much wear out of them as I would have liked. When you buy an item, make sure it’s something that is actually going to go with a lot of other items you already have. This is partly why I love neutral tones and solid colors.
5. Get rid of things you never wear
I have to admit it: I still have quite a few items sitting around that I never wear or that aren’t my style anymore. But I definitely plan on getting rid of those at some point. Although trends come and go and there’s a chance you might wear old items again, there’s no point hoarding things that you never get any wear out of.
There are several options for getting rid of old clothes. You can sell them online as a way to make a little extra money, donate them to Goodwill, or even ask friends if they want them.
6. Don’t follow trends
There’s nothing wrong with liking things that are trendy. But if you are always buying things just because they’re “in,” you’ll always be buying new clothes and won’t have a very unique personal style. Following trends is also expensive because there’s pretty much always something new to buy.
Also, don’t feel like you have to buy trendy brandname items, because these are usually unnecessarily expensive. There can be a lot of social pressure to buy brand names in order to fit in, but you should never feel pressured to spend more money on clothes or buy certain brands just because everyone else seems to buy them. You can often find similar items for way less without getting the expensive brands. It’s totally possible to try to recreate looks with more affordable items or clothes you may even already have.
7. Don’t be afraid to keep it minimal
Don’t think that you have to have a certain amount of each item. In a lot of capsule wardrobe plans I’ve seen, I’ve been surprised at how few items there are. Society may tell you you need at least fifteen pairs of shoes, but if you just want to stick to ten or less then that’s fine. I usually end up wearing the same few pairs of shoes all the time, and that’s okay because I like them.
I also tend to alternate between the same two pairs of jeans because they go with everything. It wouldn’t harm to buy some more skinny jeans, but it’s also okay to just do laundry more and limit how many pairs I buy. I also wear the same two cardigans all the time, and I’m okay with that because cardigans have kind of become one of my signature pieces.
Don’t be embarrassed to wear the same items (or even the same outfits) frequently. I’ve had friends who have said they refuse to wear the same outfit more than once a week. That’s okay, but I don’t go along with that rule because I don’t really care if people see me wearing the same things frequently. I think it’s pretty shallow to judge people for wearing the same things often and not having “enough” clothes.
Remember that these are just my personal opinions. I know that many people would hate to limit their clothes shopping. That’s fine, as I know minimalism isn’t something everyone wants to pursue. I choose not to spend much of my money on clothes, but I know there are people who love shopping for new clothes and don’t want to give that up. I just believe there are many benefits to choosing to live more simply in this area.
I definitely don’t always have all the clothes that I would like, and I often wear outfits that don’t totally reflect my ideal style. But clothes don’t define a person, and we shouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to always look our best. It’s what’s on the inside that matters most.
It’s actually kind of freeing when you refuse to go along with consumerist culture and realize you don’t have to always be buying new things in order to be fashionable and confident. And you can be more appreciative of the things you do have when you’re not always looking for new things to buy.
So I hope these tips inspired you to be more intentional and minimalistic with your wardrobe.
Fashion should be something fun and expressive, not something that makes you stressed out or that feels like some sort of social competition.
I’d like to add that since I made this post, my eyes have been opened to how unethical fast fashion can be. Buying cheap clothing seems like a great idea, but sometimes it can come with a cost, as cheap clothing can sometimes mean cheap labor. As a Christian, I’m not okay with buying from brands that hire children or underpay workers in foreign countries. I just discovered an app that keeps track of this sort of thing and rates brands according to how ethical they are. It’s called Good on You, and I totally recommend it. There are some brands I’ll definitely be hesitant to buy from in the future since I found out about this.