Shoes are a girl’s best friend…until they’re overflowing from all your closets! Part of our Ultimate Guide to Minimalism series.
There are many reasons why your closet could be overflowing with stuff — and stuff that might not even fit you well anymore.
It’s nice to unwind or treat yourself via retail therapy. Sometimes, you see a deal that’s just too good to pass up (even if you already have twenty similar pairs of black pants or shoes in your collection). Or maybe you’ve lost track of what’s in your drawers and closets, because everything’s disorganized and you can’t remember what you’ve bought.
While a fashionista who loves an expansive collection would find it unthinkable to downsize their closet, the reality is that a cluttered wardrobe is often an immense source of stress and frustration.
A simple question of “What should I wear today?” becomes an all out battle to sort through your items and clothing combinations. That’s not counting the time it takes to get a bunch of other things done before you’re ready to step out of the house.
Does the thought of simplifying your wardrobe fill you up with a sense of dread?
Read the following tips to get inspired by how others did it.
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How to Declutter and Minimize your Wardrobe
1. Less is More
Joc Marie of Optimal Relationships Daily says that she was hesitant at first with the concept of minimalism, especially since she really likes clothes and shoes!
The turning point came when Joc viewed it more as an educational process, in the sense that minimalism doesn’t mean removing every single item from your life. Instead, it’s about keeping the things you really enjoy.
Joc’s husband, Lee, also made an impact. She saw the joy he got from having fewer but higher quality items in his life.
Minimizing her wardrobe wasn't scary as her transition toward a more intentional wardrobe happened organically. “It began,” she explains, “with my desire to forego the all-too familiar evenings in which I spent hours littering my bedroom floor with numerous outfits in search of something to wear.”
Nowadays, Joc enjoys being able to get dressed in a matter of minutes. She's learned that comfort and confidence go hand in hand. It's a priority she keeps in mind before purchasing a new item, especially as a mom on the go.
And while Joc doesn’t think she’ll ever be a “full-blown minimalist,” she does constantly share with others about the positive effects of minimalism. She is more mindful about her purchases. The sustainability practices and quality of the product are taken into account.
“My closet it is much less full than it used to be,” Joc says. “But I have way fewer moments of ‘I don't have anything to wear’ than I did previously.”
Her biggest tip?
“Stick to the basics (whatever your personal definition of “basics” may be). Find pieces that you truly feel comfortable wearing. This way, you’ll love everything you own and not just the two pieces at the top of each pile.”
2. Know What Looks Good on You
You don’t need to wear the exact same thing daily when you’ve downsized your wardrobe.
But it helps if you know what looks good on you, in a way that goes beyond color schemes, cuts, or patterns.
“Style is nothing without fit!” – from Joy of Clothes
Joy of Clothes has a great article on finding clothes which flatter you best depending on your body shape. No matter your height, size or shape, wearing the right clothes means that you choose clothing that suits you because you’re comfortable and confident in them.
Have you ever followed a trend and felt like you were dressing more for fashion than your own self? Or maybe you bought a pair of shoes because they looked so great when you first put them on, but you regretted it after a while because they were too uncomfortable to actually walk around in.
Recognizing the types of clothes that are important to you might take a bit of time. But that knowledge is empowering because you’ll automatically know how to make better sartorial choices in the future. Your wallet will thank you, too, when you make fewer impulse buys.
3. Minimize Your Wardrobe by Building a Capsule
Think of a capsule as a smaller wardrobe that consists of a range of reliable pieces that you love wearing.
The capsule concept is especially great if you feel like your closet is full of lackluster clothes which are taking up space more often than not.
Try not to fixate on how small you can get the capsule to be. Some people stick with 40 items per capsule, and it can vary by season. The idea is to focus on the items that you truly want to keep and will be happy to use regularly.
Here’s a variation of Caroline Joy’s 5-step approach to creating your capsule wardrobe:
- Whittle down your closet to 40 items (see next section for tips).
- Wear these items for a season (three months).
- Refrain from shopping during the season.
- During the last two weeks of the season, organize and shop for the next capsule.
- When shopping, remember that less is more.
You can apply the capsule approach when organizing seasonal items as well. You’ll clear your closet each season except for the approximate number of items to stay in your capsule. The out-of-season clothing goes into storage till they’re ready to be worn once again.
BONUS TIP: How to Get Your Closet Down to 40 Items
If you need some guidance on how to complete the first step in Caroline Joy’s 5-step approach, begin by handling your clothing items piece by piece.
You could look at each clothing item and ask yourself: “Have I worn this in the past 6 months? Will I wear this in the next 6 months?”
Marie Kondo’s tip is to ask whether the piece of clothing “sparks joy.”
If it does not, you could put the piece of clothing into one of four piles:
- Keep – you wear these consistently and/or they “spark joy”
- Maybe – you're not ready to give these clothes up yet, but you haven't worn them in a long time and/or don't “spark joy”
- Donate or Sell – you're ready to give these items a new home
- Trash – clothes that aren't in good enough condition to sell or donate
A trick for the “maybe” pile is to put these clothes into a SEPARATE closet. If you end up re-visiting that closet in the next 3 months to use an item, that item is allowed to go back into your “normal” closet. Any items in the “maybe closet” that aren’t used after 3 months should be donated or sold. Check to see if there’s a textile-recycling program in your area.
4. Minimize Your Wardrobe: Shop Less and Save More
When you consciously shop less, you end up saving not just money but time.
Think about it for a moment. If decluttering your closet saves you 20 minutes a day with wardrobe decisions and sorting out items, that’s an additional 20 minutes you have daily to sleep, exercise, relax with your family, or do whatever you want!
By shopping only once per season, you’ll quickly discover that you’re saving money by being more discerning of your wardrobe purchases.
Sherry at Young House Love says that having a “uniform” simplifies her closet and saves her money. The other things she loves from having less clothes is zero clothing drama as she gets dressed, and feeling free from no longer wasting time and money on items she’d probably return or give away at a later date.
Simplify Your Closet – And Your Life
If you get stressed out while downsizing your closet, keep your mind focused on how you’ll feel with a decluttered wardrobe.
A neat wardrobe will have:
- Clothes that fit
- Items that you actually wear
- Pieces that make you feel good
- Clothes that are organized and easy to find
Having a downsized wardrobe is not simply about getting your possessions down to a certain number by a certain date.
It’s a way of being where you have a greater sense of freedom. It’s about being able to choose to spend time and money on the things that really matter to you.
To wrap up this post, Caroline Joy has some wise words on what a simplified wardrobe represents:
“It’s more time and energy for what really matters, more money for our dreams and helping others, and more contentment and happiness.”
That’s a huge amount to gain from reducing the number of clothes you own.