When my husband and I decided to minimize all of our material possessions and hit the road to New Zealand, a major source of my stress came from dwindling down my closet.
I was the person who still had clothes and shoes from eight years prior. I had gained and lost weight, so a good majority of my clothes didn’t even fit me properly. And most of the stuff you could find in my closet came from stores like Forever 21, Old Navy and H&M.
Now, I’m not hating on those stores. If we had them in New Zealand, I would surely still stop in for a top or cute dress from time to time. But when it came time for me to fit all of the clothes and shoes I owned into a hiking backpack, I had to change some wardrobe priorities.
Here are my five TOP TIPS for having a minimal wardrobe…that you still love:
Quality over quantity
Here’s where the stores like Forever 21 come in – they undoubtedly have very cute stuff, and it’s generally affordable. However, the quality of clothes you get from stores like these probably won’t stand the test of time. When you’re focusing on minimizing your wardrobe, invest in a small number of good quality clothing that will last. Admittedly, it will likely be more expensive – but think of it as an investment.
Solids, not prints
When you’re minimizing, try your best to ditch the prints. I know, I know…you love your leopard print pants and your paisley top. But with a minimal wardrobe, articles like that don’t offer much wiggle room in the mix and match department. Instead, focus on solid colors that you can interchange, layer and make new over and over. If you love your leopard print, maybe get a scarf to throw in with some of your outfits. I tend to stick with neutral tones like gray, black, white, navy blue and brown – but pick the solids that speak to you! If you love red and look amazing in it, go for some reds! The idea is to make the clothing easy to mix up.
Mind the weather
I’m telling you this from experience. When we moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Wellington, New Zealand, I did not pack appropriately for the weather. Given, Wellington’s weather is a bit all over the place and the wind makes the chilly days seem chillier…but I didn’t even keep a jacket! Make sure that you leave room in your minimal wardrobe to get you through any kind of weather. You may be thinking, “I don’t travel, so I just need clothes that fit with my hometown climate.” Sure, the majority of your clothes should fit with your day-to-day climate, but the point is to be ready for anything. You wouldn’t want to throw all of your hard work (and your dollars) out the door by buying all new things for a spur-of-the moment trip!
Buy one, toss two
This method really helped me, especially at the beginning of my minimizing process. When I would buy a new, high-quality item that I knew would be useful, I would throw away at least two of my old articles of clothing or pairs of shoes in its place. I started with the obvious choices – the clothes that didn’t fit me right anymore, or had a small hole in them, or was just didn’t align with my fashion sense anymore. I took this method all the way to my last day of my big closet overhaul, and still use it to this day.
Comfort over class
Obviously the types of clothes and shoes you decide to keep versus toss will depend on your own personal style choices. However, no matter what your preferences are, I would highly suggest to go for comfort over class. No, I don’t mean that your whole closet should be filled with Crocs and sweatpants (in fact, I very much recommend not doing that), but I do mean that you should fill your closet mostly with clothes that will be flexible with you from day to day. I had a whole chunk of hangers taken up by formal wedding guest attire before we moved. Why? Do I wear them to the grocery store? Would I be comfortable going to the movies in them? Would I wear them for date night? For me, all of those answers were a resounding “no,” so into the donate pile they went. Notice I said mostly – of course you should keep a cute dress (or a few) in there if it makes you feel good, and you have a reason to wear it regularly! After all, what kind of boring, monotone message would you send if you didn’t spice it up a bit?
If you’re able, share some of your clothes with your significant other. My husband and I have what we like to call “community clothes.” These are mainly t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops or sweatpants that we wear around the house to lounge in, to sleep in, or to the grocery store on Sundays when it’s raining and cold. But we wear them out and about, too! This is a bonus suggestion because I know not everyone can make this work – but if you can, I would definitely recommend it!
When creating a minimal wardrobe, the biggest thing to remember is that it’s your wardrobe. If you have a pair of shoes that you’ve had for 9 years, that have held up wonderfully that you wear every day – do NOT get rid of them! Your clothes and shoes should represent you, and everyone’s style is different. No one can tell you what should or shouldn’t be in your closet; only you know that. But minimizing is possible for everyone, no matter your style and preferences!