My Minimalist Closet: The Why and How

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When you hear the terms ‘capsule wardrobe’ or ‘minimal closet’ do you roll your eyes? I was with you for a long time; paring down on my clothes was the least appealing thing in the world to me. Especially when I was postpartum and I was in unfamiliar sizes and couldn’t tell what I would still like when if I went back to my pre-baby body. I was annoyed if I saw an article telling me that my life would be easier if I had less clothing to choose from. BUT GIRL, I was wrong.

I used to have days that I was so overwhelmed by the options in my closet that I would be rushing to work in the morning with a pile of clothes on the floor, not totally in love with what I ended up putting on.

I also used to regularly feel like I needed to buy something new to freshen up my wardrobe, because nothing was really speaking to me (despite the hundreds of items I owned).

If we had a party or event to go to where I felt like I needed to look my best, I would waste so much time trying on dozens of outfits before finally resorting to that dress/top/outfit I always wear.

When I had Isaiah, this game got old fast. We couldn’t afford for me to go out and buy another blouse to get me through one party. I also needed to be able to get ready quickly every time we had somewhere to go. But, most importantly, I wanted to regularly feel good about myself.

This was why I wanted to pursue a simpler wardrobe, but how exactly do you approach building one?

Clean out your closet based on what you love, not what you don’t.

I shared this strategy in an email newsletter a couple weeks back. It really works! In the past, whenever I felt like I needed to purge my closet, I would sort through my clothes and pull out whatever I knew for a fact I was done with. There would be dozens of things that I skipped over because I “wasn’t sure” if I would need it someday, or maybe I could fit back into it if I was disciplined enough…those were the things that usually got purged the next time.

Take the opposite approach this time: pull out what you know looks good on you and that you want to keep. That way, the foundation of your wardrobe is all items that look great on you and make you feel good. The ultimate goal of this is that everything in your closet does that.

There will most likely be things that make you stress a little bit about whether or not you should keep them. Nothing as insignificant as clothing should cause you stress. In my opinion, if you’re not feeling strong, hard love for that piece, you don’t need to keep it. But, I went through this process and I know how it goes. Box those items away, and put them out of sight. Set a date in your phone a month or two from now to remind yourself that they’re out there. If you get that alert on your phone, and you haven’t gone out there once to retrieve those items, it’s time to give them to someone who can use them!

Know your uniform.

Moms makes jokes about having a “momiform”, and I would agree that it’s ridiculous how I will basically wear the same outfit every Saturday if you let me. But, there’s something really insightful about your uniform of choice. If you pay attention to it, it will help you make smarter choices about how to fill the rest of your closet.

My uniform is essentially a basic t shirt or tank top (preferably black, gray, or striped), sandals, flats or sneakers, and skinny jeans or leggings. This is what I will wear on my days off, no questions asked. When I wear an outfit like that, I’m always comfortable and I like what I’m wearing. Those two feelings together equal one confident mama who can take on all of the craziness  of the day without distraction.

The rest of my closet (that isn’t t shirts and skinny jeans), fits with the theme of my uniform. All of my dresses are streamlined, classic cuts in colors that look good on me. Same with my sweaters, cardigans, blouses, etc. I have learned, after years of wearing dumb, cheap clothes that I didn’t like, what colors and cuts are flattering on  me. That’s at the foundation of my “uniform”, and it has made shopping for new clothes so much easier.

Channel your inner French woman: Don’t chase trends.

Speaking of shopping, minimizing your wardrobe has helped me cut back on buying new clothes, but the craving still hits me all of the time. My advice here: pretend you’re French and don’t chase trends. (I reference French women because I am kind of a Francophile, and I have read a million and one books about French style and fashion…they all say this.)

What I don’t mean by that: never buy something that’s in style.

What I do mean: buy things because they look amazing on you and add value to your wardrobe (i.e. you can pair them with other things to create several outfits.) Don’t buy something because you saw that it looked really good on someone else on Instagram, but it doesn’t mesh with your wardrobe at all.

Once I pared down the clothing in my closet, I ended up having more variety in the types of outfits I could create than I had before. It was like I could finally see each piece of my wardrobe so well that I could see how they all went together. The top that looked really good with my skinny jeans and sandals on Saturday, also would look good with a pencil skirt and wedges during the workweek. I have easily been able to throw outfits together at the last second each morning because there are so few things in my closet that are cute “right now”, but only go with one pair of pants. Instead, everything looks good on me all of the time.

Decide what looks good on you, and you be the trendsetter in your life from now on. You can pull inspiration from the chic outfits on Instagram and Pinterest, but don’t feel like the fashion bloggers of the world have the authority on style. If you know that the latest Spring trend will make you feel self-conscious, or that everyone is wearing blush right now but it makes you look washed out (my problem over here), then save yourself some cash and skip it. I have actually gotten more compliments on my outfits since I decided to embrace my unique style. I attribute that to being confident each morning that what I’m wearing fits me well, flatters my skin tone, and makes me feel comfortable. That confidence shines through, and people can see it.

Adopt the “A better one is out there” mentality.

Finally, when you come across those items that you know are decent, still fit you, and you could potentially wear them, but you just don’t love them, don’t hesitate to tell yourself that they are replaceable, and you can find another one that you will actually love.

I ran into this with a pair of black jeans and some nude flats. They are both pieces that I felt I should have in my closet, and I could make them work with lots of things. But, the nude flats were just slightly too light-they were essentially the same color as my skin in the winter, which creeped me out and I would avoid them. The black jeans had a strange fit so I was always pulling them up and readjusting them throughout the day, which was distracting and obnoxious.

I had held onto them for years because I felt like I didn’t have a good enough reason to get rid of them, but I rarely ever wore them. When I did, I always regretted it and couldn’t wait to change clothes when I got home. When I was purging my closet based on what I loved, those two things clearly didn’t fit the bill. I told myself that if I really wanted to own these things, that I should invest in some that I will wear. I donated them a few months back, and I have not missed them. (I did get some new, black jeans that I am a much bigger fan of!)

So, there is the why behind minimizing my wardrobe, and how I approached it. Do you have a minimalist wardrobe? Let’s compare notes! I would love to hear how your experience compares to mine.

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