My Minimalist Wardrobe

38 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes, 3 bags

This is quite ambitious. I was originally planning to write this post at the end of last year, but unfortunately the tripod I ordered didn’t arrive in time. I’m about to show you every item of clothing I currently have in my small wardrobe. I have done this in the past with my shoes and handbags.

I’ve written this post for two reasons:

  1. To keep a record of the evolution of my wardrobe for myself.
  2. To help you build your own small wardrobe if you need inspiration.

If you haven’t been reading along, these are the main steps I followed in creating my small wardrobe:

  • I moved into a new apartment with about 150 items of clothing in the beginning of 2016.
  • I underwent a seven month shopping fast, during which I spent a lot of time analysing what worked and what didn’t in my existing wardrobe.
  • I started to discard things I was not wearing. The first cull left me with 126 items of clothing.
  • By the end of the shopping fast I had cut it down to about 50 items of clothing.
  • I wrote a wish list of items that I felt would ‘complete’ my wardrobe.
  • I wrote a list of shopping rules.
  • I decided on a shopping budget.
  • I bought new things, and continued to discard things that I didn’t like.

In preparing this post I was actually quite surprised to discover that I bought a lot in 2016. I feel no regret, but I will definitely be more careful this year.

Buying this much stuff in a few months may not be an option for most people. It may take you longer to get to this place. Taking your time is probably a better way to create your small wardrobe anyway, because every purchase will be more considered. I am definitely not advocating that you take all your money and spend it on your dream wardrobe right now.

These are all the items of clothing I bought in 2016. Most of them were on my wish list, I mostly adhered to my shopping rules, and fit the items into my shopping budget for the year. I am providing a photograph of each item, a short description of how I use it, and a ‘longevity rating’, which describes how satisfied I am with the item and how long I think it will survive in my wardrobe.

2016 clothes

White organic cotton Bassike tee. Love this guy. He’s a keeper for years to come. 10/10

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Grey cotton Gorman top. I was perhaps a little desperate to acquire summer work wear. While this guy is pretty good for work, I’m not sure the fit has longevity in my life. It’s still better than the old options were. 5/10

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Grey linen Country Road tee. While I loved the look of it when I got it, it is not of the best quality, and has warped and shrunken in the wash. 7/10

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White rayon Three of Something ruffle top. This one is an interesting piece for layering. 8/10

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White cotton Ricochet shirt. This shirt is generally good but the collar fits a bit awkwardly. I might have considered returning it had I not purchased it online. I might get the collar altered. 7/10

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Blue cotton Uniqlo button up. Love this guy. 9/10

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Grey cashmere Uniqlo sweater. Love it. 9/10

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Grey cashmere Uniqlo sweater. Love the dark one even more. 10/10

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Navy cashmere Uniqlo sweater. Full disclosure. This was an impulse buy. I just wanted more cashmere in my life and it was on sale. The fit isn’t quite what I wanted, so it has mostly been worn around the house. To be honest navy is too hard, and I’ll probably replace it with a black cashmere turtleneck later this year. This is what happens when you don’t follow your own rules! 5/10

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Grey merino Gorman knit. This guy is great for layering, and one of my few tight fitting warm things. 9/10

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Grey Uniqlo compact puffer. You probably won’t see a lot of posts about this jacket because I don’t wear it to work or while going out on the town. It’s more for casual day wear, winter walks, hiking and travel. It wasn’t on my wish list, though I’d needed something like this for ages. It’s very utilitarian and I love it! It replaces a heavy old army green parka that wasn’t even water resistant. What was I thinking? 10/10

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Black leather Marcs jacket. I always wanted a cool leather jacket, but never committed to one because I got put off by the expense, and then proceeded to buy ten items of frivolous crap in its stead. This jacket cost a fifth of my shopping budget, and it was worth it. One thing I have learnt since I started my small wardrobe is that investment pieces pay off if you are really, really sure about the purchase. This is by far my most favourite item of clothing, especially since I got the sleeves altered shorter. I want to wear this everyday, and hope to be buried in it. 11/10

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Grey wool blend FCUK skirt. This item was also not on my wish list, but I could not say no to it. I did consider buying it for a long time, and kept the tag on it for ages after I started wearing it (naughty!) ‘just in case’. I have no regrets, it has proven to be perfect for work and is relatively transeasonal. 9/10

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Black silk Weathered skirt. This skirt has a relaxed a-line fit for work. It is also lined, which is very important in a silk skirt. The elastic in the waist band is not great and tends to rearrange itself which can be quite annoying, but overall the item has longevity in my wardrobe. 8/10

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Grey viscose Picnic skirt. While I love the colour, cut and feel of this skirt, unfortunately the fabric is extremely fragile and has a lot of pulls in it already. I’d like to wear it in years to come, but I’m sceptical that it will survive 2017 without getting destroyed. I do tend to walk into walls, tables and chairs a lot, so this item will probably meet with a ‘major incident’ sooner rather than later. 4/10

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Black cotton blend Uniqlo trousers. I like the fabric, it has a lovely sheen to it, but Cat Jeffries’ fur really likes to stick to it. The trousers also tend to bunch around the knees, so I guess Uniqlo generally design pants for people without knees. Overall, they are a utilitarian basic though. 8/10

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Grey/mint viscose/rayon Lacausa dress. I’ve written about this dress before, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say I still love it, I just need to attach some little clasps to it to keep things in place. This is the second investment piece I purchased last year, costing around a sixth of my total shopping budget. 9/10

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That is 17 items of clothing that I purchased last year. Add that to the three pairs of shoes I bought and it’s a total of 20 items. That is a lot of stuff, though I know I used to buy a lot more in my large wardrobe days. I will not be purchasing this many items in such a short space of time any time soon. My shopping skills have not yet been perfected, as there are a few items that will not last the distance, but hey, I did alright! Please keep in mind that my wardrobe was so awful before, that I was literally was starting from scratch, as the next list will show you.

The rest of the clothing I own is the leftovers from my original 150 items of clothing. It’s confronting to see how few of the items in my large wardrobe were good long term investments. I did originally have a lot of guilt about discarding so much of my clothing, but I learnt to accept that if I wasn’t wearing it, it wasn’t worth keeping. I discarded those items sensibly, and most were sold or given away to friends or charity.

 

Before 2016 clothes

White cotton Kookai crop top. It’s not that short. I still love this, but as with most white things, time is turning it yellow. I will bleach it some more and hope for the best, because this top is excellent for a hot Australian summer, and one of my smarter older purchases. 8/10

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Grey cotton Zulu and Zephyr top. Still like this one. 7/10

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Black rayon Kuwaii top. This is a loose fitting, excellent basic. 9/10

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White cotton Target tee. I think I bought this for $3. It’s an excellent utilitarian piece that I use mostly for things like hiking and occasional work wear. It is also suffering from yellow. This one might have to leave me soon. 5/10

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White viscose Sportsgirl drape top. This item is perhaps a good example of the generally unflattering styles I used to favour, though I still enjoy it as it’s great for work. 7/10

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Grey silk H&M shirt. I love this item and have discussed it in detail already. 9/10

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Black merino Mountain Designs knit. This is an excellent example of an investment piece. This is the oldest item of clothing I own, possibly up to 10 years old. I have worn it travelling all over the world, so there is definitely an element of nostalgia attached to it. I’ve travelled with it to Canada, the US, and all over Europe, and I am unlikely to remove it from my life anytime soon. Even though it doesn’t look so great on its own, it is excellent for layering, and especially as a thermal layer. 9/10

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Coloured vintage rayon jacket. This is a leftover from my vintage shopping days, and I still like it for those moments when I want to express my inner bohemian. It has a loose kimono style fit. I do on occasion wear it to work, though its purpose is mainly casual. 7/10

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Denim Abrand Jeans cut offs. I love how effortless these look with a neutral tee. Another necessity for the Australian summer. 10/10

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White Topshop jeans. I liked these for some time, but I’m not so sure anymore. I don’t think they suit my five year wardrobe plan. I’m hoping to get something more sophisticated to potentially replace these. 6/10

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Black Topshop jeans. These are pretty good and I use them a lot, but they are wearing out. In the past I wore these to work, but they have faded a little too much now to be passed off as ‘work pants’. These may need to be replaced for reasons of practicality. 7/10

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Black and White cotton H&M top. As with many things H&M, the quality of this knit is not the best. While I love the way it looks, it has stretched and is a bit too large now. I still like it, but might consider replacing it if I find an interesting, better quality statement knit this year. 6/10

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Blush cotton H&M top. This top is very long, which has made it a fun layering piece. It also looks pretty good on its own, so I will probably hold onto it this year. 8/10

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White viscose Rue Stiic dress. I like the low armpits and tattered seams on this dress. It is however beginning to stain. I will try to keep this dress for some time if I can bring it back to white. 7/10

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Blue cotton The Fifth onesie. I guess this is a light denim fabric, which is why I like it. Still, it’s obviously quite a specialised piece, so I’m not sure it has staying power in my life. 6/10

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Black lyocell Zara trench. I actually did not start wearing this excellent piece until last year. This is another reflection on how warped my sense of style must have been until recently. I bought it because instinctively I knew it was great, but did not bring it out to play because I was probably wearing something awful instead. Wearing it makes me feel like a femme fatale in a film noir. 10/10

2

Black wool blend Maxim box shaped coat. Another rare wise purchase from the past. I love its simple vintage inspired aesthetic. It is, however, not of the best quality, and the textured surface is subject to a lot of pilling. I spent a lot of time fixing this item up last year, and I’m feeling pretty content in the jacket arena, so it is probably safe for another year. 8/10

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Black rayon Cleobella maxi dress. Another excellent basic I neglected for a long time. I don’t know why, I guess there was just too much chaos in my wardrobe for me to be able to tell what was good. Bringing up the hemline helped make it more wearable. I’m glad I learnt to like it, because I got it from Bona Drag so it cost a small fortune. 9/10.

9

Black viscose Sportsgirl drape dress. Through a majority of last year I thought I was going to discard this dress, because I didn’t feel it was particularly flattering. That changed when I got my leather jacket. Layering it with that item has given it a new life, and it’s something I wear regularly now. 7/10

8

That is a total of 19 items leftover from my old wardrobe. Also, most of my shoes and handbags are from that time period.

2017 clothes

Black viscose Morrison dress. Discussed recently. 9/10

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Grey sheer cotton Pigeonhole shirt dress. I’m really excited about this item. I haven’t been back at work yet so I haven’t had the opportunity to wear it, but it’s one of the items that I feel will bring a little more personality to my wardrobe. It presents some really excellent layering opportunities for both warm and cool weather. 10/10

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Grand total of all my wardrobe: 38 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes and 3 handbags.

I’m sure this is obvious, but I just want to highlight that my wardrobe is made up of mainly classic, basic pieces. This is why it is so functional; every item is flexible and can be worn in a number of different ways.

This year I hope to collect some interesting statement pieces to add a bit more personality to my look. This means that those items that have minimal flexibility and can be worn only in casual situations will probably be leaving me. I’m finding that even on summer holidays I mostly wear about four or five of those types of items on rotation.

This post was a lot of work to put together, and seeing as I put so much effort into it, I’m leaving you some homework! This activity is for those of you who are in the process of minimising your wardrobe. 

Pull everything out of your wardrobe and display it. Answer these questions truthfully:

  1. How much money have you spent on clothing this year?
  2. How much of the clothing you bought this year have you worn rarely or never?
  3. How much of the clothing you bought this year have you worn a lot?

Interesting. Answering these questions may help you steer the direction of your wardrobe if you feel like you need to downsize.


49 thoughts on “My Minimalist Wardrobe

  1. Your wardrobe is fabulous. I see a lot of whites, blacks and greys. Naturally, they can be worn in so many different ways. I love Olive green too. It is also a great neutral color and goes with blacks and whites very well, and sometimes with navy blues. This post looks like a lot of hard work, putting all this together. Great work! I haven’t bought anything in last 10 months at least, and don’t plan to do so for some more time. The last time I shopped, I made a list and spent a lot of time, visiting every store leisurely to get the exact things I wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to see all your pieces! Love diving into others wardrobes! I noticed that the pieces you ranked higher were more expensive, better quality pieces. Do you think you’ll transition to buy only higher priced, quality pieces or do you think you’ll keep buying pieces from lower priced stores? Just asking because I’m doing a clean out and finding it’s actually more costly for me to buy cheaper, high street pieces as they deteriorate quicker and need to be repaired or replaced sooner.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Same experience with the leather jackets! Went through several cheap ones, now I have none – it looks like investing in one good piece is really important, that’s going to be my goal for 2017 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, definitely. It really hurt to spend that chunk of money. I was literally sweating at the counter. I kept the tag on it for weeks in case I had a change of heart, but that never happened. The jacket really has completed so many of my looks. I wanted one of these for years and just never had the guts to spend that much on one item, but the fact is I was capable of spending a similar amount of money in a single shopping trip on a bunch of stuff I didn’t end up keeping. I would recommend that you get one with as few quirks as possible. I wanted one without the distracting belt and shoulder strap things, and ended up having the sleeves altered to get rid of chunky zips. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. So glad to hear that it worked out for you – I’m definitely feeling like I’m in your shoes, pre-jacket. Shamefully gone through 3 crappy quality ones, and right now I have 0 – but I’d rather have nothing until I find the perfect one. It’s going to be a big purchase for sure, there’s no avoiding it, but clearly it works out 🙂 I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for a no-frills kind and be ready emotionally for when the time comes!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the pieces you’ve ended up with here. You definitely can’t go wrong with having any of those in your closet! Perfect for mixing and matching. I definitely need to some kind of shopping fast because I’ve been spending way too much money (and time!) on new pieces when I should be saving for stuff like rent, travel, activities. lol! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this! I find I probably only use about 40 items of clothing but I keep a lot more ‘just in case.’ It’s a habit that I find really hard to break out of but I’m getting there. Your wardrobe seems really versatile which is great as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They say(I don’t know who they are!) we wear 40% of our wardrobe, 60% of the time. I have ‘A’pair of shoes……and as they are medically approved shoes to cater to my AFO they are the most expensive shoes I own……..ever. Clothes have become really boring and minimal for me. Post disability…….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this! I am 64 and have amassed a lot of clothes. This year I want to see if I can buy NO new items of clothing, but only buy from charity shops and upcycle what I already have. I favour bright colours so my colour palette is pinks, oranges and turquoise, but like you I mix and match. Good luck, this is inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the white ricochet shirt – though I imagine that the material is not very forgiving? It would look great with a very dark wash denim sleek hair for work!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi, thanks for visiting and liking my blog! Let me just say this post is so inspirational and definitely wardrobe goals!! I’ve been wanting my toss everything out of my closet and keep it minimal. It’s just so hard to get myself to do it. But this post has definitely inspired me to finally go through with it. x

    Valerie // avecvalerie.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for visiting my blog and liking it. It is my first blog🙂. Allow me to say that your leather jacket is very cool and should serve you well.
    Also, as an engineer who rates industrial designs, your clothes rating scale is fancy. I haven’t seen it done like you did. Nice!!

    Cheers
    Sundar

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m curious as to what your wardrobe looked like before you went on this wardrobe fast? I’m sorry if you may have addressed this in earlier posts – maybe I need to catch up on your blog. Did you always wear neutrals and basics, but you just had too much of it? I guess the hardest thing for me is that I own a lot of colorful printed items that don’t mix and match easily – but that’s my style! I feel like I live a double life right now. The colorful printed me and the basics me (I have a very small collection of basics).

    Victoria
    https://chicvic.com

    Liked by 1 person

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