The thought of having a simplified wardrobe of perfectly coordinated items is enticing. Simply put, the benefits can be underlined with more peace. You will have more peace when you spend less money and avoid decision fatigue. Curating a simplified wardrobe helps you build clarity about what really matters. What is really worth your time, energy and financial resources—and most importantly, what is not.
I can attest to these benefits. I spend little time choosing what to wear and can find what I’m looking for quickly. Spending less on clothing has also been another benefit. I’m now dressed before my husband—I admit, I’m a little competitive sometimes. I’ve found clothing that is comfortable and suits my style. When I had too many choices, my ‘what to wear’ decision was draining and time-consuming. Many mornings, I’d end up wearing something I wasn’t really happy with.
De-owing most of your wardrobe can be a daunting task. Just thinking about the purging process can be stressful and overwhelming. It requires forethought, the ability to give up past mistakes and your ‘fantasy self’ clothing.
I think success in simplifying your wardrobe (and life) is part perspective change and part finding the practical vehicle (method) to get you there.
To get you thinking, and get you started, I’ve compiled a list of perspective changes and practical methods to help you simplify your wardrobe. I hope you find them helpful.
Perspective Changes to Consider
1. All of your excess clothing is actually making your life more difficult. This is when I’m reminded that it is easy to have too much of a good thing. It is more challenging to choose what to wear when we have too much to choose from. Decision fatigue will be knocking you down every morning as you stare aimlessly into an over stuffed closet.
2. Quality over quantity. Owning seven of the best (fit, comfort & style) t-shirts is better than 50 good t-shirts.
3.It’s on sale. I think this is one way we try to justify an unnecessary purchase. And quite frankly, a purchase we may not even really love. We tell ourselves it is good to buy that (shirt) because it’s on sale. Meanwhile, we have 75 more shirts hanging in our closet.
4. Our fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s almost as if the words on sale, look better, and get it now before it’s gone stirs up the fear of missing out (FOMO). We should be more concerned with missing out on an intentional life with purpose and meaningful relationships rather than a shirt we may not want to wear next year.
5. Decide that you have enough (and I hope you truly do). This can be easier said than done–hence why accumulate so much stuff. A gratitude journal can help with this. Becoming more minimalist was a wake-up call for me. Not only did I accept the reality that I had enough, I felt in my heart that I had more than enough.
6. Your clothing doesn’t define you. So often our emotional baggage is wrapped up in our clothing. We hold onto things we don’t use or like because a friend gave it to us or our mother wore it. We hold into our fantasy clothing; may it be athletic, trendy or formal. Just like keeping those clothes won’t make you more of that person, holding onto them won’t either.
7. Other people may be able to benefit from the clothing you don’t love and wear.
8. It is better to give than receive, and it is better to give than to keep what you do not need.
Practical Methods to Simplify your Wardrobe
The Reverse Hanger Method
Hang every clothing item that you can, just for this time. Place all of your hangers facing the same direction. As you wear and place your clothing back on the hangers, put it back on the hanger facing the opposite direction. At the end of one month, you’ll exactly what you have worn.
DIY Capsule Wardrobe
This is a minimal wardrobe made up of pieces that you love and wear. A simplified collection of items that work well together. A capsule doesn’t have to be a set 10 items, 25 items or 55. You can create a capsule wardrobe with a number that works for you. But remember, the end goal is a simplified closet so don’t keep more than you need. If you love to plan on paper, Caroline at Un-Fancy offers a free downloadable capsule planner that may be helpful for you.
If you like the idea of a capsule wardrobe but thrive with the framework set for you, Courtney Carver’s minimalist fashion challenge is my favorite! Project 333 Challenge invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. Sound crazy?—it’s attainable, I promise. I love how Courtney emphasizes that “this is not a project in suffering”. Courtney also offers quick start guides and a micro course for extra motivation and support.
The Thankful Thread Challenge
The Thankful Thread Challenge is a project that invites you to give some of your clothes away. Maybe a lot of them. It’s a call to clear space in your head, your heart, and your home to better pursue enduring contentment. This challenge is a great way to achieve a simplified wardrobe while expressing your attitude of gratitude.
To start sort through each item in your wardrobe. You could pull it all out at once or go through it where it’s stored. Do what works for You. This is not a challenge to increase stress.
As you look at each item, ask yourself, “Do I need this?”. ” Would this ‘sweater’ be more useful to someone else?” If the answer is a ‘Yes’, pack it up and drive down to a local charity in your area.
When you hold onto stuff you don’t need, you keep it from being useful to other people. ~Beá Johnson
The 10 Item Wardrobe
Jennifer Scott invites you to take out all of your clothes or sort through it in sections. Ask yourself, “Does it fit me? Do I love this? Do I wear this? With what remains, take out the off-season clothing—store them away. Now you’ll start to build your 10 core item wardrobe. A sample would be 1 slack, 2 jeans, 3 dresses, and 4 blouses. Jennifer notes that you can have extras, like sweaters, jacket, and special occasion wear. Just be sure to keep the capsule idea. To learn more listen to her TEDx talk.
The LUK Method
For example, If you have 3 white shirts and only love one, keep the one. If you have 3 white shirts and only wear one, keep the one. If you have 3 white shirts and forgot about the other 2, only keep the one.
I used this simple acronym for my children (7 & 10 years old). It gave them an anchor question to ask themselves as they sorted through their stuff. One they could easily remember.
This is one of the most well know methods for tackling clothing clutter. Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category–gather every single clothing item, for example, your coats in entryway closet. Then place it all on your bed in one big crazy pile. As you hold each item, ask yourself, ‘Does this sparks joy?’. If it does not spark joy, you thank the item and toss it in the good-bye pile. You then place all the remaining items back in your closet. She offers specific ways to fold every item and keep it visible inside your dresser. So go and “KonMari” your clutter as people say.
The Last 14 Experiment
Start with all your clothes cleaned and put away. Remove everything you haven’t worn in the last 2 weeks. This shouldn’t be too difficult since you just put all those recently worn clothes away. Box up the remaining and see if you miss any of it in the next 30 days. This method as helped my simplify many areas of my home, even my bath and beauty products.
You may find that you have a better idea of the clothing that does work for you when you have less to choose from. Living with less even for just a few weeks can give you the breathing room dress intentional.
I’m embarrassed to say that when I did this a few years ago, I couldn’t even remember some of the items I had in the box. I realized they just didn’t make a useful impact on my day. We can be content with far less clothing than we think.
I have the fewest clothes I’ve ever owned, and yet I am the most content I’ve ever been with my simplified wardrobe.
Maybe you would be too?