7 Steps to a Minimalist Wardrobe

When I decided to pursue a minimalist lifestyle, one of the first areas I tackled was my closet. I had too many clothes that I didn’t wear, and too little space in which to keep them. I wanted a wardrobe that was simple, elegant, and functional — and I wanted to be able to retrieve the pieces, and put them away, without any pushing, pulling, or wrestling.

Over the course of a few months, I pared down my closet to less than half its original contents. I sold quite a number on eBay, gave some to family and friends, and donated the rest.

The reward: a spacious closet, and a well-edited wardrobe that perfectly suits my needs.

Want to do the same? Just follow these seven easy steps, and you’ll never again have “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear:”

1. Purge everything that doesn’t fit. Ditch the “fat clothes,” the “skinny clothes,” and anything else that bunches, pulls, stretches, or sags in the wrong places.

2. Purge everything that doesn’t flatter. Get rid of the mom jeans, the baggy sweatshirts, and any other items that make you look or feel frumpy.

3. Purge everything you haven’t worn in the last year. Twelve months’ time is sufficient to cover all the seasons and occasions for which you need apparel. If you didn’t wear something last year, you probably won’t wear it the next.

4. Choose a base color. Pick a neutral like black, brown, navy, or khaki for your “foundation” pieces (like pants, skirts, and suits), and purge the rest.

5. Choose accent colors. Select a handful of shades that flatter you, and limit the rest of your apparel (like shirts and sweaters) accordingly. Choose colors that complement your base and each other, for optimal mixing and matching.

6. Pare down your shoes and purses. If you’ve chosen a base color for your clothes, you no longer need a rainbow of footwear and handbags. (Black shoes and a black bag, for example, go with everything in my closet.)

7. Accessorize. Instead of buying trendy apparel, stick to classic pieces and spice things up with scarves and jewelry. They’re significantly smaller and easier to store.

And remember, don’t put your rejects in a landfill; they may be perfect for someone else! If you don’t want to deal with selling them on eBay or in a consignment shop, be generous and give them away. Here’s a list of organizations that could use your donation:

In the US:
Dress for Success
Goodwill Industries International
Purple Heart Pickup Service

Vietnam Veterans of America
The Salvation Army

In the UK:
British Red Cross
Cancer Research UK

You may be able to take a tax write-off, so obtain a receipt and record the value of donated items.

If you’d like to pursue a more minimalist lifestyle, decluttering your wardrobe is a great place to start. Each item you toss is like a weight lifted off your shoulders—and you’ll no doubt be inspired to tackle the rest of the house!

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