More Minimalist Wardrobe Musings

I was planning to write a deep, philosophical post on minimalism this week…but to be honest, I just wasn’t in a pensive mood. I am once again “between homes,” and the burden of dragging around my possessions between various hotels and sublets has inspired musings of a more practical nature.

I’m going to stay on the topic of wardrobe this week, as it constitutes the bulk of my baggage at the moment. In particular, I’ve been fantasizing about items that would enable me to reduce my load even more. And foremost in my fantasies are ultra-versatile items that address all my needs in a single package.

Warning: anyone who took issue with my 10-item wardrobe may not want to read any further, as the fashion transgressions in this post will be coming fast and furious. ;-)

You see, I’m the type of person who gets excited about the sleek “uniforms” in science fiction movies — you know, those monochrome futuristic outfits that people in spaceships wear. Yes, the minimalist aesthetic appeals to me; but even more so, the idea of a world in which fashion for fashion’s sake is irrelevant.

So here’s my magical minimalist wish list. I always enjoy “designing” these items in my mind, so thought it might be fun to discuss them here.

1. Transformer shoe

My fantasy: While I spend most of my time in flats, certain occasions call for a heel. I wish someone would create a comfortable flat, onto which one could screw a heel when needed. Perhaps a male version would involve an interchangeable sole — flat for dress wear, rugged for casual wear.

Reality: I was surprised to find these Camileon heels in a Google search. They adjust from a 1 ½” to a 3 ¼” heel — not quite a flat, but close! I also discovered another type of interchangeable shoe, in which different tops are attached to one base for a variety of looks — check out these offerings from Mohop and OneSole. Not what I was looking for, but an interesting idea nonetheless.

2. All-season coat.

My fantasy: I would like a coat that works year round, for everything from shoveling snow to going to the opera. I prefer a slim, tailored silhouette (in ¾-length) rather than a ski-parka look. In my mind, I’m picturing a three-layer system: the middle one would be a nice coat in a fall/spring weight, the outer would be a wind-and-water resistant shell for inclement weather, and the inner would be a zip-out fleece for frigid days. Extra points if the nice middle layer reverses to a different color.

Reality: While there are plenty of coats with zip-out liners, most seem to be of the sporty or trench variety. What I want may very well be out there; I just haven’t found it yet!

3. Removable sleeves.

My fantasy: I’d like to be able to wear my favorite tops in both summer and winter by simply adding or removing the sleeves. If they can do it with pants, why not with shirts? Let’s throw dresses in there as well; I’d love to be able to pop some sleeves on my little black dress when it’s cold. (Apologies to any fashionistas who are having a coronary right now!)

Reality: The examples I’ve found for “removable sleeves” on the web include an oversized “big shirt,” a medieval pirate shirt, and a gothic punk t-shirt. Hmm. Well, at least we know it’s possible.

4. Climate control fabrics.

My fantasy: I’m also dreaming of smart fabrics that can heat and cool me as needed — another requirement in my quest for a seasonless wardrobe.

Reality: Interestingly enough, it seems this high-tech function is best performed by natural fabrics. My go-to hiking shirt is an Icebreaker merino wool tee, which has kept me comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. I’m glad the company is expanding its line beyond sports and exercise wear. Silk is a candidate as well, though cruelty to silkworms is a concern.

5. A uniform.

Okay, I’m throwing this one out here to get your opinions, as it certainly has minsumer appeal — after all, the fashion industry creates a tremendous amount of waste and is often linked to deplorable working conditions.

So (laundry concerns aside), what if you could have one perfectly-comfortable, perfectly-designed outfit that you could wear everyday — and nobody cared, or ridiculed you for it? I’m not talking scrubs, or military dress, or a UPS uniform, but something you looked fabulous and felt great in. Would you want that? Or do you find variety, and self-expression through clothing, too important to give up? Please let me know in the Comments!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

113 comments to More Minimalist Wardrobe Musings

  • et

    If cruelty to silkworms is an issue you might want to look into the details of sheep rearing – not always so pretty or kind….

    Way not work with a designer/seamstress and get the clothes you so obviously can picture custom made? If its too expensive you could get one at a time.

  • Kim

    Hey, if you build it they will come! I am so totally down the ‘the uniform’ idea. I’d be totally happy wearing the same thing every day and I WOULD if that was an acceptable thing to do. As is, I wear three outfits to work five days a week and creatively try to make it appear as though they’re different outfits. I’m in the process of shedding all of my worldly possesions to travel and I can’t wait to have only what I need. That’s the way it should be, you know?

  • heather

    Funny you should mention Icebreaker. I just purchased their Roma wrap dress and it is perfect. Natural material, easy wash, no iron, perfectly fitting, looks great on most people, wear it to work, to play, dress it up, dress it down, my own little black dress.

    • I was looking into their dresses too, maybe you can answer me a question: can you actually wear the dress in hot weather, or is the fabric too warm for that purpose?
      Thanx in advance
      Happy clam

  • Simple Zen

    Nice idea Francine but dual or multi purpose clothes don’t work. I’ve tried it.

    I’m no party animal and nightclubs are my Room 101, but showing up in my usual check shirt, hiking boots and a pair of khaki kiwis for the office Christmas party feels very uncomfortable. I have a uniformed job so it’s all I ever wear when I’m not at work.

    I’ve had to buy a set of “party” clothes that I only wear only once or twice per year. Frustrating because I don’t own an Iron or shoe brushes. Its just more stuff.


  • Seasquirt

    I would love to read more about moving around when you have minimal belongings, especially as my husband and I are thinking of relocating to London where I believe you still live. Rents and buying are pretty astronomical there, but that is the case in many large cities, so I think it’s a discussion that would interest your readers.

  • I would SO love a uniform. I kind of have one – I wear jeans and a white blouse through the spring and summer. Not very fancy, but it always looks rather crisp. I am on the look out for more anti wrinkle white blouses actually! 5 would be great! So, yes, I totally get it and am glad I am not the only one!

  • My perfect uniform would be a fitted jumpsuit like this model here:

    I’ve always loved the fitted look emphasizing the silhouette without revealing any skin, and they are very comfy too. The only thing that can be a pain is going to the bathroom ;).
    However, I haven’t made the move yet, maybe I should buy one for spring and test it out (I’m on a shopping ban until May)

  • Ha! I love the idea of you in a goth-punk outfit with one sleeve off and one on… ;)

    Although I’ve really enjoyed getting rid of almost half of my clothes over the past year, I do love the novelty and self expression that fashion afford. (Project 333 is kind of killing me that way, I must admit.) And while uniforms are great (Picasso in his striped Breton sailor shirt – sexy!)…they’re just not for me.

  • I love the uniform idea. If the option was comfortable and appropriate for all temps and weather I would love to wear the same thing every day!

  • I’m working on creating my own unique uniform or something similar that will allow me to have a minimal wardrobe while still enjoying clothes and being creative. I’m searching for a very good quality shoe-likely a sneaker or hiking type boot-that will last for a couple of yrs or more.

    Though not my style, there are many dresses like the one below that are versatile. This one is eco-friendly:

    They also have one for kids, which I think is a really great idea.

    Others: (way more affordable, different link shows over 125 good reviews)

    Versatile Black Maternity Dress :

  • runi

    Mayfair! Great. Glad to see another vegan. That’s why my posts (if relevant) mention things “fabric shoes” or “quilted coat (not down)”.

    But, vegan or not, you CAN adopt a uniform. Look at Steve Jobs with his black shirts and jeans,but then I saw a picture of his closet, and he seemed to have about a dozen of each. Being responsible (even if they are just alike) for that many clothes would mess up my mind, but then he’s rich.

    I am not rich, but make do with five basic pieces (not including coats, shoes, unmentionables, etc.). If you look clean–usually solid basic colors work best. You will probably need to handwash and drip dry more than most

    As long as you can convince yourself that the fashion police in your office aren’t paying for your clothes so
    . . . Most people have too much on their minds to worry about what you are wearing.

    • “Most people have too much on their minds to worry about what you are wearing.”
      This is so true! Unless you would sport the same hot pink tutu each day at work, I doubt anyone would notice. Nina Yau from castlesintheair blog wore the same clothes to work for a month, and as fas as I remember it took a week for anyone to notice.

  • You need to become an inventor and a fashion designer because I love your ideas!

  • Ashley Laurent

    Love the post. I guess I wear a ‘uniform’ everyday….basically my shiny black skinny jeans, red italian leather shoes, deep v-neck t-shirt, and a deep blue or black long cardigan.

    I don’t really like flats because there is absolutely no arch support. My shoes have a 2 3/4 inch heel that is just perfectly comfortable and flattering at the same time. Anything past those heel heights is called evening wear for me….

    Minimalism, in fashion, taking place during the post-modern era, is a relatively new concept. I really don’t think it will be commercial (popular) for many more years. Also, in terms of versatile famous fashion clothing, this example, by the famous fashion designer Sebastian Errazuriz revolutionized fashion forever.

  • This is a fun issue :-) I worked for over a year teaching people to sew and worked with the most fashion-minded people I ever met. I spent more money on clothes that year than I ever have, even though I bought used!

    Now I live on a mini-farm and work as a vet tech. I have a uniform for work — scrubs, purchased for me and asssigned by the day, and I am amazed at how simple it makes my morning routine.

    I really enjoyed your 10 item wardrobe post, but I realized your wardrobe wouldn’t work for me. I come home from work and spend my evening and days off gardening, taking care of goats and chickens, cooking, cleaning and going on long country walks. I am working on a 10-item uniform for myself. It’s hard to transistion from my skirts and dresses, and I still have quite a few cute dressier clothes which I do wear on occaision. I realized my “uniform” would be my jeans and exercise clothes, while my little black dress and grey skirts would be things I have to keep but don’t wear often (like your hiking clothes).

    This is a huge switch for me, but I am happy to realize that if I’m spending 90% of my off time in these ‘work’ clothes, I should at least put an effort into it. I don’t need 5 or 6 pairs of raggedy shorts and jeans, I can get a good pair of jeans and some nice walking pants and unstained t-shirts.

    Thanks Francine!

  • Marcy Drummonds

    I, too, love the uniform- seems like we all do! I wear a lot of men’s clothes, I like the whole androgeny thing. For about 6 years I was in men’s overalls BUT I wore them with heels or very girly flats, a tank or long-sleeve fitted tee, scarf, little blazer, hat. Now, I’m in coveralls, and I LOVE them!! Now I don’t even have to own shirts!! ( and since I’m a “little” girl, I don’t even have to wear an undergarment! Pockets provide enough coverage!)I have long sleeve for winter, short for summer. I mostly get them on e-bay.
    I still wear them with cute girly flats, necklaces, scarves, hats- that’s where the fun is!
    DISCLAIMER: I realize that this look isn’t for everyone, but I will say that I do get compliments. And it IS annoying to go to the ladies room.

  • Heather

    I love this idea! My main problem is many minimalist wardrobes seem to be monochromatic and/or neutral (and I totally realize this is not a requirement to be a minimalist, but just a personal preference of some) and I need a variety of colors to feel happy. I love color. I found the colors that look best on me (such an 80’s thing to do, Color Me Beautiful anyone?) and I’m working on streamlining my wardrobe to just those half dozen colors instead of haphazardly buying anything that looks pretty on the hanger, but not on me. Baby steps toward minimalism.

    About the coat: My 3 year old has a coat like you’re describing! It’s so neat! It’s in two parts, that zip & snap together. Outer is a waterproof shell/light jacket, inner is a warm fleece with semi-waterproof outer shell, and when they are zipped together they make a really warm winter coat! Well, really warm for Georgia, which gets about 10 days in the low 30’s every year, so it might not be sufficient in colder climes. But it is possible!

  • Patti

    FWIW I think your wish list wardrobe sounds very reasonable and even do-able. After all, “if we can put a man on the moon…”

    I’ve already thinned out my closet to only what currently fits and looks presentable, but I’d love to narrow it down even further

    I’m tall, large-framed, and have more weight to lose so once I’m at or closer to goal weight my future wardrobe will be limited to only the colors that work with my autumn complexion: dark brown bootcut pants w/ matching shoes, and longer tunic-length tops in autumn colors (or prints that match the brown pants).

    Pantyhose are evil, so I currently own NO dresses or skirts at all. The only way I’d buy one in the future is if it’s ankle length knit (for comfort) in a dark brown that I can wear with existing tops and no pantyhose

    Add one perfect pair of blue jeans (when I can fit in them again), one nice pair of sneakers for weekends out in public, and existing tops. For lounging around the house, one oversized tee + underwear in warm weather (with socks and a pair of lounge pants for winter). For winter outerwear, one perfect, warm cardigan (I live in the desert and winters aren’t THAT cold).

    Knowing me, once I find the perfect garments I’ll no doubt buy several pairs, which sorta defeats the purpose of a minimalist wardrobe. But getting it down to that little as described above is a huge step for me

  • Nancy

    I work as a massage therapist in a day spa and wear a uniform of black pants and t-shirt every day. My entire work wardrobe consists of 3 pairs of pants and 5 shirts (2 shirts and pants from thrift store; rest bought cheaply). I love how easy it is to choose my clothes for the day but wearing black is a bit of a downer. At times I long for the days of wearing skirts and dresses to my former office job but I sure don’t miss the shoes!!! Now I wear black suede Easy Spirit sneakers daily and my feet are loving it!

    I used to wear a lot of earth-toned outfits but now I’m attracted to interesting prints and colors. It would be so much easier to just wear black with one or two other colors but that would eventually be a bit boring for me. Guess I’ll just have to pare down my clothes until I’m left with the stuff I love and use the most.

  • My husband wears a self-imposed uniform. He has khaki shorts, blue Dickies button up shirts, and wears them with a plain white undershirt year round. We live in California and he sometimes wears a blue sweatshirt on top. He owns one pair of pants and one a few casual polos and button ups for when he’s dressing up, but working or not, he’s 99% of the time in the same clothes. It is convenient, but definitely boring!

  • Caroline

    This fantasy uniform, like any lunch I have too many days in a row, or the same hairstyle, would depress me after about 2 months. Yup..think that’s my limit. Therefore, I’ll go with about 2 weeks worth of awesome looking quality duds (that mix and match of course). I could live with that. And I have bangs so I can change my hair around once in awhile so that I stop thinking about cutting it all off just to have a change (I’ve done it 3 times – no more!).

    Maybe I just haven’t bought anything that great yet, but every time I say “this is the be-all, end-all ___” I’m wrong about it. I’ve had many items for years, but I never ascribed that title to them. I think telling myself something is the very thing I’ve always wanted is a death-wish for my enjoyment of that item. In 2009 I bought a fantastic (and expensive) rain trench, but now that I’m trying to do base colors, I’m finding that a purple trench wasn’t the best choice…and neither were the orange gloves… See I finally started buying some nice quality articles of clothing, and THEN I discover the beauty of base colors. ARG!

  • Katy

    Here is a microfiber rain jacket with a zip out quilted liner…doesn’t exactly fit your ideal coat…but not bad! :)

  • Aurora

    I have a self-imposed uniform of bootcut pants and a knit top. I work within a color palatte of purple, green and black, though I’m trying to switch out gray instead because black is somewhat draining. I have 2 pairs of work shoes which I alternate. This keeps it simple. I can add a sweater, vest or scarf to dress things up a bit.

  • Caroline

    I object to the idea that most people don’t notice what you wear. People DO – especially if it looks bad. There are certainly some people who are oblivious, but there are those of us that notice. Detail-oriented people (which everyone claims to be when they’re trying to find a job) will remember if you wear the same clothes over and over. My coworker does it, and unfortunately she does it badly. I guess my point is that it’s just wishful thinking to hope nobody notices. My second point is that if you did wear a uniform, if it looked really good on you, people would notice that you wore a uniform BUT that you also look really good doing it! Of course, if you’re traveling, you won’t see the same people again, unless they’re in your group, and then (hopefully, for light packing’s sake) they’re wearing the same stuff over and over too :P

    I certainly aspire to live with a more limited and versatile wardrobe, but I’m not going to pretend that people won’t notice I’m wearing the same stuff a lot.

  • I’m one of the ones who may have “bashed” the business-casual wardrobe capsule. I must say, the idea of a uniform is intriguing and I loved the very modern minimalist jacket photo.

    If you think about it, a large portion of the world wears a uniform. For women, the burqa or abaya comes to mind. Though we may associate burqa with oppressive fundamentalist governments, they are beautifully made and practical, and what you wear underneath dictates (no pun intended) how warm or cool you are. I would rather wear a burqa than the Banana Republic uniform. Then the little bits that peep out (the hands, eyes, feet) can sport a beautiful piece of jewelry, an exquisitely crafted pair of shoes, or a dramatic eyeliner and the overall look can still be extremely stylish. Just a thought.

  • Noel

    Thank you for such a great post. carries some zip-off and zip-out clothes. They also have 1 or 2 reversible skirts. I don’t know if they’re good quality, but some things look a little frumpy and others nice and basic.

    What I would like to see is a wardrobe kit: maybe 5-10 fashionable pieces people could buy all together to update their closets either twice a year or every season. For an extra fee, matching accessories could be purchased too. (When done with the pieces, they could be sent back for recycling?)

  • Kate

    At Y-dress there’s a whole range of versatile clothing, including sleeves you can add to a dress.

  • i saw your post on simple living network and came over here to comment because i am so with you on the uniform thing! for my whole life, i have wanted little shift dresses to wear all the time, but i could never find any to fit me. (i am plus sized, apple shaped.)

    so i started a company called wear the shift to make custom-fit shift dresses out of vintage and eco-friendly fabrics in all sizes.

    this is a win on a lot of different levels. first off, having these dresses makes my life cuter and simpler every day — i just put one on and maybe some tights and then i’m done getting dressed! simple. and easy to accessorize in lots of different ways.

    secondly, we manufacture right here in pittsburgh. we pay our stitchers a living wage and we recycle our scraps. and we use only vintage and eco-friendly fabrics.

    and every dress is custom-made — every dress is wanted. i mean, i love getting a $3.99 shirt at target, too, but the fact that shirt exists means that there are too many clothes in the world! too many crappy clothes, i should say. each of our dresses, though, is made to specifically fit one person and sewn to the highest qualitu standardsm so it can be worn for years.

    sci-fi writer and green design visioinary bruce sterling says that the everyday object is the monarch of all objects, and worth spending on to get the best quality. i totally agree with him!

    anyway, wear the shift is a baby company, just getting started, and i’d love to hear you and your readers’ thoughs on it. :)

    • miss minimalist

      Hi madge! I’ve decided to live in little dresses and ballet flats this spring/summer, so this is right up my alley!

      I’m a huge fan of the shift — so pretty and versatile! — and love how you’re offering it in a variety of fabrics and prints. What a wonderful business to start!

    • Marie

      That is such a great idea!! Dresses are easy in that it’s a whole outfit, you don’t really need anything else! Great business idea, let us know how it goes!!

  • Hey! I am finally jumping on the minimalism train. I have started by wearing a sort-of uniform to work. I am a teacher and for this last quarter I am wearing only a school polo (I have three) and black, khaki, or grey bottoms. It is such a relief not to have to worry about so much laundry or picking an outfit. I plan to extend this sort of thinking to the rest of my wardrobe and then even further. Thank you for this inspirational blog.

  • […] down to a kind of “uniform” to help make getting dressed a lot simpler. I then saw this post over at Miss Minimalist which asked what you would wear everyday if you could. Here is what I’ve come up […]

  • Hi Francine!

    I love this post, it’s nice to think about the fun but practical side of minimalism once in awhile. I was inspired to write a post about my current “uniform”. This is what works for me right now as a student in college :)

    My favorite idea is the climate control fabrics, I live in a temperamental four season climate and hate that I have to have more clothing because of it.

    Again, great post! I love all your insights and ideas!

    The Simple Nomad
    The Simple Nomad

  • jenifer

    I know it’s late, but here is my uniform. I teach yoga and run a holistic health center. So, this is pretty much my whole wardrobe:

    Yoga Tights (3/4 length)
    Yoga Tank
    Wrap Dress or skirt/cardigan

    Vibram five-finger classics (like a ballet flat with toes!)
    Denim Jacket
    pashmina scarf

    Here, we only get two seasons — spring and fall — so i’m pretty much in that demin jacket all the time. Sometimes I’ll toss on a sweater or a heavier coat now and again. But there it is.

    I also own jeans — which I wear occasionally — but i prefer this feminine and simple look.

    I buy from American Apparel. Very affordable, colorful, good fit, and long lasting (for a person who is hard on her clothes). Also fair trade.

    • Sarah

      Jealous–where is it that you live (general area)? I am in New England and always end up wearing 3 layers plus a bulky jacket in the winter.

      Also jealous of your comfy clothes and Vibrams but that involves career circumstances and is more complicated. I’d love to trade climates, though :)

  • For the whole removable sleeve thing, you could look at Ch’arms. It a long sleeved shirt kind of like a cami so it goes under anything.

  • Christine

    Yes!! And this is the exact reason I loved Units!!!

    Check out the Miche purse for versatility in the spirit of the shoe you want.

  • BL

    First, I apologise for this LONG post. I am inspired by your minimalist wardrobe approach. I haven’t pared-down as much as I really need to…I think it’s a process, but I am actively working on it. I feel so much better with purging my STUFF.

    For people that are looking for a list that would help them get a start on minimizing, Bradley Bayou, has a great list of things. While the list is not as spartan as yours, it would edit the “regular” woman’s closet quite a bit. This is his list of 32 items below. For myself, I reduced what I didn’t need from his list, and added what I do need for my own lifestyle.

    I added strappy metallic, mid-heel sandals (goes with everything) and black knee-high boots, 1 black purse and 1 metallic clutch (goes from day to evening–and with everything), 1 bathing suit, and removed several of his foofier-must-haves.

    His unedited list is this (from The Science of Sexy):

    1 Basic white cotton tailored shirt
    1 Colored, tailored shirt (that flatters your eye color or skin color)
    7 cotton T shirts (some long sleeve, short sleeve, and tank that suits your shape)
    1 Sexy party top (that can be dressed up with accessories)
    1 Shiny silk camisole (that can be layered under structured jackets, or worn casually alone)
    1 Pretty top with special details
    1 Black Sweater (that works for your shape)
    1 Solid-colored sweater (again that flatters eye color or skin color)
    1 Timeless black dress
    1 Daytime dress (simple neckline in color or pattern that flatters you)
    1 Unique Sexy party dress (bold color or interesting details)
    1 Black skirt that fits your figure
    1 Flirty dressy skirt
    1 Knee-length business skirt
    1 Casual Pant
    1 Pair of black pants
    3 Pairs of jeans (1 hemmed for heels, 2 for flatter style shoes)
    1 Basic black suit coat (that matches black pants and black skirt above)
    1 Blazer that looks great dressed up or down
    1 3/4 length coat (looks good on virtually everyone)
    1 Overcoat (don’t skimp on quality on this one, it’s to last for MANY winters)
    1 Casual, light jacket
    1 pair of heels (of course, if you’ve stuck with a base color, you can use that color, or a nude heel works with virtually everything.)
    1 pair of flats

    It would be easy for someone to tailor this list for their own needs, and have a closet of VERY wearable and mixable items that still makes them look great, without being boring.

  • Marie

    1) transformer shoe: great invention! there are also transformer clothes if you are interested: Inala London:

    2) great idea, maybe you should start a line?

    3) although you might hate me for suggesting this: why not invest in wrist warmers? OR find identical fabric to your clothes and sew buttons and buttonholes on the inside where you can’t see it and there you have it, removable sleeves!

    4) climate control fabrics: I believe those already exist. Uniqlo is one of the brands that sells them. The technology is simple: the fabric is coated with wax that retracts or expands depnding on your body temperature, creating a warmer/cooler fabric.

    5) I think that is what they did in the middle ages (maybe also the Amish), when they would only replace something when they grew out of it or when it coulnd’t be mended.
    I think that nowadays, as much as we try to escape consumerism, it is still present to an extent, at least because of the number of people we live around (as opposed to a few centuries ago where if you’d met 200 people in your entire life you’d had a rich one — today most ppl have 500+ facebook friends)

    Also I find that although I try to buy as little as possible and declutter periodically, sometimes there simply is this compulsive need to get stuff once in a while (yes that dress that will stay there 5 years before I part with it, etc).

    So maybe a bit of variety is alright after all?

  • Karin

    When reading about your quest for the perfect coat, I remembered seeing an add for a new North Face convertible coat. I thought it might be of interest to you… Adding one piece and subtracting others…

    Thank you for your posts! I really enjoy reading about your minimalist lifestyle and have been inspired to shift my own!

  • Julia
    This girl wore the same dress (she had a few identical) every day for one year.

  • Adriana

    I found your transformer shoe!
    ps. great blog!

  • Herbie

    MissMinimalist, in the cyclist clothes section, there are add-on sleeves available. Usually in black. Would that help you towards your removable sleeve dream?

  • Hi Francine! I love your blog and just purchased the Kindle version of your book, which I’m hoping to curl up with this weekend. My friend Erin runs a decluttering blog, and a while back she posted about these fascinating shoes by an Israeli designer. They have a neat, European style. I find them much more appealing than some of the other “convertible” shoe offerings. I haven’t purchased them (I’m trying to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” right now, and have PLENTY to get me through many seasons…sigh), but wanted to share them for you and your readers to consider if they are seeking a versatile option for their minimalist closets.

  • JoyBlossom

    You’re not alone. These startups working on high tech business apparel could be answering your prayers soon:

  • carole

    I pretty much wear a uniform everyday. Khaki skirt and a tank or tee and sandals in summer, I add a cardigan in the fall. I wear this or a variation of it all the time, sometimes is shorts but I stick with khaki or black. I wear funky jewelry though.

  • Have you seen Dianne Ericson’s Snap Dragon sewing pattern? While you might go for a more tailored look, it’s exactly the premise you’re looking for in removable sleeves. Maybe learning to sew and renting time with a sewing machine can help you achieve that dream. :)

    I’ve been working through wardrobe paring down and blogging about it by using the Wardrobe Architect series by Colette Patterns. Pretty awesome.

  • Tina

    2 pairs of navy slacks, 2 pairs of black slacks, 6 short sleeve tops, 4 cardigans, 3 sweatshirts, and a couple of wraps. I have 1 black dress for weddings. Things go over, under, and generally with each other. One of my gray tops is getting kind of worn, will probably replace it this year. I have black flats and black oxfords. Mostly I wear gym shoes if I’m not dressed up. I find that with fake pearls and real pearls and some colorful earrings I can go most places. A lot of people are dressing for a cover shoot or the Academy Awards.

  • Tina

    I find with basic slacks and dark shoes, if I add a top and a cardigan I can go most anywhere, short of black tie. Solid colors are key to coming up with all kinds of looks in every season. I did buy an off white cardigan for summer as some air conditioning can be fierce, but basically I stick to the same dark solids.

  • Amara

    I just came across your site as I have recently decided on a uniform for myself when I go back to work next week. I have a young toddler and a school age child, and I read about a top advertising exec wearing the same uniform every day as a way to save creative energy. Have you ever noticed that fashion designers dress always in black. Just think, if they had to piece together an inspired look for themselves every day, that would drain a lot of their creative energy that would otherwise be used in their job.

    For me, I’ve started working as a trainer teaching marketing to adults. I am on show in front of a class everyday I’m at work. When I used to work in an office I had off days and on days and rarely had to look sensational. Now, everyday I have between 20-40 pairs of eyes looking at me for the best part of the day.

    I used to drive myself crazy with finding what looks good, doing all the other bits, like hair, shoes and nails, and rotating my outfit so it didn’t look like I was wearing the same thing too often. All that effort that would have been better spent on planning what I was actually going to say.

    Anyway, once the idea of a uniform entered my head it has been a great experience. I have researched and planned the best look for me. I’ve spent more than I usually would in one go. But I have a wardrobe that will work for me day in, day out. It is a simple black suit with cream shirt, and black block heal shoes. But I have precision planned each element, it looks fantastic.

    I’ve managed to get rid of many of my work clothes, and have a cool easily organised wardrobe space. I’ve also got my off-duty uniform of Nike trainers, black skinny jeans, black top and bright large silk scarf. Simple and comfortable. The kids too have had their wardrobe streamlined into school or nursery uniform during the week, and only 4 tops/trousers for casual wear.

    So much decision making has been removed from my life, leaving me with much more energy, and much less laundry piles!

  • Tina

    In general, I find I only have to dress up once or twice a month. However, when I do volunteer work I don’t like to look too sloppy, so I wear a decent top with my nicer jeans. Friends of mine get their hair done every week and manicures and pedicures every week. I can’t stand getting my nails done and my hair is short and curly and very low maintenance. Saves me more money. I have a few scarves which I keep telling myself I am going to wear.

  • Tina

    I like wearing silver jewelry. It’s real, but not so valuable that I worry about it. I usually get it second hand. I like things that aren’t tiny and have a story connected with them, like how I got them or where I got them.

  • I wear the same few things over and over again. Just different combinations. I bought some pretty beads to take when I travel. Mostly from thrift shops.

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