The Minimalist's Wardrobe

I've begun to notice a movement around the blogosphere. A lot more people have decided that living minimally is a good way to go, that one of the ways to get happier is to get rid of stuff. I don't call this movement a “trend” or look down on people who think that is a way to be happier; in fact, I agree, to a point, with their stance, and think that it's cool that they have the self-control to do that. Personally, however, I am not a minimalist -- at least not considering clothing. (Not yet, anyway. Maybe when I have a huge walk-in closet full to the brim of things I never wear, but that's not now -- I'm fairly happy with my wardrobe size and wear everything in it regularly.) I would like to purge some of my belongings (like my necklaces and the trash living in a drawer under my bed), but for now I'm okay with not being a self-proclaimed minimalist.

That being said, I created this post on a request from a reader, which ran as follows:

“I need to plan better, both in terms of budgeting and in terms of what pieces of clothing I actually NEED.... Sometime you should do a post on something like minimalist wardrobe/building a wardrobe you actually like/wardrobe essentials.”
I have written a couple of posts regarding wardrobe essentials, one on the five pieces every girl should have and another on my recent abdication-of-glorifying-the-wardrobe-essential-system. This one will be longer and more detailed and, instead of only including “essentials,” will hopefully provide some leeway for those seeking to create a minimalistic, but still fun, wardrobe.

Today, to achieve this minimalist closet, we're going to implement the rule of 10. I first got this idea from Ingrid Nilsen, who runs a beauty/lifestyle YouTube channel that's one of my favorites. (Disclaimer: Just because I say it's “one of my favorites” doesn't mean I support everything about her channel or that particular video.) Basically, every section of your closet (your tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes, even your accessories if you want) will include 10 items. I created some Polyvore examples for you because I believe there are some items everybody should own for their own convenience.

The Minimalistic Wardrobe - Tops

1. Chic blouse - One essential you need for the workplace, interviews, or church. It can be any color you like, but if you're like me and want to stretch your clothes as far as you can, it might be a good idea to get this in a neutral color -- gray, black, or white.
2. Neutral T-shirt - Another basic, used for layering with scarves, blazers, or on its own with yoga pants in the comfort of your own home.
3. Neutral sweater - This is pretty much your “neutral t-shirt” of the cold months. Unless you don't live in a place where cold months are a reality. . . .
4.-10. Your choice - These can be graphic tees or sweatshirts, like #7, or if you don't like graphics you can always choose something more classic like #8 or #9. Remember that all of these “of choice” items should reflect your personal style and modesty standards.
The Minimalistic Wardrobe - Bottoms
1. Dark wash jeans - Pretty self-explanatory; they can be skinnies or bootcut, whichever you like better or believe flatters you more.
2. Capris - These don't have to be dark-washed, though my boring self always likes things in the most neutral color ever so everything else goes with them.
3. Shorts
4. Businesslike neutral skirt - This doesn't even have to be a pencil skirt, but they are the most classic and professional in appearance. If you're concerned about modesty issues, I recommend purchasing a size up from your normal pants size, and also searching for a non-form-fitting pencil skirt.
5.-10. Your choice - Here's the place where your style comes out! I do recommend always having a good maxi skirt in your wardrobe however, preferably in a neutral color though, of course, that's up to you.
Outerwear Minimalist Wardrobe

L to R 1. Neutral cardigan - For toning down a fancier dress or just being comfy and stylish at the same time. I absolutely love my cardigans and can't believe until a year and a half ago my closet was almost cardigan-less!
2. Neutral blazer - This is essentially the pencil skirt of your outerwear section, the piece that's perfect for interviews, work, or classing up a pair of dark wash jeans.
3. Neutral coat - Personally, trench coats aren't my style, and I like a long overcoat (Sherlock-style) much better; I think of them as less constricting and more flattering. If you're pear-shaped like me, an overcoat or trench coat is also a better option than a peacoat because it will camouflage your hips while adding definition to your naturally-narrow waist.
4.-10. Your choice - Can you tell I love moto jackets? I've never actually owned one due to the expense, but I want one. Really bad.
The Minimalistic Wardrobe - Shoes

L to R 1. Black pumps - Okay, so these kind of look like clubbing shoes, but the point is to have a pair of black heels in your closet. You could try to go with just one of the two “mandatory” high heels, but nude is better for spring/summer and black is better for autumn/winter and both are great at the office . . . so why choose? ;)
2. Nude pumps
3. Flat neutral boots - These can be black or brown, but I prefer black because it goes with more colors. I love mine from Payless (note: that is not an affiliate link; also, the pair that I have is actual black, but only cognac and dark gray are available now).
4.-10. Your choice - Don't you love the fun-colored heels spattered throughout this board? I highly recommend a pair of bright red heels because they're classic but also add a dimension to any outfit that black or nude heels just . . . don't.

As I mentioned, you can use the rule of 10 with accessories such as scarves, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, but I didn't see the need to go into photographic detail with them here. Really quick, I will outline the “necessaries” in my opinion: a neutral summer-weight scarf, infinity or otherwise -- summer-weight is important so it can be worn all throughout the year; a neutral statement necklace, probably round in shape, so it can be worn with both button-downs and crew-necked blouses/dresses; and a few gold or silver bracelets (these items are the only “essentials” I talked about in this post I don't own yet) for when you feel like keeping accessories minimal and easy.

So what about you? What do you think about a minimalistic closet? What do you find are “essentials” that you always need to have in your wardrobe?


  1. the rule of ten... BRILLIANT! I love that idea, because it cuts down on unnecessarily clutter in the closet, but leaves enough room for "fun." Especially if you are sure to have some neutral items in each category, making it a breeze to mix and match everything.

    (Also, I have a pink coat in my closet very similar to the one in your outer-ware one, and I should bring it up for you to try on next time i come... It doesn't fit me right, and I've never actually worn it. It's incredibly cute though!)

    and bright heels!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I intend to get at least two pairs of just plain fun heels to wear this spring. :) I have decided that i just love heels and i am going to wear them everywhere whether they are practical or not because I can. (And I don't actually wear very high heels so it's not like they're terribly uncomfortable anyway.)

    The number one essential that I will ALWAYS have in my closet is my black maxi skirt. I bought it last summer, and cannot believe that I lived without one for so long. Like, what did I wear every day before?! :)
    The second thing would be a chambray button down. I wear it all the time, buttoned up with skirts, tied over dresses and basically with everything. It can do two things, it can dress a dress down, making it more acceptable to wear something to a casual event, and it can dress some outfits up. It that makes sense. I'm on my fourth cup of coffee as I type so I am a little jittery and weird at the moment.

    anyway, lovely post, as always, dearie!!

    1. Definitely! I liked that idea . . . before I came across it I was trying to limit my hypothetical minimalist's wardrobe to a certain number of pieces, which was difficult.

      Your pink coat sounds so pretty! I want a pink coat -- I love brightly-colored heavy coats, but they're so darned expensive I never have the money for them. My big gray coat from Ross is dressy and nice (and was $55, which is a better price than many overcoats, but still too much for me to pay on a “regular” basis) and the only one I have.

      Absolutely! I'm so glad you like to be impractical regarding heels . . . I stopped wearing them with jeans a while ago because I feel judged whenever I wear heels + jeans. Silly probably, and I need to get over it.

      That maxi skirt of yours is amazing. As is your chambray button-down. My gray maxi skirt is too short for me, and I don't have a chambray button-down, so I should be on the lookout for an updated maxi and a button-down like yours. . . . Chambray is a great fabric for all occasions, and a button-down in it would probably make my life easier ;)

      Thanks for commenting, Bex! Love you!

    2. i thought you should know that I was on a designer jean's website last night, and the models wore heels in every single picture (and there were hundreds of different pairs.). So, I'm not saying they're an authority on the subject, but it IS popular, and I don't think anyone is really judging you. Probably just admiring your awesomeness. :) I would totally do it!

    3. Hahahahaa -- that's cool :) You're probably right. I need to get over myself!

  2. Most excellent. I like the rule of 10 too. Looks like I definitely need more shoes! haha. BUT I would just like to say that I've been wearing heels with jeans like crazy. Wear what you like and let them judge (even though they probably aren't).

    1. Hahaha. . . . You look good in heels with jeans though. I did used to wear them all the time just until recently -- I'm going to have to get over it I guess.


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