Anatomy of a Minimalist Wardrobe | Part I

wardrobe copyphoto credit | Daniella Witte

There’s a hot new word that’s been circulating recently.


Something about the prospect of streamlining our chaotic lives seems so liberating. Whether it’s getting rid of old clothing, finally de-cluttering and re-organizing the apartment, or streamlining our social media strategy, most people would agree that there’s value in taking things down a notch.

The past year or two I have really found myself gravitating towards a more simplified style. My closet is looking a whole lot less Dazed and Confused, and more Fifty Shades of Grey than in years past. As I cleanse my wardrobe of trendy, cheaply made “fast fashion” purchases, I’ve slowly been replenishing it with higher-quality basics.

Developing a more minimalistic wardrobe isn’t something you should expect to do overnight. I’m not encouraging you to head out to the mall to drop your latest paycheck on straight lines and monochromes. This is more about learning what kinds of fits and styles you like, then streamlining your wardrobe so that it is simpler and more sustainable.

By sustainable I don’t only mean “eco friendly.” I’m also referring to a wardrobe that is set up to last you for the long-term. Quality, timelessness, and a sense of authenticity to your “personal brand.”


In my opinion, the reason women go so wrong in building their wardrobe is that they’re not really in tune with their own personal style. We look at magazines and catalogues and want to wear what the celebrities and the models are wearing. We want that “hot new item;” to look like we’re up-to-date with the latest trends. There are two major things that are wrong with this way of thinking.

1. We shouldn’t let others influence or dictate what it is we do or do not like.

2. The clothes the models and celebrities are wearing probably aren’t going to look the same on us.

To help attune yourself to your own personal style, you can do several things.

I. P A S T – B E H A V I O R

Go through your closet and determine which pieces you find yourself wearing most often. In spite of all of the high-fashion, magazine-worthy pieces I have collected over the years, I find myself most often wearing things that are casual, comfortable, and fuss-free.

Take this for an example: There is this one black and blue plaid shirtdress that I have worn to shreds. Honestly, it should probably just be thrown away at this point (a once harmless little hole has slowly been expanding into something more noticeable), but I can’t bring myself to part with it.

Vogue certainly isn’t raving about The Rise of the Plaid Shirtdress, but I feel comfortable in it. I like how it looks and fits. It’s “me.”

And if I’m more flannel shirt-dress than silk pant-suit, that’s totally cool.

II. V I S I O N – B O A R D

Create a vision board on Pinterest and start adding looks that you love. Notice any patterns emerging within your board and take note of them, in particular common silhouettes, colors, and patterns. You can take a look at my “Personal Style” Pinterest board for inspiration.

Here’s what I came up with.

s i l h o u e t t e : slouchy, soft, flow-y

c o l o r s : neutrals (grey, black, white), earthy colors (dark green, beige, brown), maroon, dark yellow

p a t t e r n s : plaid, gingham, stripes, floral

personal style mood board



Now it’s time to dive into the pandemonium that is your closet.

Any items that fit the following descriptions should be sold to the local thrift store or donated:

1. It isn’t in alignment with my personal style.
2. It doesn’t fit right.
3. It is worn/frayed/damaged beyond repair.
4. It hasn’t been worn in over a year and I can’t see myself wearing it again.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the “clutter,” the things that really aren’t serving you or contributing to an authentic creative expression of yourself, then you can work on rebuilding a wardrobe that is “you and improved.”

In Part II of The Anatomy of a Minimalist Wardrobe, I will break down which items you should focus on building into your wardrobe, give you visual examples of a basic minimalist wardrobe, and give advice for how best to budget your transition.

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