A minimalist wardrobe checklist is designed to ensure that you can put together a fantastic look for every occasion without having closets and drawers crammed full of clothes. It’s going to take some true grit for you to throw away all those things that you never wear, but with the help of our checklist, you’ll soon be standing tall, uncluttered, and chic.
- There are lots of reasons why you should think about going minimalist in your life. Here are just a few:
- You will never have to agonize about what to wear. Your choices have already been made.
- You will never need to worry about what clothes to buy. When something wears out or needs replacing, you simply choose an item that fits with your overall minimalist plan.
- Because you have fewer clothes, you can afford to buy better quality things that don’t date or wear out.
- Having a smaller wardrobe means that you need less closet and drawer space, which is helpful if you are living somewhere without much space.
- A minimalist wardrobe is well thought out and always looks distinctive and chic.
- You can indulge yourself with smart accessories.
- You won’t waste money on impulse buys, meaning you have more to spend on other things.
- Buying and owning less is good for the environment.
- Everything mixes and matches, so you won’t have a meltdown if something you’ve planned to wear is in the laundry or turns up with a stain down its front. You just substitute another piece.
Extras, Climate, and Lifestyle Considerations
It’s obvious that your wardrobe, however minimalist, is going to be different depending on where you live and, to some extent, on your lifestyle. Clearly, if you live in Alaska, your basics are going to be a little more cold-weather-oriented than are the staples of someone who lives in Florida. Equally, if you have to do a lot of grand entertaining, then you are likely to need more than one or two dress-up frocks. If you’re a farmer – well, a lot of your clothing is just something that gets between you and the mud, and who knows what color it is anyway!
A minimalist wardrobe is open to the criticism that it’s a bit bland. With the careful use of accessories, it doesn’t have to be. You likely have scarves, belts, hats, jewelry, and more that can be used to make an outfit look new and interesting.
Whatever your lifestyle, the minimalist wardrobe is a real aid to ensuring that you always look great without having to put in too much day-to-day effort.
Preparing to go Minimalist
The first thing to do is to get rid of all the things that don’t fit you, or you really don’t enjoy wearing anymore. It’s often said that if you haven’t worn an item for six months, you should discard it. In general, that’s a good rule of thumb, but it doesn’t take into account seasonal needs or special occasion clothes. For example, you might have a beautiful evening dress that you only wear occasionally. Don’t discard it unless you really dislike it. Equally, you shouldn’t throw your winter coat away in October simply because you haven’t worn it since March!
Gently worn good, quality items can be sold. More ordinary things can be donated. Truly awful things can be put in the trash.
Now you have space – and perhaps a little cash – to begin assembling your minimalist wardrobe.
Choose Your Color Scheme
Minimalist does equal classic. There are three classic dark shades – black, navy blue, and dark brown. Although they can be mixed, it’s easier to go along one route, so choose your key dark shade. Mid shades are grey, air force blue, and tan. Here you can be adventurous, as each of these shades will go with the dark color you have chosen. Finally, white, cream, or a very pale pearl gray is the light and bright color. So, for example, you might team black pants with a pearl-gray silk blouse and a tan jacket.
We’ve used black and white, but you can substitute your own choice from our dark and light color suggestions.
(A word about white. It is not always the most flattering color for older women. So when we say white, you are, of course, free to choose cream or very pale silver-gray.)
The Ultimate Minimalist Wardrobe Checklist
This is a very long checklist, and it’s clear that unless you are very wealthy, you are going to need to adapt to the minimalist style over time. The first thing to do is to go through the list and put aside from your present wardrobe anything that will work with your minimalist look. You are very likely to have quite a few of these items – check them off the list.
It may be that they are not exactly what you would like. For example, you might have a black sweater but would prefer navy blue. Put an asterisk next to these not-quite-right items, and then you can gradually replace them when you can afford to.
Obviously, if you are going into the summer, a winter coat can wait. The same applies to summery dresses if winter draws near.
As you can see, the list is a bit daunting, but it is manageable. So let’s go!
Absolute Must-Have Basics
- The Little Black Dress. Cliché might be, but the little black dress is essential. Go for a classic style that just skims the knee. Avoid plunging necklines and frills. As this will be a key piece, try to buy the best quality possible
- Short-sleeved t-shirts in your dark and light colors. There’s no point in buying expensive t-shirts as they wear out quickly and need to be replaced. Buy decent quality chain store t’s in packs. Look for a fitted style with a slightly longer than usual short sleeve, which is flattering to most people.
- A long-sleeved t-shirt in black, and one in white. This is a great garment for those transitional days in spring and fall. The black t-shirt is going to be a hard worker, as it goes with so many looks.
- Two white shirts, one in a cotton mix and one in a more sophisticated silky material. Choose figure-hugging, not baggy, to make them more dressy for evenings.
- A black crew neck sweater in knitted cotton. This is going to be a go-to item in your wardrobe, so it might be one of the more spendy items in our wardrobe.
- A cardigan in a neutral color. It’s tempting to have everything in your dark shade, but for a cardigan, go for your mid shade to lighten the outfit you’re wearing it with.
- A pencil skirt. It’s worth buying a good one and making sure that it fits you well. Just skimming the knee is the ideal length for classic good looks.
- Jeans. Two identical pairs; our preference is for boot-cut. Again, buy quality, and pay attention to the fit. If you can find 2% Lycra fabric, this is ideal for figure enhancement.
- A good pair of black pants in a very light wool fabric that will take you from fall through to spring. Choose a classic plain style with side pockets.
- A jacket – we’d suggest that you choose a slightly casual style in your mid color, rather than a more tailored style that may not take you from daytime to playtime so easily.
- A black cashmere wrap is both cozy and smart and has the advantage of being very easygoing for travel.
- Two simple cotton dresses, one with short sleeves and one sleeveless. Choose a fairly plain style, but you can go for a bright print that will work for informal occasions but that can be dressed up with a jacket when you want to look more serious.
- Yoga pants for loafing around
- A pair of mid-height classic pumps.
- A pair of ballet flats
- A pair of trainers
- A pair of pretty sandals
- A pair of good boots for fall and winter.
- A winter coat in black, navy blue, or dark brown. This is going to be an important item, so buy the best you can afford.
- A warm sweater, or two sweaters if you live somewhere cold. Choose one dark and one mid shade.
- A bathing suit.
- Two pairs of shorts, one walking length, the other shorter.
- Pajamas. Three sets. You can go wild here or stick to your minimalist look. Here is another place where it pays to buy good quality; after all, we spend a lot of time in bed!
- Socks – light cotton and heavier wool.
- Tights. Stick to high-quality sheers in neutral colors and also some heavier ones for winter.
- Underwear. Some people like to keep their underwear rather fancy; others like to go minimalist all the way.
- Bras. You need good bras to carry off this plain and classic minimalist look. Go to an old-fashioned underwear department in a department store and have the corsetiere fit you correctly. Then buy the best bras that you can afford. Your shapely new outline will be your reward!
Our Ultimate List is not quite ultimate. If you are sporty, you’ll need to add in your specialist sportswear. Extremes of climate will mean that you might need to add or subtract here and there. If you do a lot of fancy entertaining, you might need to add in a long dress or two. It’s up to you to tweak the list, but don’t add in things that you bought on sale or are in fashion right now unless they fit in with the list.
You don’t need a lot more than this, although you might want to add a piece or two to suit your own lifestyle. You can manage with a LOT less than this, but we have tried to live in the real world.
In the long run, you will spend a lot less on clothes by sticking to a minimalist program. In the short run, you may have to invest in some new pieces that you don’t have. And being minimalist doesn’t mean buying cheap stuff. Instead, buy those more expensive classics that will cost you more upfront but will last a whole lot longer.