Why You Should Create A Minimal Closet

Because a girl can (actually) have too many shoes.

By: Amber

Don’t let the term minimal closet scare you. We’re not going to tell you that your wardrobe should consist of a painful 20 pieces or convince you to purge a huge chunk of your wardrobe just for the sake of having a certain number of pieces. That’s overrated and not for everyone. A minimal wardrobe is not synonymous with a capsule wardrobe; they are similar in theory, but independent concepts.

We’re also not here to suggest that you stick to a stark neutral color palette, clean lines, and barely any accessories — curating a minimal closet isn’t about adopting a minimalist aesthetic, but having a refined, well-curated arsenal specifically tailored to your life and your individual personal style that saves you time, energy, and (hello) money. This is about minimalism as a method, a philosophy. Feel a little better?

This isn’t going to be us trying to convince you that less is more. Quite frankly, less is less; more is more. But less just might be better when it comes to curating your wardrobe. Having a tiny wardrobe or a closet sans color actually works for some people. (We’d unintentionally done both for a few years with no issues, BTW.)

But having a wardrobe built on minimalist principles works for everyone because this way of curating your closet allows you to have clothes you’re genuinely excited AF to wear, what makes you feel confident and gorgeous and…nothing else. If you have those things, do you really need anything else? A minimal closet isn’t about setting restrictions on what you can have and enjoy or taking anything away. It’s about having a closet that exclusively holds clothes and accessories that add value to your wardrobe as a whole.

Wait, what is ‘value’?

Some people feel that fashion is superficial. TBH…they’re spot on. The problem is that being fashionable is often perceived as synonymous with having style. No. Style is an entirely separate and much more complex concept, one that thrives on having a well-curated wardrobe, not ascribing to the latest rules and trends endorsed by fashion editors and other designated players of the industry. Maintaining a closet strategically filled with clothes that make you look and feel great add value not only to your wardrobe, but to your life. How do we measure value?

For starters, pieces that add convenience to your everyday routine, eliminate morning/getting-ready stress, and/or make you feel more confident. Valuable pieces are items that you’re going to reach for often because they fit your body shape, your daily lifestyle, your personal style philosophy. These are the garments and accessories you genuinely get excited to wear again while you’re getting undressed. Clothes that are durable, low-maintenance (can be machine-washed), versatile, and are easy to style with other items in your closet are the most valuable. Think high-quality pieces that you won’t have to replace for years.

The most valuable pieces in your closet should be the ones you consider to be go-tos, the essential pieces you can depend on to make you look and feel great regardless of the season, occasion, or time of day. If you don’t have anything that fits this criteria, then you have a closet filled with low value clothing and accessories and you need to rework the structure.

Minimal doesn’t mean 10 pieces

The biggest misconception about having a minimal closet is that you have to have a tiny wardrobe. So. Not. True. It’s not about having few. It’s about having a wardrobe sans excess, having the minimum. That doesn’t mean you have to skimp or give up or settle. Everyone’s minimum is unique, as this is determined by your individual lifestyle, your laundering habits, how often you feel comfortable rerunning pieces.

While versatility is key, you can still have as much variety as you’d like. We’re the types who would literally wear the same outfit five days in a row if we could get away with it…just like we basically eat the same five meals all year long. Needless to say, we don’t need much variety. We put more energy into maintaining a wardrobe that is versatile and high in utility. But if you’re easily bored, then by all means, have a larger wardrobe to accommodate your needs. But just make sure you’re actually keeping 80% of your clothes on constant rotation. When you start to consistently wear less than that percentage, then it’s time to make a edit.

At its core, minimalism is all about getting rid of excess stuff. We hold onto extraneous things sometimes for sentimental reasons, but most of the times for more unhealthy reasons. Can you relate? If you’re still not convinced to adopt a minimalist mindset when curating and maintaining your wardrobe from this point on, no worries. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves for you.

You’ll save space

Just like the space on your smartphone, closet space comes at a premium. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a lavish walk-in situation that’s actually a spare bedroom, you’ll still want to be strategic about what pieces take up rack space. You don’t want to have tons of hangers with clothes that you don’t wear because it’s itchy, doesn’t fit right, has a few loose threads or a stain someplace, doesn’t go with anything in your closet, or because the zipper falls every time you sit down – we both had the same pair of faux leather pants that did this every effing time, you can’t even imagine how annoying it was.

In addition to saving space, your closet will be much neater and organized. Clutter adds stress and anxiety to our lives. It’s hard to avoid mental disorder when we have too much stuff hanging around, especially stuff we feel so-so about or are only holding onto for emotional reasons. The reality is, if you’re not wearing it, it’s just clutter. It doesn’t matter how beautiful it is, what designer it’s made by, or how much you spent on it. If you are not getting use out of it, it’s excess. Clothes are meant to be worn, not owned.

It will be easier to create outfits

Outfit creation is a ubiquitous issue that’s pretty standard for us all despite our budgets or the size of our closets. The truth is, creating outfits is well a creative task that requires skill. Hey, you didn’t think the legion of Stylists out there get paid just to randomly throw things together, did you? Okay, we all don’t have time to refine the skill of pairing clothes and accessories together, so what is the solution? A system where pairing pieces together to create outfits is effortless, requiring little to no thought. Sounds amazing…and impossible, right?

Nope, all you need is a closet full of versatile clothes, pieces that go with multiple other pieces in your closet and are easily interchangeable. When you have a skirt that only goes with one specific top, a dress that can only be worn with one particular pair of shoes, a jacket that only looks right with a certain pair of pants, you limit the outfit potential of your wardrobe. What you’ll want is a blazer that can be worn to the office, on the weekend, and maybe even can accompany an evening dress. Think a sleek tuxedo blazer. This type of jacket can also be paired with all the separates in your closet including jeans, skirts, and trousers, and it can also be worn over the majority of your work/daytime dresses. Bonus is if it’s also made from a material that can be worn year-long, like a cotton blend.

No, you don’t have to wear this one blazer every day. But because it can be worn so many different ways and for so many different occasion year-round, it’s an extremely valuable piece in your closet. But remember, the level of versatility that a certain piece has depends on your particular lifestyle. This tuxedo blazer will not be versatile to you if you’re a personal trainer and married mom based in Florida who hates tailored-style clothing. However, if you’re a single big brand’s PR girl who is based in NYC and constantly running to post-office meetings and dates, then this piece will be extremely valuable to your wardrobe.

Struggle with creating outfits? Check out this totally free guide we created that gives you 17 simple ways to make creating outfits easier.

You’ll know everything in your closet

If you took out every single item of clothing from your closet, drawers, and storage bins and spread them on a rack (or a few, depending on how much stuff you have) would you be surprised by more than 25% of what’s in there? Frankly, there shouldn’t be tons of surprises in your closet because you should be wearing at least 50% of them 80% of the time. Obviously, taking the seasons into consideration (unless you’re in the LA or Miami zones), there will be periods where certain things like bikinis and wool coats will be tucked away. Surprises mean you don’t actually wear them

When your wardrobe is refined and sans excess, you will know everything in your closet. You’ll probably have the ability to list ¾ of the pieces in your closet while the door is shut. Since you’ll have a firmer grip of what you have, when you go shopping, you’ll make smarter purchases. No more buyer’s regret because you bought something and have nothing in your closet to wear with it. Knowing what’s in your arsenal will save you time, energy, and (yay!) money. Which brings us to…

You will save money

When you break the mentality that more is better, you’ll shop less and you’ll also get more bang for your buck. Because of how versatile all your clothes will be, you won’t have to shop so much because everything will practically go with everything. You’ll literally be shopping your closet, which of course is really kind to your wallet.

Most importantly, your CPW (cost-per-wear) will increase, meaning you will spend less money on your clothes. Think of it like this: you buy a LBD for $35. You wear it out to the club, get champagne splashed on you, throw it in the washer when you get home. In the morning when you take it out, there are not only loose threads but the dress has completely lost its shape. Taking it to a tailor to get the seams fixed and the hem seen back on will cost more than the dress cost itself, so you just toss it and plan your next shopping trip in your head to replace this staple. This means you spent $35 to wear a dress once. The CPW is the full amount you spent on it: $35.

Cost-Per-Wear Theory

Let’s say you splurged on a well-made dress at your local department store and spent twice that amount, $70, something you’re usually uncomfortable spending but went with it because you were obsessed with the way it fit after you tried it on in the fitting room. You go out and the same scenario happens. Club, champagne on dress, throw in wash. The next morning the dress looks good as new. You wear this dress nearly every time you go out for the next few months — several first dates, a few post-work business dinners, a distant friend’s funeral, etc. for a total of ten times. Your CPW score is $3.50. Um, way better than $35, right? And since this is a well-made dress, you will definitely get double, even triple that amount of wear which will literally dwindle down the CPW value to pennies. (More on this here.)

Since you will have less clothes you will be wearing more of your clothes as opposed to the 80/20 you might be guilty of now — wearing only 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. Do you see how wasteful that is?

Bottom line is excess things not only clutters your closet, but your mind, and derails your sanity with stressful mornings. Free yourself from this idea that in order to have a wardrobe you truly are obsessed with, you need to over-consume and constantly replace. Your dream wardrobe shouldn’t be tied down to a size, but a concept: have clothes and accessories in your closet that make you feel confident, that you love to wear. Nothing else.

You will be more socially responsible

If there is one way we champion to becoming a more socially responsible consumer of fashion, it’s to curate a closet filed with mindful purchases, versatile, high-quality clothing and accessories that are equally perfect for your style and your daily activities. It’s probably the most non-obvious one, but the most effective and the simplest to do.

You’ve probably heard about or even considered taking other routes to building a more sustainable and ethical closet…like transitioning into a fully vegan wardrobe or choosing to wear only organic fabrics versus toxic chemical-laden synthetics or purchasing only locally-made clothing and accessories where workers are paid adequate wages instead of mere pennies like in most countries other than the US. Unfortunately, there are major pros and cons of each of those tactics to becoming more conscious, too much to go into now. But you know one way that has zero pitfalls? Buying less.

The less you consume, the less you contribute to the ever-growing landfills. Here’s the truth: everything you buy is going to eventually end up in a landfill somewhere, whether it’s because you’ve worn it out completely, you made a bad purchase and couldn’t resell it, you stained/damaged it beyond wear, you get the idea. It can be made from sustainable organic cotton and it can be faux leather that didn’t cause any harm to a cow. That’s awesome. But finding and affording (!) these kinds of pieces that fit your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences when there is such a small selection of designers and brands is a bit ambitious. Trust us, we’re having a beast of a time finding the balance between ethical and sustainable fashion, too.

So until sustainable and ethically made fashion is much more accessible, the best thing we can all do is consume less. And the only way that works is if you have a thoughtfully-curated wardrobe filled with clothes and accessories that are versatile, cohesive, and made to last.

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We’d love to know how accurate the wearing only “20% of your closet 80% of the time” statistic is, so leave a comment below with the percentage of clothes in your wardrobe that you wear most (80%) of the time and why you think that is. Open-ended time, guys. Plus, let us know you general thoughts on curating/maintaining a minimal closet. If you’d like a step-by-step road map to minimizing your wardrobe, click here to join “Your Ideal Wardrobe: The Masterclass,” our 10-day free email series.

P.S. Below We’ve curated some well-made, high quality pieces that will be versatile is almost everyone’s wardrobe. Keep in mind that we do not ascribe to or promote the fallacy that there are a certain number of universal “staples” or “must-have” that every woman should have in her closet as it depends on your individual style preferences and the demands of your lifestyle. But if you’re at a loss of where to begin, the edit below will help.

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Leave a Thought
  • “Bottom line is, excess clutters not only your closet, but your mind, your world and derails your sanity with stressful mornings.”
    YES

    • Amber

      Neha, glad you enjoyed that part. It’s SO true. So, are you convinced to rework your wardrobe built on minimalist principles?

      – A

  • I agree with all the points you make, quality and style over quantity really helps. And my minimalism aligns with yours, a lift full of the things you love most.

    • Amber

      Alethea, we’re on the same page, love it! Is your wardrobe currently minimal in terms of it being tailored to your personal style as well as your lifestyle? Or a working progress? let us know 🙂

      – A