I came to a turning point in my life last year when, standing in front of my closet, running late for work, I flung clothes across the room frantically as I wailed that I had absolutely nothing to wear. Despite the abundance of clothing that surrounded me in absolute disarray, I was having a meltdown over my own indecision. I had too many choices.
As my husband put it, I was being "completely ridiculous" and needed to get a grip on my admittedly first-world problem. And so, despite my love of fashion and my wardrobe, I knew something needed to change.
I don't remember exactly what outfit I ended up wearing that day, but the morning's antics played in mind as I decided to clear out, minimize and streamline my closet.
When I took the time to really think about how every single item I owned made me feel, I realized that an overflowing wardrobe brought me nothing but stress. Sure, I liked shopping and instant gratification of a purchase, but after that initial buzz wore off, what was I left with? Too many clothes and not enough hangers, that's what.
So I pared down. I cleared out, minimized and streamlined. I reduced my wardrobe by well over half, eliminating ruthlessly. I sold almost 100 pieces of clothing in the process, donating anything else, and eventually whittled my denim collection down to just three, perfectly-fitting pairs.
I have enough other, more important things in my life to worry about than what pair of jeans to wear.
The most astonishing thing for me during the process was that I hadn't realized just how large my wardrobe actually was. It was shocking to see how much "stuff" I'd accumulated over the years and then forgotten about.
Now, every morning, getting dressed is a pleasure. I know exactly what my options are and trust that every piece in my wardrobe is easily interchangeable. I can pull out any combination and know it will work and make me feel confident. I can relax, spend more time with my family and start the day with a clear mind.
I once read that Barack Obama only ever wears the same two suits — he has too many important decisions to make already without worrying if his tie choice for the day matches his jacket. Whether or not that's true, I love the concept. I have enough other, more important things in my life to worry about than what pair of jeans to wear.
If you're ready to create an easy, worry-free minimal wardrobe, here are my tips:
1. Break down your wardrobe.
Think about what you wear and how you spend your time. For example, I divided mine into these categories:
Decide what essentials you want for each and select a couple of "ideal" outfits for every scenario.
2. Clear out.
Empty your entire wardrobe and divide the contents into the categories you already established in step one. Are there items that don't really go with anything else? That you've never worn? That don't fit anymore? Get rid of 'em — they only serve as distractions. Keep the pieces that make you feel good, that bring you joy and that flatter your body.
Asses each category and its contents individually. Limit, reduce and pick the best. I didn’t need five pairs of skinny jeans. Instead, I kept the two that fit best and tossed the rest.
4. Create a color palette.
I've found that neutrals (black, white, gray, cream, navy) work best for my lifestyle and aesthetic, but choose colors that speak to you and bring you joy when worn. When you focus on a coordinating palette, everything goes together which makes choosing separates a cinch.
Add printed or colorful accessories to the mix to give shake it up. Remember that switching up your accessories leads to a totally different outfit and look every day.
6. Build your collection.
If you find later that you're missing key pieces that would enhance your essentials, you can add back in. But be sure to carefully consider every new piece you buy. No more spur of the moment purchases! An added benefit of having a minimized wardrobe (in which all pieces have to work together) is that impulse buying is "forbidden." The good news is: you'll ultimately shop mindfully and buy better quality things you really need.
7. Start selling.
Sell, consign or donate anything that didn't make the cut. If you're items are in still in good shape, selling them puts a few extra dollars toward a new purchase!
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