How to Start a Minimalist Wardrobe


Brent moved in just before Christmas, and can I just say?

The boy has a lot of stuff.

Holy cow.

In fact, I think he has more clothes than I do! Which is fine, because I really don’t have very many clothes. I teased him a little about it, and he got rid of a few more shirts, but the fact of the matter is, I have a minimalist wardrobe, and I didn’t even realize.

Do you also want to start a minimalist wardrobe? Awesome. Read on for my tips.

How to Start a Minimalist Wardrobe


Step 1: Take Everything Out of Your Closet (and Dresser!)

Shoes, coats, rain jackets, umbrellas, slippers, socks, pajamas, unmentionables, everything. Take it all out, and put it on your bed. If your bed won’t fit all of your things, that’s okay. Do this in stages. It might take a while, but I swear, this is worthwhile.

Step 1.5: Make sure all your hangers match.

This sounds absurd, and silly, and it might be both. But seriously. Get some hangers (like these lovelies) and throw out the rest. However many hangers you buy = the number of items of clothing you’re allowed.

Step 2: Take Care of the Low-Hanging Fruit

You’ll see right away that there are items you can get rid of. Anything that has dust on the shoulders means it hasn’t been worn in quite some time. Put these clothes in bags or boxes and get them out of your bedroom. If you want to sell your clothes at a consignment shop, more power to you. Seriously. But get them out of the bedroom. If you put “clothes to sell or give away” in a corner of the room, it’s very likely that they’ll stay there, continuing to gather dust and get in the way of your zen.

Step 3: Stop Being Sentimental

You know what I’m talking about. That dress brings back 100 happy memories. I know it does. But get rid of it. Keep your prom pictures or your wedding pictures, but get rid of the clothes. You’ll never wear these special pieces. In fact, I bet you only wore them once in your life. It’s time to get them out of your house. Give your wedding dress to a worthy cause. There are nonprofits who will take it. Look it up! Same goes for your “I climbed to the top of Pike’s Peak” t-shirt. You don’t need it.

Step 4: Now, The Beautiful Pieces

I had this coat that was very Audrey Hepburn. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing I ever owned. The problem? It was a long coat, and it didn’t flatter me. Not even a little. I kept it in my closet because I just loved looking at it. “Oh look!” I’d think, “I am a person with beautiful things! Now, where are my jeans?” I got rid of it, someone else liked it and got a lot of use out of it, and that was that. I’m still here, and I’m still okay.

Step 5: Does it fit, or is it a Goal Item?

I’m guilty of this. I have two pairs of jeans in my closet that simply don’t fit. They’re awesome, and they’ll look so good once I’m a wee bit less squidgy, and I’m keeping them. Until September. If I’m still too squidgy in September, someone is going to be very happy with my donation. My point is, don’t keep all the stuff that doesn’t fit you. It’s bad for morale. I’ll allow one (okay two) pieces that are goal worthy, but no more than that.

Step 6: Have You Worn it Recently?

Right now, it’s sweater season, so go through your sweaters first. Ditch the ones you haven’t worn this season. Even that one your aunt bought for you that makes you feel connected to her. Call her instead and tell her about your life. Saving space in the closet AND connecting with family? Win-win.

Now, put everything back in your closet and dressers.

See how much more space you have? Aren’t you ten thousand times happier? I feel lighter than air when I go through my closet. I’m always surprised by how much I can get rid of, and I’m very rarely wishing I had something I donated. Plus, it gives me street cred to tell Brent that he must be “such a fashionista” because he has more sweaters than I.

Repeat the whole process in three months.

Stuff accumulates even when we’re not paying attention. Scratch that. ESPECIALLY when we’re not paying attention. Host a clothing swap quarterly. Arrange for a nonprofit to pick up the stuff that doesn’t get swapped. Reap the tax benefits.

You start a minimalist wardrobe by a simple process of elimination. Keep the things you like, and get rid of the rest. Sounds easy, but it isn’t.

Read the next installment in this series: the essential items in a minimalist’s closet.

Are you shopping for a minimalist who’s getting married? Read what to include in a minimalist registry.

What to put in a minimalist wedding registry


  1. says

    My husband and I share a 3 foot wide closet. It's a good thing we're not fashionable. :)

    I think a lot of people buy new clothes because they're bored with the old ones. I buy all my clothes used from the thrift store. Every so often, I donate the ones that bore me and pick up a few new pieces. It keeps things interesting without overwhelming my closet.

      • Renee says

        Ditto for us as well :P And that includes a gun safe…

        I just can’t “go shopping” anymore. My mom always wants to take me since I don’t have “enough” clothes and the thought of spending $20+ on a single item is cringe-worthy. I like that when I buy from Goodwill and places there is a HUGE variety (usually) and I don’t have to feel too guilty if I get it home and it just doesn’t work like I had hoped it would. $3 wasted, not $30 (or more).

  2. says

    These are great tips. I now travel for work….and living out of a carry on suitcase week after week really teaches you about minimalist wardrobe and what is actually important. Great tips!

  3. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions says

    I need to give my wardrobe a good cleaning-out. It's actually expanded to two closets at this point! Ridiculous.

  4. deardebt says

    I actually don't like shopping and am very utilitarian with clothes. My bf does have more clothes than me! He's not even ashamed and he loves shopping. I recently purged my old clothes for the New Year and it was nice.

  5. therandompath says

    My husband has more clothes than I do! I cleaned out my closet last month and donated so many clothes. The "someday I might wear this" thing, was why I held on to what I did, but all those clothes are gone, and I feel better for it :)

    • says

      Good! I know exactly how that goes. Someday you might like something you don't really like right now… but if you do, it'll always be there at the store.

  6. fitnpoor says

    I do a "every time I buy, I take one piece out" thing. If I buy a piece of clothing, I donate or sell an item of equal or higher value. Same with shoes. It's certainly help pare down!

  7. says

    I don't know if I could ever have a minimalist wardrobe…but, I have downsized quite a bit during my No Shopping Challenge year (have 3 more months to go) I just found that I wasn't wearing all of the clothes that I had and my place is too small for a whole bunch of extra crap. I also have discovered that my wardrobe really doesn't reflect my personality anymore and hasn't in a long time. So, I will be revamping my wardrobe when I begin shopping again in April. I will have a lot few clothes, but pay a lot more attention to the quality and beauty of each piece.

      • says

        The possibility is there! But, I have been putting a lot of thought into how I want to dress. Since I've discovered that I'm not dressing in a way that reflects my personality I will be changing my wardrobe…will keep you posted. I think I will set a budget for the year and look at pieces, find coupons, etc. I'll probably also see how many different ways I could use each piece.

  8. says

    Hah, I love the "if it has dust on the shoulders" bit. I'm with you on all of the points in theory, but…I just bought more hangers :P

    Maybe once the closet is full I'll be inspired to take actual action :)

  9. says

    Great tips, especially the "beautiful items" one. That's my Achilles heel; I love getting rid of thing in my closet and I hold little sentiments to my clothing, but I have some really pretty pieces that no longer fit or I simply have no use for that I like to cling on to… ho hum. My other problem is that while I'm able to purge, I also accumulate at faster rate.

  10. Anne - Unique Gifter says

    I think it's definitely important that you have more street cred than Brent ;-). My favourite post-gutting experience, at a consignment store: "these pants are really nice" …oh right. They were mine, but too big. haha. I guess younger me knows what current me still likes!

  11. lisavstheloans says

    Clearing out my closet is something that just HAS to be done this year, for me! I think the shoes are going to be the hardest part :P

  12. Renee says

    I have honed in on what I like and am in the process of revamping my whole wardrobe to be a few key pieces. I have lived in nursing camis for so many years my wardrobe consists of those with a cover up (either button up or cardigan type things… easy access for the babies at home or in public ;) ) and jeans or a skirt. I have black as my core and plan things around it – usually all neutral with one “pop” of color or print. I don’t mess with accessories much. I have found, though, that over the years my fibromyalgia and migraines have gotten worse so I can’t even wear button up shirts much at all because the collar puts too much pressure on my neck so I am slowly switching over to all knit tops that stretch and move with me better. I do have to keep more clothes on hand than what I could have lived with before children, mainly because they are messy and there isn’t a guarantee that the outfit I start with in the morning will make it until evening :P

  13. says

    I love this, and I’ve actually made it my goal this week/weekend to get this done in my own house. Like, seriously. The whole house. I’m going to apply this to my kitchen, where my mother’s doubles (and sometimes triples) of things she gave me reside. And my bathroom. And our living room. The question though… What do I do with my boyfriend’s action figures? Yes…. surfaces everywhere hold various Halo, Call of Duty, and cartoon character action figures. And small model trucks and cars he’s built. What do you tell the man? Because the “You’re 26 and still collecting action figures” guilt trip doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t even guilt him. Le sigh.

    Love your blog, by the way! I’ve recently started a new project blog for frugal and minimalist living, and I included you in my post today! I was blogging at but I needed something more focused. Can’t wait to read more from you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *