My Minimalist Wardrobe

After receiving quite a few comments and emails over the past few months asking me about my minimalistic habits I’ve decided to start a new series called ‘My Minimalist…’ which details particular minimalist aspects of my life, such as what does my room look like? What do I like to eat? What’s in my wardrobe? Of course I love you guys so much I’m more than happy to share what’s lurking in my cupboard. (As far as I know, there aren’t any skeletons!)

Let’s begin with my wardrobe. The key to building a minimalist wardrobe is versatility. Almost everything I own can be worn either everyday, or mixed and matched on different occasions to make dozens of combinations of outfits. That way, I reduce the amount of clothes I actually own. Overall, I own about fifty pieces of clothing, including everyday outfits, ‘going out’ outfits, sports gear, shoes, socks, underwear, accessories, coats, scarves and pj’s. It sounds like a lot, but most of it is counting the little things, like a pair of socks here and there. A quick snapshot of my cupboard shows that about this number can comfortably fit into a small-normal sized wardrobe:


I’ve seen wardrobes that are practically spilling with clothes. Actually, in some, you can even see corners of clothes hang out forlornly over the shelf edge, constantly being squashed because it’s stopping the door from fulling closing.

As for shoes, I’m lucky enough to live in a country with fairly mild weather, so I can get away with wearing fairly light shoes that don’t need replacing that often if I take care of them. I love wearing my brown boots, but they’re impractical for cycling so I usually go for the casual plimpsole/trainer. I own a pair of plain black heels that go with literally any outfit and have served me well for almost two years now for going out at night (both pictured above).

All of my socks and underwear are plain and mostly black. All of my clothes are easy to wash or can be hand-washed, and tumble dried and don’t need ironing. They also dry very quickly, which is good because it means I can ‘turn over’ clothes efficiently, ie. I don’t have to wait for long for clothes to dry on a rack before being able to wear them again. I can usually wash something in the sink and hang it up overnight and wear it in the morning.

Over Easter, I lived a month out of a single suitcase because I only took a few pieces of clothing but I styled them by mixing and matching. For example, here is one dark grey top dressed in three different ways:


Here is another top I love, as you can see, not everything has to be just one plain colour if you dress it up! Here it is pictured with the above jeans and black skirt and a  pair of shorts. These three outfits are perfect for casualwear, eveningwear and summerwear!

The number of combinations you can do rises exponentially even if you only add a few more items and match them well. I actually took a few more pictures with more or less the same tops and bottoms but you get the idea! I don’t want to bore you with a fashion lecture 🙂

So you see, it’s all about choosing the right things before you buy. Here a quick summary for future reference:

  • Check the label to see if it can be handwashed and/or tumbled dried etc. depending on how much time you can spend cleaning. Obviously never buy anything that needs dry cleaning (including dresses – there’s so many nice alternatives out there that don’t cost half the retail price just to clean!)
  • Think about the rest of your wardrobe and how many pieces you can match it with. Try not to buy anything that has ‘occasion restrictions’ such as ‘really-hot-days-only’ or ‘posh-occasion-only’.
  • And finally, if you buy this new piece of clothing, what can you throw out/donate in it’s place?

  • Thanks for sharing this 🙂
    I love that top. I personally have 4-5 strap tops in black/grey/brown that I can layer or wear with a skirt for a night out 🙂 Having said thta, I still have far too many clothes; but I’m working on it 🙂

    I look forward to the next installment

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  • Abby

    Gosh, I love this post, thank you!

    Hmm… I know it’s cheeky to ask, but is there any way you could do a more detailed breakdown of what you recommend a wardrobe should consist of?

    I’m trying to pare down my wardrobe to the essentials *and* learn about fashion at the same time since I never did, so any advice you can give is highly appreciated. 🙂 Especially numbers so I know if eight pairs of jeans *is* too many… lol.

    • minimalstudent

      Thanks Abby! I hope you don’t think it’s a bit of a cop-out but think the best answer to your question is that it depends on you! Everyone has a different idea of minimalism and what might work for me may not work for everyone else. The amount of clothes you need depends on your lifestyle and your taste. But, just for you, I don’t mind sharing what I do 🙂 I think it might be more useful to describe it by things you don’t need:

      For me, I don’t need more than one pair of a certain type of shoe. For example, I only have one pair of pumps, one pair of casual shoes, one pair of heels, one pair of boots and running shoes. I don’t need shoes in different colours and designs because I find the variety of types is more than enough. One day I’ll wear boots, the next I’ll wear pumps, so there’s no need for different designs!

      Also, I don’t have more than one coat because the trench coat I have (in the picture) is perfect for most occasions. If it’s too hot to wear a coat, I have one lighter jacket and cardigan (also pictured!)

      Personally, I really like wearing checked shirts because they’re really comfortable, go with everything and easy to wash (and don’t actually need ironing). And because they’re long sleeved, I can wear them in winter, and roll them up in the summer, which saves me a ton of money on tops.

      Lastly, I own two pairs of jeans because that way I can wear one whilst the other is in the wash, so I can just alternate them.

      I hope this helped you get started paring down!

  • I’m currently working on simplifying my wardrobe and reading this post is quite timely! I don’t have that much to begin with but am not comfortable yet with what I have. I want to pare it down a bit.

    Thank you for sharing about your wardrobe!

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  • Ana London

    Dear Jessica,
    lovely post..yes the wardrobe is allways a bit of a problem, I think age, lifestyle and social comitments and the climate impact of how many clothes we need…. But everyone no matter what factors can make small and significant changes…

    I live in london and its cold now, so I do need a big winter coat and thermal tights!! I also wear uniform to work and Im in my mid thirties, but I have kept just 4 dress outfits that can be mixed with accessories, cardican, dress up-down etc and about 20 casual clothes + uniform… I have gone from about 100 items of clothing….

    Its sucha relief to have less to choose from and wash days are a breeze!

    Keep up the good work, I have gotten a lot of inspiration from you.

    Ana London

  • Diana

    I was amazed to discover your website, because I have recently considered simplfying my life and getting rid of most my outfits. For years I have given loads of clothing pieces to different people. This time I consider selling them and maybe use the money to start my own business. My wish to do so became stronger after I moved to UK 2 weeks ago. My moving is not final yet. Only in January I will know if I stay here for longer or not, but having to travel between 2 countries gave my the courage to take action and find ways to sell practicaly my entire wardrobe and other objects in my possesion. I will keep following your website and maybe write back with some updates on my ventures. Best wishes, Diana.

  • Jessica

    Shoes. I only need running shoes, pair of warm shoes for winter, the rest is flip flops, a few different colors to match clothes. I have 6 pairs of flip flops, which don’t take much space and is practically what i wear all the time.

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  • Hehe, I see you also have the IKEA hangable shelf wardrobe in your closet 😀 I have the same one in mine, but I don’t need it all for clothes though.

    I like seeing how other people take approach to a minimalistic wardrobe!

    When I went to Japan, I only brought one backback, so I couldn’t fit much clothes. Unfortunately the night before I left for the airport, my only pair of jeans (I’ve only bought two pairs in my life, and the other pair is long gone) were torn!

    Anyways, here is my list of my wardrobe!:

    – 5 tshirts (all mix with all pants)
    – 3 tank tops (Japan’s summer was freaking hot, so I needed change)
    – 1 long sleeve t-shirt I use for running in the cold mornings
    – 2 sweaters (alternating each other)
    – 2 shirts
    – 1 pair jogging pants
    – 3 pair of pants
    – 1 pair of shorts (I hate them and will donate them to this guest house’s ‘free take shelf’)
    – 2 jackets (one for cold, one for little less cold)
    – 2 pair of shoes (1 pair fixed up with duct tape but works perfectly fine!)
    – 1 pair of fivefingers
    – underwear and socks

    I found some of the jackets and one of the shirts at the ‘free take’ here at the guest house, really nice! You really don’t need much clothes to live a happy life 😀

    • Jessica

      Hey Bill,

      Thanks for all your comments! I lived in dorms last year so none of the furniture was actually mine, that shelf is from IKEA?!

      Wow, that’s really admirable that you went to Japan with only one backpack. I wish I could have done the same! I had a look at your blog, it looks great! It sounds like we’d have a lot to talk about, if you ever find yourself in Japan again, give me a call and maybe would could hang out over coffee or something. 🙂

      • Thanks, I’m glad you liked it!

        Well, the fact is that I’m STILL in Japan for at least another 7 months! I saw your plans to visit Akihabara and Harajuku, so when you go there feel free to let me know, I live 30 minutes away from both of those places 🙂

        You study at Konan University? That’s almost like Conan the Barbarian, and that’s pretty cool 😀 Kobe is used as examples in our school books all the time.

        Yeah, that white hanging thing looks just like mine, and I got it at IKEA for 1000yen or something. My closet was pretty useless without it ^^

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  • Dipti

    I simply love your blog!

    Since childhood, i rarely purchased clothes for myself, thanks to my wonderful elder sister. She used to get me everything that a school girl or a college girl would need. Yet, I remember while studying engineering and business management, I used to wear similar set of clothes every 4th or 5th day and my friends were like- gurrrrrl do something about your wardrobe. But believe me I never felt the need to do so.

    But few years ago, when my sister got married and shifted to UK for good, I was totally alone. Had no clue how to even go out myself and shop for clothes. Few times, friends were there , few other times my mum. But believe me, I used to pick up things which I wont need or which were just in fashion, but I was sure I would never wear them, ( its just not me ..u know ;)).
    And then gifts- some from friends, some from family added to all that.

    Thanks to all that no sense shopping, now my wardrobe is overflowing with clothes, shoes, jackets, skirts, jeans, sweater, scrarfs, bags, cosmetics..u name it and my wardrobe has it.

    This blog has really prepelled the need in me to make my wardrobe functional yet minimal. So here i i am starting with this task..Wish me luck!

    • Jessica

      Good luck Dipti, I hope you manage to pare down all those clothes!

  • A picture says more than 1000 words….

    I’ve read many of these wardrobe-listing posts, but they never really speak to me, because the lack of pictures. (It’s the same with recipes to me. Yes, maybe I have a problem. *lol*)

    I just stopped by to say I really like the post & your blog in general!

    Greetings from the Netherlands 🙂

  • Emilie

    Hi Jessica,

    Your post is great and its funny because lately i have been trying got figure out a way to reduce the size of my wardrobe, while increasing its functionality; its been not so easy.

    I just moved to Canada from Antigua (in the Caribbean). So i have gone from a country that is HOT all the time to a country that ranges to just about every temperature.

    So now not only am I trying to learn to dress for the cold but trying to figure out how to buy the right clothing that will keep me warm and stylish at most every occasion or in any setting.

    Maybe you can offer me some tips on what I should have and not have?


  • Efranny

    I love this post!Thanks for sharing. I felt so great when I took four big trashbags of clothing to goodwill for donation. I didn’t need them, I just took forever to realize that. Now I’m happy that I don’t have to deal with them anymore. Hoping to someday be able to let go of more…just not ready I guess.

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  • Miley

    Im trying to be a minimalist too!! thanks for the inspriation!

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  • Pointnshoot28

    Love the post. I was not able to identify the overwhelming desire to reduce the items in my space. I now have tools & resources. My goal is to reduce my possessions by 50%.

  • Mary Ellen Lewis

    It is7:40 am Tucson time and I just googled : What does “I had a price on my head” mean? (I love Google).
    And one of the choices that came up was your blog. Why I chose it I don’t remember.
    Of course I know what the expression means but…I was curious to find out out
    if it meant even more.
    Yes, I want to keep reading what you have to offer (I have been washing my ‘clothes’ {in an automatic washing machine} in cold water and hanging them on my petite clothesline to dry for…31 years. That indicates that I must be…a hippie? But ..I live in Paris aussi. My wardrobe, my style, takes me anywhere.
    I wish I could continue into how I evolved into my ‘Simplicity is Genious’ life but…I have a price on my head and must pursue what I started.

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  • Y_velez

    WOW!!! ur so amazing!!! THANKS! Imma try these gr8 tips.

  • Syg

    I don’t suppose you would be willing to post a few more pictures of the things in your wardrobe? I get the idea of being able to mix and match things (particularly skirts, shirts and sweaters/jackets) to make it seem like you have more things, but I have an unfailing ability to get things I think will work like that, only to find out that they don’t really mix well…

    • Hey Syg,

      Thanks for your comment. Hopefully I’ll be able to do an update on my wardrobe soon, keep an eye on the post feed!


      • Simplyholland

        I agree – would love to see an updated / more detailed post in this area! Thanks!

      • Hey, Jessica! I’m your reader since the beginning of Minimal Student! I would love to see your wardrobe now, show us more about your clothes! I have the same problem that Syg has, I buy and later, I find out they don’t mix. :/

        P.S. I added you in Google +

    • Atiranigma

      Any chance we’ll ever get photos of your current wardrobe?

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  • Yogun

    I was thinking about sports. I noticed it pushed my demand for clothing and washing greatly up…

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  • Meme-y Rogers

    This is fantastic, keep it up! I love your emphasis on wear-and washability, and on putting thought into occasion-specificity–I’m sick of seeing “minimalist” or “capsule” wardrobes full of ripped jeans and pink ruffled sweater vests. You understand the concept and have it nailed.

  • Thanks for the reminder Atiranigma, I’ve been wanting to update this post but I realised I don’t have anything new to say except that for the last few years I switched to wearing non-iron shirts and black jeans, which isn’t very interesting at all!