How To Create A Minimalist Wardrobe

A minimalist capsule wardrobe is a wonderfully simple solution to getting dressed every morning but it is also a great way to reduce our environmental footprint. Because minimalism relies in large part on the thoughtful curation of only the items we need, it inherently reduces the number of items we purchase and own. 

So by opting for this minimalist approach to clothing we make the most of carefully chosen pieces and inherently reduce our consumption and the environmental impact associated with our consumption patterns. 

From there we can reduce our footprint even further by buying from sustainable brands like these 75+ Sustainable Clothing Brands or by curating a capsule wardrobe made entirely of secondhand clothing. 

So what is a minimalist capsule wardrobe? And how do we make one? That’s what we will be exploring here so hop in and let’s get you one step closer to creating your very own minimalist capsule wardrobe. 

What is the definition of a  Minimalist Wardrobe?

To understand what a minimalist wardrobe is, let’s start with minimalism. The concept of minimalism is often credited to an art movement beginning in the 60s and simply refers to anything that is stripped of its essential parts. 

Minimalist living and minimalist capsule wardrobes follow the same principle. Stripping down to the essentials and only consuming what we really need; as opposed to the all too common cycle of consumerism, has become synonymous with the fashion industry and modern life. 

a bench in with t-shirts on it, part of a minimalist wardrobe.

Coined by Susie Faux, the term capsule wardrobe in turn refers to a collection of a few essential items that never go out of fashion. Think t-shirts, blouses, skirts, and trousers. So to build a minimalist capsule wardrobe the idea is to curate a versatile, timeless, and quality set of these essentials using the least number of items possible. 

Since this does not require as many pieces, the minimalist capsule wardrobe also offers the opportunity to invest in more durable, quality items. These essentials can then be supplemented with seasonal pieces, including things like shoes and accessories. 

Why embrace a Minimalist Wardrobe?

Some choose to embrace a minimalist wardrobe as part of a minimalist lifestyle and end up finding great freedom by stripping their lives down to the essentials all around. It enables them to focus on more meaningful things; no longer bound and defined by what they own. 

For others, a minimalist wardrobe is simply a great way to reduce their environmental footprint by mindfully opting for what is strictly needed, while accounting for where items come from, how they are produced, and what they are made of. 

A minimalist wardrobe can also mean less stress and hectic mornings trying to figure out what to wear. By mindfully and strategically choosing every single piece, there is always a simple, and well-fitting solution no matter the occasion. 

Thoughtfully curated versatile pieces also bring cost-saving benefits, especially in the long term where we avoid over-consumption or buying things we don’t really need. 

Whatever inspires you, creating a minimalist wardrobe is within your reach, so let’s find out how.

How to curate a Minimalist Wardrobe

What do you need every day? 

Learning how to curate a minimalist wardrobe starts with figuring out what you need. 

A simple way to do so is to make a list of the items you wear on a weekly basis. Once you are finished keep this list handy throughout this process so you can use it to figure out what you will need to purchase later. 

Some people count on wearing certain items like pants or jeans multiple times a week but it’s up to you. Since the object is to live with less than five different work bottoms for every day of the week is not quite the minimalist take we are going for but this is your closet so just make sure that you have the essentials you really need. 

A bench with t shirts on it part of a minimalist wardrobe.

What do you already have?

For this step, many recommend a purge to get rid of what you don’t need and to sort through what you already have and want to keep. Once you’ve figured that out, write that down too. 

If you would like to purge more progressively you can use a nifty little trick I came up with. Just put a box in your closet and chuck in all items that you do not like anymore or ones that do not fit as you find them. For more on that see How I Instantly Declutter My Closet With This Simple Step

Once you’ve finished, ethically dispose of or sell the items you want to get rid of. If you don’t know what to do with your old items check these articles on how to sell your clothing online, and what to do with old bras and what to do with old jeans.

If you would like to donate your clothes please read this article on What To Do With Your Clothing Donations Right Now because donation centers around you may not be prepared to receive your old items just yet. 

What do you like?

This may be optional if you already know what style you are going for and what you will need but next, choose the aesthetic or style you want to go for. It’s perfectly okay to get some inspiration on the internet. A simple image search for ‘minimalist summer wardrobes’ or ‘minimalist work wardrobe’ will bring up lots of options to choose from.  Write down all the essentials you will need to compose the look(s) you want. 

Capsule wardrobe in white and neutral colors and fashionable straw bag. Selective focus.

Keep in mind that neutral colours are central to being able to easily mix and match items in your capsule and make the most of every piece. There are actually lots of neutral colour palettes to choose from which you can look up too. The basic rule of thumb though is you can never go wrong with blue, black, grey, and white. 

What are you going to need to fill in the gaps? 

Using your lists it is now time to figure out which items you are missing and to write them down as well.

When it comes time to do your shopping only purchase items that fit well and as you like them. These essentials will be your pieces for the season and you want to be comfortable every time you wear them. No compromises, unless you are in a pickle. 

If you would like to make your minimalist shopping even more sustainable I have tons of articles to help you shop your minimalist capsule wardrobe as sustainably as possible. 

You can start by learning about what sustainable and ethical fashion is, what slow fashion is, and the 12 most sustainable fabrics. This will give you everything you need to know about shopping more ethically and sustainably. 

I’ve also made it super simple to find more sustainable brands and products with these 75+ Sustainable Clothing Brands, and these 20 Online Thrift Stores For Secondhand Shopping

A minimalist wardrobe checklist

No matter what style you are going for, any clever wardrobe is built around good basics and that is just what you’ll find in these minimalist wardrobe checklists. The essentials.  

While they are designed for creating a women’s minimalist wardrobe, the same principles can be applied for creating a men’s minimalist wardrobe as well. 

Here’s what you’ll need for a solid summer minimalist capsule wardrobe: 

  • Basic White Tee
  • Tank Top
  • White Linen Shirt 
  • Jeans 
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Denim Skirt 
  • Denim Jacket (or outerwear of your choice)
  • Summer Dress (like a Midi Shirt Dress, a Neutral Maxi Dress or one you can layer with one of your tees like a Jumper or Camisole Dress)
  • Swimwear
  • Sandals
  • White Sneakers
  • Socks 
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Boots

Many of these items can be worn in the winter and supplemented with the following to create your winter capsule wardrobe: 

  • Sustainable sweatpants or leggings
  • Long sleeve shirts  
  • Long sleeve dress 
  • Ethical Sweater 
  • Cardigan 
  • An Ethical Winter Coat
  • Eco Friendly Winter Boots 
  • Winter Socks 
  • Eco Friendly Robe
  • Ethical Winter Gloves 
  • Toque 
  • Fair Trade Scarf 

I’ve already curated lots of the eco-friendly essentials you might need for building your minimalist wardrobe. You can start with my ultimate guide to eco friendly t-shirts, the Eco Hub’s Canadian Ethical Guide to Summer Dresses or to Swimwear, and some of my favourite fair trade hats and sustainable eco friendly socks or some Canadian Sustainable Work-From-Home Athleisure Wear

I’ve also got 8 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands for you to choose from for those perfect timeless pieces you may still be looking for. 

How to keep up a Minimalist Wardrobe

To keep up your minimalist wardrobe here are a few simple things to keep in mind:

  • Resist the urge to buy new items once you’ve settled on your capsule  
  • If you do bring something new in, swap it out for something old by selling it or responsibly discarding it
  • Try to mend damaged clothing before shopping for new ones
  • Shop secondhand where possible or consider making your entire minimalist capsule wardrobe using my guide on How To Curate A Second-Hand Capsule Wardrobe
  • Keep notes of the things you liked and didn’t like so much for future reference
  • If you do finally find that perfect white tee or dress shirt, consider buying another if you deem it necessary
  • Try your best to take good care of your items so they last as long as possible. 

Now that you’ve completed a crash course in creating a minimalist wardrobe 101 we hope you will be inspired to dig into your closet and to create a minimalist capsule wardrobe of your own. Avoid being obsessive and you will find this will not only free up space in your closet but it will free up space in your life as well, all while reducing your environmental footprint. 

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