A Functional {Intentional} Wardrobe

In previous posts, I make references to a functional wardrobe but I never really stated what I mean. I think it’s time to change that.

I consider my wardrobe to be functional when it works well for me – my life demands, my personal style and even my body shape. A real test of this kind of functionality is time-pressure. If I can put together an outfit I love, early in the morning, with minimal fuss, then my wardrobe is working for me.

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My functional wardrobe is one that has been put together over time, and {mostly} with purpose. This intentional, slow-paced approach gives me an opportunity to explore my style in a way that is adaptable and can evolve with me. It has also helped me curb impulse-buying, minimize clutter and waste in my life, and think more creatively about my outfit options.

From my experience, I wouldn’t say that a functional wardrobe has to be built from scratch or that the first step towards creating functionality is to get rid of everything you don’t love or need.

You need time to learn about your style and needs. As you take your time, you’ll find that slowly, the garments that you really need but are probably of lower quality, are replaced with better quality ones (which last longer and need replacement less often).

As for the stuff that really has no place in your life, you either find a new home for it, or simply don’t replace it at all when it reaches the end of its (generally short) life.

In time, you’ll find that your wardrobe no longer overflows with unwanted possessions and, instead, reaches an optimal size that is a more honest reflection of your clothing needs.

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In my definition, a functional wardrobe really is an intentional wardrobe, as I don’t think you can achieve a high level of functionality without intention. functional wardrobe is put together in a mindful way.

There is some effort in putting time aside to think honestly about lifestyle demands, personal style and whether a purchase fits a real purpose.

But, if you ask me, effortless outfit options, greater opportunities to create and express your own style, and a more positive impact of your style choices, are worth this on-going, long-term process. If for nothing else, for the feeling of confidence you get when you step outside wearing something you love.


What do you think, is an intentional wardrobe something worth pursuing? If you’ve tried something like this yourself, what do you think have been the biggest benefits and challenges? 


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9 thoughts on “A Functional {Intentional} Wardrobe

  1. First off, yes, I really, really love all that you said and shared that I think are true but not often articulated, even (or especially) with the blogosphere’s obsession with closet purging. Finding out what is your style and what works in your life takes time and self-reflection. So does analyzing what are the “holes” in a wardrobe. I’ve been trying to have a list of what I am looking for for my wardrobe. When I don’t have a mental list, I tend to get sidetracked to lovely things that don’t work for me (a 50s reproduction dress with cherries! How lovely… but won’t work at work or in the frigid winter chill), or alternatively, I’ll come across something I really do need and procrastinate about whether I really do need it or not. Then the item sells out. With the list, I know what I do and do not want/need, which is freeing. It has also allowed me to have a wardrobe where I can throw things together and have them work. I also use Polyvore and pinterest to story ideas of outfits with things I already, so I can look at those the night before if I’m feeling uninspired. Granted there are still days where I will reject a few (perfectly acceptable) outfits because they don’t fit my mood, but on the whole it has really helped.

    I am very curious to know more about the notebook you have pictures of. Could you talk about your process with that some?

    • Hi Kristian! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Your example of the dress really resonates with me. I see so many lovely things but now I really think before I get too carried away.

      I’m thinking about more posts on this theme, including talking about the notion of purging and how it can be used to help but also as an excuse to buy more (which for me is the opposite of what I want to do).

      I love how you also use pinterest and Polyvore to help and yes, even though some days I can come up with perfectly acceptable options, they don’t fit my mood that day. That’s when I find I get a bit more creative and think outside the box.

      I got this drawing book from sticker stack, an UK based stationary shop which sells Iconic, a Korean brand. I wanted somewhere I could draw but then also thought I could use it to keep a record of what my wardrobe looks like now, what works about it, my basics and what may be missing. So I started with favourite work outfits for the warmer seasons and asked myself “what is it about these that I love, that make them my style” – I think I got the idea from a comment Vanisha left on one of my posts.

      After work, I had casual and did the same for those. The last page is winter and what I love (my winter skirts) but am also in need of replacing (boots and tights). When that season comes and I start putting together photos of work outfits, I’ll add those too. It really helps me stay focused on what makes a great outfit for me.

  2. I love this post so much! Everything you mention resonates with me. I could never do the big purge and end up with 4 piles of clothing and a closet of my perfect items. It has taken me over 3 yrs to get to where I am now which simply to know my style for the life I have plus adding colour/patterns. This, my 4th year will include some purging because although my tastes and lifestyle have not changed, my body has due to middle age so I have to adapt my closet slightly. Please share you thoughts on purging! I feel it’s still going to be an exciting year for me all the same as I always keep an open mind for new ideas.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to drop me a line – and I promise I will share my views on purging 🙂

      I feel I’ve been on this journey for such a really long time (started circa 2008) but only in the last couple of years have I felt that things are falling into place. I found that taking things slowly was the best way. I didn’t want to buy a lot of new stuff before I was certain of what I needed but I also didn’t want to get rid of something before I was sure it really didn’t fit my style or needs. That takes time but it’s paying off.

      I find it interesting what you mention about the physical changes as I have wondered, as I age, how to find a balance between being able to enjoy a good quality and much loved piece for many years and any changes I will be likely to experience.

      I hope you share your experience this year! I’m really looking forward to your thoughts on your blog 🙂

  3. I think a lot of decision are based on how you feel at the time, not what you may truly need. Our taste also changes as we get older as does our body shape. Ultimately clothes can empower you and give you a sense of self. Wear what makes you happy. xx

  4. Pingback: Closet 2015: Old and New | Silk Path Diary

  5. Pingback: A Minimal Wardrobe | Fashion pas

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