Minimal Wardrobe: Inspiration and Reality

After finally putting my ideal minimal wardrobe together, I was curious to find out how it aligned with my actual wardrobe.

casual

The first obvious difference is size. While I wanted my ideal minimal wardrobe to be realistic and allow me to create enough outfits for a regular 5-day work week, my actual work wardrobe is not as small as the inspiration. I mean, I do have more than two pairs of trousers!

However, I have been impressed to see how many outfits a well thought small wardrobe can create. Being able to visualize this has made me more willing to downsize even further.

Outerwear, for instance, is an area I’m now thinking about reducing. Even though the last time I bought a coat was three years ago, these items tend to last longer and so, at the moment, only one coat could do with replacing. I haven’t figured it out entirely yet but I’m thinking of consolidating this section into a couple of items.

When it comes to colour, I have found that there were a couple of differences. First, my actual wardrobe has one additional main colour (green, mostly military green but also emerald), and one more accent colour (red).

Colour Palette

Other than that, my real wardrobe is quite similar to my ideal minimal wardrobe. In fact, I find that the inspiration board is not complete without some green and some red. In terms of ideals, reality beats inspiration in this case.

One thing I’ve noticed though is that my wardrobe used to have no black at all. Instead, brown was the additional main colour. I have slowly replaced brown with black in the last year but wasn’t even aware this was happening until now!

Ahh, the little things that remind me that being mindful is a work in progress…

Finally, style and silhouette in my real wardrobe are pretty similar to the inspiration. Which makes sense as I wanted my ideal minimal wardrobe to capture my style preferences and favourite outfits.

work wardrobe


In the whole, it isn’t strange that my ideal minimal wardrobe is not that different from reality – after all, the inspiration board is not just an ideal but also a reflection of what I am already happy with.

The best thing about doing this exercise

To consider my wardrobe in a slow-paced, holistic manner. I had never before put time aside to think thoroughly about aspects such as colour, the concept of an uniform, and how these things can work together to create more mindful – functional – minimal wardrobe. Maybe not minimal in size, but definitely less full of items that I never wear.

Added benefit

Seeing my clothing preferences as a whole and creating some pretty cool visual tools that I can use to guide future choices. I no longer have to mentally match a potential blouse with all my trousers to try to imagine if it works with what I have – I can simply refer to my colour palette and pick a colour from there.


Up Next

A side effect of this exercise has been to press pause on everything – from buying to getting rid of things. I next want to tell you about my thoughts on culling and how my year of minimal shopping is going so far.


Have you ever thought of your wardrobe as a whole or did you too find that task a bit overwhelming?And if you ever edited your wardrobe, what kind of tools did you use to guide that process? 


 Previously on this…

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A Minimal Wardrobe

inspiration colour palette

A Minimal Wardrobe 101


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Minimal Wardrobe 101

It has taken me months to get to a point where I can see what my minimal wardrobe would look like. Through that time, I thought colourfunction, style, and silhouette. 

Function was the easiest. I thought about the activities in my life and the portion of time they take. Where I live, what I do during the week, and how I spend most of my weekends. It wasn’t hard to figure that, at the moment, most of my time is spent in the office and that I’m mostly a city dweller.

I wanted my minimal wardrobe to reflect this current life, so I focused on items that have a definite urban feel to them.

As a side note, the type of city life that I’m used to and truly enjoy is one where I can walk to places and hardly ever need to get in a car – hence the predominance of flats. I’m an European, after all.

Style was also not the biggest part of the challenge for me. I’ve been fairly consistent over the years in my tendency to go for classics with modern twists, comfort, and simplicity. I like how I can be wearing the most comfortable trousers/shoes/blouse/blazer, but still feel perfectly adequate in formal meetings.

If you’re just starting to define your style, this article may be particularly helpful as a starting point.

Silhouette was a bit of a challenge as I wanted to capture the essence of my go-to outfits. I considered their proportions, the fit, and whether I had any kind of uniform. It appears that I do. In fact, it appears I have two types of uniforms: one for cool weather – involving skirts/dresses – and one for warm weather – involving trousers.

Finally, I thought a lot about colour. In fact, I found colour to be the biggest challenge. I didn’t want my imagined minimal wardrobe to be just about fewer items. I also wanted it to be realistically remixable. In the end, I wanted to see how many different outfits I could make with the smallest number of pieces. inspiration colour palette

The main issue I had with the minimal wardrobes I’d seen on Pinterest and elsewhere was their blandness. All black, white or grey isn’t really my thing. I need navy blue, yellow, red, green…So for months I was stuck on the misconceived notion that I couldn’t have a minimal wardrobe with those.

Then I read this article and realised that a minimal colour palette doesn’t have to be limited to just black, white or grey. The key thing is to stick to two or three main colours, throw in a couple of neutrals for balance and add a couple of accent colours for variety.

Once I finished this exercise and could finally see what my minimal wardrobe would look like, the big question was – How does my real wardrobe measure up to this

A story for my next post…


Additional resources on creating a Minimal Wardrobe:

  • Into Mind: a personal style blog all around minimalism – scroll through the ‘Getting Started’ section for all sort of helpful articles. This one of how to get started was an eye-opener.
  • Cuyana – The Lean Closet Movement: the articles that first made me thought about the concept of minimalism in relation to clothes.
  • Style Bee: I have found Lee’s Closet Mission 2015 an inspiration (she has further resources on the topic too).

 

A Minimal Wardrobe

After I started thinking about my functional wardrobe, I came across the concept of a minimalism in relation to clothing. Pinterest searches returned mostly black and white outfits (which looked a bit boring to me) but also the concepts of the Parisian Closet or French Wardrobe, and Capsule Wardrobe. 

The minimal concept, I came to understand, didn’t mean just owning less stuff. In fact, some contemporary takes on minimalism advocate it’s about having less stuff you don’t need (examples here and here).

In that context, one of the ways it can be used is to guide the choice of items. For instance, using the same colour palette when making a new purchase, thus creating consistency across the wardrobe and ensuring the new piece works with what’s already in there.

There also seemed to be instances where the minimal concept was used to justify buying a bunch of new stuff every season (a capsule for each season, for instance). This bit aside, I was curious – What would my minimal wardrobe look like? and How minimal would it go? 

My minimum requirements

After months of thinking about this, I finally felt inspired to put something together on Polyvore that feels like an accurate reflection of my most minimal requirements (considering current needs and style). I probably would only add one other top (a simple black long-sleeve), and a belt or two (in red).

Other than that, I look at this board and it really feels perfect to me.  It amazes me that it can be so small, particularly as I tried to make it an all-year-round collection that would be suitable for work and off-duty city life.

I still can’t believe that so few items could create so many outfits for all seasons. I mean, I understand that this is what a mixable wardrobe should do but it still amazes me to see the possibilities.


I know it is taking me quite some time to put these posts together, so I apologise in advance for my slowness.

But next, I want to tell you about the process – how I went about picking a colour palette and choosing the items. After that, I want to show you the differences or similarities between this inspiration and the reality of my wardrobe. And finally, how it has prompted me to pack a few more items for donation and pick a couple of new things!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole idea of a minimalist closet. Have you tried it? Do you think the capsule wardrobe trend is often used by brands to encourage buying more? And, if you’re trying to be a more mindful consumer, how does the concept appeal to you?