A Closer Look at Our Minimalist Wardrobe

posted by Andrea | 07/10/2012

As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m NOT a huge fan of clothes clutter.

I hate it when drawers and closets are so jammed full of clothing… and I’ve always said that I won’t have more clothing than can fit comfortably in my closet.

Every piece of clothing Dave and I own is in our closet or in our dresser drawers {besides our winter coats and boots} and we intend to keep it that way, partially because we live in an old farmhouse where extra closet space is slim to none, but also because we personally feel like we don’t NEED more clothing than we have space for.

And remember, I hate clothes clutter :)

As you can see by the picture above, we have plenty of room left in our closet — however, I don’t plan to fill it any time soon.

Over the past several months, I’ve talked a lot about clothes clutter and I’ve shown many pictures of how we organized our master closet. They are REAL pictures of our real clothing… and no, I don’t take a bunch of stuff out and try to make it look perfect for the pictures. In fact, I’ve actually gotten rid of quite a bit since those pictures were taken.

I can almost guarantee that if you stop by our house when we’re gone, our closet will look just like the pictures here on my blog. Yes, I realize there are probably many people who have less clothing than Dave and I do… but compare to many of my clients {and apparently many of you} our closet is practically bare.

I’m not trying to brag… and my intention for showing these pictures is not to make others feel depressed; it’s simply to share how we organize our clothes and {hopefully} to inspire others to get a little more organized.

However, I regularly get emails asking how we manage with such a minimalist wardrobe, especially since we live in Michigan and need clothing for all 4 seasons…

I guess never really gave a lot of thought as to WHY we get by with fewer clothing than most people, but after thinking about it for awhile, I have a feeling my answers will help alleviate some of the guilt from those of you who can hardly shut your closet doors!

Six Reasons We Have a Minimalist Wardrobe

1. We both HATE shopping! 

Yes, that’s right; Dave and I both strongly dislike shopping for clothes. We only go to the mall when we need something, and even then, we simply buy what we need and go home.

I know this might be incomprehensible for some of you, but I’ve never been a huge shopper. I could spend all day getting deals at the grocery store, but I’ll pass up the mall any day (unless we’re visiting the food court!) So obviously, it’s pretty hard to clutter up our closets if we rarely buy clothing.

2. Our professions don’t require lots of different clothing.

I realize that some jobs require fancy clothing every day, and that can really add to the amount of clothing you need to own. Well… you all know that I just sit at home all day {wink, wink} so I can get by wearing the same things over and over again — usually casual and comfortable clothing.

Dave’s wardrobe is also pretty casual (khaki pants, polo shirts, button-up shirts, etc), all of which he can also wear to church or for a night out.

3. Most of our clothing is “mix and match”.

As I mentioned in this post a couple weeks ago, I almost only buy clothing that will go with all the other items I already have in my closet.

That means that even if I find a fabulous deal on something, I probably won’t buy it unless it will mix and match nicely with items I currently own.

Most of my clothes are very neutral (brown, black, grey, cream, white) so almost all my tops pair nicely with my bottoms. I like neutral colors and if I want a pop of color, I simply add a colorful scarf, chunky necklace, or a fun bag.

4. We honestly don’t care much about clothing.

Now, I just want to make it VERY clear that I think it’s perfectly fine if you love buying and shopping for clothing (as long as you aren’t going into debt doing so). We all save and splurge on different things — and it just so happens that clothing is not one of the things we want to splurge on.

I’m not a “fashionista”, and while I don’t think I look frumpy or unkempt, I definitely don’t set any fashion trends! In fact, if you look in my closet, you’ll see that I own 7 short-sleeve shirts and they are ALL exactly the same, just different colors :)

So while we might have much less clothing than other people, there’s a pretty good chance I have more kitchen gadgets, more dishes, or more decorations than others.

5. We don’t change sizes.

For whatever reason, Dave and I rarely lose or gain weight. We’ve both been almost exactly the same weight since we’ve known each other (besides when I was pregnant). This obviously helps to reduce the amount of clothing we have to store.

Also, when I was pregnant, I was fortunate to be able to borrow 100% of the maternity clothing I needed for those last few month. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this for future children, but we’ll see!

6. We practice the “one-in-one-out” rule.

Although we don’t go shopping all that often, we do make sure to regularly evaluate our wardrobe and purge anything we don’t need, use, want, or love. Also, when we do purchase a new item, we almost always get rid of an older item.

I know this sounds ultra-simplistic, but it works :)

So as you can see, a minimalist wardrobe definitely will not work for everyone; and that’s not a bad thing. I love looking through magazines and seeing new fashion trends — I just don’t like going to the store and buying the trend {or storing them in my closet}.

I’m content to wear one of my 7 identical t-shirts every day!

And for those of you feeling disheartened by your over-abundant wardrobe, just wait until our kitchen is finished and I show you all the dishes I own :)

Want more closet organizing inspiration?

Here are a bunch of posts I’ve written about clothes clutter and closet organization. 

Would you consider your wardrobe to be minimalist… or are you a fashionista?

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32 comments

  1. Thrifty Mom in Boise

    07/10/2012

    I don’t like crammed and cluttered closets either. We purge twice a year – at the end of the school year and at the end of summer. Fortunately I am no clothes horse and I hate to shop for clothes so keeping a minimalist wardrobe is easier for me than for a lot of people. I like to have items on hand that can mix and match and go from casual to dressy. It is much easier to keep up a smaller wardrobe too, I think.

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  2. Lynn Oyama

    07/10/2012

    Great post! I am not a fan of the Mall either and don’t care to shop (much to my step-daughter’s dismay!). The older I get the more simple I want things and more organized. I just told someone the other day how I am not a fashionista and I would be content with five well-fitting outfits for work that can inter-mix! So I completely understand this. You have given me the desire to go through more of my drawers! :)

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  3. Angela

    07/10/2012

    I would love to be able to have just 7 shirts of the same kind. I bought T-shirts in 3 colors from the Gap last year and by this year they are extremely faded and look old. Maybe it’s because I chose colors that weren’t neutral? Green, orange, purple…. I wore them every week last eyar when I was pregnant because they were nice and stretchy.

    Is there something you do to keep them from fading and looking old? Or do you replace them for cheap each year??

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    Andrea Reply:

    No Angela… unfortunately I don’t have any great laundry secrets. The t-shirts I have are from Victoria Secrets (I know… of all places!) However, they have held up fabulously for the past few years and I wash them almost every week.

    I will say that I had a small rotation of tank tops I wore when I was pregnant last summer and they faded out really quickly. I wondering if it’s because they were stretched so much?

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  4. Monette

    07/10/2012

    Love this post! Thanks!

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  5. Katie

    07/10/2012

    When my husband and I first got married, my clothes took up 1 whole closet and 3/4 of another one! I would rotate out my fall/winter and spring/summer clothes. Over the last couple years I have purged a lot and now all my clothes only take up 3/4 of one closet and I can say that I’m a lot happier with what I have now! It’s funny how having less actually makes you happier with what you have! Thanks for all your great posts!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Katie, when I was in high school and college, I had two full closets!! So I’ve come a long way too :)

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  6. Bonnie

    07/10/2012

    My small step is to not buy any new clothing over the summer. So far, so good. I’m determined to attain this goal. Great post. I need to do more purging.

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  7. Laurel

    07/10/2012

    I’m with you. I detest clothes shopping and have a small wardrobe. Most of the time it’s good, but every once in a while I feel like I have nothing nice to wear to church. I think my girls wish I enjoyed shopping more, though :)

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  8. Ivy Miller

    07/10/2012

    Mine is very minimal as well. I have 7 short sleeve tops 5 tank tops 7 long sleeve tops 3 pairs of shorts 2 skirts 2 pairs of Capri’s and 3 pairs of pants (2 jeans one khaki) and one dress. I also have two play outfits for bumming around in and a couple of workout tops and shorts.Gotta have two or three hoodie/sweatshirts for the colder days.

    Something that I did a few years ago was to get rid of anything that no longer fit me either it was pre babies or too big. There isn’t anything in my closet or drawers that doesn’t fit me right at this moment.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow Ivy, I think your closet would even put me to shame — sounds like you have an ultra minimalist wardrobe!

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  9. Angela

    07/10/2012

    I’m looking at for 14 foot wide closet right now. I need to purge. I suffer from a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear syndrome. Probably just should not have come back with 2 dresses from the store this afternoon. I envy you guys! It’s the only place where I have to purge.. but tell myself I can’t for whatever invalid reason. Reading through this is encouraging me though. Thank you!

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  10. Jenny

    07/10/2012

    Do you have any tips on mix & max strategies for outfits and a basic guide on how much of each clothing item is good for wardrobe basics? Your “style” looks classy but comfy which is what I like too. Thanks for your great blog!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jenny! I suppose this could be another idea for a post. I don’t have any specific tips right now because it really depends on your lifestyle and the type of clothes you need. Like I have 5 pairs of jeans, but I wear jeans EVERY day (except when it’s too hot). However, Dave has 4 pairs of khaki pants because he wears them every day for school.

    For the mix & match, I try to stick with mostly neutral colors (black, grey, white, cream) and then get colorful accents like jewelry, bags, scarves, etc. So I might have a white and black button-up shirt but then a bunch of different scarves and necklaces to give them different looks.

    Hope this helps a little!

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  11. Jen

    07/10/2012

    Love this! But I’m curious……what brand are those 7 shirts that you LOVE? Also, are you willing to spend more initially to get clothing that will last or do you prefer to buy inexpensive clothing and settle for a bit less quality/longevity??

    Love your blog! And I think you’re absolutely adorable!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jen… you’re going to laugh, but the 7 t-shirts I absolutely love are from Victoria Secret (like 4 or 5 years ago!!) They were on a major clearance and I had a coupon so I got them for a really great price. The reason I love them is because they are a nice weight, they are very long, and I like the V-neckline. I haven’t found any I like as much, so hopefully they continue to hold up for a few more years!

    And as far as the higher quality… I will NEVER, EVER pay full price for any of my clothes, but I do find huge bargains on nicer brands from Macy’s and other department stores. So I guess I probably get a bit higher quality of clothing for inexpensive prices. The best of both worlds I guess :)

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  12. Karena

    07/10/2012

    Great post! I used to have a lot of clothes and then just was tired of having stuff! It is like i cannot function when there is too much stuff around me. Now purses….that is a work in progress for me. How do you handle them? Do you have a lot, just one and use it forever? Could definitely use some advice on that area! Lol. But am really working on being content with what i have and no more bags but a basic black and a fun one.

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  13. Vicki

    07/10/2012

    IfI had to weat the same 6 shirts over and over I would lose it! I love saving money ate the grocery store too but I also love getting expensive clothes for practically nothing! You will be happy to know I don’t keep what I don’t wear, but I need more variety than what you have!

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  14. Stel

    07/11/2012

    My wardrobe changed a lot since I became a SAHM. I live in jeans and used to a heaps. However, I used this school holiday to clear out a little bit and a now have2 from the hypermarket, in a brilliant cut and they fir perfectly. Cost lots less than what I would have paid in other clothing stores :-) I also have a khaki jean camou pant and linen pant when I need to look a little smarter.
    But the stripey long sleeved T-shirts..now that’s another story…

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  15. Barb

    07/11/2012

    Do you have any tips on how to hang or not to hang sweaters? I was told once you are never suppose to hang sweaters, but I have no other place to put them and they do take up closet space. What is your take on this?

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  16. Jill

    07/11/2012

    I was inspired by a post you did a couple of years ago where you went a whole year without buying any clothes. I did the same thing last year. I have learned that unless I am replacing something that is old and or torn then I don’t need to buy anything. I periodically go through my closets and put stuff in a bag for the good will. I do not have a minimalist wardrob but I am trying to get rid of the clothes I do not wear. I would love to have a closet where I can find things. Also makes it easier to decide what to wear for the day if you don’t have much to choose from . Thanks for the inspiration.

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  17. Samantha - Minimalist Dreams

    07/13/2012

    I have a minimalist wardrobe too. Like you I hate shopping and not fussed about clothes. It suits me just fine. Easier to maintain and uncomplicated. I wouldn’t want a wardrobe full of things as I would never wear them anyway

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  18. Jane

    08/07/2012

    I’m with you on so much of this! I hate to shop also. My wardrobe is mainly red, white, blue and black – easy to mix and match! We don’t have a walk-in closet – just 8′ to share – plus store our winter woolens that I won’t put it our attic!

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  19. Lynae

    08/22/2012

    I’m needing help with purging guilt. I recently got engaged and the house that we will move into after the wedding is much smaller than what I’m used to. It was built in the 40s so the closets are miniature; especially when I’m used to a large walk-in that I don’t have to share. I want to get rid of or donate close to 60% of my clothes, shoes, and accessories. The problem is that many of them are pretty new and some I’ve only worn once or twice, so I feel like I’m wasting my (and my mom’s) money by just getting rid of them. I like the idea of a yard sale, however, there isn’t much success with those in my neighborhood. Any ideas of how I can subdue this guilt and maybe even make a few bucks with my excessive amount of clothes?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Lynae,
    Well first of all, good for you for planning ahead and realizing that you will probably need to get rid of many of your clothes. That’s a big step right there! It will be hard, especially since you mentioned some of the clothing is almost brand new.

    Here are a few suggestions I have to hopefully help reduce your guilt:
    1. Ask friends/relatives who are a similar size if they would like to “shop your closet” — if they are anything like my friends, they will be thrilled!
    2. Put an add on Craigslist with your general size and explain that you are purging many almost-new clothes. Maybe offer to “fill a bag” for $10 or something like that
    3. Donate them to a local women’s shelter — they ALWAYS need more women’s clothing… and then think about how happy you will make all those women with your thoughtful donations

    OK so those are the first 3 things I thought of — however, I’m going to post your question on my Facebook Page too and see what other readers come up with!
    Good luck!

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  20. kate

    03/17/2013

    you have a TV in your closet?! i love you, haha. i’ve read on many minimalist sites and feng shui sites that TV is an absolute no in the bedroom… i tried taking mine out of my bedroom, but i missed it alot, because i have health problems, one being fibromyalgia, and i often need to lie down, and without a tv it was getting very depressing.

    i agreed with not having a TV in the bedroom, and i don’t like seeing one in the room, but i don’t have an armoire or anything like that, they seem to not make those anymore since the new tv’s are mostly wall-mounted, etc. but i have an older tv, small, and looks just like yours. so a few days ago i decided to put it in my closet too! now i don’t have to see it there whenever i’m in my room, but if i need it, it’s there. it’s a great, compromising idea! i wish i had the compartments that you have yours in though… mine is on a little stand that i can roll out of the closet if i want

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  21. QuatroMama

    07/09/2013

    So I’m curious where those awesome identical t-shirts are from?!!
    Love your blog, Girl! Always spend a while clicking on older linked posts and learning so much! Thank you for all your hard work for our benefit!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Jen! I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that the shirts are from Victoria Secret. I randomly got a $20 gift certificate and a $10 coupon there several years ago and found some t-shirts really marked down. I snatched up as many as I could find in my size as they were thicker fabric and very long. They’ve held up fabulously over the last many years (at least 4 years) and I wear them ALLLLLLL the time!

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  22. Barbara

    07/10/2013

    I am so guilty of buying one shirt in every color it comes in. I will even go back, after the purchase, and buy more of a certain item because after wearing it, I found that I really love it and it works for my lifestyle. I’m not a mall shopper either.

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  23. Real Tips to Organize Your Closet {Day 20} - Creative Home Keeper

    10/20/2013

    […] A Closer Look at Our Minimalist Wardrobe / Andrea Dekker (scroll down to the bottom of this post where she has several links to posts she has written about closet organization) […]

  24. Jill

    04/26/2014

    Hi Andrea! I am wanting to become more minimalistic in my closet, but I’m terrible at mixing and matching. I’m hoping you can do a post on Mix and Matching clothes 101!!! Pretty please! My closet is FULL and I have nothing to wear! LOVE your blog- keep up the great work!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jill — this is a great idea for a post! I have to be honest, I’m not the most “fashionable” person in the world — I often wear the same things over and over again — but I am hoping to do a couple posts about my closet and my clothing later this spring/summer. In fact, those post ideas are my motivation to lose the last of my baby weight so I can fit in all my “old” summer clothes again :)

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