Marie Kondo is taking over the nation with her Netflix show about tidying up. It feels like she’s the creator of the decluttering movement, but every new year, Emily Ley and others send out their new year challenges for tidying up. Minimalism is on trend as well and what I think is really happening is that us Americans are figuring out that stuff doesn’t equal happiness. In fact, it seems that too much stuff equals stress. I honestly think it’s great that we are starting to question our quest for all the things and consider this just a part of our growth as a culture and a nation.
So here we are, you’ve jumped on the KonMari train, or Emily ley or whatever, you’ve gotten rid of all those clothes that don’t spark joy and you’re sitting there thinking, okay, but like… now what do I wear? Getting rid of unnecessary items is amazingly freeing and having a minimal wardrobe is even more so. That being said, it takes careful planning to create a wardrobe that works easily. Having too few items that don’t match can cause as much stress when getting ready as having too many items. The key to a minimalist wardrobe is planning. This post is a guide to help you do that.
Where do you begin? When I was young and in college, I typically bought things that were pretty and on sale. Shopping was more of a hobby with no plan or goal, just something to do on a rainy day. It was fun to find those cute red heels or that fun scarf. I even had a collection of college t shirts that we collected as souvenirs. Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I had a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear. I didn’t have space for everything I owned, and I never felt like I had anything to wear. This was when I decided to look into a the capsule wardrobe. I realized that my wardrobe life could be a lot different and maybe, I could help others with theirs as well.
So back to my question, where do you begin? You could always hire me, if you feel so inclined (a little plug there), but if that’s not in your budget, here are the steps that I take with my clients and hopefully they can help you as well.
- Pinterest – ahh, beautiful Pinterest, both a friend and a foe. That’s dramatic, I know, but it can be helpful and a pain in the ass. I do use it with my clients because it’s a great place to organize things and create a visual guide. For each client, I have them fill out a questionnaire to help me understand his/her (usually her) style. In that questionnaire, I do have them create a “style” Pinterest board and ask them to pin anything and everything that looks cute. So my exercise for you is to take a couple of days and scour Pinterest for outfits that look appealing to you. Take note colors, different types of garments, even jewelry, PIN IT ALL. If you like celebrities, you could even search for some of your favorite celebs and pin their style as well. Don’t filter anything, just look for things you like.
- Make a list – Now that you’ve created a visual guide, write down anything that you see frequently. For example, you notice that you’ve got a lot of pins with boyfriend (or oversized) sweaters, brown booties, and lots of rose/blush colored items. Write those things down. Try to focus on the season that you’re in now because your wardrobe is going to change each season, as you can imagine (unless you live in South Carolina where you basically have summer and winter). Look for lots of repetition and patterns and write those down.
- Create a mood board. We’re still using Pinterest and this time, you are going to create a brand new board called “Style Mood Board”. This will be helpful in creating a cohesive color palette, a feel for what you want in your wardrobe, and a place for inspiration. This board is going to be very specific. First, pick a color palette. Design Seed has a ton of color swatches showing how colors go together. I would choose one of those that you enjoy the most. Your clothing needs to all be in the same color palette so it will all go together. I know that sounds kind of boring, but pick something that has a couple of bring colors and some neutrals. I will include some examples below. Next, pin the outfits you liked the most with the items that are on your list. And lastly, add any pictures of cities that match the “feel” of your board. You don’t have to do that last step, but I always try to include pictures of the cities because it just helps contribute to the feel of the board.
Alright, you’ve got your vibe that you want to use to create your wardrobe, so let’s move to the next step which is to actually create it! This part can be tricky because you need to consider what you have, what you want, and then choose how those two pieces can blend together in a cohesive way. How I do it for my clients is to first decide how many pieces I want of each category. This will depend on what you do, where you go, etc etc. In general, I recommend your wardrobe to have at least:
- a boyfriend sweater
- a cardigan
- A turtleneck sweater and/or crewneck sweater
- a moto jacket (also could be a blazer)
- a denim jacket
- 2-3 nice t shirts
B. 4-5 bottoms
- Skinny jeans
- wide leg jeans
- black pants
- a good pair of leggings
C. 1-2 nice camisoles
- casual tennis shoes
- dress shoes
This is such a style thing it’s totally going to depend on the individual. I consider these things scarves, jewelry, hats, and a solid purse (like, one solid purse, that’s it!)
You now have you list, let’s consider what you have. Use the items you have to fill out the list. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to search for the things you need. You have to consider your overall budget, how quickly you want this done, and the priorities in which you need them. For example, I really want a moto jacket because they are so versatile, but I haven’t bought one yet because it’s not a high priority. Instead, I am focusing on pants and sweaters because I need those the most AND they are less expensive than the jacket.
Where should I find the pieces I need? You can always go to the mall and visit your favorites stores but I highly recommend filling out your list first. I like to use the internet so that I can make a plan for color. You have to consider the colors you have in your wardrobe and consider your color palette. That will help you determine what colors you need to buy. For investment pieces, I recommend sticking to neutrals like black, gray, camel, navy, and white. It sounds so boring but unless you want to buy those pieces over and over, I recommend adding color to your wardrobe through items like shirts and accessories. Those are more affordable, will need to be replaced more, and you typically have multiples of them so it’s okay if they don’t match every single thing in your closet. But if you’re only going to have 3 pair of pants, they better match everything.
Since you are already on the path of creating a capsule wardrobe, I’d like to recommend two things:
- Invest in these pieces. If you want them to last a long time, spend more on them. Honestly, if you’re not shopping all the time, you’ll have money to spend on a nice pair of pants. And they’ll last you several seasons so its the more frugal way to go even if it doesn’t feel that way initially.
- Since you are investing, why not buy from companies that are dedicated to sustainability and the healthy of their workers? I can’t say I always buy ethical clothing, but I try to do so as much as possibly. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So just something to consider as you shop.
Here are some of my go to companies when creating shopping lists for clients.
Regular Clothing Companies not dedicated to sustainability but I still like their clothes
I like Loft and Target for pieces that don’t necessarily need to be an investment because sometimes, we just have to stick to a budget, which I get.
You can use that list and just search the items you need. Find the ones you like and you can order them or go to the store. There are local stores in Greenville that have great clothes, so if you’d like to venture downtown and visit some of those first, you’re supporting your local community!
Really that’s it. I make a mood board, create a list, find what I think my client needs, and give them the links to help them decide. Once you’ve gotten the items you want, go back to Pinterest and search those items to give you ideas for how to style each piece differently. Or just try a bunch of stuff on together and see if you like it.
Tips to help you when utilizing pieces in a variety of ways:
- try styling them differently. For example, a white button down shirt can be worn buttoned with a pair of nice leggings and some flats. Or, you can wear it over a black jumpsuit, leave it unbuttoned and tie it at the waist. Or you can wear it with wide leg jeans, again, tied at the waist and add a little neck scarf. Just consider that it can be worn in a variety of ways.
- Add layers. Jackets, scarves, necklaces, and shoes are all things that help make an outfit look unique. Play around with adding and subtracting layers to make your outfit look different. Sometimes, even just changing a pair of shoes makes all the difference in the world.
- get used to wearing the same thing over and over. Sometimes, that feels boring, but the reality is, no one notices except you. And many great business people over the years wear the same thing every single day in order to keep their focus on the task at hand. Michael Kors, an amazing fashion designer, wears a black t shirt, denim, and a blazer every. single. day. He just knows what looks good and goes with it.
The last piece of advice I’ll give you is this: don’t stray from the list. Don’t shop on sale, don’t shop for fun. Or if you do, just don’t stray from the list. It’s okay to do it every once in a while but when we’re yearning to buy something, it’s typically a symptom of something else. When we’re restless, shopping can sometimes make us feel better, so maybe figure out something else that can bring you joy besides shopping. Buying things will only make you feel better temporarily but in the end, you find yourself reading books about tidying up and wondering where it all went wrong.
I hope this post has been helpful. Please feel free to contact me with any questions!