The How and Why of building a Minimalist Wardrobe

If I was you and I read the title “How to build a minimalist wardrobe” I’d be thinking ‘ho hum *yawn* …I really don’t need another person telling me how to do something that’s just going to require more of my time’.

And when it comes to fashion topics there are so many freakin’ articles and opinions on the ‘do’s and don’ts’ , the ‘what-not-to-wear’, the ‘this season’s must have’ and and and. I’M SO OVER IT.

If I ever start becoming preachy like so many of these articles are, please tell me. 

BUT, in saying all of the above, getting tips from an expert in his/her field is the best way to access any information you need, agreed?

Listening to that expert’s advice is actually a time saver.

For example, when it comes to my home decor, I always ask a friend who is an interior designer to point me in the right direction for what I am looking for. I’m not that bothered and, more importantly, I don’t have the time to trawl the internet for what’s on trend, what fabric can work on x surface, what rug texture is best for x etc. I’d rather ask a trusted source and just go with what she tells me. So, if I am your trusted source when it comes to wardrobes, then read on…

If you want to simplify your life and you’re keen to get cracking with your wardrobe as one element of this process, then I highly recommend following the below steps. Yes, it requires allocating some time to it, but the primary benefit once you’ve done this, is that of time-saving, so it’s worth it!

  1. Take out all the clothes in your wardrobe – in sections e.g. tops. Follow the below steps, then move onto the next section and follow steps 2 – 5 again.
  2. Put back those tops that you LOVE, would buy again, would wear today!
  3. Sort through the remainder and put those tops you definitely dislike into a pile – ready to be donated or perhaps thrown away
  4. With the remainder of the pile, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do I feel good when I wear this item? 
  • When last did I actually wear this item? Can I envisage myself wearing it again?
  • Does this item fit me properly? Is it flattering on my body?
  • Is this item comfortable, or do I want to take it off halfway through the day?
  1. If you answered NO to any of the above questions, it’s time to let go of them. If you still can’t do this, put them into a bag or box, out of the way. Then, if you haven’t thought about any of the items in the box for 6 months, it’s safe to say you can let go of them.
  2. Start with the next section of clothing e.g. pants and follow the same process, then do the same with your shoes, accessories, jackets, knitwear etc.
  3. Once you’re done, spend time organizing your wardrobe in ways that work for you!

I do this wardrobe detox with clients when I go to their homes, so if this is too overwhelming for you to do alone, give me a shout and I can help you. It truly is money well spent. 

Right, so after you’ve completed this process you can pat yourself on the back cause it’s not easy.

But wait, there’s a bit more to do..

If you want to take things a step further and really understand how to build a minimalist wardrobe – a wardrobe that you love, I’ve got some more tips for you to follow. I totally subscribe to Caroline from un-fancy’s approach, and have amended her tips slightly below. 

  1. Take a look at the loved pieces, your favourites. From there build your YES list in terms of fabrics; brands; fit; colours and other stuff like the style of the item e.g. high-waisted skirts or v-neck tees
  2. Take a look at that pile you created of the pieces you don’t wear, and ask yourself why? Write down a NO list (think of all factors e.g. it creases, rides up your tummy, it makes you sweat like a mo-fo, you’re not sure where to wear it etc.)
  3. Look at your lifestyle and your work and think about the different activities you generally do every week e.g. lunch with friends, work from home, yoga, dinners out. Also have a think about what types of special events are in season for you, like 40th’s or weddings etc. Write these down.
  4. Think about the general climate that you live in e.g. Jo’burg winter = sunny warm days, cold mornings and evenings which means that layers are needed. Think about the type of layers for your lifestyle (e.g. jackets – smart vs. cardigans – casual). Write this down!
  5. List the brands you like to shop at or want to shop at (this is an extension of step 1 and 2)
  6. Think about your go-to every day combinations/uniforms e.g.dress + sandals + denim jacket in summer, or denims + ankle boots + jersey in winter  – you’ll see that these combinations generally contain your most loved items from step 1.
  7. Write down a few words that you’d like to associate your style with e.g. bohemian, classic, understated, bold, quirky, effortless, vintage etc.  

Once you’ve considered all of the above you’ll have a sense of what type of wardrobe you’re after, and how you think you want to dress. Pinterest and Instagram are great online platforms for you to browse, you can build a board in Pinterest and this will help to clarify what type of look you like. 

Once you start enjoying the benefits of a minimalist wardrobe, you’ll find it easier and easier to let go of those items that you don’t love, and you’ll find it easier to make the right choices when you next hit the shops.

Let me know if you have a crack at any of the steps I listed above? And again, if this is too daunting for you, give me a shout!




This Article Has 6 Comments
  1. Victoire says:

    This is such a timely article! I am moving house next week and seriously need to declutter my wardrobe! Not sure whether I will get to it before I actually move, but I am looking forward to following your plan step by step.

    I am also looking forward to getting direction from you Pippa, once the dust has settled! xx

    • Pippa says:

      Hi Victoire, I hope it helps you. It will be such a relief to let go of what you aren’t enjoying before you move, and to not be burdened with unpacking a whole lot of stuff you don’t want when you get to your new home! Good luck xx

  2. Bridget says:

    Im going to give this a go next week on whilst on leave!
    Im on a mission to organise, declutter and donate!

  3. Bronwyn Swartz says:

    I absolutely loved the articles and so glad I found your page.
    I’m going through a ‘I’m now in my mid 30s what do I wear phase’.
    Thank you for the tips on decluttering, definitely going to do it over the next few weeks.

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