Minimalist Monday: How to Fill the Gaps in Your Wardrobe

So you've got the perfect jeans, a classic trench and the ultimate court shoe but what about the basics? Do you have enough plain black socks, proper fitting underwear and basic good quality jersey tops in a variety of neutral colours and sleeve lengths?

No... me neither.

I'm proud of my wardrobe and the way I've managed to streamline it in recent years. I have some lovely individual pieces and a core of tunics, trousers and skirts to build a capsule wardrobe on. Every item in my wardrobe fits, is loved and gets worn enough times to validate its existence. 

But what about the basics? The vest tops, the t shirts and the long sleeved jersey tops that go with everything? 

Hmm...  these are sadly lacking in my wardrobe.

In my past spendthrift days I've been too much of a magpie, coveting and collecting the glory pieces: the sensationally shaped tulip skirt, the studded jeans and missoni like tunic. Shopping for basics has always seemed too boring.

I admit I've ignored this important part of my wardrobe and my clothes are beginning to whimper, nay shout, that they need some consolidation. In other words I need some basic pieces: socks, underwear and jersey tops (vests, t shirts, three quarter length and long sleeved) in a range of neutral colours. Like most people I can't afford to build a new wardrobe from scratch and therefore have to work around existing favourites. The bottoms that I own are not all the same colour and some are patterned so I could really do with a range of plain tops to pull them all together. The few plain black tops that I do own are beginning to look worn and will need replacing soon. Replacing basics is I realise a fundamental part of maintaining a reduced wardrobe.

My dilemma is that I also need a party/smart outfit for at least one Christmas/New Year event. Or is this a want? Surely I can wear what I wore last year or be thrifty and bag a bargain bonanza somewhere/somehow? I love the challenge of a bargain outfit or reinventing last year's Christmas outfit. I had this same dilemma last year and solved it by updating my wardrobe with a piece that wasn't solely party wear and could be worn more than once. 

Right now I am committed to building the basics in my wardrobe and compiling a list of the good quality essential pieces that I need. I won't shop for them all at once but will forgo other wardrobe purchases until these are met. Meanwhile my wants (a.k.a. the party outfit) will have to be governed by serendipity, creativity and the bargain bin.

My wardrobe gaps

plain v neck jersey tops in black, white and grey
t shirts in black, white and grey
cotton camisoles in black, white and grey
black socks
underwear in black and white 
new black flats (patent?)
black/grey ankle boots
a dress for autumn/winter (smart day wear)

Not very exciting, eh? But these pieces will give my wardrobe and everyday life a lift and a little more harmony.

I like the sound of that, a harmonious wardrobe. Woo hoo! Why didn't I think of that earlier?

Over to you, my friends. 

Have you built your wardrobe on basics or frivolous purchases? Does your wardrobe need consolidation like mine? What are your wardrobe gaps? 




  1. Oh so many gaps in my wardrobe. I rarely have the money for new clothes, so I'm limited to what I find. But that's okay, I don't feel too hard done by! I would rather buy a nicely made second-hand thing than a cheap new one.

  2. I mostly have the basics I need but there are a few gaps. I would really like a good tailored jacket, preferably in black or navy. I think I could use more classic shoe styles/colors as well.

  3. since its summer here now I can get away with wearing v little and need very little,such is the bonus of living in a hot climate. you dont need much, yet my wardrobe is stuffed full of some things that dont look very good together. But thats ok as I'm new to this and working very hard to get on the more streamlined wardrobe path! taking note from what you say here!

  4. I recently took part in the UN general assembly and having been a student for the past 7 years I really did not have _anything_ suitable to wear. Along spending half of my first pay in "adult wear" as I call the expensive smart outfits I also invested into a couple of plain black tops. That has been the best choice in a long time! They are great for smart, casual, business, UN, basically anything.

  5. Another great post on your wardrobe. I had the same dilemma with my basics too. I went to T K Max and bought some Calvin Klein black socks which weren't much more expensive than my old ones and are so much better quality. I try to find quality at a good price! Sarah x

  6. I have been trying to live a minimalist life for a long while now so my wardrobe has the basics but not much black and grey as I like colour. So I have black trousers but jewel tone tops which suit my colouring better.

  7. I have all the basics and nothing else! Something to work on in 2014.

  8. I have to much, I need to get ride of the crap I don't wear.

  9. While I am sure I still have too much, I have scaled down a lot... I still miss some things, but most of them are rather "wants" than real "needs". I find it also easier to shop now as I am more conscientious on the wardrobe I am trying to build... Yet I lack of some basics... Good warm socks as well as tights and long/short sleeves thermal and cami...
    As for party wear, I have a couple of items that I can use with classic ones that make a party feeling. For example I have a velvet bolero that I can wear on a dress or /trousers-top that brings a party feeling...

  10. I used to be terrible for impulse buying. Now I really think about what I need and try to stick to it.

    Leanne xx

  11. I'm with Lynn - I have reduced my wardrobe but my basics tend to be colourful. Except that I will wear a black long-sleeve (thermo!) T with black leggings and have a few very light, colourful gauzy tunics that I can wear for variation, and this is a good travel wardrobe because the tunics take up almost no room and can be scrunched. Add boots or ballerinas, done.
    Otherwise, one of my basics is an orange skirt… I like red, orange, burgundy, green, navy… and I don't think I usually look like a dog's dinner ;o Perhaps you can avoid buying something new - I recently wore a plain black jersey dress with red tights and a red belt and it looked pretty Christmassy!! Sometimes all you need is a some accessories in a seasonal color or style. Anyway, I bet nobody remembers what you wore last year!
    Love your wardrobe posts :)

  12. Hello! Another Sarah here suggesting a trip to TK Maxx. Not to stock up on 'bargains' (eye-catching but quickly tired of) but for some good quality basics.
    I used to love clothes shopping. Now traipsing around the Trafford Centre - or a similar temple to consumerism - is my idea of hell! Not that I have the option these days as I'm at home with my little one and not earning all that spending money!
    I love a good clear-out but still have lots of things from my shopaholic days. Fortunately most are great quality so have lasted a long time. I'd recommend M&S for underwear, Benetton for knitwear and Gap or Zara for basics.
    Even better - I've started knitting things like hats, scarves and wristwarmers. Next challenge: a jumper. Wool's not cheap but what better incentive to keep a garment for years - something unique you made yourself?
    Good luck - and if you fancy something new for the festive season, why not? It's only once a year after all x

  13. I have all the basics, but lately I've been feeling very somber because of my all-neutral color scheme. I don't like when my mood changes with what I am wearing because I am usually wearing beiges, black, or grey (very dull!). It seems as I get older (almost 50), the more uplifting colors I want, at least near my face. I may jump off the neutral chic bandwagon and welcome happier, more flattering colors. By the way, have you read the book 'Color Me Beautiful'? It is an older one but still very relevant today to assist in finding wardrobe colors that flatter (summer, spring, winter, or fall types). I found the book at the library - hooray for free, love that!

  14. Oh yes. You've basically described my current wardrobe dilemma. I really, really need new underwear (bras, pants, socks, the lot),some vests, short and long sleeved t-shirts...and some new winter boots. Knee high, flat, brown leather, versatile and comfy. Our current budget has made me wear and wear every last piece to death and value those basics more than ever. I've said no to all Christmas gatherings and parties this year, so have no need for sparkle (much as I'd dearly love some!) but I really do need to go to M&S and stock up on pants!

    Good luck with your shopping - I hope there is room for some festive party wear in among those necessary essentials. xx


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