18.8.14

Introducing my 40 Piece Minimalist Wardrobe

This is my complete wardrobe: 40 pieces including tops, bottoms, coats/jackets and shoes. Now, I'm not claiming to have the smallest wardrobe but I am very pleased to show you that it is possible to reduce your wardrobe to a manageable size. This wardrobe is at least 20% the size of what I owned three years ago. My rationale in creating a smaller wardrobe was to create a flexible, minimalist wardrobe with well-made and well-fitted clothes that I love to wear for work, home and social occasions. After several rounds of Project 333 I know that I can live with a limited amount of clothes and that I've become more skilled in the complex art of compiling a capsule wardrobe. I've reached a point where I want a limited amount of clothes for all seasons in one place. But, could I achieve it? Would I ever stand in front of my dream closet?

I've read a lot about capsule wardrobes and studied lots of beautiful images of pared down closets. To be honest this research has largely held me back and led to a lot of confusion as to what constitutes a minimalist wardrobe.

I considered a monochrome wardrobe, wearing solely black, ditching all skirts and dresses and moving to Sweden or Paris in the hope of a style osmosis. The reality of creating a smaller wardrobe is that you have to work it out for yourself and be realistic about your lifestyle, budget and personal style. I almost persuaded myself at one point to go out and buy a black skirt and white shirt but in the end I realised my navy shirt and patterned tulip skirt were my versions of these said classics. In the end I got brave: it's my wardrobe, my rules.  

To pare down my wardrobe I attacked it in short bursts, really studied the condition and fit of each item, had lots of trying on sessions and wrote list after list. 50 items was easy to achieve but I wanted to challenge myself to get nearer to 30. In the end I've settled for 40 items. I feel my wardrobe is balanced, coordinated and reflects me. There are more basics and more monochrome pieces than ever before but also room for some of my favourite soft blues, purples and greens. I've ditched white trousers, camel, teal, lots of patterned pieces and pricey items that just don't feel right. I have 9 bottoms and exactly twice that amount of tops which gives me a Gok gold star and more outfit combinations than I've yet had time to try. 

Yes, girlfriend this really does feel like a new wardrobe. 

A complete clear out and clean of the space, new wooden hangers and hanging rails for accessories really helped to turn my wardrobe into my dream armoire. 

My 40 items:
1. Blue skinny jeans (M&S)
2. Blue bootcut jeans (Next)
3. Black work trousers(Next)
4. Black smart trousers (Principles by John Rocha)
5. Black linen trousers (F&F)
6. Black jeggings (M&S)
7. Black/grey linen skirt (M&S)
8. Tulip skirt (Laura Ashley)
9. Pink velour skirt (Seasalt)
10. Green cotton summer dress (Laura Ashley)
11. White v-neck t-shirt (Boden)
12. Grey v-neck t-shirt (Boden)
13. Black v-neck t-shirt (Boden)
14. Blue modal light blue round neck t-shirt (Gok for TU)
15. Purple draped t-shirt (Laura Ashley)
16. White/black stripe 3/4 length sleeved top (Gap)
17. Black /white stripe 3/4 length sleeved top (Gap)
18. Coral sequin 3/4 length top (M&S)
19. Navy smart blouse (M&S)
20. Purple linen grandad shirt (Wallis)
21. Check blue/green check casual shirt (F&F)
22. Black round neck long sleeved t-shirt (Next)
23. Blue round neck long sleeved top with cuff detail (M&S)
24. Light blue round neck long sleeved top (M&S)
25. Green striped woollen tunic (Seasalt)
26. Grey cashmere cardigan (F&F)
27. Blue cardigan (New Look)
28. Black boyfriend cardigan (M&S)
29. Black blazer (F&F)
30. Black biker jacket (M&S)
31. Purple gilet (Gap)
32. Blue storm coat (Berghaus)
33. Purple parka (M&S)
34. Olive green cord coat (M&S)
35. Black and cream ballet flats (Debenhams)
36. Flat sandals (local boutique)
37. Black small heeled brogues (Rieker)
38. Brown Chelsea boot (Next)
39. Purple patent Birkinstocks
40. Black tapered heel ankle boot (M&S)

Most of my unwanted clothes have been sold or donated but It does take time so some items are still waiting to be cleared. My enthusiasm for car boot sales, charity shop drop offs and Ebay is waning as once my shopping sprees did. 

Have you made any recent reductions to your wardrobe? What's the biggest hurdle in downsizing your clothes collection? I'd love to hear. More minimalist wardrobe outfit updates to follow.




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32 comments

  1. How liberating. I should like to give it a try.

    Jean x

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    Replies
    1. Jean, I think the easiest way to start is to put some clothes away in storage somewhere in the house and try living without them for a fixed time. More space, organisation and happiness that I'm wearing the right clothes for me is liberating xo

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  2. I had a huge shopping problem. I have donated at least 5000 items and am finally beginning to see some change, like you, 50 items would be sufficient for me, I just have to keep going, eBay does my head in!

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  3. I had a huge shopping problem. I have donated at least 5000 items and am finally beginning to see some change, like you, 50 items would be sufficient for me, I just have to keep going, eBay does my head in!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, 50 items can produce a flexible wardrobe for a variety of occasions. I'm so glad my mindless shopping days are a thing of the past too. Good luck with your editing :-)

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  4. Oh how I do admire you, I cannot seem to let go of my clothes which I know is silly. I would like toward doing what you have. Perhaps a good place to start for me would be to look at those blogs sites where they put together a basic wardrobe for traveling, lots of mix and match items. Anyway, well done to you! :)
    Anne xx

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  5. I also meant to ask, do you have accessories like scarves, costume jewellery to add to your outfits. I love scarves, to me they are the ultimate accessory.
    Anne xx

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    1. Yes, I have several scarves and a small jewellery collection. I've now got my scarves stored in my wardrobe and because they're easily accessible I find it easier to add them to an outfit. I'm discovering new combinations I'd never tried before just because they're so easy to pull out when I pick a top to wear.

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  6. Love it Claire! You did it, and kept your own style!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Laura - I'm more than happy with this amount of clothes and with the ones I've chosen to keep. You've been a great inspiration to me x

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  7. Hey Claire,
    I am a total impulse buyer, and I also 'treat' myself when I'm feeling down in the dumps. My clothes also show me how much my body shape and weight has changed since having Olly, a fact that I loathe but can't seem to change. When I look inside my wardrobe I feel a mixture of horror and guilt! There are so many clothes that I will never wear, and yet I can't seem to let them go. The daft thing is that living in Cornwall means that I spend most of my days in jeans and either wellies or flip flops depending on the weather. Your wardrobe is very inspiring, but I'm not sure I have the confidence in myself and my body to do it.
    Leanne xx

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  8. Good job, well done you, you are left with some really lovely things. I'm terrible at getting rid of things that I think I might wear one day. Another six months goes by, and I still think, "It might come in handy..." I don't have any money for clothes, so in fact it might come in useful.

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  9. Well done Claire! I am hopeless at getting rid of clothes and my weight fluctuates so much that I have 3 of everything. I do really need to get my act together. x

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  10. A very inspirational post. I would love to do something similar, but I'm not sure I have your self discipline. I like your choices though. There's a really good mix. Life would just be too dull without some patterns and colours in your wardrobe.

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  11. Thanks for sharing this. I have about half this amount as I have lost a lot of weight and as I slim out of stuff I chuck it out. I limited colour choice as after my illness I could not differentiate colours so I made sure everything goes with everything else including jewellry and accessories.This made life so easy I have stuck to many of the capsule wardrobe ideas - even though I am a lot better seeing colours.
    Loving your posts.
    Lynn.

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  12. I'm with you, Claire - 40 pieces is all you need. I've had more in my wardrobe in the past, all stuff I never wore. What a waste of space. Then I sorted it all out, sent loads to the thrift shop, and felt all the better for it. xxx

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  13. I love these posts Claire. Will you be doing one on accessories/jewellery?

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  14. Congratulations Claire on your 40 piece minimalist wardrobe!
    Opening your closet and feeling so happy with the pieces that you have chosen to suit you and your lifestyle must be a wonderful feeling.
    I'm still working on reducing my wardrobe (finding it hard to let go of dressier pieces that are no longer needed in my current lifestyle) so thank you for providing further inspiration.

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  15. Oh wow! That's brilliant you have been able to do that.
    I am becoming stricter with my wardrobe and recently had a massive clear out.
    Currently also have lots of accessories on ebay..... Getting there.
    Love these posts, Vikki xx

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  16. 40 is a very impressive number, especially since it includes footwear and jackets! I am still gradually trimming back from 150 items.

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  17. Wow Claire very impressive! Although I do think this is easier if you are a constant dress size - unlike many of us. What about your comfy / scruffy clothes - or do you not have any ?

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    Replies
    1. oh yes, I really have to take care of my clothes now so I have scruffy clothes for gardening and cleaning and then my exercise clothes double up as comfy/leisure clothes.These fit in one draw of my chest of drawers.

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  18. After doing three rounds of Project 333, I found it really liberating, then somehow it all went to pot this Summer. I think a 50 piece wardrobe of all season clothes is probably a better idea for me. I hate the thought of packed away clothes sat in a suitcase under the bed not being used. Time for me to spring into action again I think.
    Seeing your clothes hung so neatly makes choosing what to wear a pleasure doesn't it.

    You have done really well, it's very inspirational. xx

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  19. Thanks Sue, I've got to that stage too this year and just want all my clothes in one place, neatly hung and organised - a daily pleasure. Now when there's a spare hanger I can name the missing item and return it back to its place on the rail! 50 pieces is a great number and not at all restrictive if you've done Project 333. Good luck xo

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  20. Hi Claire, I always come here and find myself inspired. My wardrobe has become clogged again and as a result of that, find myself wearing the same few items that go round and around in the washing machine! Which means I'm probably down to about 10 items! But it all feels very unimaginative. This always happens.....time to sort the wardrobe! X

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  21. Your 40 piece wardrobe looks great! I've been getting into minimalism for about a year now, and have been working on paring down my wardrobe. It's been getting smaller and smaller, and I love that feeling when I donate more items and have that bit less clutter!
    I'm in the UK and it's great to find another UK minimalist blog, as I'm finding they are quite rare! It seem to be more of an American thing at the moment.
    Hope to see lots of examples of your minimalist wardrobe!
    Maria

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    Replies
    1. I love that feeling as well. Freeing up space and donating makes me feel lighter!

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  22. I know this post is old but it's helpful to me.

    You stated: "I've read a lot about capsule wardrobes and studied lots of beautiful images of pared down closets. To be honest this research has largely held me back and led to a lot of confusion as to what constitutes a minimalist wardrobe."

    You have read my mind! Project 333, Unfancy, and other blogs and some YouTube videos on capsules are great jumping off points if you're starting from scratch. However, I found that the information and viewpoints presented caused me to spend more money, not less. I like the idea of 40 items for all seasons. None of this boxing items away and not counting shoes and coats business. You have inspired me! I have your blog bookmarked on my computer. I pared down to 40 items as well!! Like you I don't count my five pieces of jewelry in that number, my 1 winter hat, 1 winter scarf, 1 fashion scarf, my 1 pair of deep snow boots, my 1 purse or my 1 tote because my "extras" are so small. I also own two special occasion dresses. One for cool weather, one for warm weather. I only wear those for weddings or formal concerts. I can't really count them in my capsule because I only wear them once a year, if that. But if I counted all of that I would be at 53 which is still an awesome number and much better than the seven garbage bags of clothes I consigned and donated.

    This small wardrobe is a big deal for me because I used to have a shopping addiction and minimalism has helped me to overcome it.

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  23. Interesting post! I have given minimalism a try and culled my closet before, but although I still have a lot of items, I am getting to a point where I am not sure I could downsize much more (need stuff for work, fun, exercizing, weddings...). Any advice for people like me who have very different areas of their lives for which clothes don't really overlap?

    Best,
    Marie

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  24. I really love this! I've been thinking about reducing my wardrobe for so long now. Like you, I own so much and wear so little of it. Seeing how you have managed to do it, I really think I might finally have a go myself now. Thanks for the idea!

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  25. It's great that you have managed to pare down your wardrobe to the essentials. I culled a few times but I still have quite a bit to do. I am getting more and more satisfied with my own wardrobe though, which I can say is an improvement. I used to have so much I never wore! Anyway, great job!!

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  26. My biggest problem is Laundry (or lack of a washing machine in my apartment.) This leads to buying duplicate white tees etc. On the flip side, my cat puts toenail holes in my clothes, and stains happen which has made editing a no brainer!

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