Wardrobe Case Study: A Minimalist Wardrobe That Works Both in Spain and Russia

The Minimalist Wardrobe

How Alisa turned a closet full of ill-fitting and low quality clothes to a slowly-built minimalist wardrobe, where all items match.


Wardrobe and article by @alisa.koz. Find the itemized list at the end of the article.

Intro: Location and Lifestyle

My name is Alisa, and I'm a Russian living in the Spanish countryside. I used to work as a corporate flight attendant, and now I study Interior Design, dig into astrology for personal development, and work from home – alisakoz.com is my blog.

Moving abroad from a big moody city to a small sunny town and switching activities have drastically changed my style. I still need warm clothing when I visit my family in Moscow, though. There, about nine months a year, you layer on top of layers. Here in Southern Europe, most of the time, a warm jumper would do.


My Old Wardrobe

In Moscow, my style was more formal. I worked in shifts and would fly for two weeks straight, and I had the same wardrobe for both the time on duty and off. My life consisted of hard work and late cocktail parties – all while wearing the same old blouses, cardigans, heels and classic trousers.

I was always so stressed, and the job on a jet was so unpredictable that I often missed an item or two in my suitcase. I'd end up buying something ill-fitting or low quality in the nearest shop wherever I was on a layover. You can imagine how my overall wardrobe looked like, even though I called it classic!

I never had the I-have-nothing-to-wear problem because I didn't care what to wear. No, I didn't like my style. The problem was the never-ending running – somewhere or away from something. I was too overwhelmed to sit down and think: do my clothes reflect who I am?


Going Minimalist

Ironically, my old closet had fewer items than now. Someone might disagree with me when I say I'm a minimalist. But minimalism is about removing everything that distracts us from living intentionally – not just clothes.

Quitting the stressful job, moving abroad, beginning to connect to my true self shed a lot of poisonous things and thoughts from my life. That inner transformation resulted in a slowly-built minimalist wardrobe, where all items match.

It didn't happen fast. I left Moscow late in 2017, and I watched The True Cost documentary about the same time. After that, unintentionally, I went on a no-buy year. Those many months were awkward as I tried to make my old clothes work for the new me in my new home. I just didn't know what, when and how I wanted to buy anymore.


After I stopped buying anything at all, which was easy considering I didn't have a steady income anymore, I decluttered my entire closet and started experimenting with what I had.

In September 2018, I began blogging about ethical fashion and slowly building my current wardrobe from mostly secondhand pieces. Not from scratch! Before selling old clothes, I tested everything I owned through multiple OOTD's, style challenges and even journaling because every item causes an emotion worth reflecting on.


I'm More Aware of How I Feel

How does it make me feel? Does this dress make me feel attractive, empowered, strong? Or does it make me feel not good enough?


Until recently, I held onto items that I didn't like out of guilt of letting them go (a common thing among environmentalists and perfectionists). They were of good quality and looked alright, but I never truly enjoyed wearing them as I didn't trust myself enough to judge what was best for me.


Now I 'scan' my feelings for any sign of discomfort before I commit to a purchase. Often I like something on others more than on myself – like red and orange colours, jewellery, skirts or prints. In the beginning, it was challenging to differentiate what Instagram wanted me to wear from what I truly identified with. But understanding yourself better is a muscle everyone can train!

Just pause and ask yourself, how does it make you feel?

My Current Wardrobe


Today, I divided my wardrobe into four parts, not seasons:


1 – The core, which consists of all-year basics and things like jeans and jumpers that I can wear both in Russia and Spain.

2 – Warmer garments I need in winter (here or there).

3 – Super light clothes for the crazy 6-month long Spanish Summer

4 – Things I consider capsules in themselves: sportswear, loungewear, occasional wear, and 'dirty' clothes for gardening or dog training. These capsules aren't large. I don't need more than two sports bras.


I prefer to display my current capsule (usually between 35-45 pieces) on a clothing rack because I won't wear what I cant see. Despite a piece of popular advice, I began hanging even sweaters. What's the point in preventing stretching if I forget to wear my knits?

Some people ask me why I need several pairs of blue and black jeans. First of all, I think it's my signature item. I will happily give up accessories but keep my denim. And lastly, I easily retain liquid. So depending on how I find myself, I reach for a different fit. The days when I allowed clothes made me feel miserable are gone!

I am very satisfied with my wardrobe now. I still have moments when I think that I should wear dresses more often. Or I sometimes stress that people I'm going to see will be dressed differently. But that's when scanning my feelings comes in handy: why wearing dresses if I prefer jeans? Why do I have to change my style to fit in? The old patterns kick in, but it's part of the game.


Regarding the size of my entire wardrobe, it's under 100 items (excluding the fourth category). I'm transparent about what I own and where it comes from. You can find all the info here.

There's no right or wrong number as long as you can answer why this or that garment is in your closet. If everything serves a purpose and gives you energy instead of draining it, you can be a minimalist with 20 or 100+ items. Minimalism is a state of mind!

Moving Forward

Our wardrobe evolves with us. I don't think I could ever reach a point when I'd be happy with 100% of my clothes. I'm a dedicated ethical fashion advocate, but I believe we should normalize letting go of things when something better comes up, especially if you've already tried to make it work!

Moving forward, I'd like to substitute some things I own with secondhand or ethically-made stuff.

My Advice: Experiment More and Be Kind to Yourself

Everybody's minimizing journey is so different! It's hard to think of advice that would work for everyone. But if I could go back, I'd tell Alisa in 2018 to be even more courageous with her experimentations. She was so fixated on getting the right number of items and building a perfect Instagrammable capsule that it just added unnecessary stress. I would have arrived where I am anyway, but I could be kinder to myself along the way.

So yeah, be kind to yourself. You are unique and amazing, and the world needs everything you have to offer!

Itemized Wardrobe (how I divide it)

Core (all-seasons items)

6 tee-shirts
3 shirts
11 jumpers/sweaters
8 pairs of jeans
2 trousers
1 jumpsuit

Fall-Winter outwear

1 leather jacket
1 suede jacket
3 wool blazers
1 trench
3 coats
1 light puffer
1 extra warm puffer

Spring-Summer outwear

2 denim jackets
3 blazers
1 cardigan
1 fleece button up

Summer clothes

2 sleeveless tops
4 long-sleeved tops
6 dresses
3 shorts
4 trousers
2 pairs of light jeans

Footwear

3 ankle boots
3 loafers
3 low heels
3 sandals
1 pair of sneakers

Bags
2 totes
4 medium handbags
5 small bags (incl. occasional)

Itemized List by Category (if you find that more convenient)

Bottoms:

6 trousers
10 pairs of jeans
3 shorts

Tops:

6 tee-shirts
3 shirts
2 sleeveless tops
4 long-sleeved tops
11 jumpers/sweaters
6 dresses
1 jumpsuit

Outerwear:

1 leather jacket
1 suede jacket
2 denim jakets
6 blazers
1 cardigan
1 fleece button up
1 trench
3 coats
1 light puffer
1 extra warm puffer

Shoes:

3 ankle boots
3 loafers
3 low heels
3 sandals
1 pair of sneakers

Bags:

2 totes
4 medium handbags
5 small bags (incl. occasional)