Wardrobe Case Study: A Neutral Wardrobe With Pops of Color

The Minimalist Wardrobe

How needing a work-appropriate wardrobe in her early twenties led to Jessica building a considered and cohesive wardrobe that allows her to feel in control.

Wardrobe and article by @jessica.harumi. Find the itemized list at the end of the article.

Intro: Lifestyle and Location

My name is Jessica (@jessica.harumi on Instagram), and I’m located in the Southeast US in Atlanta, GA. The climate is very hot, sunny and humid from May to September. It rains throughout the year and gets quite cold in the winter.

I’m currently self employed and working from home. I spend a lot of time indoors during the week and prioritize comfort overall.

My Old Wardrobe

My wardrobe consisted of lots of dressier pieces that didn’t reflect my lifestyle. I lacked good wardrobe basics like plain t-shirts. My personal style was somewhat trend focused, and I struggled to put together outfits that matched my environment/ lifestyle.

I also felt like I never had anything to wear and I would cycle through cheap clothing frequently. I owned a lot of pieces that were ill-fitting or uncomfortable. I was also transitioning from student life to entering into the job market and struggled to translate my personal style into workwear.

As Many Others, I Needed a Work-Appropriate Wardrobe

I first started simplifying my wardrobe because I needed to build a work-appropriate wardrobe in my early 20s. I didn’t have much of a clothing budget to devote to this, but started making more conscious shopping choices so I could invest in higher quality, more classic pieces.

I started researching capsule wardrobes and my personal style to determine which pieces to invest in. Through the process of creating a capsule wardrobe I started learning more about sustainable fashion and slowly made the transition towards quitting fast fashion. 

I Felt Empowered and In Control

The desire to simplify my wardrobe came from a place of complete frustration surrounding my finances and a lack of self confidence in my look and how I presented myself professionally.

Once I started making an effort to shop more consciously, I felt like I had gained some control over my spending habits and had a stronger sense of my personal style so the process became very empowering. It was also a learning process and allowed me to devote time and energy into something that I love.

It felt a little bittersweet to part with clothing items that I loved but ultimately never wore. Changing my relationship with clothing and how I enjoyed fashion was an a-ha moment for me and overall a very freeing and cathartic experience. 

Now My Wardrobe is Considered, But a Work in Progress

My wardrobe now is very cohesive in style and colorlots of neutrals with some pops of color here and there.

I have lots of similar types of itemsthe types of pieces I wear the mostsuch as crew neck cuts, basic tees, knitwear and straight leg denim. There are very few gaps in it where I feel like I still need something. I’m overall extremely satisfied with it. 

I think the size of my wardrobe hasn’t actually decreased much from before (as it was quite small to begin with) but there is so much more cohesion within my wardrobe now and I wear a much larger percentage of it regularly than I did in the past.

Considering my work in fashion, I think it’s a relatively small wardrobe and very edited and considered. That said, I don't really know if my wardrobe is considered minimalist by most standards, and going through photographing and itemizing, I saw places that could definitely use some pairing down.

Moving Forward

I’d like to leave more room for experimentation, introduce a bit more color and variety in shapes/styles. I think I’ve become a bit too comfortable with my tried and tested pieces so I’d like to challenge myself to be more creative.

When I do add something to my wardrobe, I tend to stick with the same neutral color palette and certain silhouettes so I’d like to branch out a bit more and avoid adding too similar items. 

My Advice: Work With What You Have and Take it Slow

I think it’s important to avoid the desire to purge everything and start completely from scratch. Chances are you can probably get a good sense of your personal style just by assessing what you already own.

Work to edit down and enhance your existing wardrobe. Pinpoint and visually separate your most worn pieces. This works as the base or core of your wardrobe. From there it’s easier to see where there are gaps in your wardrobe and which secondary pieces will help enhance your core pieces.

I also suggest waiting a month or so before deciding to donate. It helps to sit with those pieces for a while to determine why they don’t work for you so that you don’t go out and rush to replace them with something else that doesn’t work.

Creating a functional wardrobe should be a slow and ongoing process in my opinion. 

Itemized List

Tops

  • 2 Camisoles
  • 7 Short Sleeve Tees
  • 4 Long Sleeve Tees
  • 15 Shirts/Blouses

Bottoms & Dresses

  • 8 Jeans
  • 4 Pants
  • 1 Shorts
  • 1 Skirt
  • 9 Dresses

Knitwear

  • 6 Cardigans
  • 2 Sweatshirts
  • 3 Light Sweaters
  • 3 Heavy Sweaters

Outerwear

  • 4 Lightweight Jackets
  • 1 Blazer
  • 2 Leather Jackets
  • 2 Trench Coats
  • 1 Long Coat

Shoes

  • 1 Sneakers
  • 2 Clogs
  • 1 Mules
  • 3 Loafers
  • 5 Boots
  • 6 Sandals

Handbags

  • 3 Tote Bags
  • 5 Crossbody Bags
  • 3 Top Handle/Shoulder Bags
  • 2 Straw Bags