Wardrobe Case Study: A Smart Casual, 4 Season, Minimalist Wardrobe

The Minimalist Wardrobe

How simplifying her wardrobe gave Anna more time, creativity, awareness, and confidence.

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

Intro: Location and Lifestyle

My name is Anna (@somethingwhite on Instagram) and I’m from Poland. For the past eight years I worked in the area of HR and Recruitment (several years in a corporation), but last year I quit my job to fulfill my dreams. Now I work in an ethical, local fashion brand—Bombshe—where I take part in a creating environmentally friendly, high quality clothes.

The climate in Poland is continental, with cold winters, often below freezing (0 °C/32 °F), and warm summers. The weather is cold and dull for half the year so sweaters, boots, outwear are essential.

At my previous work I had to look elegant and formal so I have quite a lot blazers, shirts and pumps. My current job does not require any dress code but I still like a smart casual style.

Privately, I’m a passionate traveler, the lover of the city bustle and simple food.

My Old Wardrobe

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had very few clothes. When I was a child and in my teens, it mainly followed from the fact that my parents are minimalists.

When I became self-dependent and started studying in a large city, I strayed off the course of sensible shopping. A greater accessibility to cool shops definitely had its share in it and due to that I started buying more and more. That was not carefully thought out shopping and I was often guided by the look of clothes put on a dummy or another person wearing something interesting.

Although I can’t say my taste wasn’t good, as I did wear really nice clothes back then, unfortunately I wasn’t always comfortable with wearing the clothes. My wardrobe was filled to the brim and when push came to shove, I felt like I had nothing to wear. I always missed something, and the clothes I was buying were not perfect as I didn’t pay too much attention to the quality or comfort. I also didn’t allow myself enough time to think the purchases over as I ripped the price tags off right away.

Going Minimalist

After a few years I was tired of buying clothes that I didn't like afterwards.

I ended up observing other girls and wondering how they managed to look good and seemingly comfortable in an effortless way, as if their outfit was somehow part and parcel of their bodies.

That was the exact result I wanted to achieve. I wanted the feeling of my clothing being part of me.

One day, about 8 years ago, I decided to change my shopping habits and downsize my closet. That’s when my fully conscious path to find my own style and build the ideal wardrobe begun.

The first thing I did was clear the wardrobe. I divided all my clothes into 3 groups:

- “I like it and wear it”
- “I wear it but there’s something wrong with it”
- “I don’t wear it”

Then I took a closer look at each group looking for features which made the clothes pleasant or unpleasant to wear. 

Building my capsule wardrobe, at least in the beginning, was unusually challenging. I had to learn how to limit my shopping, understand fabrics better, and to buy consciously.

The most difficult thing for me was the transitional stage. When general tidying was already over and behind me, I downsized the wardrobe but some clothes were still missing.

The Benefits I Get From My Current Wardrobe

Now my wardrobe includes all my favourite clothes. I have what I need, I feel good wearing my clothes, I think twice before buying anything new, and I am happy because of that.

Amy Fine Collins once said that opening up your closet should be like arriving at a really good party where everyone you see is someone you like, which is what I’ve been guided by.

I see many benefits from a smaller wardrobe.

First of all, more time. Thinking about how much time I’m able to save getting dressed each morning makes me so grateful that I once changed my shopping habits. No longer do I wander aimlessly around the shopping center before every special occasion, looking for something appropriate to wear. I simply pick something from my wardrobe. All my “I’ve got nothing to wear” problems have gone away and my needs are much fewer. The amount of time that I’ve saved is truly priceless.

Secondly, more ideas. A well balanced wardrobe, containing only what’s needed and used, allows me to have a more control over my clothes and gives me plenty of opportunities. I’m able to create many cool sets out of several items of clothing, and as the amount of clothes is being limited, my creativity is growing. 

Thirdly, more awareness. Not only do I mean spent money and the quality of clothes that I wear, but also the impact the textile industry has on the environment and working conditions.

Lastly, only including my favourite clothes in my wardrobe increased my self-confidence, and a reasonable approach to shopping taught me assertiveness.

Moving forward, I want to buy even more consciously, supporting local and ethical fashion companies instead of big brands. That’s my goal for the upcoming years.

My Advice: Focus on the Process, Not the End Goal

How quickly you can build a capsule wardrobe is very individual and dependent on many factors, but you have to remember that it’s neither a race nor a task to fulfill. It’s a process, which continues all along.

Even when you reach the stage at which your wardrobe is properly arranged, feels complete, and contains all the necessary clothes, it won’t be final. Clothes, even of the best quality, will get worn out someday and will need to be exchanged for new ones. So the harsh truth is that building a capsule wardrobe will never come to an end.

But don’t worry! It’s easy to become hooked on lesser quantity and better quality, resulting in a lot of positive changes almost right away. And the process becomes easier and more natural everyday.

The end goal shouldn’t be to build a capsule wardrobe, but to change your shopping habits in a way where a simple wardrobe is created by itself. That’s what I encourage everyone to aim for, because that’s when you don’t have to force yourself into anything. It’s a state where rational shopping has already gotten in your blood and it’s simply the obvious thing for you now.

Good luck! If you're interested in diving deeper in my shopping habits and ay to approach my wardrobe, I've written an ebook on the matter.

Itemized Wardrobe

Bottoms:

> 4 pairs of jeans
> 2 pairs of elegant pants
> 1 pair of casual pants
> 1 pair of sweatpants
> 3 skirts
> 2 pairs of shorts

Tops:

> 3 cardigans
> 3 turtlenecks
> 8 jumpers
> 4 sweatshirts
> 3 shirts
> 6 blazers
> 3 tops
> 4 t-shirts
> 2 elegant dresses
> 1 midi dress
> 2 summer dresses

Outerwear:

> 1 denim jacket
> 1 leather jacket
> 1 puffer jacket
> 1 parka
> 2 coats

Shoes:

> 3 pairs of boots
> 1 pair of moccasins
> 2 pairs of pumps
> 2 pairs of low heeled shoes
> 2 pairs of high heeled sandals
> 1 pair of flat sandals
> 2 pairs of trainers
> 1 pair of ballet flats

Bags:

> 2 shopper bags
> 3 shoulder bags
> 1 elegant handbag