Create Your Very Own Minimalist Wardrobe
Make your own precise and functional wardrobe using our step by step guide.

The Guide that Works for Everyone

Minimizing your wardrobe might sound like an overwhelming task, and it is — if you aren’t equipped with the correct approach.

Fortunately, we’ve polled and talked with thousands of people about their wardrobe struggles, in order to create a step-by-step guide method which will work for anyone.

Whether you dress in black or blue, grunge or formalwear, this guide is for you.

Editor’s Note

Before diving into the guide, if you have an iPhone, there’s a useful app called Cladwell that helps you with this exact process. App Store link here.

The 7 day free trial will be enough to take you through the initial decluttering. For help with outfits and wardrobe additions, you’ll need the app for a longer time. It’s $59 per year, which likely will be well worth it for most people reading this guide.

We will be referencing Cladwell throughout this article, but this whole method can be done with a simple notepad too.

(Full disclosure: we receive a commission of app subscriptions.)

A Step by Step Guide to Creating a Minimal Wardrobe

1. List Every Piece of Clothing You Own

It begins with knowing what you own. The first step is to go through your current wardrobe. Take out every item of clothing from your closet one by one. Ask yourself with every piece if it’s something you enjoy wearing. If it’s a yes, or even a maybe, write it down and put it back in the closet.

Editor’s Note

If you’re using Cladwell to plan your wardrobe, add everything to your “closet” in the app. There’s a huge selection of pieces to pick from, but if you can’t find a specific item, you can always add your own photos.

Only a definitive ‘no’ at this point should result in a garment being discarded. There is no need to log these items; just put them in a pile as you sort them.

Once you’ve finished sorting and marking, put all the immediately discarded items in a box. We’ll walk you through later how to get rid of it responsibly.

2. Categorize Your Clothes

Which situations do you need clothes for? The next step is to create various occasions for wear. Some easy examples include:

  • Home
  • Casual
  • Formal
  • Events

It’s up to you to decide where activities such as going to work, running errands, going out for lunch or attending parties fall into. You can also be more granular, if that makes more sense for you.

If you want to take this a step further, you can do a seasonal version of each category, i.e:

  • Summer Casual
  • Fall Casual
  • Winter Casual
Editor’s Note

Cladwell allows you to create capsules for each category. You’re free to assign an item to as many capsules as you want.

After the categorization, assign each piece of clothing in your wardrobe under a category. There’s no limit to how many categories a garment can belong to.

This is the second chance to weed out clothes that don’t get used. Although you might enjoy wearing a piece of clothing, it might not fit your lifestyle. If you can’t assign a piece of clothing in any listed categories, it can safely be discarded.

3. Create Your Outfits

Your clothes need to combine well. Keep this in mind when choosing items. There’s no point in buying something that doesn’t go with the rest of your wardrobe.

First, see which outfits can be created using clothes you already own. Pick a category and start putting together outfits for it. Make sure each outfit is something you’ll enjoy wearing.

Take mirror selfies during the process. You need to be able to reflect on each choice. Write down each outfit combination.

Editor’s Note

You can put together outfits in Cladwell, and the app suggests various combinations (based on weather) for you.

It’s easy to experiment with new outfits by adding clothes to your virtual closet, before actually buying them. That way you’ll make more informed clothing purchases.

Some pieces may not combine too well with your overall wardrobe, but don’t put them in the discard pile just yet. You might unlock plenty of new outfits with just a couple key investments.

4. Log & Analyze What You’re Wearing

Now you’ve got a good list of outfits in theory, but you need to see how those work in practice. Log what you’re wearing each day, and review after a few months.

Editor’s Note

Cladwell allows you to log your outfits and review what you’ve worn later. You’ll be able to track the percentage of your wardrobe you’ve actually worn.

After a couple months, single out choices which were worn the least. Ask yourself why this happened. Were other outfits better or more versatile? Was one of your listed categories too infrequent? Was it weather related? Perhaps you simply didn’t enjoy the outfit…

This is a good time to evaluate which items may not be good choices for your wardrobe — but there’s no pressure to get rid of everything you didn’t wear. Legitimate reasons for not wearing something for a couple of months exist.

Looking at your dressing behavior gives you the most honest results. You’ll want to look at outfits that you wore most frequently too. This is how you’ll discover what you like and feel confident wearing. This is how you’ll discover your own style.

Quick Recap

  • You’ve discarded items of clothing which you don’t enjoy wearing.
  • You’ve discarded everything you simply don’t need.
  • You’ve created outfits for each category of your life.
  • You’ve logged worn outfits for a month or two, and analyzed the results.
  • You’re at a point now where you have a really good understanding over your current wardrobe. You know what you enjoy, and what actually gets worn.
  • Clothes that don’t serve you are in your discard box.

Congratulations. You’re far further than most people. Now it’s time for the final step.

5. Fill in the Gaps

Were there occasions which you didn’t own suitable outfits for? Take a closer look at your categories.

You probably have an unowned piece of clothing in mind already — and even if you didn’t — a good trick is to pre-add items to your wardrobe in Cladwell (works on paper too, it’s just a little harder to visualize) before you buy them. This way you’ll be able to try and test different combinations.

Getting into the habit of theoretically combining a clothing item with your existing wardrobe before buying it makes impulse buys almost impossible. It mitigates the risk of buying something that won’t get worn.

That said, don’t be too afraid of making a mistake. Even the most devout minimalists sometimes buy something they won’t end up needing or enjoying.

Some of our favorite places to find clothing are:

  • thredUP — Online secondhand store with a thorough vetting process, great selection, and good prices. US and Canada only.
  • Everlane — One of the frontrunners of direct-to-consumer clothing brands, removing the added retail costs. Huge selection of classic pieces, with good reviews. Strives for transparency in sustainability and ethical manufacturing. US based, worldwide shipping.
  • Kotn — Closest to perfect essentials we’ve seen. Sustainably and ethically made. Canada based, worldwide shipping.
  • Warp + Weft — Our go-to place for responsibly manufactured denim. Good selection and very size inclusive. Everything is under $100. US based, ships to +20 countries.
  • VETTA Capsule — The queen of versatility. Pieces that can be worn in more ways that you’d imagine. High quality, sustainably and ethically made. US based, ships to +40 countries.

Final Words

No wardrobe will ever be complete. Your life will change, and most garments will eventually need to be replaced. Some of your preferences may develop and change too.

A minimalist wardrobe, however, requires very little effort once you’ve gone through the above process.

Now it’s about keeping it up to speed with your lifestyle. Good luck!

Read Next
How to Discard Your Unwanted Clothes Responsibly
Sell, donate, repurpose, or recycle — used clothes are never trash.