The Minimalist Wardrobe: How to downsize

When I first started getting interested in a minimalist lifestyle, not buying anything new wasn’t the big difficulty, but how to reduce what I already had. I somewhat followed my instinct, but looking back it could have been easier with more guidance, so I decided to create this small guide to help you downsize your wardrobe.

The Throw-out – This step is important to achieve an overview of your belongings. Go through your entire closet item by item: pants, sweaters, dresses, coats. Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the past year. If you own items you consider investment pieces, but you don’t wear them – put them platforms like ebay, Vestiaire Collective or Trendsales. Getting some money back will make parting much easier. The same goes for cheaper and basic clothes that you don’t really wear anymore. Sell them on a fleamarket or ebay or donate them to local organisations.

Be Honest – Now you should be left with things that you ideally have worn within the past months making this next step significantly harder: Be honest to yourself. Do you need 6 pairs of black jeans? 8 basic shirts? 4 blazers? Pick your favorites of each type and give away the others. How many you may want to keep is up to you and depends on circumstances like your job and hobbies. I don’t need more than 2 blazers, because there’s rarely an occasion for me to wear them. On the other hand I do however need different types of shoes, because I have to go out with my dogs in any type of weather. Try to part with as much as possible, but don’t make it hard for yourself in the beginning as this may kill the the enthusiasm for minimalism.

Style & Matching – If you want to keep downsizing in the long run, you will have to own and invest in pieces that are easily combined with anything in your wardrobe. If you like wearing striped shirts and sneakers, you probably don’t need lacey skirts or colorful sweaters. Instead, basic jeans or a jeans skirt could match. Keeping a few statement pieces isn’t a problem, but I would make these the exception and try to make 85% of the wardrobe compatible. This probably means sticking to few colors – in my case it was black, grey, navy and dark green. One of my statement pieces is a bright red bag, which lightens up all my outfits. Rationally looking at your own style can be tough, so I suggest to do so over a period of a few weeks, closely watching what you wear on a daily basis.

Sort it & Watch it – Find a way to organize your clothes for a visual overview. Sort them by type and color and try to hang as many as you can (I forget about half the items that I have folded somewhere!) The clearer overview and sorting will help you keep track even better of what you’re wearing how often. If you notice an item being worn less, lay it off.

How many clothes should I own? – Some people own no more than 2 items per type, others are content with 5. Personally, I enjoy owning less and less, but this is only possible if you know your style well and have the financial resources to invest in exactly what you want – or already own it. My closet has shrunken in size and grown in quality over a long period of time. Give yourself time and let the minimal lifestyle grow on you.

As mentioned before: Becoming a minimalist is a process. You will grow more and more comfortable with less and less.

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