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Minimalist Wardrobe Checklist: the Essentials You Need

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Taking a minimalist approach to fashion and style is fast becoming a really popular way to live, and a minimalist wardrobe checklist is now an essential for anyone looking to steer away from fast fashion. 

These days we’re all more exposed to minimalist lifestyles through social media, which can be really inspiring. Everyone is also becoming more aware of the environmental and financial impact of consumerism

Because of this, a minimalist capsule wardrobe can be a really good idea. 

A minimalist wardrobe is a collection of clothes that is intentionally curated to be as small and functional as possible. 

It’s based on the idea that less is more, and that by owning fewer clothes, you can be more selective about what you wear and feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin.

There are so many benefits to this lifestyle choice, so if you’re looking to declutter your current wardrobe then this minimalist wardrobe checklist is your perfect starting point. 

Here are the minimalist wardrobe essentials you need so you only hold on to quality items and statement pieces that will take you through all four seasons. These essentials will stand the test of time and ensure you’ve always got a great outfit at the ready, no matter if you’re going to a party or just popping to the grocery store.

capsule wardrobe featuring mix and match items of clothing

Pants and skirts

Pants and jeans are essential items of clothing but often we can just have too many of them in our closet. You don’t need ten pairs of denim jeans and black pants. For a minimalist closet stick to the following:

  • A classic pair of jeans that will work well for everyday wear
  • Black skinny jeans
  • Khaki or chino pants
  • Tailored trousers: black is the most useful color to own
  • Black leggings
  • Wide-leg trousers
  • Denim shorts
  • Linen shorts
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Denim skirt
  • Midi or maxi skirt (whichever style suits you best)

By keeping one pair of each of these types of pants, shorts and skirts you’ll have something in your closet for every occasion. 

Shop minimal bottoms:

neutral colored tank tops

Tops and shirts

When it comes to tops and shirts, keep only classic pieces in your closet with the odd item for special occasions. This way you can mix and match your tops with pants, skirts and shorts to create dozens of outfits. 

  • White button-down shirt
  • Black or neutral-colored t-shirts
  • White t-shirt (keep 2 or 3 in your closet as these are capsule wardrobe basics)
  • Chambray or denim shirt
  • Neutral-colored sweater or cardigan (ideally have 2-3 of these as they are winter essentials)
  • Basic tank tops (ideal for layering or wearing on their own during warmer months. Have a black and a white tank plus a couple in neutral colors)
  • Turtleneck sweater 

By limiting the number of items you have in your closet you will need to pick higher quality items that will last longer than a year. 

Shop minimal tops:

neutral minimalist clothing items

Footwear

Different styles of footwear are important in a minimal wardrobe. Here are the essentials that will see you through daily life and any special events that come your way:

  • White sneakers
  • Black ankle boots
  • Tan ankle boots
  • Nude or neutral ballet flats
  • Leather loafers or oxfords
  • Black or brown leather sandals
  • Espadrilles or canvas slip-ons (stick to neutral tones so they can be paired with any outfit look)
  • Winter boots (for example, a pair of black or brown leather calf length boots)
  • Statement shoes: a really gorgeous pair of heels in either black or a neutral color is a great option

Having these options always available in your own capsule wardrobe will mean you have a shoe for any occasion that will always pair well with your outfit. 

Shop minimal footwear:

minimalist wardrobe

Dresses

Even if you don’t wear dresses on a daily basis, having just a few in your minimal capsule wardrobe means you’ll always be prepared when a dress is required:

  • Little black dress (LBD): pick a dress that suits your body type such as a wrap dress or slip dress
  • Shirt dress in a neutral like navy blue or beige
  • Maxi dress: great for warmer weather or more formal occasions
  • Sundress
  • Knit dress: great paired with tights and boots in cold weather

This list of items means you have a dress for any occasion or climate. 

Shop minimal dresses:

white clothing on rail

Outerwear

This part of your capsule wardrobe checklist can vary depending on the climate where you live. You might not need a puffer jacket or thick winter coat, for example, if it never gets really cold in your part of the world. Tailor this section of the minimalist wardrobe checklist to your own personal needs:

  • Trench coat
  • Denim jacket
  • Leather jacket
  • Blazer: keep both a classic black blazer and one in a lighter, neutral color
  • Puffer jacket
  • Parka or anorak: if you live in a cold or wet climate, include a durable and weather-resistant parka or anorak for protection (you could also get one which folds up into itself to save closet space)

Keeping fewer options for outerwear saves you a lot of space as some coats and jackets can be really bulky to store. 

Shop minimal outerwear:

loungewear

Loungewear

One of the best things to emerge in the fashion industry in recent years is the importance of loungewear as essential clothing items. After being cooped up at home during the pandemic most of us realized the comfort and pleasure these comfortable items of clothing can bring us. Here’s how to add loungewear to your minimalist wardrobe capsule collection:

  • Leggings
  • Sweatpants
  • Hoodie
  • Sweatshirt
  • Lounge shorts
  • T-shirts: keep a couple of comfortable, loose-fitting t-shirts that can be worn for lounging or as a base layer
  • A soft jersey romper
  • Robe
  • Slippers

If you only wear loungewear at home you can choose bright colors over a neutral color palette as these items won’t necessarily be mixed with the rest of your wardrobe. 

Did you know there is also such a thing as a colorful capsule wardrobe?

Shop minimal loungewear:

minimalist capsule wardrobe

Activewear

If you’re a gym-goer, you can still stick to a minimalist wardrobe for workout clothes. These are the essential pieces of workout clothing to keep on rotation:

  • Moisture-wicking leggings
  • Sports bra x 2
  • Performance tank tops x 2
  • Athletic shorts
  • Moisture-wicking t-shirts x 2
  • Track jacket or sweatshirt

These are interchangeable pieces that will ensure you keep a minimalist style even when going to work out. 

Shop minimal activewear:

Bags

Bags are a great way for you to express your personal style even when sticking to a capsule wardrobe. However, this minimalist wardrobe checklist of bags covers the few basic bags you should ensure you have to cover all your bases and to go with any outfit:

  • A medium-sized, durable tote bag in a neutral color that can hold your daily essentials and be used for various occasions
  • Crossbody bag
  • Clutch bag
  • Backpack
  • Weekender or duffel bag
  • Laptop bag
  • Small pouch or organizer to keep your essentials organized within your larger bags
  • Reusable shopping bag

Sticking to a classic style when it comes to bags is the sweet spot as you’ll always have the perfect bag for any occasion. 

Shop minimal bags:

Accessories

Let’s not forget accessories in this capsule wardrobe list. These are the few accessories you should ensure you have in your own capsule collection:

  • Classic watch
  • Black belt
  • Brown belt
  • Summer scarves: keep 2-3 lightweight scarves in different colors
  • Large winter scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Minimalistic jewelry: invest in a few key pieces of jewelry, such as a delicate necklace, stud earrings, or simple bracelets, that can be worn daily and easily mixed and matched
  • Hair accessories: hairbands, bobby pins, or clips
  • Minimalist wallet
  • Umbrella
  • Wide-brimmed straw hat for summer
  • Cozy beanie for colder months

Shop minimalist accessories:

You don’t need a whole closet of accessories to make different looks. By mixing and matching a few accessories in different ways you can create lots of different outfit looks. 

This minimalist wardrobe checklist covers the whole year and will ensure you have both a winter capsule wardrobe in place and a minimalist summer wardrobe. 

It also includes a variety of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. You can tailor this minimalist wardrobe shopping list to only include seasonal pieces that work for your location. For example, if you have mostly warm weather you won’t necessarily need to add knee-high boots or large coats in to your closet. 

How can a capsule wardrobe influence a fashionista to be more sustainable?

Sustainability is a key aspect of both minimalism and fashion. 

If you love buying new clothes but are concerned about your impact on the planet, adopting a capsule or minimalist wardrobe can empower you to make more environmentally and socially responsible choices. 

In minimalism, sustainability is achieved by promoting mindful consumption, reducing waste, and prioritizing quality and longevity over fast fashion trends. Minimalists often seek out ethically made and eco-friendly clothing options from sustainable brands who support sustainable practices within the fashion industry.

Sustainability has gained significant importance as the industry faces environmental and social challenges. Embracing a minimalist approach to fashion helps reduce the demand for excessive production, encourages conscious purchasing decisions, and supports the use of eco-friendly materials. 

By focusing on a smaller, well-curated wardrobe, individuals can reduce their environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of a minimalist wardrobe? 

A minimalist wardrobe has the benefit of eliminating decision fatigue when trying to choose an outfit. It also promotes organization, eliminates clutter, encourages mindful consumption, reduces waste, and saves you money. In fact it’s one of the best ways to have a more sustainable and contented approach to dressing.

How many items of clothing in a minimalist wardrobe? 

Most minimalist wardrobes consist of around 30-40 items, including tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes, but the specific number can be adjusted based on personal style and requirements. The key is to have a limited number of well-loved and versatile items that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits.

How do you organize a minimalist wardrobe?

Organizing a minimalist wardrobe involves a few key steps. Start by decluttering and removing items that no longer serve you. Then, arrange your clothing by category (e.g., tops, bottoms, dresses) and within each category, group them by color or style for ease of selection. Finally, make sure you use simple storage solutions such as drawers, hangers, and boxes to keep your wardrobe organized and looking neat and tidy.

What does having a minimalist style say about you?

A minimalist style suggests that you appreciate simplicity, value quality over quantity, and have a discerning eye for timeless aesthetics. It conveys a sense of elegance, sophistication, and a focus on essentials. A minimalist style often reflects a mindset of intentional living, an appreciation for clean lines, and a desire to reduce clutter in all aspects of life.

How many T shirts should a minimalist own?

A general guideline is to have a few high-quality, versatile T-shirts in neutral colors that can be easily mixed and matched. Aim for around 3-5 well-fitting T-shirts that align with your personal style and meet your everyday needs.

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Melissa Jane Lee

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