Minimalist Dressing (guest post)

a guest post by Erin L.

A “minimalist wardrobe”. The concept is fairly simple—pick several “key colors” for your wardrobe, figure out what you like to wear and what fits with your lifestyle—and pare your wardrobe down to include those elements!

Several months ago, I decided to drastically change my wardrobe. I had lots of clothes that I liked, but nothing seemed to go together and it took me too much thinking to put together simple outfits. I had lots of clothes that just “worked”, were “tolerable” or “sufficed”. I wanted a smaller wardrobe, but with every piece being an absolute favorite.

Lest I come across as being superficial, I do not think that clothes/outward appearance are extra important or of eternal value. But that being said, I want my husband (and children) to know that he is extra-special to me—and one way I can let him know this, is by putting effort into looking nice for him. It is a way I think that I can honor and show him respect.

So to start off, I picked a couple of neutral colors and two “fun” colors (colors that look good on me and I could enjoy wearing over and over). For me, the neutrals are black, gray and denim. The fun colors are aqua/turquoise/teal, and lavender. I also included white/cream.

I went through all my clothes and pulled out everything that did not fit me or fit into this color scheme. (I did keep a couple pieces that I just loved that were not in the new set of colors—I did not want to be too drastic. Smile)

I also figured out what types and styles of clothing I felt most comfortable in and that my husband likes to see me wear. I love layering sweaters and tank tops, ruffles, feminine scarves, and jeans. I am also a mama of 2, I live in the cold north, and I spend a lot of time at home. My style is a mix of classic and romantic. So based on that, I looked for trouser or boot cut jeans, pretty scarves, nice plain t-shirts, fake pearls, skirts that transition from snow to 80 degrees, and nice sweaters. A lot of that was already in my closet.

Having a set palette has saved me time in the thrift stores and other shopping! I focus on the sections that have “my” colors—and ignore the rest. I can pull any top and any bottom out of my closet, and it should theoreticallycoordinate and look nice on me. It has also helped me limit how many pieces of clothing I have—I am not tempted to have a sweater in each of my favorite colors; instead I just limit it to “my best colors”.

If you decide you want to change your wardrobe around, please don’t be discouraged thinking that it takes lots of money! First of all, it does not all have to be done “right now”. (That is a hard one for me! I want all new ideas implemented yesterday…) I shopped at a lot of thrift stores over time, and I kept my eyes open at retail stores and on eBay for good deals on brands I knew I liked.

Make a list of how you would like your wardrobe to look, and then start crossing off what you already have. Pray about the rest of it, and keep your eyes open!

I don’t have any qualifications for writing this, other than the fact that I have made a lot of changes to my wardrobe due to pregnancy, nursing, and weight gain/loss. The concept of a “minimalist wardrobe” is not originally mine. I’ve picked it up through various blogs and fashion/wardrobe books that I’ve read over the years. One website that has really inspired me is The Small Notebook, especially these posts:

Here is a Polyvore “Example of a Minimalist Wardrobe” based on black, gray, denim, aqua, lavender and white/cream:

Example of a Minimalist Wardrobe
Erin L. is a wife and mother of three in Michigan. She enjoys coffee, thrift store/garage sale shopping (especially when she can do it with friends!), chocolate, reading and spending time with her family (not in that orderSmile). Right now, her favorite verse as a mother, is Galatians 6:9: “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

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  1. says

    Wonderful inspiration! I recently went through my dresser and removed the maternity clothes and swapped out my regular clothes, but I was ruthless. Still a long way from having anything decent to wear in public, but it’s better. I love the polyvore pins on pinterest, just have no idea how to do that or wear to find things.

  2. says

    Love it. Thanks for inspiring us, Erin. I’ve read the no brainer wardrobe series and although I’ve been dressing better, the closet is still clogged with unused clothes. Time to dung out the stuff I know I don’t love anymore…

  3. Amber says

    oH My, I’m gonna have to try this out for myself and my girls!! :) although I must admit I’m kinda a color person I love all colors expecially bright vibrent colors!! This might be hard for me!!

  4. Alicia says

    I always find myself “just getting something” so that I won’t end up wearing my PJ’s all day. I’ve been reading little bits here and there and have started pinning on Pinterest items that I find that I love. NOW, all I have to do is figure out how to put this into practice while 7 months pregnant, with a new baby and, hopefully, drastic weight loss in the not-too-distant future. Any ideas?

      • ErinL says

        *laughing as I sit here in a pair of maternity sweatpants and stretched-out t-shirt* No no, I don’t always put my ideas into practice. :-)
        I am not sure I am very qualified to write about this topic. I mostly just wear t-shirts and jeans/dress pants while I’m pregnant. This time I’m trying to add in some scarves and fun necklaces/bracelets, and keep new clothing additions to my color scheme mentioned above.
        Alicia, are you trying to put this together for your current pregnancy wardrobe, or your post-baby wardrobe?

        • Alicia says

          I was more thinking post baby. I (unlike most others I gather) LOVE how maternity clothes fit me! I have a hard time finding regular clothes that fit well and suit my shape. I’m extremely short (barely 5’3″) have a long torso and very short legs (even petite sizes are usually an inch or so too long). To add to all that I’m definitely on the chubby side. So, thus my troubles.

          • åslaug says

            I’m trying to make up a post-baby wardrobe too, though I’m afraid I don’t really have many ideas.

            Except for that I found that all the maternity pants I grew out of (all of them within one week!) at 7 months fit me well post-baby, and what was before panels to accomodate big belly now have a wonderful hold in effect =)

        • ErinL says

          Post-baby dressing can be tricky!! (Tho’ I’m no expert here….) I tend to wear my maternity pants for a little while, because they look pretty normal and they give me room to “shrink” without falling off/having to switch to a different size pants. Once you figure out what style and colors and such you want to add to your new wardrobe, you could start accumulating accessories (if you want to use them) and tops/sweaters. These tend to be easier to find at thrift-stores or if you buy them new, they tend to be cheaper–so if you buy them in the size you are after Baby, it isn’t so painful to replace them again after you’ve lost your baby weight. Does that make any sense or am I being confusing? :-/ And maybe find some “bottoms” for a good price in your current size. Just try to make sure that everything you buy fits into your new “wardrobe parameters” even if you aren’t planning on wearing it for more than a few months.
          And some things will span a couple of sizes–the bright-blue shirt I posted in the top center of the Polyvore is from Apricot Apparel. I have two of them, and really like them! They stretch amazingly well, but don’t seem to stretch out. I think they would work through at least two, if not more, sizes (and they would be great for long-waisted ladies!). Also, a lot of cardigans would span at least two sizes, especially some of the newer styles that are “flowy” (if that fits into your preferred style of clothing).
          This is all I can think of at the moment…I don’t know if it is very helpful, or what you are looking for?

  5. says

    Thank you, I love this idea! And the picture collage helped me visualize how it could really work. Hmm…I have some fun work to do in my closet today, I think! :)