How to build a minimalist style wardrobe

Posted on 21 July 2021
By Carlton Whitfield
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Minimalism became all the rage in the 1960s, with minimalist houses, music, art, and even clothes. The idea of minimalist fashion is to be mindful and intentional about your clothing and accessory purchases.

Instead of having many items that you only wear or use rarely, those who follow a minimalist lifestyle focus on investing in fewer high-quality items that they use regularly.

Some people mistake minimalism for having low-end items or avoiding spending a lot on a single piece of clothing.

But by investing in high-end items like luxury watches or hand-made leather boots, you can ensure your single purchase lasts a lifetime, reducing the need for replacements later on and minimising your impact on the environment.

One of the easiest ways to get into the minimalist movement is through your wardrobe. By thinking about your daily activities, creating categories, and including one high-quality garment from each of these categories, you can build a complete and functional minimalist wardrobe with ease.

Think About Your Lifestyle

No one style fits all. First, you’ll need to consider your climate. If you live in an area that only sees a few cold weeks a year, you only need a few scarves and one hat.

Likewise, you may only need one or two pairs of shorts if you live in a cold climate. Next, think about your lifestyle. Do you love going out to clubs or having dinner dates at upscale restaurants?

Or are those rare events, and you prefer a casual gathering at a coffee house or hitting the trails with your friends? Create a list of the types of clothes you need for your daily and weekly activities.

Remember, being a minimalist is all about having precisely the right amount of clothes for your needs.

So, if you only go to the gym once a month, you probably don’t need four pairs of exercise leggings. But, if you go for a run four times a week, keep several pairs handy. Last, you want to decide on a style.

Although you don’t need to create a capsule wardrobe or one where all your clothes go with each other, it can make getting ready easier. If you love the boho look, choose clothes with lots of fringe and in natural colours.

Those who prefer a vintage style can consider finding pieces at estate sales, thrift stores, or buying a vintage pre-owned Rolex.

You may also want to consider a colour scheme. Although you don’t want to buy clothes of all the same colour, ensure you can mix and match pieces. Having your staple pieces all in cool neutral shades can make your wardrobe cohesive.

Pick Your Categories

Although each person may not need items from every category, it can help to consider each one carefully.

If your climate is variable, consider creating a fall/winter capsule wardrobe and a summer/spring capsule wardrobe. While some pieces might work year-round, you can store your shorts and sandals in a box in the attic during the colder months and switch as the weather warms up.


Unless you live in the tropics, you probably need a warm coat. Consider getting a classic trench coat from a high-quality designer that will last you several years.

When paired with heels and pearls, trench coats give an air of elegance, while riding boots make it more rustic.

Warm Accessories

Depending on your climate, you may only need one of each of these, or you may need several options. Find matching cashmere or wool scarves, hats, and gloves in a solid colour. These will keep you warm while also looking stylish.


Chunky knit dresses can span from fall to spring and, depending on your accessories, they can either be casual or nice enough for date night.

Having two knit sweaters for cooler seasons can act as a fun alternative to a sports coat or light jacket for men.


You’ll likely need to find enough work-appropriate tops to get you through the week and a few casual ones for vacations, weekends, and relaxing after work. For your winter wardrobe, choose long-sleeve tops made of a thermally insulating material, such as virgin Merino wool or cashmere.

You may want to add short-sleeve options in fabrics such as linen, cotton, or silk in the summer. It’s also a good idea to have a few t-shirts you can wear when cleaning or doing home renovations.


Men should have several packs of khakis or suit pants for work, while women may want some dress pants in several neutral shades, including black, tan, gray, and navy. You’ll also want to include a few pairs of jeans, leggings, and sweatpants for casual Fridays and working around the house.


For many women, dresses are a necessity. However, if you prefer to wear pants or have several jumpsuits instead, that’s perfectly fine. Consider your own style, and stick to it. If you want dresses, have 3-4 sundresses for the summer, some knit dresses for the winter, and at least one little black dress for weddings, fancy date nights, or a party.

If you regularly attend formal events, have a few long gowns. If you only attend once a year, you might prefer using a rental company instead.


Shoes are a necessary part of any wardrobe, but some people collect shoes. Instead of having seven pairs of heels, consider buying one black, one nude, and one colourful option.

Follow the same idea with your other shoe types. For the colder months, have one pair of tall boots and a pair of short booties. You can have one or two ballerina flats in different colours and a pair of gladiator sandals in the summer.

For people who hit the gym often, invest in a good pair of running shoes. If your area experiences high rain or snow rates, make sure you have an appropriate pair of waterproof shoes to protect your nicer ones from damage.


Accessories are essential to creating a well-rounded outfit. Invest in a few staple pieces, a high-end watch with a mixed metal bracelet, and one or two statement pieces that show your personality.

Additionally, you may want to invest in two or three light scarves, nice genuine leather belts, and bags that complement your style and fit your needs. Other accessories to consider adding to your minimalist wardrobe include sunglasses, hair ties and headbands, and unique socks.

Make Your Wardrobe Unique

A minimalist wardrobe doesn’t need to just be solid dark colours. Include several statement pieces that use colour or pattern.

These can act as a focal point in your wardrobe and make you stand out at a party. Remember, the whole point of going minimalist is to decrease the clutter in your home.

Every year, when you swap over from your winter to summer clothes and back again, consider giving away clothes you didn’t wear to keep your wardrobe streamlined.