I’m a toddler minimalist — I’m fairly new to this formalized concept of living simply and I’m still learning what aspects I value most. As I’ve undergone the process of discovering what is essential to me and my family and shedding that which isn’t, I’ve particularly relished minimizing our wardrobes. Yes wardrobes — plural — keeping both my and Ella’s wardrobe lean makes both of our lives easier.
Clothing — especially fashion — have always been intimidating and confusing to me, yet I enjoy being well dressed. I’ve never really known how to find and wear clothes that fit, what my personal style was, or how to stop feeling pressure to follow the latest trends, but I didn’t understand how to address those issues, so my wardrobe just kept growing. Like an unkept garden my random mishmash of clothes didn’t produce much value and it wasn’t pretty. I began to get my closet under control and minimized with a lot of effort and with help from a couple of key resources: Courtney Carver’s Project 333 and a book called the Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. While I haven’t done the Project 333 challenge, I’ve used many of Courtney’s quick start recommendations to help direct my wardrobe-shrinking efforts. The Curated Closet was helpful in that it explained how to build a wardrobe that fits your personality and preferences. Over the past few years of continually culling my clothes and being very conscious of the new items I do purchase, I’ve found the constraints of a small wardrobe helpful in finding, refining, and expressing my personal style.
Before reading the Curated Closet and learning some capsule wardrobe basics from Courtney, I had no idea what “my style” was and I frequently felt ambivalent about many of the items in my closet. In fact I didn’t love the majority of my clothes, but because they were trendy or because they matched the image of what I thought I should wear, I purchased them. I also owned many pieces of clothing that were ill-fitting. Thanks to residual tendencies from my youth, my threads tended to be too large and loose. Being honest with myself about how often I wore a particular item, how it made me feel, or how it looked, and then being ruthless about letting items go that I wasn’t wearing or didn’t work with my aesthetic, helped dial-in my wardrobe. As I was pairing down, I homed in on the appropriate sizes, shapes, and styles for my shape. My resulting clothes feel far better on and I look better in them, which improves my self-confidence — something most of us benefit from.
Of course, everyone’s individual style will be different and our styles are likely to shift over time, but my current style is modern, monochrome, and multi-functional (triple M).
I’ve found that having a triple M wardrobe is ideal for my lifestyle — almost every piece of clothing I own can be worn in different ways, has a clean modern aesthetic, and is either white, gray, or black. Having a simple theme to my clothes means I don’t waste time or mental energy deciding if things match — I already know they do. Because everything goes together, there are innumerable ways I can pull together an outfit, which makes it seem like I have considerably more clothes than I do. For example, I own two pairs of jeans, one dark blue the other black, both work well dressed up or down. I also have a couple of different pairs of leggings that I happily wear working out, as long-underwear in the winter, or as everyday pants (I love that the activewear trend is growing, not fading.) Many of my shirts fit the same description — they can be dressed up or down and can also be worn during workouts. One other key aspect to my clothing selection is quality. In the past, my closet and drawers were filled with inexpensive pieces that were designed for one micro-season, not for years of use. Unsurprisingly these items rarely fit well and often fell apart, shrunk, or wore poorly (hello pilling). By wearing high-quality, durable, and multi-functional pieces I save money and mental energy, reduce my environmental impact, and look good in the process.
Although Ella’s wardrobe is less defined, her’s follows similar guidelines. We purchase high-quality outerwear for her (shoes, jackets, hats, and mittens) but because she’s still growing quickly and is really hard on her clothing, her wardrobe has a mixture of tops, bottoms, and dresses of varying quality levels. She and I go through her clothing every few months and pull out the items that she’s stopped wearing, are worn out, or that she’s grown out of. Together we donate or pass on the clothes that are still in good shape. Below is a basic inventory of what our wardrobes contain.
Today, our closets are clean and only contain clothes that we both love. But it was a journey to get there — we had to learn what we actually liked wearing along the way — simply decluttering your closet will likely result in it being stuffed again in a few short months. Our clothing inventory is perfect for our lifestyle. It will fluctuate a bit depending on the time of year and when things wear out, but the lists below should give you a general idea of the size and composition of our closets. We also use the one-in, one-out rule for clothes, so when a new item is purchased, one goes.
My wardrobe includes (but is not limited to):
- 2 pairs of jeans: one black, one dark blue.
- 2 pairs of black leggings: one full-length and one capri-length.
- 2 pairs of lounge pants: one pair of sweat pants and one pair of light-weight quick-dry pants.
- 3 pairs of jean shorts: one black, one blue, one white.
- 1 pair of black running shorts.
- 2 sports bras: one high-impact, one low-impact.
- 20 tops of various arm lengths and functions (tanks, tees, long-sleeve).
- 2 heavy sweaters.
- 4 dresses: one long-sleeve, one sheath, two lightweight/packable.
- 2 skirts: one short, one long.
- 4 jackets: one brown “leather” coat, one lightweight packable synthetic coat, one rain shell which I most frequently wear skiing, and one heavy winter coat.
- 5 bras: two underwire (one black, one nude), one bralette, two strapless (one black, one white).
- Accessories: one baseball hat, one wide-brimmed felt hat, two scarves, one pair of earrings, two pairs of sandals, one pair of outdoor/water sandals, two pairs of tennis shoes (trail runners & gym), two pairs of high-heels, one pair of black rubber boots, two pairs of insulated winter boots.
Ella’s wardrobe includes (but is not limited to):
- 15 shirts of varying arm lengths and weights.
- 5 pairs of shorts.
- 8 pairs of jeans or leggings.
- 2 fleece coats.
- 2 sweaters.
- 1 heavy winter coat.
- 2 skirts.
- 5 dresses.
- Accessories: one baseball hat, one headband, one necklace, one bracelet, four pairs of shoes (tennis, dress sandals, outdoor/water sandals and moccasins), one pair of winter boots.