There is no perfect way to do a minimalist wardrobe for women, but finding a simple wardrobe that works for you reaps many benefits.
[^^This is a pin I made with an image of myself. Feel free to use it or find a better stock photo!]
To be real with you, I come by minimalist wardrobes honestly. From a young age… like 2… I had my favorite outfits that I just preferred to wear over and over again, with no real interest in wearing something I liked less. Why not always wear your absolute favorite, right?
Now as an adult, I can see how this mindset can mature into something actually beneficial. What if every piece of clothing I owned felt like my favorite? What if I had just enough clothes to have “something to wear” every day, no matter the occasion… and nothing extra?
This would make getting dressed for the day easy and exciting. Just grab the pieces that fit the occasion – running around with kids at home? going out with friends? off to work? – and I’ll feel great in it! It would also eliminate the mind-numbing feeling of “looking for something to wear.”
If this is sounding good to you, read on for some specific must-have staples of a minimalist wardrobe for women. As you’ll see, I also enjoy buying organic and fair trade!
benefits of a minimalist wardrobe for women
1. always love what you wear
As I mentioned above, the first benefit of a minimalist wardrobe is eliminating the stress of choosing an outfit. The goal is to like everything in your closet and have almost everything coordinated. Then, it will become easy to throw together outfits that feel just like you.
2. afford higher quality items
Secondly, by buying fewer items, you’ll likely be able to afford higher quality items. These can both last longer and look better.
For me, I really value organic and fair trade clothing. So, having a minimalist wardrobe allows me to afford these items. Though as you’ll see, many of them are not any more expensive than their non-organic counterparts.
3. support the trend toward slow fashion
It is becoming more commonly known that “fast fashion” is having a negative effect on people and the environment. Fast fashion refers to the mass production and distribution of short-lived trendy clothes.
The problem is that the trends quickly change, and people desire the newest trendy items. So the cycle begins again…
As you can imagine, the resources to support this way of consuming clothes are immense. And sadly, they are often produced at the expense of people who endure very poor working conditions.
Slow fashion, on the other hand, considers the impact of each piece of clothing along the entire supply chain. Slow fashion asks questions like these:
- Was everyone treated with dignity and paid fairly in the creation of this piece of clothing?
- What materials were used and what was the overall impact of producing/obtaining them?
- How were animals treated in the production process?
- How long will this piece last until I have to replace it?
Though these are hard questions, they matter. And buying a minimal, strategic wardrobe can have a much larger impact on the world than it may initially seem.
basic guidelines for a minimalist wardrobe for women
Since there are countless ways to create a minimalist wardrobe for women, here are some guiding questions to get you started.
Please don’t consider these “rules to follow,” but rather helpful questions to get you thinking. Maybe grab a notebook or an Excel sheet and start brainstorming your minimalist wardrobe:
- What is my style? What colors and types of clothes do I enjoy wearing most?
- What am I doing each day and each week? What clothes do I need for these tasks and settings?
- What climate do I live in? Do I need layers – cardigans, jackets, scarves?
- What accessories will help this wardrobe feel stylish and functional? Headbands or hats, jewelry, cute shoes?
- How many pieces of clothes do I personally want to own? Some go for “under 50 items” or “30 essential pieces,” but seriously there’s no rule. Choose what makes sense to you!
For example, I am currently home with a toddler and baby and living in Arizona. So my wardrobe needs to be light and comfy, with just a few nice pieces for going out with friends or on a date with my hubby.
In contrast, my sister has kids the same age as me, but is also working in a professional field, and is seriously WAY more fashionable than me. So, you can imagine, our “minimal wardrobes” – the basic number and type of pieces to fit our lifestyle and personalities – would be drastically different.
And that’s totally okay! I think that’s the fun part.
how to get started… for cheap!
You can certainly go about this however you want. But if you’re like me and in a season where you can’t (or don’t want to) overhaul your entire wardrobe, here’s how to get started by spending little to no money.
1. evaluate what you already own
I’ve heard it said, “the most sustainable piece of clothing is the one you already own.”
Here is a completely free way for you to start crafting your minimalist wardrobe: Pull out ALL the clothing you own – clothes, shoes, accessories, jackets – and evaluate it. Every piece.
Ask things like:
- Do I enjoy wearing this? Do I feel confident in it?
- Does this fit?
- How many of [this item] do I really need?
- Which of these pieces coordinates with almost everything else I own?
A caveat to question #2: The only time I’d recommend keeping something that doesn’t fit is if you’re in a post-partum year. It can take a while for our bodies to adjust and find our new normal after having a baby.
If this is you, consider buying a few items that fit perfectly for that year so that you can feel great even in that season.
And lastly, a caveat to question #3 is that, unlike my thinking a few years ago, I now would tend towards keeping more clothing (that I already own) to avoid wear and tear from overuse.
2. pair down, if needed, and donate the rest
Once you have an idea of which items – whether 20 or 100 – could complete a minimalist wardrobe for you, lay them out and set the rest aside.
Think through your days. Can you make a handful of cute outfits out of what you’re choosing to keep?
Think through less common scenarios that come up in your life, whether professional, fun, adventurous, or formal. Do you have pieces to work for these? OR do you have friends of a similar size that would lend you clothing for these rare scenarios?
As you consider pairing down your wardrobe, think about keeping pieces that are
- versatile, coordinating with lots of other pieces you have
- durable, holding up to heavy use
- and your favorite things to wear!
When you’re feeling confident and excited about keeping only the essential pieces, donate or give the high-quality items that remain.
3. consider buying a few items to fill out your wardrobe
If you are missing some essential pieces that would pull your whole wardrobe together, consider buying a few items.
You could go a few ways with this. Again, focus on quality items that will last.
I personally am moving towards all organic and fair trade clothing. So, when I buy a new item, that’s what I go for.
But if you’re needing something now and don’t have much money to spend on clothes, you could consider buying from a consignment store. I have found that consignment stores have higher quality items than thrift stores (though, I have bought clothing from thrift stores many times when need be).
3. Make your entire wardrobe easy to access
Now that you have your minimalist wardrobe complete (or coming in the mail), display it in a place that is easy to view and access all pieces. This will make putting together outfits each day quick and easy.
No more finding a tank top in the back of a drawer and thinking, “Oh! I forgot I had this!” When you know and like every piece you own, you won’t have to think much at all about what to wear.
4. over time, replace or add quality items
You honestly could stop there. If you’re happy with your wardrobe and it continues to work for your everyday life, you might rarely need to buy new clothing items.
However, if for whatever reason you want to upgrade or add to your wardrobe, do this thoughtfully and intentionally over time.
For example, I mentioned I would ideally wear only organic, fair trade clothing. Well, since the materials are sustainable and everyone is paid a fair wage along the way (which I truly value), these items cost more. So, I am “upgrading” my wardrobe piece by piece, as holidays, birthdays, or a little extra cash comes.
For you, it might be something else – style, comfort, functionality, or change of life season.
organic staples for a minimalist wardrobe
If money is not a factor in your clothing choice, and you’re interested in organic or fair trade clothing, your options are endless! You could start by browsing brands on the Good On You directory to find ones rated excellently for people, the planet, and animals.
However, if you’re in a season similar to me where affordability is crucial, here are some organic women’s staples that I have found so valuable in my minimalist wardrobe. I’ll include items that I’ve personally tried as well as items I’m interested in from brands I trust (none of these are affiliate links).
tops | minimalist wardrobe for women
- Softspun High Neck Tank by Pact: I’m always on the lookout for cute high-neck tanks, and this one even comes in one of my favorite patterns… black and cream stripes!
- Softspun Crew Neck Tee by Pact: These have been incredibly versatile staples in my wardrobe, holding up to heavy use. I have it in two colors, and would wear them often back when I did residential cleaning, most days while mom-ing, and even dressing them up for a night out with friends. They just recently started showing wear and tear… but I can’t blame them.
- Long- or Short-sleeve Tee from Happy Earth: I’ve also got my eye on these tees from Happy Earth for a more traditional informal tee feel.
Bottoms | minimalist wardrobe for women
- Denim Chambray Paper Bag Shorts – Pact: These would be super cute, everyday shorts for summer.
- Revive Beach Shorts – Pact or Weekend Sweat Short – Boody: I enjoy putting the weekend sweat shorts over a tee or tank. The high waist makes them look more stylish (even though they’re sweat material).
- The Rec Cinch Jogger – Pact or Happy Earth Leggings: I have Pact joggers similar to the ones listed here and really enjoy them! To be transparent, I LOVE the Happy Earth leggings, but they turned more grey with extremely hard ND water.
- Sky Rise Skinny – Mud Jeans: I haven’t yet invested in organic jeans because I so rarely wear them. But when I’m ready to buy, I have my eyes on these relatively affordable options from Mud Jeans.
Layers and dresses | minimalist wardrobe for women
- Strappy Dress by Pact: This light, summery dress has been a game changer during this hot Arizona summer. The built-in bra really works, even being a nursing mama. They have lots of colors and styles of dresses.
- Versatile LBD like this cap sleeve or this V-neck tank dress from Pact: Though I haven’t tried these two personally, my 10-year-old tank LBD (little black dress) has been all I need for the occasional wedding or fancy date night.
- Happy Earth Crewneck Sweater: During fall and winter I got a LOT of use out of this cute and cozy organic crewneck sweater.
- Cotton Rib Crewneck or Banshee Hoodie: For a more chic cozy look, try this organic cotton rib crewneck or Banshee hoodie from Tentree.
- Organic Cardigan by Tentree: A warm cardigan like this could allow your tanks and tees to be useful year-round.
Accessories | Minimalist Wardrobe for Women
Since accessories are so unique to each person’s style, I won’t bother with specific examples. Instead, I’ll point you to some versatile organic, fair trade options for you to browse:
As far as jewelry, I don’t have personal experience with fair trade or non-toxic jewelry yet. But if you enjoy this area of accessorizing, searching for fair trade jewelry will bring up lots of unique options!
And as far as shoes, I have my eyes on these Etiko sneakers, but again, you could browse the many shoe brands listed on the Good On You directory. If/when I buy some shoes from Etiko, I might throw on this affordable organic racerback tank!