I know wearing elaborate, curated outfits can bring real joy to people – and I say go for it. I have friends that like nothing more than to spend hours poring over online shopping sites picking out new clothes. These same friends relish the opportunity to dedicate time – daily! – to make sure their hair, jewelry, and clothing set a specific tone for the day.
This isn’t me.
I appreciate clothing (for both function and basic aesthetic) but it isn’t a focal point. It is very common for me to put on the exact same leggings and shirt (different earrings, though) several days in a row. And I am very content to do so! It cuts down on laundry (I wash my clothes when they’re dirty, promise) and really limits my decision-making. I suspect this would make many people shudder, but it works for me!
Another note – it is perfectly acceptable in my working environment to show up in jeans and a sweater (most of the time I’m working remotely anyway). I realize that work clothes are a major component of many wardrobes but they don’t factor into mine.
Now let’s discuss clothes.
For a clothing item to stay in my closet:
1. It has to fit
For too many years I’ve held on to aspirational clothes. You know what I’m talking about. The dress that will “fit perfectly” when I lose 10 pounds or the pants that will look “just right” when I grow 3 more inches (spoiler alert: I’m not going to get any taller and this problem calls for a seamstress, not more lima beans. Now I either get my pants hemmed immediately or pass them on)!
2. I have to feel contented wearing the clothing
Not every item in my closet sparks joy. I appreciate what Marie Kondo tries to do with her technique, but I definitely have clothes that remain for utilitarian purposes only. That said, I have decided life is too short to wear clothes I hate. It’s shocking it has taken me the better part of three decades (the length of time I’ve had full say over my clothing choices) to come to this conclusion. Anything other than mid/high-rise jeans is a firm no. Anything that requires a camisole will not get near my closet; I no longer own a single camisole (cue gasp) and hate layering (cue bigger gasp).
3. it NEEDS to abide by the 1-in-1-out rule
When something new enters my closet, I almost always let something go (I either hand these items on to friends, consign them, or donate them to thrift stores).
I like to think of my wardrobe as undergoing steady, gradual improvement. You know the stories about people who start with a VW Beetle and trade up until they own a Ferarri. That sort of idea, but with (low-key) clothes and I’m trading up to Banana Republic, not Gucci – though I don’t give two hoots about the branding.
Because I have so few clothes (comparatively to others in my demographic; obviously I have far more clothes than I need), I know exactly what I have, the shape they’re in (e.g. is anything starting to stretch or wear thin), and I can be on the lookout for an “upgrade”.
4. IT HAS TO FIT MY formula
I know I like dark colours. I know I like flowing, thin-knit sweaters.
Since I know what I like, I generally stick within those confines when shopping. (I recently bought a hot pink coat, but can more than handle that pop of colour in my wardrobe because so much of what I own is in my comfort zone.)
Maybe I’ll enter a season of life where we’re living in a warmer climate (right now that sounds…amazing) and I can ditch the sweaters and long pants? Maybe I’ll get to a point in my life where I crave constant colour and bright patterned prints?
But, for now, I’ve identified what works and I stick with that, boring though it may be!
Where I get MY clothes + THRIFTING STRATEGY
My clothes come, almost exclusively, from consignment/thrift stores.
I don’t like shopping, but find thrifting to be low stress at the two SMALL stores I frequent. Most thrift stores are overwhelming, dusty, and cluttered. I have found two local places I love, and that is where I source almost everything in my closet.
Years ago, a friend and I started spending a few hours every week at our favourite thrift store. Our kids were in the same Friday-evening extracurricular and we would carpool and then spend a happy (and hilarious – some of the clothes we’ve seen just boggle the mind) hour or two browsing.
Visiting often is the easiest way to source clothes at thrift stores. I’m now in a rotation of going 6-8 times/year. Because I have a minimal closet, I have a good handle on exactly where there might be any gaps (I wanted a puffer coat, I knew Abby needed a new robe and some fuzzy leggings for under her snowpants). I didn’t go to the store with any of these specific items in mind, but because I have a running list of the things we need, I’m always on the hunt.
Longevity of clothes
I think I’m relatively “easy” on clothes. Lots of the items pictured below I’ve had, and worn consistently, for years. Multiple items are almost 10 years old. If it’s still in my closet it means I haven’t lost interest.
Much like I can eat the same meal over and over, I’m quite content to wear the same neutral pieces regularly.
breaking down my wardrobe
Without further ado, here is my “capsule” wardrobe.
- This is exactly what I have hanging in my closet. I store my jogging pants (2 pairs), lined splash pants (1 pair), capri running tights (3 pairs), spandex (2 pairs), and pajama bottoms (1 pair) in my dresser.
- I have about 15 items in a basement closet. This includes summer dresses/skirts, most of my t-shirts (which I don’t need this time of year in Canada), and capri pants. Shorts (3 pairs? I think) and bathing suits (3) are stored in a small tote in my storage room. I like to ONLY have clothing I’m wearing or is seasonally appropriate hanging in my bedroom closet.
PANTS | I have three pairs of jeans; two black, one blue. If I’m not wearing one of these “dressy” pants, I’m in some form of loungewear like joggers. Pants are tough; I have ample hips and a smaller waist and high rise fits are really the only solution for me. Even still, pants are my nemesis. These three are all high-rise and as comfortable as I’ve managed to find.
The grey and blue sweaters are workhorses for me. They are both fitted but not tight and hit at just the right place on my hips. I love the neck detail and the pop of bright orange on the cuff of the blue (Reebok) shirt.
The two turtlenecks I bought on the same day at a thrift store years ago. I still wear them regularly. The material is stretchy in all the right ways. They’re quite long, but because of the fabric I usually just tuck in the front and let the back hang down.
My “dressier” sweaters. Nothing overly exciting, but I like the beige one in particular.
I only have two T-shirts in my closet right now because I live in Canada and it is depressingly cold. I have a few “dressy” short-sleeved shirts and then a handful of exercise T-shirts in the guest room closet which will enter circulation as the weather warms up.
I wear both of the sweaters on the right a lot. The one with the button detail is new-to-me from a recent thrift store outing.
In the summer I really enjoy wearing dresses because I find them so much more comfortable than pants. But in the winter, the only time I wear skirts or dresses is to church.
The green dress on the far right is likely the clothing item I’ve owned the longest – I’ve been wearing (and loving) this dress for almost a decade now! I wore it for family pictures when Abby was a toddler; I wore it to a preschool party when Levi was 2 weeks old. I wore it to church last Christmas Eve.
Skirts – I don’t wear these much in the winter. When I do, I wear a shirt tucked in. Everything is A-line for me because of body-type.
The items below are all placeholders. I don’t use any of them very frequently, but they serve enough of a purpose, I haven’t yet let them go to a new home. The two white sweaters + the robe were passed along by a friend, and the Ground Control To Major Tom t-shirt was a work-specific purchase (new), but all the other items pictured in this post were purchased at thrift stores (not even consignment!) for under $10/item.
And that’s it!
What about you – do you love putting together outfits and appreciate a full closet? Or, do you tend more to a minimalistic approach? (There is no right or wrong answer!)