How To Create A Minimalist Closet

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Hi!
I love your blog! I love your simplicity, resourcefulness, and the way you steward your money so well!
I have a question. You know how your closet of clothes is rather small? I really want to learn how to be like that. I feel like I always buy things that are really cheap (b/c that's how my mom taught me to shop and it feels rewarding when I get a good deal), but sometimes I don't always wear all that I have or I end up not liking it and giving it away...
How do you keep your closet so minimal? And do you have any general shopping tips? Or specific ones for people like me who have a small budget and go a bit crazy with the sales and clutter?
Thanks! I'd really appreciate any of your input!

First of all, thank you so much!!!

My closet wasn't always that small. When I got married, I had to reevaluate my spending habits of what we really needed versus what I wanted. Marriage has really helped me to have a frugal mindset. I can't afford to go shopping often. It also helps that my husband and I are both very practical when it comes to things. We only keep items in our home that we need or use regularly. Otherwise, we either find a way to make money off of it or donate it. I've borrowed that mentality for my wardrobe. That's how my closet stays minimal.

I've mentioned this before but I don't like shopping. So when I go shopping, I am fast. I learned that the more time you take, the more you'll over-think and rationalize an unnecessary purchase. My strategy for shopping is to not even touch the clothes. I scan them. I look at the print. I see what kind of fabric it is before I touch it to see what it really feels/looks like. This helps me to sift through the cheap fabrics and colors/prints I don't care for. I don't buy cheap fabric clothes because (a) they look cheap, (b) they don't last, and (c) most are trendy and not classic - I want long-lasting clothes for less, not cheap clothes for less. (A few stores that sell overpriced cheap clothes are Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, and Forever 21. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy from them. If you see something you love, go for it. Just remember it won't last...like my sequin flats.)

Purging Your Closet
  1. First, try on all your clothes and see how they fit. If they don't fit or flatter, they've gotta go. No questions asked.
  2. I learned this great technique from Kjrsten. She once mentioned that she organized her closet by putting the clothes she's already worn in the back of the closet so that everything would be worn once. I thought this was a fabulous idea and have done this a time or two. It makes you see what items you want to keep going back to and the ones you can't find a way to wear. Those go.
  3. Take them to a consignment store for $$, sell it on ebay, go to a clothing swap, trade with your friends, and get rid of those clothes!
  4. Emily:  Settle on certain numbers of clothing for each category:  seven pairs of jeans, ten blouses, seven sweaters, etc.
  5. Rinse and repeat.
If You're on a Limited Budget
  1. Find ways to rework your old clothes such as DIY projects.
  2. If your shirt/dress is a little big, take it in or use a broach.
  3. Make your own skirt
  4. Use a dress as a top or skirt....or turn a dress into a skirt.
  5. Use a button-down dress as a coat.
  6. Use ribbons as belts.
  7. Use scarves as belts.
  8. Check out thrift stores, consignment stores, garage sales, and ebay but look for quality items. For thrift and consignment stores, check to see if they have any sales on certain days and only go shopping during those days. And don't be afraid to bargain at garage sales. They just want to get rid of their junk fast so most of the time, they'll take whatever.
  9. Try to wane yourself of the sales paradox. Only buy something (on sale) if you reaaallllly love it and you can think of at least three ways to wear it. If you kind of like it, don't buy it.
  10. Janelle:  Save up and splurge on quality clothes you love that will last you years.
  11. Alex:  If you like something, set a price you'd be willing to pay (Me: without looking at the tag first). If it is more than what you think it is worth, don't buy it.
I hope this helps! I'm sure there is more information that can be added to this. If you have any suggestions, share your knowledge. If you have any questions, let me know.

66 comments :

  1. btw this totally reminded me of you...
    dunno if you've already done it b4 but i know you'd be SUCCESSFUL @ it.

    I want to try it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/fashion/22SIXERS.html?_r=1

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    Check out my blog for more info:

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  3. Ohhh! I love this post! Sounds like something I would ask, since I need the therapy! Right now I'm even trying to find a way to get rid of my clothes...kind of slow so far...8)

    www.scopekawaiiness.com

    <33 Rena

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  4. I find that splurging on expensive clothes that I really really LOVE once in a while is a great way to actually SAVE money because I am satisfied with having less.

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  5. Yeah I hardly ever shop at those "cheap" stores because they are so overprices and feel cheap. I'd prefer to have less that's actual quality.

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  6. Oh I love this post! It's always great to get tips about reducing and reusing. I'm constantly re evaluating and minimalizing (but probably bc I'm constantly shopping! Sigh.).

    ShopTOLive.ca

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  7. I am going to use the "3-ways" before I make a purchase now! Thanks!

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  8. this is amazing! i just purged my closet earlier today! i gave away half of it and it feels so good :) i loved this post! you're a true inspiration elaine!

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  9. these are super great tips!
    i also clean out my closet at least once a month and sell/give away items i don't wear anymore or i think i will still wear but haven't...

    ♥ vanilla ice cream ♥

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  10. Great tips, I must admit that I'd have a hard time following, though! lol
    I gotta learn!

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  11. Thinking of 3 ways to wear something..such good advice! :)

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  12. I tend to adopt the approach of "Do I like it?" If it's a yes, I work out how much I would be happy to pay for it, then look at the price label. If it's more then it doesn't get purchased, simple as that. So many places are massively overpriced nowadays.

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  13. This post is coming at such a good time, Elaine! I love everything in my closet and I have no intention to purge, but I do want to purchase less often. It really is a shift in mindset.

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  14. Hi there, Great Advice! I really love your blog!

    Please check out my blog, it's only in it's early days but I'm doing a little vintage giveaway, if your interested it's http://my-favourite-fashion.blogspot.com/

    Vikki xx

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  15. Great tips! i don't know if I would be able to do it though, I've tried to get rid of things, but sometimes I just cant, haha
    http://aclosetfashionista.blogspot.com/

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  16. Oh Elaine, that really helped me! I'm gonna try it ASAP, because Alex and I are getting married next year and, yes ma'am, I know how hard things will be, specially for our clothes. Little space x lots of stuff, Elaine, you are my hero! I loved these tips! xoxo, hope you have an awesome day! Kiss kiss

    Thanks for helping me with one more adjective, you are appreciated darling!

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  17. great tips!! thanks for sharing! :)

    xo

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  18. I like it! If you want, follow my blog too. I've started it a few days ago and I hope I'll have soon more "followers". Thankyou!
    xoxo

    http://theonlyfashionprincess.blogspot.com

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  19. I'd like to add an item to your instructions: settle on some reasonable numbers. Mine are something like seven pairs of jeans, four pairs of slacks, four pairs of shorts, ten blouses, seven sweaters, ten dresses. And then stick to those numbers! This is like creating a space constraint, which can be a wonderful thing, whether or not you have one. When you want a new blouse, consider which one of your ten it will replace. Keeping it small is a beautiful thing.

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  20. These are great tips!

    I love it!

    Best wishes from one blogger to another,

    ~Zabrinah

    And aren't reader questions just the best?? I love them; so inspiring!

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  21. After seeing your maroon skirt, I wanna try making my own skirt as well. I am sad though because I don't have a sewing machine, so the project would take days instead of a couple of hours.
    Love Tonya's skirt tutorial though. I think I might have to try it in spite of my lack of machinery.


    www.styleusvancouver.com

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  22. What great ideas! I'm glad you shared this with all of us!

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  23. psssh. I learned in Spain that I go crazy having to wear the same things in the same week or month even. So. I am sticking with my tons of clothes crammed into my closet. haha.

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  24. You've totally inspired me. The closet will be purged within the week!!

    (plus, it'll help with that pesky "hanger shortage" issue that is a plague upon our house!)

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  25. Great post and great ideas! Love your blog!

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  26. Those are such a great idea and what a fatastic post:)

    Kisses,sweetie and have a great Thursday

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  27. Thank you thank you thank you!!
    I am such a sales rack shopper. It is horrible. That is how my mom taught me, and I get great deals...but the issue is that they don't last. These are great tips. I am doing this today. lol

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  28. these suggestions are so great. i especially like the rotating closet idea. i just may try that!!

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  29. Great post. I do all this (apart from the number of items) and then repeat it all ad infinitum, which is why I am drowning under clothes.

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  30. This is really great to read, especially since I've been having to merge my uni wardrobe and home wardrobe together which is near impossible to fit in my closet!! Great tips :)

    L x

    Half Dressed

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  31. You always make me feel like such a glutton because you do sooo much with so little.

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  32. Fantastic and helpful tips. Certainly going to try some, like the cost-per-wear on quality items.

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  33. totally agree with you on all of this .. i am currently moving and leaving behind all the shirts and clothing that i dont want to wear anymore .. only buy stuff you love ! or are basics that you wear all the time .

    i no longer buy sales items just because its a deal..

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  34. wow, i love this blog.
    no, but really i love this blog.
    probably my new favorite.
    i can really relate to having a small closet.
    i'm not blessed with tons of money, so my closet isn't as big as some can be. i try to rewear what i can and make it work in a different way.

    thanks for your comment.
    i'm now a follower!
    xxL

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  35. i also saw the ny times article. it seems like minimalism is the new go-to fashion word but the truth is, less was always more! simple and classic style is harder to come by these days when people tend to overload on accessories and multiple trends at once. I love your answers, very smart and easy to apply! :)
    xx

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  36. Try to wane yourself of the sales paradox. Only buy something (on sale) if you reaaallllly love it and you can think of at least three ways to wear it. If you kind of like it, don't buy it.
    it's kind a hard.. but i'll try my best!
    thx for sharing the tips :)

    http://ashmotion.blogspot.com

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  37. i love your blog. First time on here and I'm following -this post is just one of the wake up calls up 'over spenders' need to get once in a while. lol

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  38. Great advice! Oh my gosh, I don't know if I could ever achieve a minimalist wardrobe because I have a difficult time letting go of things :( But I think I've got to clean out my closet very soon.

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  39. Oh, great advice! I'm trying to be more minimal myself. Only, I just LOVE having A LOT of clothes. I simply cannot part with beloved items! I mean, I know the whole "if you don't wear it for a year" rule. BUT I don't wear clothes for a year, rediscover them, and then wear them all the time!

    Plus, I can think of three articles of clothing that I have given away in the past, that I want back still! (yes, my closet is packed).

    All that said: I'm trying to be a better Kimberellie! Really!

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  40. Thanks for this tips!! I'm poor too so I find this very helpful, add another follower to your list ;)

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  41. How do you deal with things that don't fit that you're emotionally attached to though? That's what always gets me. Piles of stuff that was a gift from so and so, made by my grandma, etc. etc. ; )

    http://rubyslipperjourneys.blogspot.com

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  42. Great advice! I'm also a fast shopper. I only shop when I am looking for something in particular...I go in a store, look for the item. If it's not there I leave immediately. If it is, but if it is out of my mental budget, I will leave. Only if it is within what I think is a reasonable price (to me, not relative to what the store thinks is reasonable) then I will try it on and maybe buy it. I often come back empty-handed, but that's okay.

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  43. that;s a really great tips!
    im sure it will be useful for me too!

    xoxo

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  44. great advice..you have the best readers!! i feel as though my closet is smaller than most too :)

    stop by sometime <3
    http://passportglamour.blogspot.com

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  45. Such great tips! I'm also a fast shopper :)

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  46. you mentioned that it's good to settle on certain numbers of clothing for each categhory. i am desperately trying to get rid of most of my clothes so can you tell me how many items of each cloth you have? and do you ever save cloeths just because of the sentimental value they have for you? that seems to be my biggest problem when thinking of throwing something away. and great tips! i will definitelt try do the same as you on tip #11

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  47. Thanks for the wonderful tips! We´re transferring to a new flat soon with a shared closet between me and the hubby and I need to minimize my clothes. huhu!

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  48. elaine, these are great tips! i definitely have a problem with purging my closet. i'll definitely keep these in mind. thanks for sharing!:)

    TheOwlsCloset.blogspot.com

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  49. lovely advice dear. i too hate shopping, but love clothes!

    http://cherylclarke.blogspot.com

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  50. Great to hear. Thanks for the tips!

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  51. this is such a great post, i will definitely be taking some of these tips to purge my closet!

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  52. Sigh. I totally should have done this over the summer. Now school's starting and I'll be busy with second grade and I will keep pushing my purge back! ARGH!
    http://www.momomod.com

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  53. those are really great tips; I already do quite a few. Love the idea of having a fixed number of different items (#5). I think I'll start working on my list :).
    www.mammalooka.com

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  54. elaine, these tips are fabulous! goal for next year: become more like you; purge closet.

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  55. Awesome tips! I always try to buy clothes I can wear at least 3 different ways. Something feels like a waste if you can only wear it one way!

    --Courtney
    http://beautyandtherecession.blogspot.com

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  56. So, I used this as inspiration for my post today... Just wanted to you know! :)

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  57. cool tips!...i really can use them :)

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  58. totally used this advice today:
    http://bit.ly/cqYsvT

    thanks!

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  59. great post! you definitely made some valid points! (i.e. if they don't fit or flatter, toss 'em - no questions aksed!) something to think about :) feel free to check out my "pro thrift tips" - http://simplychicforcheap.wordpress.com/thrift-tips/

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  60. These are such great tips since I really need to clean my closet of all the unwanted items! :)

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  61. The only tips I have are more questions...I got from a book! They apply to clothing and anything really! The questions are:
    1. Do I use this?

    2. How long has it been since I've used it?

    3. Will I use it again?

    4. Is it worth the space it takes up in my house?
    And I have more tips on purging your house or closet on this post (http://www.sloanbook.com/2011/05/tips-to-declutter-your-home.html) if you (or whoever) are interested but sounds like you are doing well since your closet is so minimalistic :)

    Ashley Sloan

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  62. I just came across your blog today, and I think it's wonderful (has it bookmarked already)! I've been wanting to fix up my wardrobe for a while now and yours inspired me to do just that!

    I will take note of these guidelines and clean out my closet. Thanks a bunch for the helpful tips :)

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  63. Your tips are so helpful. I'm in the process of decluttering and I descovered that I didn't wear 70% of what I have in my closet! I'm selling, giving away and to be honest, I'm much happier. Anyway, great tips! www.moiminnie.blogspot.com x

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