September 10, 2012

Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe: Part One

Calling all fashionistas, bargain hunters,  and pin-aholics!!

Welcome to the first edition of our new series on how to Maximize a Minimal Wardrobe 
(while simultaneously simplifying your life, clearing clutter, and solving all your problems)
Aren't you excited you stopped by?! 
It's going to be goooood
There will be some purging, some pairing, and some practical tips to help you feel more confident while getting dressed for the day and maneuvering tempting sale-rack traps and seasonal trends!

Having a Wardrobe that Works for You: 

Let's start by discussing some of the benefits of owning a wardrobe that works for you. It doesn't matter how trendy or chic or casual your closet may be- if it doesn't suit your lifestyle, it can be a major source of stress and discontent. For instance, if you work in a conservative office environment but 75% of your clothes are appropriate for "weekend-wear" there is an imbalance in how your wardrobe is serving you. In contrast, your closet may be crammed full of good quality  expensive things that you've only worn a few times and don't use anymore but you hold onto simply because you spent a lot of money on them. These are bad habits that work against the basic principles of having a wardrobe you wear AND enjoy.

Understanding Your Style:

One of the best ways to get an idea of what styles and ideas you are attracted to is to collect "inspiration" images from magazines or in a folder on your computer or, of course, on Pinterest. I reference my style board anytime I feel stuck or can't remember the details of a look that I wanted to try.  This is also a great way to realize what colors, patterns, and pieces are repeated throughout your collection. Doing this helped me see that I am consistently drawn to pastel and neutral colors, stripes, feminine fabrics, and chic-classic pieces- nearly the opposite of my actual closet. Now when I shop, I train my eye away from bright accessories and busy items that may look great on the rack or are a "great deal" and instead focus on simple, softer items and quality basics I know I'll wear.

Avoiding Common Closet Mistakes:

I hope to save you lots of time and money by addressing some common closet mistakes and helping you to avoid accidentally repeating them. 

Mistake 1: attempting to recreate a pricey look with inexpensive substitutes. Despite how fabulous this concept may look in magazines or on tv (where the "steal" outfit still tops $250), this rarely works out in the real world. Instead you're left with a lower quality generic version of a look you loved and your wallet and confidence takes a hit. Instead of opting for the obvious knock-off, pick a unique piece that compliments the overall look you're hoping to achieve, without making you a sloppy copy cat. Also, your investment will go further when you decide to consign (more below). 

Mistake 2: not taking good care of your clothes (dry-cleaning, re-shaping, and properly hanging/folding) can quickly add unnecessary wear and tear to them. If you have fewer things to wash and dry each week (because you're maximizing a more minimal wardrobe!) you can spend a little extra time and care reading those labels and making sure that wool cardigan doesn't get flung into the dryer and it comes out a pilled mess (ew).
 Mistake 3: No one is safe from the seduction of a freshly stocked sale rack, like a deeply discounted treasure chest, tucked behind an unassuming corner in the back of the store. (But you, SavyShopper, won't be fooled! You mosey past the full-priced displays, touching a cardigan here or there, never detouring from your destination). I love a bargain as much as the next person and can't remember the last full-price thing I purchased... oh no, wait, it was these, and I'm wearing them right now. But I have  a few rules I follow while digging through the racks to help me stay on track.

Be a Savy Sale-Rack Shopper:

1. Stick to classic pieces that compliment your wardrobe (white blouses, neutral prints), nothing too trendy. By the time trends show up in stores, they've been circulating the fashion world for months and the fact that they eventually end up on the sale rack (different from occasional sales or promotions) means they've been passed on by hundreds of other people. 

2. Abiding by the mantras: "It's not a sale if you still can't afford it" and "If you would't buy it full-price, don't buy it on sale". These are timeless tips that truly help save money on frivolous purchases. However, if you are dying to try out a trend or look and randomly happen upon the perfect piece on clearance (i.e. a neutral blazer) at a "higher end" store (Nordstrom, J. Crew, Banana Republic) snap it up! If you turn out to not be a blazer kind of girl, you haven't wasted a ton of money and can likely consign it for close to what you paid. 

3. Prep before you shop! Are you a list-maker? Do you write one before tackling your "To Do's" or heading to the grocery store? If the satisfaction of feeling accomplished with little every check-mark helps you stay organized, making a list for shopping shouldn't be any different! Take a basic inventory of your wardrobe or your inspiration board and make a list of pieces you are on the look-out for: trouser jeans, patterned scarf, neutral flats. This works to keep you from drifting towards buying another great grey sweater while also helping you over the hump of making the purchase when you find the thing you've been looking for. Three cheers for self-control! 
.   .   .

Thank you for stopping by for the first day of our series on Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe. I hope you found these tips to be helpful for getting started on your own quest towards closet-contentment. Next up I'll be sharing my secrets for sorting, organizing, and selling so be sure to stop by!



  1. Can't wait to read the rest! I just started going through the closet yesterday so this series is a nice surprise :D

    1. I am so excited for you! Thank you for reading along, I hope this will be helpful for you. I know it's a daunting task but the "after" feels so much better!

  2. Ugh, I need to go through my closet and I am DREADING it. I'm waiting until my weight stabilizes, though, because I'm in this funky place where I'm hoping to shed recently-acquired poundage...
    I'll definitely consult these tips once I embark on that challenge!

    1. I totally hear you! Not only does our weight fluctuate but so does our taste, so it's so hard to not feel overwhelmed by it all. It's funny how our closets can be places we fill with our emotional junk as well as physical. This process is 70% mental, but I hope this series will be helpful for you! :)

  3. Thank you so much for writing this post. I knew I was saving all those pics on pinterest for a reason, it really does reflect the style I'm looking to achieve and using it as a guide made so much sense. It allowed me to remove the pieces I knew were aesthetically pleasing but not matching my style with out feeling guilty.

    1. Woohoo! You are SO welcome, Katie! I just love knowing that it is helping others in a simple but important way. The day I took a step back from my computer screen and actually figured out how to make my real-life closet reflect the style I was longing for, it took so much of the guesswork out of the whole process. Thanks so much for reading!! xo Hailey


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