Sterling Effort

Building a minimalist wardrobe

October 14, 2012 by Guest Post in Saving with 0 Comments

These days there is so much affordable fashion available on the high street, it’s easy to go overboard and stuff your wardrobe full of cheap, short-lived clothes – short-lived in fashion terms, short-lived in quality terms. What seem like bargains at the time can soon amount to pouring your money down the drain as trends change and garments fall to bits. The idea behind building a minimalist wardrobe is to invest in quality staple pieces that will stand you in good stead for years to come, and add flair using accessories and other less costly items. Good quality items tend to be better cut and look smarter and stay looking smarter for longer, definitely something to keep in mind when it comes to work wear. However, not everyone will need the same base for their wardrobe. As we will see, tailoring these items to your lifestyle and work dress code is of vital importance. With this in mind, there are some key steps to follow to get your wardrobe in order.

Firstly, before you start have a clear out. I know getting rid of stuff might not seem like the best option when your goal is to save money, but it goes a little like the saying ‘clean body clean mind’; if your wardrobe is clear of clutter, it’ll be easier to keep it that way. Be ruthless. If you haven’t worn it in the past year, ask yourself if you are ever going to. Anything branded or otherwise sought after might make you a little something on eBay, but do your research and see if it’s worth it. If you don’t stand to make much, you might find most of your potential earnings swallowed up in listings fees. Take anything else still in good condition to a local charity shop. Anything stained or beyond repair must go. Before binning these, check if there is anywhere in your local area to take clothes to be recycled – a lot of the larger supermarkets have textiles banks specifically for these.

The next step is to work out what your “lifestyle activities” are. You can find countless lists detailing the essential items for a minimalist wardrobe, but these are of next to no use if they suggest having three men’s suits as your work wear yet your job is a fitness instructor! Your minimalist wardrobe needs be adapted to your workplace and also to your leisure activities. Furthermore, though the object is to streamline your wardrobe, you do need to be left with enough clothes for everything you do.

A good way to transition your wardrobe is to imagine lots of ‘mini-wardrobes’. These can be:

  • The basics – around ten pairs of socks and ten pairs of underwear will see you through the week with a few to spare for when you forget or don’t have time to do the laundry. This also includes thermals and pyjamas if you need them!
  • Work wear – what this constitutes will depend entirely upon your line of work but as a general rule, three pairs of trousers and six shirts will make a good base.
  • Formal wear – if you are likely to have occasion to really smarten up more than once or twice a year, do consider investing in a good suit. If not, you’ll be better of hiring one if and when the time arises.
  • Weekend – a few casual shirts, sweater and t-shirts will give you a lot more options to mix and match than you think. Two pairs of well-made, decent fitting jeans or chinos will see you in much better stead than lots of not-quite-right pairs.
  • Active wear – this is something that often gets missed out of many lists like this and once again, the same rules apply. Which activities you do and how often will dictate what apparel you need but still go for quality over quantity. Given that these are the clothes probably needing washing the most frequently, poor quality items will show their age very rapidly.
  • Outerwear – what you need in terms of coats or jackets will be dictated by your climatic surroundings but for the UK think something for the rain, a lighter transitional jacket and something for winter.

Finally, the most fun and the least fun parts. I’ll get the bad news out of the way first; if you want a minimalist wardrobe that will stand the test of time, you are going to have to look after your clothes. This means dry cleaning the pesky ‘dry clean only’ garments and repairing things before they become beyond repair. With that out of the way, let’s have a think about what makes a well-dressed man. The best dressed men tend to have a uniform of sorts and then make it their own by mixing up the smaller touches: watches, belts, scarves, socks, cufflinks, and, in moderation, t-shirts. These needn’t be too flashy but they can make all the difference. Something as small as the difference between a black and a brown belt can completely change a look. A reversible belt can even let you do this one and really keep your wardrobe minimalist!

So in summary, a minimalist wardrobe should allow for a tidy, organised wardrobe where you always have the right thing to wear. Ultimately, it will also mean more money in your wallet and less time spent on clothes shopping.

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Sterling Effort was created to stuff some financial knowledge into those of us who grew up without being taught how money really works; how to make it, save it and grow it. Our aim is to give you clear and concise information regarding personal finance and hopefully provide some entertainment along the way.
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