Guide to Essentialism: Wardrobe Edition

Do you simultaneously feel like your wardrobe is overflowing, yet you have nothing to wear?

Do you buy things, and then instantly regret the purchase?

Do you find yourself spending a bit too much time shopping?

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, Essentialism may be just what you need for a little closet (+ life) clarity!

Nonessentialist vs Essentialist - Which Wardrobe Do You Have?The idea of Essentialism was popularized by Greg McKeown’s book, which offers up practical solutions for getting your priorities straight. 

He defines Essentialism as a decision-making framework for discerning what’s actually important and eliminating everything that is not. 

By honing in on the things that really matter to you, he believes you'll have a more purposeful, fulfilled life. This ruthless prioritization will help you reclaim control of how you spend your time and energy, instead of defaulting to letting others choose for you.

We've found that easiest way to start applying Essentialism is to your wardrobe.

Once you become more intentional with your wardrobe, you'll build up your prioritization muscles, and will be able to apply Essentialism to areas of your life that are tougher to prioritize.

So how exactly do you apply Essentialism to your wardrobe?

Guide to An Essentialist Wardrobe |

The 80/20 Rule

On average, we only wear 20% of the clothes we own on a regular basis. Think about it, don’t you always reach for your favorite outfits over and over again?

By keeping that extra 80% of closet around, it actually makes you think you have nothing to wear. When in reality you probably have plenty wear. What’s actually happening is the paradox of choice—where the more choices you have to make, the harder it is to make a decision, and the less confident you are in the decision you ultimately make.

Ready to put an end to decision fatigue? Here are a few tips to help whittle down that extra 80%.

Apply Filters

As you’re decluttering your wardrobe there will be items that are an obvious ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

It’s the ‘maybe’ pile that you’ll really have to create parameters around. For me, I ask myself these questions?

Does it fit?

Does it make me feel confident?

If I didn’t own this already, would I buy it now?

Fit is tricky because sometimes we try to convince ourselves to keep a pair of too-tight jeans around because we think it’ll motivate us to lose those pesky few pounds. These items just make us feel guilty and they need to go.

It's also important to remember what we wear impacts our self-confidence. If something makes you feel frumpy, it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not worth spending a day wearing anything that makes you feel blah.

Finally, get rid of the things you’re keeping around for the ‘just in case’ moments, or things you bought a year ago but have yet to wear. These things tend to make us feel buyer’s remorse when we don’t wear them, and they take up valuable mindshare. Free up your mind for better things!

Be Realistic

While most items in your closet would ideally be things you absolutely love or ‘spark joy’ as Marie Kondo would put it, there are items that serve a functional purpose.

For example, I have a pair of leggings I just feel neutral about. I keep them around because I wear them regularly and they fit well. On the other hand, I have another pair of leggings that I avoid wearing because they’re not as flattering. While they serve a practical purpose, I’ve opted to donate them. See the difference? 

Intentional Shopping

Now that you have a firmer grasp on how to eliminate items, the next step is creating a deliberate shopping list with specific criteria around what you want to bring into your wardrobe.

By stating your intentions before you start shopping, you're able to filter out options that don't match your criteria, saving you a ton of browsing time. Plus, you avoid making impulse purchases. Win-win. 

Keep it Simple

The most important thing to remember with Essentialism is you're doing this is for you, and only you. It’s about making your life simpler, not adding restrictions or creating guilt.

While some people find it's helpful to experiment with a capsule wardrobe, there really isn’t a correct number of things you should or shouldn't own. It’s just about simplifying!

Editor's Note: This post was originally created for my former apparel brand.