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How I Simplified My Wardrobe

I’ve been referencing my wardrobe simplification for a couple months and I’m excited to finally share how I approached the whole process! While I’m still not 100% there yet – I’ve made huge changes and am proud of myself for getting rid of so much JUNK. It all started when I found the blog Into Mind – written by Anuschka. The blog is centered around a minimalist approach to personal style and wardrobe building. I dove in head first but formed my own plan based off hers! Below I’ve outlined the steps that I took:

Step 1: Define Your Approach To Personal Style

My personal style is very simple. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. I almost always wear pants. I don’t tend to layer. I prefer neutral colors. I like to be comfortable. I don’t like to be too cold or too hot for the sake of fashion. Most days I don’t see many people so there isn’t a need to dress up, do my hair or apply makeup.

Step 2: Analyze Your Lifestyle

This step almost gives you permission (and accountability) when choosing items for your new wardrobe. I realized that my time consists of: meetings with clients (about 35% of my time), working at home or at a coffee shop (about 45% of my time), working out or casually hanging out with friends. I never go out partying and I rarely eat at a fancy restaurant. I realize that I need pieces that are professional but comfortable. I don’t need to invest in suits, dresses or many heels because my clients don’t expect that.

Step 3: Find Inspiration

This is the fun part! Since I have a Pinterest account, I was able to see what styles I’ve obviously been drawn toward over the years. I created the following board:

collage

Step 5: Build a Capsule Wardrobe

This is essentially what I’ve spent the past two months creating. A capsule wardrobe is created around a few simple, quality pieces so that you can add or switch things around easily to create an outfit.  You have a uniform but many of the pieces can change depending on the color or combinations. I’m not going to go into as much detail as Into Mind but I’ll briefly describe what my uniform looks like: slim fitting jeans, a top and flats.

Capsule 

Your capsule wardrobe is created around that uniform and should contain about 30 pieces total once you’re done. Keep in mind that this is your capsule wardrobe. While I plan on keeping the amount of clothes that I own to a minimum – you can have more than 30 pieces of clothing. This is just your base.

Capsule2

Step 4: Wardrobe Detox

I did this a little while ago. To begin the process – I cleaned our room and the closet. If it didn’t fit into one of the categories listed above, I put it in the “Give Away/Sell” or “Trash” pile (if it was stained or torn). It is very easy to make a choice once your uniform and wardrobe are established. After that process, I sold everything that I could via an Instagram sale! I sold almost everything and made about $300 after Paypal fees + shipping.

Step 5: Make Additions and Fill Holes

With $300 in my pocket (hello, Nordstrom Rack), credits with Everlane/Pickwick & Weller and credit at a local boutique (the best kind of payment when working with local businesses) – I was able to make the additions that I needed to build my capsule wardrobe! Below you’ll see what pieces I currently own and what I still need (boxed by a purple rectangle):

Tops

Bottoms

Extras

I plan on continuing this method throughout winter and into the other seasons keeping in mind that I’ll have more maintenance between spring and summer/fall and winter.

I plan, over time, to purchase a pair of wedge booties, another sweater, a tweed blazer and two more pairs of pants. Laying this all out is a great way to visually create outfits in your head. Now when I walk into a store, I’m a bit more focused. I can shop but each piece should fit into my wardrobe seamlessly. Almost ever piece that I have can be paired together in any combination. For anything trendier, I plan on supplementing with cheaper pieces from Forever21 or H&M.

Since it is a process, I still found that I had items that just aren’t working with my uniform. I’ve added a handful of other pieces (shoes, too) to my Shop My Closet Instagram account. The pieces all start at $5 (with $5 shipping) and the bidding ends Friday at 5pm EST! I will ship everything on Monday morning.

How to you approach your wardrobe? Is it out of control like mine was a couple months ago? Do you find yourself keeping items that you NEVER wear? Let me know if you try out my interpretation of Into Mind’s 10 Step Process

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60 Comments

  • Reply Emily

    This is an awesome post! I’ve been planning on simplifying my wardrobe, I just haven’t had the courage to. I have a bad habit of going on these sprees where I’ll buy as much as I can for as little.. and I’m often not totally sold on the items that I buy, so they end up getting donated in a few months, it doesn’t make any sense. Thank you for sharing this, you’ve re-inspired me to tackle my closet this week!

    October 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM
    • Reply Allison

      I used to do the SAME thing! I’d get a wad of cash and try to get as many things as possible haha. It was really hard transitioning to wear I buy ONE thing for that much money. Good luck with tackling it all!!

      October 22, 2013 at 9:16 PM
    • Reply Tarah

      Thank you for the inspiration. C= After seeing HOW easy it is it won’t be too much of a challenge. The idea of selling through instagram before I donate is brilliant. I love that your article inspires others to buy/keep only what you truly love and need. This is a smart way for frugal people to afford the quality clothing pieces that I used to buy second hand (the quality has significantly decreased and the prices of thrift shops have increased)

      February 25, 2015 at 11:29 AM
  • Reply Liz

    Girl. You are killin’ it with your posts lately. I love this and it couldn’t have come at a better time because I’m in the process of revamping my entire wardrobe as well. I love all of the pieces you own/plan to own. Thank you for sharing. xx

    October 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Aw thanks Liz!!! Keep me posted on your closet revamp. It’s pretty fun.

      October 22, 2013 at 9:17 PM
  • Reply Susan

    Awesome post. I am not a wardrobe minimalist and my wardrobe has been in transition since leaving corp American 8 yrs ago and birthing two babies ( so both my focus and body have changed.) I feel in a good place now.

    I do like this capsule idea, though. I like the idea of tracking what you have and how it works together… I may use this approach when I cull my closet again in November. I am committed to only keeping clothing I wear…

    October 22, 2013 at 2:26 PM
    • Reply Allison

      I do have to remember that my body will change if I choose to have kids (Which will be hard when I’ve been investing in it). In a way though it’s timeless and can work for you no matter what your circumstance is. With a capsule, you at least have a general style to work within.

      October 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM
  • Reply Ryan, The Blooming Thread

    Seriously… exactly what I’ve been feeling these last few months, but also extending to the rest of my home. I live in a small place so “things” can take over quickly. My closet was spilling over, but once it reached my living space.. it began to feel overwhelming and suffocating!

    I’ve begun the process.. If it’s cluttered, doesn’t have a space, or hasn’t been used.. it’s got to go. (like that Jack Lalanne juicer that’s been stacked on top of my fridge since last summer when I thought I wanted to start juicing)

    It’s amazing the emotional change of state that shifts when your home (and closet) becomes a place of peace, instead of chaos.

    October 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM
    • Reply Allison

      After my closet overhaul – it’s also moved into the rest of my house. Unfortunately I have a big closet where I’ve been just throwing junk. I need to tackle it soon.

      OH and I feel ya about the juicer. Mine just sits on our little piece of countertop! A waste sort of…

      October 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM
  • Reply Alyssa

    Great tips! I’m currently trying to go through a wardrobe detox as well. Right now I’m in the “get rid of all this random crap in my closet” stage. It’s amazing how many clothes I was hoarding that I never even wore or loved.

    I’m also trying to define my personal style, which is harder than I thought! I’ve never felt like I really had a style…I just wore what I liked! But I’ve started a Pinterest board of fashion that I like (not what I THINK I should like. big difference!) so hopefully I start to see it all coming together.

    Anyways, love this post! Hope to do one of my own when I get as far as you have :)

    October 22, 2013 at 3:39 PM
    • Reply Allison

      I was hoarding stuff I NEVER loved. Maybe for a split second in the dressing room haha.

      It’s fun finding a style though!! Excited to see your post when you’re done!

      October 22, 2013 at 9:20 PM
  • Reply Danielle

    Ever since you first spoke of simplifying your life and closet, I have been trying to do the same. I have given away quite a bit – thank God for Goodwill and little sisters! I have slowly been trying to figure out my style and the pieces I need. It’s a lot harder than it sounds :) This post has really helped, because we have similar styles and body types. Now just to make some purchases! Thanks so much for sharing! I have really been enjoying your blog more and more :)

    October 22, 2013 at 6:40 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Yes! My sister is coming this weekend and I’m going to give her so much. And I love that we have similar body types. Not trying to sound creepy haha. But if you ever find a brand or fit you love – let me know!

      October 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM
  • Reply Jocy

    I love lists and this post in general is great. I’ve been doing a wardrobe detox of sorts for the past four years – and in general have been trying to simply and be more cautious with my purchases. I definitely have a uniform and that helps with the spending. It also takes most thought out of dressing for me, which is nice. These days, I think my usual uniform is a silk dress, black tights, a jacket, and ankle boots. When I’m more casual (I don’t have to meet anyone for work), I usually wear jeans and simple basics – and switch up the necklace. But I wear pieces over and over again; I prefer to invest in workhorse items.

    October 22, 2013 at 9:59 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Yes! I LOVE how it cuts down on thinking of outfits or what to wear. Even today I wore grey skinnies, a black tank and a black knit sweater. But my clothing is so comfortable that I can slip on yoga pants when I’m at home and it still goes together. I like easy!!

      October 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM
  • Reply Alle

    Oh, I drool over capsule wardrobes and pray for the strength to be bold enough to cull my closet in order to create my own. It’s hard when you’re in that transition stage between, I-had-two-babies-18-months-apart thing and the okay-now-I’m-really-gonna-get-back-in-shape-thing. I think I just need to dive in and do it with where I’m at now and adjust specific pieces as I get rid of some of the fluff. Excited to try it on a thrifty, consignment shop budget!

    October 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM
    • Reply Allison

      You can totally do it! The nicer suburbs on Columbus have such amazing finds at thrift stores.

      October 22, 2013 at 11:31 PM
  • Reply Noirve | WEEKLINKS

    […] Allie put together a great post on how she simplified her wardrobe which has me wanting to take a stab at my […]

    October 23, 2013 at 1:56 AM
  • Reply Stephanie

    Where did you find those wedge boots that are on your want list? I desperately need them!

    October 23, 2013 at 10:58 AM
    • Reply Allison

      Don’t hate me but I forget where I pulled that photo! I’m sorry :(

      October 24, 2013 at 11:18 PM
  • Reply Rachel Tayse

    I need to do this. I struggle the most because I need to have clothes to work outside on the farms regularly and therefore need a lot of variety for the weather. And of course these items wear out quickly and can’t interchange with ‘nice’ clothes for the days that I have meetings and events. Maybe I need two capsule wardrobes – one for the outside work and one for semi-professional days?

    October 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM
    • Reply Allison

      I think two capsules make sense. If I had a job where I was wearing down my clothing, I would do the same.

      October 24, 2013 at 11:24 PM
  • Reply Allyssa

    I’ve been slowly working on editing my closet in an effort to create a capsule wardrobe and while I’m not quite there yet, this post has given me so many ideas! I think I’m going to clean out my closet this weekend and take note of what items I need. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    October 23, 2013 at 11:56 AM
    • Reply Allison

      That’s so fun!! I hope it goes well. I definitely enjoyed it all – the paring down and the purchasing.

      October 24, 2013 at 11:24 PM
  • Reply Simi

    This is such a helpful post, Allie! I am definitely going to give these steps a try! Thanks for the awesome insight.

    October 24, 2013 at 10:26 AM
    • Reply Allison

      Of course Sim! It feels so good to simplify doesn’t it?

      October 24, 2013 at 11:28 PM
  • Reply Kelly Brito

    How did I miss this post? These tips are pure gold, Allie!!! Thanks! I’ve done a big clean up on my Wardrobe before Spring. It’s probably time to refine it -this time, with all your tips in mind. I’ll SO follow that process.

    October 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM
    • Reply Allison

      Aw thanks Kelly!! Have fun with your winter wardrobe refining lady!

      October 24, 2013 at 11:31 PM
  • Reply Audrey

    I totally wish I could find a “shop my closet” instagram account that sells plus size stuff. I tried to put together a local “plus size closet swap” at my church but it didn’t quite work out.

    My personal style is so plain and then I jazz it up with patterned scarves and colorful jewelry, so a capsule wardrobe is pretty ideal for me– wouldn’t be hard if only I could find some good staple pieces and stop shrinking them!

    I’m trying to budget more so this actually has me thinking about what I wear. I have way too many clothes to wear the same 4 outfits on repeat.

    October 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM
    • Reply Allison

      I felt the same way about finding sales with really petite clothing (like child-like shoe sizes). We have opposite styles only because I wear really plain clothing and then totally fail at jazzing things up. But I’ve come to realize that it’s just not me.

      But ultimately I do wear a lot of the same outfits because of this…

      October 24, 2013 at 11:32 PM
  • Reply Sarah

    I just stumbled upon your blog and love the content! This totally goes against the philosophy of paring down your wardrobe, but where is that green wool blazer from??? So cute!

    October 24, 2013 at 12:04 PM
    • Reply Allison

      AW thanks Sarah! The wool blazer is from Jack Wills! It’s a shop in the UK!

      October 24, 2013 at 11:42 PM
  • Reply Links I’m Loving… | girl about columbus

    […] 2.) Neat: Be Up and Doing’s Ali Lehman shares how to simplify your wardrobe. […]

    October 25, 2013 at 6:01 AM
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    […] Loved this! Great motivation for a simplified wardrobe. […]

    October 25, 2013 at 1:05 PM
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    […] How I Simplified My Wardrobe | Be Up & Doing – This is great advice. GREAT. […]

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    […] this post from be up & doing on  simplifying your wardrobe, and this post from the fresh exchange […]

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    […] // How I Simplified My Wardrobe – Allison Lehmen […]

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    […] a long time now, I’ve wantedneeded to purge + revamp my closet. Allie’s recent post and conversations with my style muse & friend Chelsea lit a fire under me and inspired me to […]

    October 28, 2013 at 6:49 PM
  • Reply Diana

    i only have 2 black pairs of skinny jeans and lots of black and silk cream/white colored tops with a few black dresses. i don’t have time for messy closets, figuring out what i’m going to wear or what’s on trend. i totally support you in this!

    October 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM
    • Reply Allison

      I love this. I remember you posting about your wardrobe before and you were one of the first ones to inspire the change. I pretty much only wear the same 6 tops but like to switch up my pants more often.

      November 6, 2013 at 1:25 AM
  • Reply Christine

    I’ve been simplifying my wardrobe using Project 333, but that project doesn’t really help you other than telling you to pare down to 33 items. I’m definitely going to have to check out into Mind. A minimalist wardrobe is fine as long as I feel great every day!

    October 31, 2013 at 7:01 AM
    • Reply Allison

      Yes let me know how it goes! I’ll have to check out Project 333 too. It’s so easy to get dressed every day!

      November 6, 2013 at 1:25 AM
  • Reply Starred this Week

    […] really need to simplify my wardrobe […]

    November 2, 2013 at 10:32 AM
  • Reply Elisabeth

    I HEART THIS. Literally saving this post as I comment. I have been meaning to go through all of my JUNK in my closet. It’s been on my to do list for weeks but I have just been pushing it back + back. Ready to dive in + GO. Thank you!

    November 5, 2013 at 10:11 PM
    • Reply Allison

      So glad to hear it!! My next step is to pare down my PJs/athletic clothing. Keep me posted, Elisabeth!

      November 6, 2013 at 1:26 AM
  • Reply Winter wardrobe Mum's Days

    […] up and Doing wrote at the end of October how she simplified her wardrobe by following this simply […]

    November 12, 2013 at 7:56 AM
  • Reply Mikalene

    You would like the book Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott. I’ve been reading/watching her blog for about a year. She talks a lot about capsule wardrobes.

    http://dailyconnoisseur.blogspot.com/

    November 13, 2013 at 4:35 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Amazing! I’m so delayed in responding but I’m checking it out now.

      January 19, 2015 at 5:08 PM
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    November 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM
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    […] I posted about simplifying my wardrobe, I’ve learned a lot more about my style. When I first started paring down my clothes, I had […]

    March 4, 2014 at 7:00 AM
  • Reply estherjulee

    this is amazing! thanks for sharing!! i’ve been trying to downsize my closet for a while. I’m trying to do project 333. have you heard of it? :)

    March 18, 2014 at 7:59 PM
    • Reply Allison

      I have but I don’t know much about it! How has the process been?

      January 19, 2015 at 5:08 PM
  • Reply Spring Uniform | Be Up & Doing

    […] 60s for the next 10 days so I’m hoping that I can bust out my spring wardrobe soon! Last year I shared exactly how I pared down my wardrobe and as the weather started turning warmer, I realized that I pretty much got rid of everything in […]

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  • Reply Kate

    Well done! I think I always associated “simple wardrobe” with boring. The pieces you picked are so cool and timeless! You’ve really inspired me to simplify my own closet. So glad I stumbled on this post : )

    May 31, 2014 at 1:13 PM
    • Reply Allison

      YAY! Glad I could make it seem less boring. I agree – I always would get bored with the idea of super plain items.

      January 19, 2015 at 5:09 PM
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    […] Be Up & Doing […]

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