At the beginning of my minimalist, zero waste journey clothes, shoes and accessories were a difficult area for me to reduce. I suffered from bulging drawers and not enough hangers. Once loved items stayed packed away for sentimental reasons. Extra purses, bags and shoes piled up. Never worn scarves and hats tumbled from shelves. Each special occasion was a chance to buy new things, only for them to be worn once and then stored away. I once had a whole section of my wardrobe for “special party dresses” that never ever got worn. The section was so big that I’d have to move them to get to my everyday clothes every day. But now…
… now it’s all gone.
And it’s been gone for years. I feel proud and lighter. I never worry about not having enough space for clothes. I have more than enough to wear every day. I rarely worry about what to wear. I can clearly see and remember what I have. Packing for trips is easy. Washing day is simpler.
How I reduced (and reused) my wardrobe
By now you know the punchline is Marie Kondo. And it’s true, I read the Marie Kondo book in 2015. And I tidied up my clothes, shoes and accessories. I held each item, I kept what filled me with joy and the rest I discarded. It was actually quite easy for me to let go using the Konmari method. It’s like I’d been waiting to do it for years but hadn’t known how. Once I did I was able to reduce everything – new clothes, old clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery. It all went.
My discarded items weren’t really discarded and many went on to have a variety of new lives. I sold the newer or good quality pieces at local consignment stores or on Poshmark. I gave some away to neighbours via my hyperlocal Buy Nothing group. Others went as donations to charities and some are being used as wash cloths and rags in my home.
How I retain a minimal wardrobe
Since my initial purging I’ve kept my closet pretty minimal. There’s lots of ways I do that.
Each time I go to my wardrobe and touch things I do the same Konmari method. I regularly find things that need to move on and I let them go.
I do not buy anything I haven’t wanted for, at least, a few weeks. And although I’m not on a strict “you can’t buy clothes” plan some years I have only brought a single item of clothing all year.
Likewise I don’t have a strict “one in, one out” policy but I certainly try to reuse and reduce before I add more.
Black, grey, black or blue denim, dark blue and, rarely, white are the only colours I allow in my wardrobe. This means that more of my clothes go with each other and I’m not buying new items to “go with” unusual items in my closet.
I do not window shop. I do not shop for fun. Basically, I never shop without a very specific item in mind. Think “I need x item for x purpose.” I usually know the colour (usually black) and the material I want (usually cotton). I’ve often researched the item online before and know exactly what I want before I buy online or head to the store.
I do not buy dry clean only clothes. And I avoid special fabrics. These tended to get left unwashed for weeks (or months) and so become useless wasted items in my closet.
I avoid all special occasion clothes or shoes. And buy only items that have multiple purposes.
I buy good quality brands and items that last longer and have a resale value. Doing this means I buy fewer things that last longer. It also means my items are way more likely to have a second or third life after I’ve decided I’m done with them. And this option to resell or regift means I’m more likely to remove them from my closet rather than keeping them around to avoid wasting them.
I’ve also worked hard to source ethical and, if at all, possible U.S. made products. This means my options are limited and helps me be very thoughtful about what I’m adding to my closet.