10 Fun, No-Risk Ways to Try a Minimalist Wardrobe Today

Is your closet bulging with clothes, yet you feel like you have nothing to wear?  Do you shop often for new pieces, yet still feel unsatisfied with what you own?  I've been where you are.  Maybe, like me, what you really need is a minimalist wardrobe.

A minimalist wardrobe is a small, carefully chosen collection of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create dozens of outfits.  When you streamline and craft your wardrobe in this way, you can break free of the never-ending cycle of buying, purging, and buying even more clothes.

I realize that a minimalist wardrobe can sound scary.  When you're used to an overstuffed closet, the idea of paring down in order to gain more usable choices seems impossible, impractical, and like something you're going to regret.

I had similar feelings when I first tried a minimalist wardrobe years ago.  That's why I've created this list of ways to test the idea before you make a full commitment.  It's an approachable way to find out if a minimalist wardrobe is right for you.

comfy wardrobe choices

10 minimalist wardrobe experiments

1.  Choose a number.

One popular way to try a minimalist wardrobe is to choose a specific number of pieces to wear for a set period of time.  If this sounds familiar, you might have heard or read about Courtney Carver's Project 333

Courtney's rules are simple.  Choose 33 wardrobe items (clothes, shoes, accessories) to wear for 3 months.  Does that sound hard?  Don't worry – you don't have to sacrifice style.  In fact, limiting your options inspires you to choose your favorites, which lets you feel good about what you're wearing every day.

The triple threes make an easy-to-remember title, but you can adjust the experiment to fit your needs.  Choose 40 items to wear for a month, 12 items to wear for a week, or create a 4x4 wardrobe.  Simply choose a number and give it a try.

2.  Embrace a work uniform.

Instead of restricting all of your fashion options, narrow them down in just one area.  It's a fun way to project your personal image, and lets you practice with a minimalist wardrobe before committing to a complete purge.

If you have a go-to outfit for work, you don't have to stress about what to wear each morning, and you can spend that time doing something more valuable, such as exercising, journaling, or enjoying a nice breakfast.  Plus, by limiting your clothing options, you can invest in higher-quality pieces that look better and last longer.

Follow the lead of servers to plan a work uniform for yourself.  You don't have to go with black pants and a white shirt.  I've known someone who chose a simple black dress she altered with different belts, sweaters, scarves, and jewelry each day.  Someone else wore a navy suit with different shirts and ties.  Choose whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident.

3.  Wear one piece all week.

Choose your favorite article of clothing and wear it all week to see if a minimalist wardrobe is right for you.

You could choose your favorite jeans, your best cardigan, or your fitted leather jacket.  You'll get to appreciate the versatility of that one item as you mix and match it, dress it up and dress it down, and wear it in different settings.

After a week of wearing the same thing, you'll have a better idea of whether you want to commit to a minimalist wardrobe.  Did it feel good to have less clutter in your closet and fewer decisions to make each day?  Did you enjoy challenging your creativity, or did you feel bored and limited by the lack of variety?

4.  Limit shoes.

Don't stop at simplifying your clothes.  Pare down your shoe choices too.  I suggest trying three pairs per season.

When choosing shoes, consider their practicality.  Are they comfortable enough to wear every day?  Do they suit the activities you like to do?  Are they right for the weather you expect to encounter?

Make shoes do double duty.  For example, you may need running shoes, but you could also wear them to the gym or out to the grocery store.  Maybe you need hiking boots, but you could choose a pair lightweight enough to wear around town.  Lower heels may be better for work, but you could also wear them for a night out.

5.  Streamline accessories.

Here's another way to experiment with less.  Pare down to a few key pieces that can be worn with a variety of outfits.  Perhaps your favorite pair of simple earrings plus your favorite pair of dressy earrings.  A nice belt or watch could add just the right amount of sophistication to your attire.  One special necklace could be your signature piece.

It can be liberating to have a few go-to items that save you time each morning, always look great, and are of a high quality that you'll enjoy wearing for years.

6.  Pick a color palette.

Limiting your choices to a particular set of colors is a great way to experiment and see if minimalist fashion appeals to you.

Begin with a base color, such as black, brown, navy, beige, gray, or another neutral.  Next pick two or three colors you like to wear with your base color (they don’t have to be neutrals).  Now remove everything from your closet that doesn't blend with those colors, and start mixing and matching within your chosen palette.

You may just discover a new and simple way of dressing!

7.  Show off a statement piece.

If you like, add extra personality to your mix-and-match palette (see #6).  A bold graphic tee, a bright blazer, or a felt fedora could shine for a season as the star of your wardrobe.

This gives you the chance to make the most of a statement piece, wearing it intentionally and with greater frequency.  Do you find that you appreciate that piece more when it's your only option for adding spice to your outfits?

8.  Use one coat and one bag.

Do you really need five winter coats?  Do you need a different purse for each outfit?

Test your ability to enjoy a minimalist wardrobe by choosing one coat per season.  Whether a belted trench, a fleece-lined denim jacket, a powder blue raincoat, or a simple hoodie, reduce decision fatigue while keeping utility and style.  Also choose one bag for each season, and save the hassle of switching out the contents while still enjoying variety through the year. 

9.  Dress up casual pieces.

Special occasions can send us running to the store, looking for something new to match the event.  Why not experiment with different combinations and discover the versatility of what you already own?  Once you dress up your favorite pair of jeans with a silky blouse and high heels, or change a simple black sheath dress into date night attire by adding a gold belt and dangly earrings, you may realize you don't need as many pieces as you once thought.  Not only will this save you money and space, but it gives you confidence in your choices as you play dress-up with your existing wardrobe.

10.  Get more wear from fancy pieces.

If you have a lot of dressy pieces in your closet, but want to experiment with a more minimalist approach, dress down!

Feel empowered and creative by finding new ways to use those things you thought you could only wear to a wedding or New Year's party.  Maybe that cocktail dress will be really cute with some sneakers and your denim jacket, or that embroidered bolero jacket can go to the office over your black trousers and plain white tee.  You may even find a new favorite outfit in the process.

Try it, you'll like it!

A minimalist wardrobe simplifies daily life, saving money, time, and space, while adding to your personal style, confidence, and creativity.  Don't worry about making a full commitment today – try one or more of these 10 experiments to find what works for you.  I think you'll discover that less really is more when it comes to fashion.

If you liked this article, you'll love my book The Minimalist Wardrobe: Buy Less, Choose Well, and Feel Confident Every Day,* available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.  

It's a modern consumer belief that we need a large wardrobe to be interesting, but limits encourage creativity, and a smaller closet doesn't have to be boring or restrictive.

The Minimalist Wardrobe will help you learn

  • how to build a smaller wardrobe
  • how to make decluttering decisions
  • how to let your closet inspire you
  • how less is more when it comes to creating your personal style
  • how three words can help define your preferences
  • how a signature outfit might increase your peace, poise, and productivity

... and so much more.  This best-selling book can be your guide to a wardrobe that passes the "feel good test" and lets you wear your favorite things every day.

Read Kindle books on your phone, tablet, or computer with Amazon's free app, or borrow them with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.


  1. The whole concept of paring down to a desired number of mix or match outfits seems freeing just thinking about it. Part of my problem is I have so many pieces that I think I love, but then I’ll put something on and think “no doesn’t look good” and fold the piece or hang it back up and think well maybe some other time. I don’t even know where to begin putting outfits together to make my life easier, instead of all the indecision. One other problem is that I have spent so much money on all these clothes (some still with tags on) and I regret so many purchases. Also, hate to get rid of them since it’s lots of wasted money. I did take lots to a consignment shop,
    however the amount you actually get is minimal. I did purge a lot of them, however have tons more..for instance 6 long winter coats, plus a winter jacket. What I keep thinking is that I wish I had the money instead. I am 77, is it too late to begin and where and how?

    1. Several things to start with. First, you must have some pieces you wear over and over. Does that give you a clue about colors, styles, cuts, silhouettes, etc.? You could start there and just put together five or six outfits to wear for a week. Don't try to create a whole wardrobe at once.

      Let the colors and styles you notice showing up let you set perimeters for your minimalist wardrobe, such as "Yes, I like slim dark-colored slacks," "No, I don't like pastels," "Yes, I like 3/4 length sleeves," etc. Build from there, eventually getting to 30-40 pieces you can mix and match for a month. Actually, if you have enough clothes for a month, you probably have enough clothes, except for the occasional formal situation.

      About the clothes with tags -- keeping them in your closet doesn't bring the money back. That money is gone. Call it tuition for a life lesson you've learned. Consign the pieces if you want, but no, you'll never get back what you paid. Let your guilty feelings about what you spent help you to be wiser in the future.

      Never too late to begin. Never too late.


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