Simplify Your Wardrobe…So You Can Feel Fabulous Every Day

Simplify your wardrobe and love what you wear–any day of the week!

Simplifying my wardrobe has been such a fun--and liberating--project! I love keeping only the clothes that I love, and then loving what I wear every day!

This post is part of the Monday series on simplifying that inspired my book,Your Simple Home Handbook. The series began with 10 Reasons to Start Simplifying Now.

I’m on a mission to simplify my home. Last week, I shared my top 10 reasons to start simplifying, and today we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. We begin with…The Wardrobe.


Because clothes are just fun! And I’m realising that a pared-down closet–that contains only pieces you love–is incredibly liberating and empowering.

Keep in mind these goals of a simple wardrobe (and add a few of your own). With a simple wardrobe, you can:

  • Enjoy everything you wear, everyday.
  • Have an easier time picking an outfit in the morning.
  • Feel refreshed instead of burdened or overwhelmed when you open your closet.

I’m not going to prescribe a magic number of outfits you should keep (although if you want that, this post might help), but shoot for this: Your total wardrobe (closet and dresser) should comfortably fit all of your clothes at once, both summer and winter items.

That way, if you choose to store off-season items (as I do), you’ll have lots of extra breathing space in your drawers and closet, and if you keep them all together, you can do so without having to stuff and crunch.

The Fun Part

Open your closet and pull out only the things that you love, love, love. Pretend like you’re packing for a trip. When you’re going on vacation, you only bring the items that you love and that are the most versatile, right?

When I went on a trip to Mexico with my husband earlier this summer, I only packed items that I thought were pretty and made me look the best. Why not wear those things all the time? Why not ONLY wear cute, comfortable vacation things?

The Hard Part

Next, pull out your standby pieces that you wear often, but that don’t excite you much. Why are you keeping them? When I looked at my wardrobe with an extra-critical eye, I discovered lots of clothes that were uncomfortable or unflattering. I had been keeping them for the same recurring reasons:

  • Because they had sentimental value
    Example: A (faded and old) T-shirt with good memories of high school summer camp.
  • Because they were classics that every closet “must have”
    Example: A (tight and scratchy) black turtleneck.
  • Because they still fit
    Example: Lots of (stained or wrong-color) summer tops.
  • Because I was used to wearing them
    Example: The long-sleeved (pilled and worn) brown sweater that I pulled out of the box each fall.
  • Because I had other items that served the same purpose
    Example: The (duplicate to another pair) cozy, faded jeans to be lazy in or go for a hard hike.

Try on everything. Compare each item with the items in your “love” pile. The “love” pile is your new standard, and you’ll start to see that a lot of your old standby items just don’t match up.

This skirt? Nope. Scratches.

This blouse? Too small.

These pants? Look…weird.

That summer top? Not cute enough.

Purge Your Closet

This picture shows the summer items that didn’t make the cut.

After being ruthless with the standby pieces, pull out the items you don’t wear often and decide why you don’t wear them. Either they don’t look good on you, or you haven’t given creative thought to make them work for you. I re-discovered a cardigan that I bought in Chile which will work great for fall, but that I’d forgotten about!

The Liberating Part

Time to get that excess out of your life! This is when you are truly simplifying. Because if those cast-offs stay in a box by your door for a month, they’re still cramping your style. Sell or donate your items, but let them go–and start enjoying the benefits of a simpler, more peaceful wardrobe!

Another Fun Part

After stripping down your wardrobe, you may find that you need to fill in a few gaps. Work from the bottom tier of stores first. I visited consignment and thrift stores to purchase well-fitting pants, shorts, and a belt in like-new condition. Next, I checked Kohl’s but didn’t find anything that met my new standards. I’ll visit Target and a few department stores while I save up my money to buy more specialty pieces online.

While you save up money to put the finishing touches on your wardrobe, try out new combinations with what you have! I decided to wear my favourite skirts on weekdays, not just dates. I also started pairing long-sleeved button-up shirts with shorts, cuffing the sleeves just below my elbows.

I’m also classing up my wardrobe by keeping everything on well-made wooden hangers. Just adds a bit of quality!

simplify your wardrobe

A Few Notes for Guys

For my guy readers, I would suggest simplifying your clothes, too. Stuffed dresser drawers tend to spit clothes out onto the floor all too easily. My husband says that men tend to wear their clothes until their clothes are worn out. In this case, you may just need to do a quick purge of all your ratty, worn-thin items and buy a few new replacements. Another thing: guys often have an overdose of T-shirts, so that would be a good area to thin out.


Shoes and accessories need posts of their own, of course! I think the next step will be shoes…will you join me next Monday?

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Do you want lots more simple living ideas? Check out my brand new book! Your Simple Home Handbook is a 100+ page guide to decluttering your home and simplifying your stuff. Work through 30 different areas of your home–at your own pace–and enjoy the benefits of a space that breathes! Click here to learn about my book!


  1. I love the idea of simplifying but it is so hard for me! I am glad that you are writing about it though so I can work on being better about this. My closet is especially terrible. I know I have lots of clothes I no longer wear, but I always wonder if I might need it or maybe it will fit again. I think I might start a list of areas around my home that need to be simplified and work on one thing at a time, even if it is just one every month or couple of weeks.

    1. Yep, I totally found that I was keeping stuff for a lot of good reasons…but that stuff just wasn’t getting worn or enjoyed. They’re out of my closet now and I haven’t missed them!

  2. I did this over the summer, but I think it’s time for a fall overhaul! This definitely is a system I’ve never heard before– just keep the stuff you LOVE! Brilliant. 🙂 Thanks, Elsie!

    1. You’re welcome! I always try to do a little “simplifying” each season, but this time I really got down to business…and was shocked by how much I still found to get rid of!

  3. I definitely need to do this. I am terrible with keeping clothes I don’t really like/want/wear/need and also buying more. I am going to try this and see how it goes! Thank you!

  4. Alright, just about done with my summer clothes! I’ve gone through them before, but I love you’re idea to act as if you’re packing and only take the items you love! It’s made it much easier to sort through things.

    1. Aah! Awesome! Thanks for coming back here to comment! I try to go through my stuff every season, but this time I really “got serious.” (:

  5. Where do you start when you have nothing you love? I have been a stay at home mom and homeschooling mom for a long time and have sacrificed clothing. My body has changed also. Now when I have the money, I don’t know where to start. I love living a simplified more meaningful life. Do you have suggestions for a good place to start… i.e. jeans, then… Thanks!

    1. Jeans are a good place to start! My favorite pair is just from Target–dark wash, with a straight leg. If it was summer, I’d say get a skirt in a pattern that catches your eye. You could wear it with any plain t-shirt or cardigan you already own. Since the weather’s getting cold, I think a great place to start is to buy an attractive sweater in a color that will look good with your hair and skin tone.

      Just build your wardrobe gradually, and ask for some clothes money for Christmas! Get a nice pair of jeans, a few pretty sweaters, a well-cut jacket, a scarf in a color that makes you smile, a pair of comfortable boots if you’re able.

  6. Hey there! I came across this article on Pinterest. Thanks for sharing! I really need to clean out my closet…I’m running out of room and it seems like a such a waste to have so many clothes when they can be worn by someone else who might need them. We live in a tiny house and don’t have much room for storage, so all 4 seasons of clothing are in my one closet! Eek! I have my work cut out for me – thanks!


  7. This is absolutely FANTASTIC! I’ve been scouring the internet for fun, practical new ways to make 2014 awesome and less stressful, as well as become a much better wife to my husband in the home department with cleaning/organizing/housekeeping, and this article hit the nail on the head for me. I’ve already turned my hangers around in my closet, so those items that I haven’t worn in the past year will be the first to go. I’m excited to keep all the items that I LOVE now! It’s genius. 🙂 Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now, onto the next area!!

  8. This is where I am right now. Im tired of holding on to stuff I don’t wear or use. I’m about to go into major decluttering mode. I might even make some blog posts about it to motivate others! Thanks for a great post!

    1. Have fun decluttering! It does feel so great! And for sure write some blog posts. Writing about it will get you feeling even more motivated and excited–definitely happened with me(:

  9. So I must say I love this article and what you wrote! I myself am a clothes hoarder and I keep pretty much everything. I just love clothes. Not too long ago I did go through my clothes and I thought I got rid of a lot of stuff but I counted my dresses and I still have almost 200 dresses. I mean I know I don’t need that many but I want them all lol. But I am going to do this and once and for all only keep the things I absolutely love! I love the idea of wearing things that I am in love with every day and not saving them for a special occasion! But my question is once I get my closet finished how do I go about shopping from now on? I am a shoppoholic and I love to buy clothes. But usually when I shop I am after unique things that stand out that no one else is gonna have so it’s not like I’m buying 20 different T-shirt s lol. And even though I think I will be happier when I downsize my closet I don’t think it’s gonna make me not want new things anymore.

    1. Well, you never know exactly how decluttering will change your perspective. But it will in some way, believe me! It is a very worthwhile, eye-opening, and fun practice. Your urge to buy new things might actually decrease. Even if it doesn’t, decluttering will indeed change your life in other ways. To answer your question, does “window shopping” work for you? Can you curate a Pinterest board to explore outfits, and enjoy the artistic aspect of clothes-finding without actually purchasing? My guess is that you need to retrain and redirect your habits in some way. This could mean avoiding the stores for a long time so you’re not constantly reinforcing the desire to shop. Or setting parameters around your shopping: like only buying X number of things when you go out or shopping with a time limit. If you shop less, you will have to add a new habit in to fill the gap, so think about what that could be for you. Something that’s easy and fun to pursue, that will be a net positive in your life. Happy simplifying! I hope it goes well for you and you will learn more about yourself and what you love through the process!

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