Anyone who knows me, knows how ironic it is that I’m writing a piece about clothes, even if it is about the 10 item wardrobe and not what’s trendy this season.

This is because I’m generally known for my casual approach to my wardrobe. My signature look is jeans and a t-shirt. That’s been my look for, well… forever.

Two of my dearest friends studied fashion design. I went to art school. They were always dressed in handcrafted avante garde style. I was usually in thrift store jeans and t-shirts with the requisite ink and paint splatters.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve always loved clothes. Classic styles and beautiful fabrics. Fashion? Not so much.

The 10 item wardrobe - There are many benefits to creating your own minimalist capsule or 10 item wardrobe and they are...

How does this relate to the 10 item wardrobe, not to mention frugal living?

When you focus on buying a few clothes that you love and are of excellent quality, you spend less on your wardrobe and each of those 10 items of clothing will look good for longer. And, you’ll feel good wearing them.

A 10 item wardrobe = less stress

A minimalist wardrobe also has other flow on effects like less stress. Getting ready for work or to go out is much easier when you have fewer choices and those choices are easier to make.

Choosing an outfit is much easier when everything in your wardrobe coordinates perfectly.

Of course, coordinating perfectly doesn’t mean wearing the same thing every day. You can create a coordinated uniform look that’s not a uniform, although there are those who apply that approach to their work wardrobe.

A 10 item wardrobe = better quality

When you choose to buy only two or three items to add to your wardrobe each year, you can choose better quality and therefore higher priced items that will:

  • Fit better
  • Last longer
  • Feel wonderful to wear.

There was one thing Jennifer L. Scott (author of Lessons from Madame Chic : 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris said in her TEDx talk that really struck a chord with me.

It was one of the first times I realised I could respect myself enough to present myself beautifully at all time“.

Too often, you’ll find me sitting at my desk in a holey t-shirt. Or jeans with worn patches.

Working from home means I can dress as I please but Jennifer’s comment made me think about how those tatty clothes are affecting my mindset. The quality of your clothes can reflect your state of mind. And, you’re worth putting some time and energy into dressing well. This is something I plan to work on.

Prioritising quality doesn’t mean your 10 item wardrobe is expensive

One of the biggest benefits of owning less stuff is; you know what you need. Knowing what you need means you shop with a plan. And, frugal folks always shop with a plan.

If you know you’ll need a new coat next winter, you can buy it during the end of season sales. Or, you can start watching your local designer consignment or even thrift stores for the colour and style you want.

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Examples of a 10 item wardrobe

Splash of pink

This example is from The Vivienne Files and, although it’s casual, it would be the perfect work wardrobe for every IT company I’ve ever worked. If jeans are inappropriate for your workplace, you could swap them out for slacks.

 

10 item wardrobe - pink denim monochrome

A splash of pink 10 piece wardrobe. Photo: The Vivienne Files

Neutral

This is a great example of a neutral pallet at work and was put together by Paris to Go. Neutral and monochrome, in well cut pieces and quality fabric never go out of style. If you want to liven up your look you can add a colourful accessory like a scarf or costume jewellery.

10 item wardrobe - neutral monochrome

Neutral and monochrome 10 piece wardrobe. Photo: Paris to Go

Creating your own 10 piece wardrobe

Here’s the five step plan for putting together your own 10 piece wardrobe. Remember, 10 pieces is the aim but if your wardrobe is currently overflowing and you can only reduce it to 20 core pieces, that’s a huge accomplishment.

So, the ideal is 10 pieces but it’s about adopting a new way of looking at your wardrobe and you might need time to adapt to that new mindset.

STEP 1: Empty your closet.

Go through every single piece of clothing you own and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does it fit me?
  2. Is it age-appropriate?
  3. Is it my innate style?
  4. Do I love it?
  5. Do I wear it?

If an item of clothing doesn’t pass the test, get rid of it. Donate it. Sell it. Bin it. Whichever seems most appropriate. Get started by tossing these 10 things first.

STEP 2: Remove seasonal clothes.

If you won’t be wearing it this season, for example, heavy sweaters or shorts. Store them out of sight.

STEP 3: Build your 10 item wardrobe with what’s left.

Depending on the number of items remaining, you might need to separate them into categories (dresses, skirts, pants, etc) before making your final 10 (or 20) choices. As much as possible, choose classic styles in coordinating colours.

Jennifer’s example of a women’s 10 piece wardrobe is:

  • 1 pair of slacks
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 3 dresses and
  • 4 blouses.

If you find you can’t choose between a number of items, use the reverse hanger method to determine what you actually wear. Put all the clothes back in your closet with the hangers reversed. When you wear an item, hang it back in your closet normally. Check back in a couple of weeks to see which hangers are still reversed. It’s safe to say those pieces can go in the donate or sell pile.

STEP 4: Add the extras.

You can add t-shirts, sweaters, special occasion outfits, and accessories to your basic 10 item wardrobe but keep it simple. You don’t need 15 t-shirts. These items don’t count towards your ten pieces but don’t go overboard or it defeats the purpose.

STEP 5: Always shop with a plan.

The 10 item wardrobe is about maintaining a minimalist mindset, so if you’re shopping for clothes, always do so with a plan. You might only be able to stick to the 10 piece wardrobe for your work clothes and that’s OK. What you learn along the way will begin to impact all your clothing purchases.


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What’s next?

I gave my wardrobe a purge earlier this year but I’ll be revisiting it over the next couple of weeks with a view to reducing it down to 10 core items. Realistically, there are many more pieces of clothing in my closet, taking up valuable space, that can go without me ever missing. I think I’m ready to test that hypothesis.

Could you do it? Could you reduce your wardrobe to 10 core items plus a few extras and not feel like you had nothing to wear?

I’m giving it a shot. How about you?

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