Home Lifestyle The Benefits of the 10 Item Wardrobe

The Benefits of the 10 Item Wardrobe

by Diane

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 color and style you want.

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


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 colorful 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 colors.

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.

Are you new to my blog? Smart Money, Simple Life aims to help you find ways to live your best life by being smart with your money and choosing to live life on your own simple terms.

One awesome way to build the life of your dreams is to do the work you love. For me, that’s blogging. Blogging has opened up a bright new world I never knew existed and, it’s helping me build an income I can rely on.

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  • Start a blog. Blogging is a great way to share your unique insight with the world. It’s also great for creating additional income. I make semi-passive income each and every month from my blogs and you can, too. Use my guide to create your own blog and you can start your blog for as little as the cost of a latte per month. Plus, sign up through my link and you get a free domain.
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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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Image: Pixabay

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Darnell Greene January 16, 2020 - 4:57 am

I think this will only work for people who live in a certain climate and have a certain lifestyle. As a professional who lives in Florida I often have to go from day to night and no where in here is there mention of the cocktail or formal wear I am frequently required to wear. No way I buy one and wear it to every event. No judgement but my clothes get washed after every wear with few exceptions because of the heat and humidity.

Adriana January 25, 2019 - 12:11 am

This is a great idea. I have recently lost 36+ pounds and have 20 more to go. As I downsize my body I will also downsize my wardrobe and declutter my closet!

Sherry September 25, 2018 - 7:14 pm

I have no desire to scale down my wardrobe to this minimal amount of clothing. Fashion is a expression is one’s creative self. A splash of color such as a scarf with a basic black outfit sets it off. This idea is just a step up from the grunge look. Not for me. I also like perfumeand makeup as part of my wardrobe.

Lady di January 6, 2017 - 8:07 pm


Rachel September 10, 2016 - 3:34 am

Having less choice definitely makes it easier to choose what to wear, it saves so much time from searching for pieces which look good together. Having less items which can look good with a number of different items of clothing is really useful.

Alice Massoglia September 2, 2016 - 12:13 am

My big problem with this is that I would have to do laundry 2 or 3 times a week with only a very small load. 10 outfits would make sense – even 8 outfits – but never having more than 2 days clothes clean at a time seems wasteful of time, water and money.

Louise, ireland June 19, 2016 - 7:18 pm

Great post! I will be doing this in the next few weeks!

Carol March 25, 2016 - 3:44 am

I just can’t even imagine. Why us there so much pressure on everyone to get rid if anything fun? I have never seen such boring outfits! Every time I would see that person, it looks as if they are wearing the same thing every day. Buy something trendy and inexpensive. So what if it doesn’t match. Have fun with your clothing! Why limit yourself to 10 or 33 just because it’s the in thing?

Stephie January 28, 2016 - 1:09 am

I just discovered Jennifer L. Scott, her 10-Item-Wardrobe and your article. At the End of last year I reduced my wardrobe too, to create a Capsule Wardrobe. I wanted to try the “Project 333” (if you don’t know it, it is worth checking out), but I couldn’t downsize it to 33 items, so I have a few more left now ;). I am one month into the project and I love it so far. Maybe one day I could do the 10 pieces.

Diane January 28, 2016 - 6:29 am

It’s definitely a process Stephie. I find I’m great at applying the ‘wearing’ bit, but I still have clothes I need to get rid of so my wardrobe ‘looks’ like a 10 item wardrobe. It takes practice and a shift in mindset. Be proud of what you’ve achieved so far!

suzie January 21, 2016 - 1:46 pm

I so agree with this and love the concept. I am working on it at moment myself.

Diane January 23, 2016 - 11:16 am

It’s a work in progress for me, too.

Kris January 8, 2016 - 5:38 pm

Great thinking and process in this article!I like the step by step guide- practical. My answer has been to wear mostly black… but now I’m pregnant and constantly state of outgrowing but too small for maternity stuffs! its hard to not want to shop every week….

Diane January 16, 2016 - 6:32 am

I remember that in-between stage. No waist but no bump. Especially awkward if you generally wear pants!

I’m also a fan of black. Mostly because it hides a multitude of sins! 🙂

Michelle December 16, 2015 - 5:33 am

I think I could do this! Now that we are in the RV, we are really trying to limit what we have and have already done this a little bit.

Diane December 19, 2015 - 7:10 am

Yes… I can’t imagine there’s much closet space in the RV.

Living in an RV would mean you’d need to be discerning about *everything*, which would be an interesting life lesson, in and of itself. Enjoy!


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