Hello hello! If you're new to my blog and don't know my motivations for starting a minimalist wardrobe, please read WHY I Started a Minimalist Wardrobe to read allllll about the reasons why having less clothes literally changed my life.
This blog post is the sequel to WHY I started. Now I'm talking about HOW I did it. If you have an overflowing closet, but never have anything to wear, this blog post is for you. I was a college girl who had new clothes coming to her doorstep left and right, but was never satisfied with the amount I had. Now, it's quite the opposite. I'm in love with my style. I'm in love my style-but I actually never buy clothes. Or at least not near the rate at which I used to.
So this blog post goes step by step on exactly how I created my favorite wardrobe I have ever owned.
First and foremost, this is NOT a blog post telling you where to start buying your clothes. Maybe I'll write something eventually that gives ethical sources for fashion, but the point is that you have clothing you like in your closet right now. The problem is that your favorite pieces are surrounded by clothes you don't like to wear.
So today, I'm going to tell you the piece of advice I got to have an environmentally friendly wardrobe: Use what you already have.
That's the first step to a minimal wardrobe! Let's learn to love the clothing we have before we're on the hunt to go buy new. The steps I'm about to give you are the steps that led to a complete life change for me.
So let's get started! I promise you'll love your closet and the things inside of it once you go through this method.
1. Put allllll the clothes you own on your bed.
Yes, I'm talking alllllll of your sweaters, coats, T shirts, jeans, Nike shorts- you name it. I did all of my clothes first, and then I put all of my shoes on my bed next. I like putting it all on my bed rather than the floor because that means I have to figure this out before I go to sleep. The last thing you want is a huge pile of clothes on your floor for weeks.
2. Start to make 3 piles:
1. Your LOVE Pile.
2. Your No Pile.
3. Your Maybe Pile.
I did this part very mindlessly and quick. There's no need to spend a lot of time contemplating if you love something or not. Like the great Marie Kondo says, your items should "spark joy." I did this method with my friend Hannah last week, and she agrees that it's way easier to pare down your wardrobe than you might think. Because it was very obvious what items she loved to wear, which made it easy to pick out which items did not belong in her wardrobe. If she hesitated at first, me and my roommates would tell her to throw it in the maybe pile and evaluate it later.
3. Go back to your maybe pile.
After you go through all of your clothes and figure out what you love and what you don't, it's time to revisit the maybe pile. The maybe pile process looks different for everyone! Hannah decided she didn't love any of her maybes and gave them all away. I decided that there were one or two pieces that I actually loved a lot. So reevaluate your pile and find which clothes you love and which ones you don't.
4. Figure out your strategy for getting rid of the NO pile
There's a lot of different ways to do this. My nice pieces I offered to my close friends to see if they wanted any of it (in fact, they wanted a LOT of it). I had over 10 work shirts for my restaurant job and only worked 2 days a week, so I brought 8 shirts to work and gave them all away. Once I was left with my remaining unwanted clothes, I donated the rest.
Here is a list of some of the things that me and my friends have tried & succeeded with when getting rid of our clothes:
1. Donate to a consignment store (if in big city, donate to Buffalo Exchange).
easy and painless, but you also get some $$$$. My roommates did this last semester and made more money than they thought they would.
2. Sell your nice clothes on Facebook or Instagram
This is how my friend Olivia paid for our trip to Arizona in January!
3. Have a clothing swap with friends!
My favorite sneakers were originally Olivia's, my favorite sweater was originally Hannah's, and Emily's favorite Sandals are my hand me downs. This is my favorite method of getting rid of clothes! If you don't want to swap, offer your clothes to your friends. I gave most of my clothes away to my roommates without receiving anything in return because I simply wanted a home for my clothes, I didn't want any clothes back in return.
4. Send clothes to For Days Store
If you sign up for their membership, For Days will send you a prepaid label to ship your clothes to them. They have a responsible recycling program to give new life to your clothes. ALSO you get $4 of store credit for each article of clothing you donate (up to $50 in store credit). There is a limit on how much you can earn, but there is NO limit for how much you can donate. My friend Alyssa sent 26 pounds of clothing to For days this week! Yes, you heard right. 26 pounds.
5. Send shoes to Nisolo Store
Nisolo has a similar program for recycling shoes! You can send old shoes to them and receive $30 of store credit. Learn more about their shoe recycling program here.
6. Donate clothes to Goodwill
I donated a lot to Goodwill when I pared down my wardrobe, but after watching The True Cost, I learned that most of these items do not get purchased and end up in third world countries. This excess of American clothes end up in countries like Haiti and have huge negative impacts on their local economy. It's devastating and something we need to be aware of, so don't donate everythingggg to Goodwill when you empty your closet, try to find your clothes a better home first.
5. For the clothes that you're having separation anxiety with:
I think we all get some separation anxiety when it comes to parting with our clothes. I know I sure did. But there are things you can do to part with your clothes without getting rid of them yet! I have a tinyyyy closet in my room (I live in an old 80s rent house right now haha) where I put the clothes I was scared to get rid of in. I don't use this closet, so it truly was "out of sight, out of mind."
After a few months, I revisited the closet to see if there was anything I wanted. I kept one pair of pants, but the rest I got rid of. I forgot about almost every item in there! The point is, getting these unwanted clothes out of your everyday closet will help you realize if you truly want the item or not.
Congratulations!!!!!!! You just got rid of some clothes!! Now what?
6. Complete your minimal wardrobe with the minimal aesthetic look
After I emptied my closet, I took the door off of my closet because I loved looking at how clean and pleasing it was. I thought I was crazy, but Houston and his roommate did the same thing once they pared down their wardrobe! I'm not saying remove your door, I'm just saying that having a closet filled with clothes you're in love with feels really good.
So here are some little things you can do to make your minimal closet look even better:
1. Finger space your clothes to give them "room to breathe"
There's a reason why expensive retail stores do this. It is because it's so dang pleasing to look at.
2. Only have this season's clothes hanging up in your closet
This will make all the clothes visible in your closet available at all times. I like doing this because it means even less clothes are hanging in your closet at once, which I always think is more aesthetically pleasing. Right now, my summer clothes are in that tinyyyy closet I never use, but next year when I have a normal house I'll fold up my seasonal clothes and store them in a box.
3. Have all matching hangers
Me and my roommates all did this one and it makes our closets look so much better!
4. Like the aesthetic of all matching hangers? take a step further to natural wood hangers
This is what I eventually upgraded to and now I feel like my closet adds character to my bedroom. Seriously, one of my favorite "decorations" in my room is my minimalist closet and hanging rack. My roommates often come in my room to look at my closet to figure out how to make a closet this visually appealing.
5. Never stop reevaluating your closet
Our lives are always changing- and so is our style. It's okay if some items in your closet don't represent your style anymore. I have a designated area in my closet where I put items that no longer add value to my life. I then take this pile and figure out how I want to get rid of it (the latest donation was to For_Days for store credit).
Your closet should ALWAYS spark joy for you. When you open up your closet, you should see items that you love to wear and would feel good wearing right now.
My closet makes me so happy. It is filled with my favorite pieces and I never stress about getting dressed in the morning anymore. You know why? Everything I own I LOVE. What's amazing about the pyramid of needs is that "the most environmental purchase you can make is to use what you already have."
My first minimalist wardrobe did not have one ethical item in it. It was filled of clothes with synthetic fibers and that were all made in Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, you name it. The clothing problem in western countries can be overwhelming, but what isn't overwhelming is that minimalism starts with what you already own.
Thanks for reading :)
Jessica Kooiman Impact For Good