I have been really open about my minimalist journey and how I even stopped buying clothes for 3 years. Since then I have really learned to hone in on what my own personal style is, and have managed to maintain a minimalist wardrobe as well. If you are working to declutter your closet, but have that looming fear that you’ll get rid of something and then regret it for the rest of your life, I totally get it and I can help you out with that. That’s why I wanted to share the super simple 5 step process to finding your own unique minimalist style. (Oh, and doing all of this helped me break my shopping addiction too!)
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Forget everything you heard about minimalism
First thing to know before you dive into decluttering or minimalism is that this journey is only for you.
If you read some blog post or book about a person who only owned 3 pairs of pants and you currently own 33 pairs of pants, don’t think for a single second that you have to whittle your wardrobe down to meet someone else’s standards.
Minimalism means you get to decide what you value, what gets to stay in your life and what is just taking up space. Period.
So, even though I’m going to dish out some decluttering and minimalist advice to hopefully help you find and embrace your own unique style, keep in mind that at the end of the day, that is all it is: advice. Pick what works for you and be willing to let the rest fall by the wayside.
Pause your purchasing
One of the best things you can do while trying to uncover your own unique minimalist fashion is to pause your spending and work with what you currently have in your closet.
I was one of those people who believed for the longest time that I had a great fashion sense and that I loved clothes. The reality was that I was quickly giving into impulse purchases and letting a lot of sales tags do my clothes selecting for me.
If you tend to be quick to overspend, I encourage you to learn to pause this habit, especially while you work to uncover your own unique minimalist style!
I created a program called Shopping Rehab that is designed to help you:
- Learn why you overspend
- Create a spending budget
- Pay off debt
- Outsmart marketing sales tactics in the future
If you really want to not only get your finances on track, but to slow your spending and reduce the clutter in your home and closet, I highly recommend checking out Shopping Rehab as a starting point.
How to Declutter Your Way to Your Minimalist Uniform
Now that we got that stuff out of the way, what steps can you take to declutter your wardrobe and help you uncover your unique minimalist fashion and uniform?
Use the 4 Bin Declutter Method
If you are someone like me who struggles with staying focused when it comes to decluttering, you can use my 4 bin declutter method. Using this method has always helped me stay in one spot rather than cleaning all over the house, and helps me effectively clear out an organize what stays and what goes.
1. Start with your “Hamper Pile”
One of the biggest struggles most of us have is that we aren’t willing to face the reality of what we actually wear.
We hang onto clothes thinking, “I’ll wear this someday.” or “I really like this one!” etc.
The reality is, there is one place in our house that will give us the biggest key to what clothing we are actually wearing: the hamper
Why your hamper is the key to your uniform
Whatever items are repeatedly showing up in your hamper are the clothing items that you are clearly wearing the most often. To get an even bigger hint as to what your favorite clothing items are, ask yourself, “What clothing items get me to do the laundry?“
For example, when I am running low on black leggings, I will go out of my way to wash whatever laundry is in my hamper just so I can have more black leggings to wear. This is a key sign that my black leggings in my favorite specific brand are a key piece of my minimalist uniform.
When you figure out what your favorite pieces are by looking through your hamper, take the time to ask yourself:
- Are there color consistencies here?
- What is it about these shirts that I like so much?
- Is there a reason I reach for these pants?
- Why do I go for these items first?
- Do we see any clear patterns/uniforms going on here?
It just might blow your mine the realizations that you have when you take the time to isolate your “Hamper Pile” from the rest of your clothing.
So often we try to trick ourselves into buying stuff that is more “trendy” or we tell ourselves that we need to “switch it up.” These are both dirty little lies that will keep you filling your closet with unused clothing and prevent you from feeling your best in what you wear every day.
2. Find Your “Loiterers”
No one wants someone or something that just hangs out and serves no purpose. This is why they put “No Loitering” signs outside of gas stations. Remaining stagnant in one place is annoying and just plain creepy sometimes. That’s why it’s crucial to find the loiterers in your closet and gently give them the boot.
Of course we are talking about the clothes that never make the Hamper Pile.
What do loiterers look like?
Maybe they are outdated and don’t fit but you keep hoping they will again someday. (Side note, if you see them and then shame yourself for not fitting into them…they are sucking your soul and must be banished immediately.)
Perhaps it’s that fun, flowy top that your friend convinced you to buy because it looked so good on you, and maybe it does, but you just never want to put it on. Let it go. It’s cute, we know, you won’t hurt its feelings if you toss it in a donate bin.
When it comes to these items, I want you to do the same thing you did with the Hamper Pile except in reverse.
- Why don’t I reach for these things?
- What is it about them that turns me off?
- Are there certain color schemes I’m seeing here?
- Is there a texture or pattern that pops up over and over again?
From here, use both of these piles as guidelines for what goes and what stays?
Side note: keep your funeral pants
I know you want to go minimalist and declutter anything that isn’t serving you, but please remember to also keep a side of practicality while you’re doing this.
What I mean is, there are probably items in your closet that you are obligated to hang onto.
Maybe that means that one pair of shorts that you don’t love wearing but you know you are going to need them at some point during the summer, so they gotta stay at least until you find a pair that fits you better or is more your style.
For me, this is my funeral pants. I’m more of a dress girl but living in Minnesota there were multiple times that I was required to attend a formal event (AKA a funeral) in the dead of winter when it was just too cold for a dress.
Time after time I would panic and freak out and scramble to find something decent to wear.
So, I gave in and bought myself some funeral pants that will forever remain in my closet.
3. Build off your “Hamper Pile”
Once you’ve located your Hamper Pile and your Loiterers, you’ll start coming across items in your closet that don’t get worn as often (maybe you have so much stuff you forgot you even bought them). Before you toss them, review your Hamper Pile and use it as inspiration to keep anything else that might belong in this pile as well.
Take each single item and think about your favorite outfits to put together with these things. As you do. this you will start to notice doubles and repeats showing up. ie. White Sneakers, Black Loafers, Black Leggings
Doing this allows you to begin something of a capsule wardrobe and/or minimalist uniform.
4. Find similarities
Going through your laundry pile and using it to build outfits off of can be a really good way to visually begin to see what your favorite go-to’s are. As you do this, you’ll start to see your minimalist uniform(s) emerge.
*If you can’t come up with multiple outfits, that’s ok. Don’t force yourself to keep or hang onto things you are not going to wear. Simply use this opportunity to evaluate what you actually do put on and what you put on the most!
5. Donate, Sell or Store
Once you have gone through the elimination process there are 3 wise options to help you declutter without guilt.
If you are on a mission to clean house, donation is of course the easiest way to go. Just toss your stuff in a box and bring it to your local drop off.
If you are looking to bring in a little more money, there is always the selling route. Facebook Marketplace can often be a good location to sell clothing in bulk, otherwise there are apps like Thred Up or even selling through local thrift shops.
While I’m not always a fan of selling clothing online (time-consuming), I am always a fan of combining money and minimalism whenever possible.
The storing option is best for those of you out there who are going, “But what if…”
“What if I need this someday” “What if I decide I really do like hot pink zebra stripes?”
If you are worried about regret, nicely fold up your items and put them in a bin. You can even write down each item that is stored.
Keep the box in a separate location and set a 6 month timer on your phone. Literally, go into your phone and set a reminder for yourself 6 months from today. If in 6 months you haven’t even considered looking into that box for anything, simple move the box to your trunk and donate that sucker.
If you’re still not sure, get a trusted friend or partner to have you list off the items in that box. Can’t do it….maybe that will make it a little easier for you to let go of!
Know your style and stick to it
Once you have stared to see your own personal style emerge, remember this the next time you are out shopping. No more tricking yourself into buying things you will never actually wear.
The biggest key to smart shopping is knowing what you love and refusing to settle for less! This is a sure way to make sure you bring in fewer items into your home and closet, and that the things you do bring in will be loved on and well worn!
Different uniforms for different days
Another thing to keep in mind is that you may have different uniforms for different areas and aspects of your life. Pay attention to these.
Occasions you may have a “uniform” for
- Working out
- Lazy Sundays
- Work from home
- Date night
Learning your own unique preferences and styles when it comes to these areas can make choosing outfits so much quicker and will ensure that you feel great in what you wear!