About a year ago, a friend who had just heard that I think of myself as a minimalist asked to see inside my closet. (If we’re being accurate, she asked to see every closet in my house, and I love her for her directness.)
I remember standing with her inside of my closet and kind of laughing at her shock that my whole wardrobe took up about four horizontal feet.
She kept asking things like, “You don’t have a dresser?” Where are your socks? Is this all of the shoes you own??”
Later that night, after we’d both put kids to bed, she started texting me photos of pieces in her closet, asking me piece by piece what I thought she should donate. 😂
In real life, I always downplay the minimalism thing, because I don’t want anyone to think that I’m judging them when I’m in their home. Minimalism has been an amazing tool for me, but it’s not one size fits all, and it’s not the only way to live.
So while in person I mostly laughed off my friend’s reaction to my closet, here on the blog, I feel like I’m free to tell you a little more. 😉
I’ve got a few things that have helped me create a curated, relatively minimal closet that I actually enjoy opening up every morning when it’s time to get dressed.
What’s Your Wardrobe Average?
If you opened up your closet right now and looked at your wardrobe, what would you give it on a scale of one to ten?
Imagine yourself giving it a good long look, taking in the pants that fit two pregnancies ago and the shoes that your pre-teen prefers that you not wear when you pick her up. 😉
Imagine yourself taking in the loungewear you bought during 2020—the stuff that feels like it’s made out of puppy fur and clouds, so comfy that you never want to take it off.
Take it alllll in, roughly assessing it for fit, quality, and your personal style.
What average would you give it?
Most of us aren’t working with a 10-out-of-10 closet average (I’m definitely not), and most of us can’t exactly go out and buy a whole new wardrobe! That said, this strategy has been powerful for me both when I’m weeding out clothing and when I’m thinking of buying something new.
The way I look at it is this:
If I want to raise the average of my closet over time, not lower it, I’ll keep only my most-loved and most-worn pieces, and going forward, I’ll purposefully invest in quality over quantity.
I first heard about this idea from Sherry of Young House Love, who says that when she considers buying something new, she asks herself if the new piece will keep her closet average at a 10—or bring it down. If she likes the piece but doesn’t love it, rating it at a 6 or 7, it will lower her average, and her goal is to keep her closet average high.
Use the concept of your wardrobe average to help you get rid of the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy AND only bring in new stuff that truly does.
Use this concept to become a more conscious consumer. ❤️
The best way to enjoy your favorite things every day is to only own your favorite things.Courtney Carver
Btw, the great thing about this strategy is that you can apply it to other parts of your house, like your serving ware, kitchen appliances, linens, gardening tools—any collection.
Ask Yourself These 3 Questions
Let’s say this idea has inspired you to a closet clean-out. I’ve got three super-simple questions for you to ask yourself as you evaluate each piece in your closet:
Do I love it? Does it fit? Do I wear it?
Do I love it?
This question is usually the easiest to answer, because it’s more or less a gut check. We tend to know immediately whether we love something… or just tolerate it.
Does it fit?
I used to buy clothes that fit well enough—but not quite perfectly—just because they were on sale. But if the fit isn’t spot on, I always wear it less, and when I do wear it, I don’t feel great in it. Fit is key. Even if you love something, if it doesn’t fit right, you probably won’t wear it.
Unfortunately, fit can be complicated, as many of us fluctuate between sizes during different stages of life. If you need to save some clothing that doesn’t currently fit due to weight changes from health challenges, pregnancy, or any other reason, I have two tips:
- Go as minimal as possible with the clothing you store. Chances are you won’t still love it, or it won’t fit like you thought, when you finally pull it back out.
- Store the few items you want to save out of sight, to keep your day-to-day dressing as uncomplicated as possible. (Fewer options means easier decision-making.)
Do I wear it?
The last and IMHO 😉 most important benchmark is whether you actually wear it. It’s possible to love something that fits great but realize that you never actually wear it out of the house. Maybe you answer this question with some version of “no, but…”
- “No, but it’s so cute! I really should!”
- “No, but maybe after I lose some weight…”
- “No, but maybe someday I’ll actually have a dressy occasion for it.”
I believe very few “no, but” items should make the cut, for reasons that my guest, Denaye Barahona, explains later on in this podcast episode. You can listen below or in your favorite podcasting app!
More from Episode 16 of “Life On Purpose with Erica Layne”
Here’s what else you can hear in the latest episode of the podcast!
- Ask the Expert: Denaye Barahona of the Simple Families podcast and online community challenges us to ask ourselves what our clothes—especially those clothes collecting dust at the back of your closet—are saying to us. Find Denaye on Instagram HERE.
- Self-Care Spotlight: A segment where I remind you not to neglect the person you spend all of your time with—you! Today I share a foundational principle that is crucial for living a happier life.
- The wardrobe average is a tool I share in my book! For more strategies like this, take a look at The Minimalist Way: Minimalism Strategies to Declutter Your Life and Make Room for Joy.
- Got an idea for a segment? Email me here! email@example.com
Listen to the full episode in your favorite podcast app, or in the audio player below! And be sure to hit subscribe!
Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Stitcher
Show produced by Callie Wright
PS. What wardrobe average would you say you’re currently working with? A three? A six? A ten?!
An 8. My current clothes are comfortable and fit fine and look good. But they are very casual wear. If I need to go someplace not super casual, I am in trouble. I would like to buy something more dressy but I am in the middle of a weight loss journey so hate to spend money on good clothes I’m hoping won’t fit for long. So, I make do with my four pairs of pants, eight tops, and two hoodies. Lots of empty space in my small closet.
I keep staring at my closet and wanting to clean it out…but I don’t know where to start. Between not knowing when (or if, it feels like) I’m ever going back to the office thanks to COVID when it comes to my work attire , paired with a post-partum body that doesn’t fit into half of my pre-pregnancy clothes whether they’re work OR casual, it seems like a hopeless cause. Any advice?
Hi, Hope you don’t mind me sharing my experience. I was in a terrible place with my closet and the game changer was dressing for my lifestyle. I did an audit of what my lifestyle truly is (Adore Your Wardrobe has a nice free program) where you basically track what you are wearing morning, afternoon, and evening for two weeks. Then you look at your closet and see if what you have/are buying meets what you are actually wearing. Sounds simple but it showed me that I love to buy chic, business casual clothes when I work from home and don’t see people except for the weekends. I made sure I am dressing for what I am DOING NOW and feeling great in what I am WEARING NOW. Take the stuff you aren’t wearing and just let it take a time out in a box out of sight. Feel great in what is left and reassess next season. Clothes are to support your lifestyle, they aren’t to make you feel bad about life. You got this!
Love this, Stephanie!! So good!!