Clothes Audit: A Minimalist’s Wardrobe


It all started at Minimalist Club, when one of our group happened to mention that she’d had a wardrobe purge since our last meeting and given away some of her old jeans to charity. Seventy-four pairs of jeans, to be exact. Which basically made her the hero of the evening. I think she’s pretty fabulous for that.

Afterwards, amongst trying to decide where I would even keep seventy four pairs of jeans without stacking them up all over the floor, I began to wonder about my own clothes. And so I what any sane person would do, and dragged the whole lot out of the wardrobe to examine it. With one disclaimer, what you see in these photos are all my clothes. The disclaimer is that these are my ‘living-in’ clothes.  I also have specialist clothes; one set of running gear, one swimming costume, some walking trousers, a pair of jodhpurs and a set of shabby old things that I wear to the allotment. I put them to one side because they’re not the clothes I wear for everyday. What I was really interested in was my normal clothing.

And here it all is…


Capsule wardrobe



Then, because I’m clearly deranged, I decided to set up a spreadsheet with all my clothes recorded in it.  I can tell you now, I have one pair of trousers and two pairs of jeans. I have four dresses, two jumpers, three cardigans and three vests. I’ve got one coat, three jackets and a set of black jersey pyjamas. Actually, they’re not in the photo either, because I was wearing them! All my underwear matches in case I get run over by a bus—thanks Mum, for that little obsession—and I’ve only got two pairs of socks that are not thick walking socks ( of which I have three pairs) or running socks (two pairs).

But why should you keep a record of your clothes? 

Well, it has helped me to see what I have and what condition its all in. I know what needs repairing, what’s missing a button. I also know what’s in too poor a condition to keep and so needs replacing. Which, in turn means that I know what I need to spend money on. By dragging everything into the daylight, I’ve remembered much-loved clothes that were forgotten that I shall wear again. And I’ve definitely realised that I wear the same colours all the time! 

A capsule wardrobe is key to minimalism.

Because I’m trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle—and even though I’ve joked about my nearly-all-blue wardrobe— it’s a good idea to try to build what the more fashionable  folk term a ‘capsule’ wardrobe. In a nutshell, this means that you can wear all the clothes you have in a variety of combinations, to suit all occasions, without needing masses of clothing. This doesn’t mean that occasionally you shouldn’t try something new just for fun—my Reiss top is covered in sequins—but it does mean that life becomes simpler because you spend less time in front of an over-filled wardrobe still despairing over what to wear. After all, they say we wear 20% of our wardrobes for 80% of the time…

Quality over quantity.

Having fewer items of clothing means that I prefer to spend more money on each one. Not because I’m driven by labels, far from it, but because clothing that is the best quality I can afford will last longer.  I also find that if you pay a bit more money for clothing, you treat it better; cleaning according to instructions, repairing instead of throwing away and not leaving it in a heap on the bedroom floor when you’ve taken it off!

So, I think I definitely have a minimalist’s wardrobe already, though I do plan to make some changes to it, replacing some worn-out items and repairing others.  Following Pip Lincolne’s Year of Ethical Fashion rules, I will do my best to make new purchases ethical ones. I’ve already started saving for a pair of Huit denims to replace my worn-out jeans!

Would you ever do a wardrobe audit? Have you? Were you surprised at the results? What’s your key item in a capsule wardrobe? 

I’d love to know…




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19 Responses to Clothes Audit: A Minimalist’s Wardrobe

  1. Oh my goodness, I wish I had as little in my wardrobe as you do in yours! I did do an audit once, using a pen and paper (don’t know where it is now, an excel spreadsheet would have been better!) and I have way way way too much. Especially as I tend to wear the same 5 things every day! My plan was to not buy anything new, and slowly wear some of the old stuff out. It’s going…slowly! I don’t buy much, but I have too much. And good quality things take a long time to wear out, it seems. I think I feel a wardrobe cull coming on…
    Lindsay Miles recently posted…Plastics and Health: PhthalatesMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      I do think that letting stuff wear out over time is a pretty good idea – it’ll save you money, at least. But I do the same thing too, wearing the same clothes. Except I’ve not got much choice, to be honest! A slow cull, taking your time to really make sure you’re ready to let something go, might be a good idea…

  2. Helen Lay says:

    A couple of years ago I had a spreadsheet with my most of my clothes on, I added new things I bought, with cost and then each day would record what I was wearing, was good at illustrating cost per wear and that I was wearing the same group of stuff most of the time. Did it for about 6 months, was an eye opener if you can’t work out what you’re actually wearing.

    Now I’m much more aware of what I actually wear and I’ve slowly been selling things off (there are lots of facebook groups for specific brands, Boden, Joules, White Stuff, Seasalt etc, and I’ve found these very good, less hassle than ebay certainly and private so you have to join but then the photos don’t end up on all your friends walls!

    Our bedroom is next on our decorating list and needs replastering so I have to empty everything out. I separated all my underwear out into drawers and now I know what I haven’t touched since new year I know what I can safely get rid of and hopefully what comes back in will be the stuff I actually wear.

    This year so far I’ve bought 3 new bras and a sports bra (always go to Bravissimo once a year for a fitting and to stock up and a dress that was better than half price in Joules outlet, I already have it (bought on offer in the Autumn) but it’s lovely, fits really well and I wear it lots so OH persuaded me I needed a second one. Also got 3 new pairs of socks from my mum and a free tshirt from Boden (sent me a £15 gift voucher with my catalogue so used it for something I could get for free and needed :-)) So not bad in 3 1/2 months.

    I really aspire to a minimalist wardrobe, a more brightly coloured one than yours it has to be said, but that’s just me 🙂 good work on yours

    • Lindsay says:

      Wow Helen, you have a spreadsheet – so organised! (I knew my paper list was a bad idea…) I didn’t know about the Facebook groups either, that’s really useful to know! I actually stick to brands at the moment because I know what size I need for things and it makes it so much easier for buying second hand. I’m off to Facebook to investigate right now…
      Lindsay recently posted…Plastics and Health: PhthalatesMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hello! Thank you for this lovely comment. I love your spreadsheet to demonstrate cost-per-wear, what an ace idea and something I might add to mine for any new purchases. I do seem to have an almost all navy or black wardrobe, don’t I! I think maybe some colour for the summer might not be a bad idea and a couple of my t-shirts are beyond repair so I will be replacing them (and adding them to the allotment outfit!)

  3. Amy says:

    This is a great idea! I know a few people who also keep a record of their clothing through photos, then when they are out shopping they can check their pictures to make sure they are buying something that will match. Feel the need for a clear out now!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think that it’s a great idea to know what you’ve got when you’re out shopping – so you don’t make any expensive mistakes!!

  4. This is actually a pretty wonderful idea. I love writing lists anyway so this is the type of thing I love! I have clothes everywhere and no idea of what is wearable etc.
    PottyMouthedMummy recently posted…The Witching HourMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      It sounds like you’d enjoy doing a wardrobe audit! It’s amazing what you’ll find once you start looking 🙂 I’d love to hear how you get on if you do one, do let me know!

  5. It’s always fascinating to see example of other people’s wardrobes. I’ve had to declutter my wardrobe since I moved house. We had built-in wardrobes with about 8 metres of hanging rails and now we have a free-standing wardrobe with less than half that capacity. I’m currently considering whether to try Project 333 ( ).
    Ruthy @ Minibreak Mummy recently posted…Pretty Palissy potMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Ooh, I’ve heard about Project 333 ( from The Simple Life Together podcast) and it sounds quite fun. Do it! And then tell me all about it 🙂

  6. I recently had a huge clear out too but I have to say that I still have far too many clothes. I’m not sure I could cope with any less though, I’d have to do more washing!!
    ghostwritermummy recently posted…What matters most: is your child’s drawing a winner?My Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      I do have to say, I spend FAR too much time washing the same clothes, time after time!

    • Lindsay says:

      I think that’s a myth, that less clothes = more washing. Last year my bedroom (and the entire wardrobe) went moldy and I had to wash EVERY SINGLE THING that I owned. It took almost 3 days. If you have too many things, you have to wash things just to freshen them up because you haven’t worn them in so long. Another problem is that you have so many things that you can’t remember if something is clean or dirty, or it all gets jumbled together, and you wash things that were already clean! Nope, less is definitely the way to go. From somebody who still has far too much!
      Lindsay recently posted…We’re leaving the tiny flat…My Profile

  7. Honest Mum says:

    Wow very organised, I’m pretty good myself and having just moved to a new house meant another Spring clean and sort through my wardrobe. Thanks for linking to #brilliantblogposts. Please add my badge or link back if you can. Thanks
    Honest Mum recently posted…Greek Chicken KebabsMy Profile

  8. Maria says:

    74 pairs of jeans?! I don’t understand?! If I totted up all the pairs I’ve owned in my whole life it wouldn’t come close to that. Wow.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I’m not sure that I have ever owned as many either. I think we all have our little foibles – I spend far too much money on books and magazines!

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