The Minimalist Wardrobe Experiment

By: Emmie

So called capsule wardrobes have been trending for some years now. The idea is minimizing the items in your wardrobe in order to make it clutter free – and make sure that your outfits are ever compatible. Some people try to keep to a set number of items, such as 37, while some let other principles guide them – for example, “If I haven’t worn it for a year, I’ll get rid of it!”. I find most “how to”-guides overly complicated, and instead decided on a minimalist wardrobe experiment by my own regime.


First, I took every single item out of the wardrobe and the three chests of drawers that sit in our bedroom. This didn’t take long, since this very tiny wardrobe is all we have in terms of storage. Earlier this year, we asked our landlord if we could please, please demolish the former built-in, which was a huge, laminate beast, entirely destroying the 1920’s charm of the apartment. Surprisingly, she said yes, giving our minimalist strivings a good push.

Then, I simply put back the shoes and pieces of clothing I was absolutely sure I couldn’t do without. Living in Sweden, this obviously includes some warm garments, some lighter ones – and everything in between, since we enjoy up to five seasons a day during large parts of the year. I didn’t go by any particular set of rules doing this. Anything I don’t quite like, and some things I do like, but seldom use, had to go. I also excluded garments that I like and use, but could well do without. The overarching principle was minimizing the number of items down to the bare essentials. To me, this means clothes and shoes for work out, outdoor life, work and leisure time.

Any items I excluded from the wardrobe, I put in a big, blue Ikea-bag in the basement. The idea is to let it sit there for a while, until I figure out if there’s something there that I actually might need. This way of decluttering is very efficient, since it postpones, and thus takes the edge off, potentially emotional decisions about getting rid of stuff. At the same time, it allows you to regret putting things away. It wouldn’t be very minimalist to get rid of things, and then having to buy new ones, right? Neither would it serve our minimalist project to hit the city in pursuit of a brand new, minimalist style; the good, old rags will have to do until they do no more.

This is what I ended up with:

  • A down coat, a leather coat and a trenchcoat.
  • A light down jacket and a wind jacket for outdoor life.
  • One pair of outdoorsy winter boots and one pair of city winter boots.
  • Trail running shoes for the Spanish mountains, and regular training shoes.
  • Sandals, comfortable flats, and three pairs of nice shoes for work or play.
  • Two pairs of jeans, one pair of wool trousers and a wool skirt.
  • A shirt, three jumpers, two tank tops and two t-shirts.
  • Two wool sweaters, a hoodie, and a couple of cardigans.
  • Two dresses, a linen skirt and linen shorts for warm weather.
  • Two bras, five pairs of knickers, five pairs of socks and two bikinis.
  • Three pairs each of tights, shorts, sports bras and tank tops for working out.
  • A pair of old linen trousers and a couple of t-shirts to wear around the house.
  • A morning gown.

The reward for clearing out redundant stuff is great and instant. This is now the state of every single one of my drawers:



The experiment, then, is to see whether the number of garments I settled for will be sufficient. It is much lower than any of the capsule wardrobe guides suggest (underwear, socks and work out clothes are generally excluded from such calculations). In addition, many of these guides are modelled on people living in less, shall we say, dynamic, climates than the Swedish. And, a final note for those of you who can’t shake the connection between minimalism and anemic, squarely cut garments: you may, of course, chose any style you like when putting your minimal wardrobe together. I, for one, kept this bright, patterned 1960’s dress.


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