10 Things To Keep In A Simple Wardrobe

Until recently, I hadn’t purchased any new clothes for almost two years. I purposely let my wardrobe dwindle. In the past, I’ve had as many as 20 sets of clothes. I never wore half of them, so I gave that half away. I wore the other half out and started fresh with a simple wardrobe.

white-845071_1280 Simple Wardrobe: Photo of white shirts

A Simple Wardrobe Is A Sign Of Success

Some of the most successful people in the world wear the same clothes every day. By owning a few sets of the same clothes, you gain a consistent and professional look. Getting ready is quick and easy. Even the President of The United States of America knows this secret. Check out this post on Becoming Minimalist:

8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing To Wear The Same Thing Every Day

When I restocked my closet, I chose to follow the less-is-more strategy. Don’t worry, I have more than one set of clothes. I have about five basic sets of clothes. But they’re all basically the same.

My needs may be a bit different from yours. I’m a single dad, a college professor, and a home owner. I chose clothes that were casual and could work in any of those settings.

10 Things I Keep In My Simple Wardrobe

  1. Three pair of dark jeans: I wear Levi’s Commuter Jeans. They have a double-stitched inseam in the crotch. This makes them tough for bicycle commuting. They also sport reflecting tape on the inside of the outer cuffs for safety. I chose a dark grey color because it’s neutral and goes with almost anything. They work for teaching and working in the yard.
  2. Two pair of black slacks: I also chose Levi’s for my slacks. I bought two pair of black Chino Pants. They’re still a bit casual, but also work for dressy occasions. Black is elegant and goes with white, gray, and black shirts. 
  3. Three polo shirts: I chose some simple polo shirts from The Gap. They were only $9 each. My only complaint is that they shrank too fast. Next time, I’ll take my own advice and spend a bit more money on a higher quality shirt. I bought two black polos and one white. They go with jeans or slacks.
  4. Three button-up shirts: I bought simple white and light-colored, pinstriped, button-up shirts that can go with either slacks or jeans. A few dress shirts are an essential part of any simple wardrobe. 
  5. Winter coat: I still wear my favorite old, brown, wool, Filson Weekender. I wrote a post about it: My Best Clothing Purchase Ever. I’ve had this coat for ten years and it’s still like new. Sometimes paying a little extra pays off over the long run. You’ll actually save money.  
  6. Spring jacket: Where I live, we have four distinct seasons. A good light-weight jacket is needed for the in-betweens. I still have a few old jackets, but my favorite is my is my orange, Patagonia Wind Shield Hybrid. This jacket is great. It’s very lightweight, but keeps you amazingly warm. It packs small. Like the Filson, it’s a bit spendy, but worth every cent. I’ve had mine about five years. 
  7. All-purpose athletic shoes: The most important thing I look for in a pair of shoes is comfort. Second, is performance. I’m not a big fan of some of Nike’s business practices, but I found a shoe that fits like a glove. The Nike Fitsole slips on easily and has plenty of toe-box space. It also has a very low heel. It’s similar to the Nike Free. I’ve found that the flatter the heel, the better my feet feel. This shoe works for a variety of activities, including running, walking, hiking and biking. I chose a dark gray color that goes perfectly with my jeans.
  8. Simple black dress shoes: I bought a pair of plain black dress shoes from Sears a few years ago. I still use them for special occasions.
  9. Nylon web belt: A few years ago, I discovered Patagonia Web Belts. Now, I’ll never buy anything but this style of belt. They’re a simple, one-size-fits-all belt. They’re tough. They’re stylish. They’re super easy to secure: just one pull. They last forever. They don’t wear and crack like leather. I bought a few of them five years ago and they’re all still as good as new.
  10. Hats: I’ll admit that I have a tendency to collect hats. I have a handful: baseball caps for a casual look, and a black fedora for a dress look. I also have a waterproof Filson for outdoors activities. Give me a break on this one. I’m bald. The point is you need a couple of good hats.

Cut Back, But Consider All The Factors

I still own other clothes: tee-shirts, socks, underwear, boots, ties, etc. But over the past few years, I’ve been letting the unwanted go and replacing the old with a simple wardrobe. I’ve cut clothes back by 50%. If I don’t use something, it goes to charity. As I rebuild, I’m keeping it simple. Here are a few things to consider when creating your simple wardrobe:

  • Your occupation: If you’re a banker, you should dress up. A plumber? Not so much.
  • Your budget: Keep it simple, even if you have oodles of cash.
  • The climate: This is big. I need more clothes here than I might in Phoenix. If you live in the rain, have a rain coat.
  • Stick with simple styles: If you stick with time-tested styles, you can’t go wrong.
  • Stick with simple colors: Blacks, whites, grays, blues, and browns go with almost anything. I mix in an occasional bright color, too.

Minimalist or not, most of us have more clothes than we need. My simple wardrobe project is still a work in progress. In the next few years, I ‘ll be simplifying even more. When I retire, I’ll cut back even more.

If you liked this post, please check out my free ebook, The Happiness Of Simple. It’s free to read with just a couple of clicks. No sign up is required. Click the link below to get started:

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  1. I’ve noticed for a little while now that I am drawn more to simple one color shirts, black, white, ect. I wear the same shirts with frequency and always with jeans, and usually the sames jeans. I think I will be taking a closer look at my wardrope and get rid of what I don’t wear. That way my wife has more closet space 🙂

    1. It makes life much easier to not have to worry about what to wear. Also, I think a few simple colors makes one look more professional.

      1. I dislike having to figure out what to wear. I so don’t care and would rather spend my headspace thinking about other things. Thanks for writing about this.

  2. Thanks for mentioning we have to give thought to what we’re actually wearing the clothes to do before we restock our closet, Dan! I touched on it when I blogged about how I cleaned my own closet, but I notice a lot of people don’t think about this.

    Also, it’s interesting to see what styles and colors are more dominant in your simpler wardrobe. Gives you an idea what to restock it with next time everything’s worn out (years & years before this happens though!).

    Sharing this on Twitter soon! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Daisy. I agree that too many people jump into the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I like to keep what I have as long as possible and reevaluate as things wear out. Rather than giving up the whole closet and buying more, this saves money in the long run.

  3. I’ve been winding down my wardrobe for a while, either due to things wearing out or deciding that it is not used but is still good enough for a charity donation. Although comfort rates higher than fashion with me I still like to look ok and seem to have developed a uniform look for my everyday; smart comfy trousers, top and cardigan. I’ve been on the lookout for clothes to top up my wardrobe but without success as I think I have found the ideal set for me, it’s practical for whatever I’m doing and should it be a little warmer I have cropped trousers as an alternative. I just need to work on a ‘for best’ outfit for those special occasions that warrant dressing up a little more, but even then I want to find one simple ‘comfortable’ plain dress that I can enhance with accessories rather than have several outfits.

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