Wearing (almost) the same outfit every day is genius for 2 reasons: One, you’ll have more willpower to make better business decisions, and two, if you run a business, it’s great personal branding. Having a recognizable outfit and showing it to the world every day will make you an icon.
Today, I’ll teach you how to pull it off by creating a minimal wardrobe.
Why a Minimal Wardrobe?
A minimal wardrobe, or capsule wardrobe, has many benefits, including being more productive, less stressed, saving a lot of money and creating your own unique style that people will recognize you for.
I have witnessed a lot of these benefits myself in the past 2 years. Countless hours were saved, t-shirts worn and re-worn, while compliments were often received.
One of the biggest lessons I had learned during my 2 semesters at UMASS Dartmouth, living in a tiny 70 sqft, Harry Potter cupboard-under-the-stairs style dorm room, is that I do fine with way less clothes – and you will too.
The first thing I did upon returning was simplify my wardrobe, throwing out trousers I hadn’t worn in years, gifted shirts I never liked and items I liked, but which were simply worn out or torn.
3 out of 4. That’s 75%.
That’s how much had to go – a sacrifice for my new, minimal wardrobe.
I kept the red shoes though. I was sure they’d become a hit.
Two years later, this minimalistic clothing style stays with me as strong as ever. It survived one internship at a big corporation (BMW), a bad relationship and my changing tastes, so I’m confident it’s here to stay.
The good thing about it: You don’t even have to clean out your wardrobe first, like I did.
Bear with me.
Owning fewer clothes is a goal worth striving for, but if you’re just starting out you can try this to ease into letting go of your woven possessions later.
I will show you that you can have a Steve Jobs thing going, without looking plain or smelling weird.
Ready? Let’s go!
Step 1: Pick your 3 favorite outfits
First, you need to go to your wardrobe, and pick your 3 favorite outfits. Here’s the kicker: You pick one for each of the following occasions:
- Relaxing and sporty
- Casual but classy
1. Relaxing and sporty: This should be your go-to outfit for chilling on your couch at home, making your way to the gym and even driving over to a friend’s house on a Friday night to watch a movie in a relaxed setting. It should be comfortable, laid back and, in the winter, warm.
My example: In the summer I’ll just wear Nike shorts and a t-shirt, in the winter this means long sweatpants, a t-shirt, warm socks and a hoodie I bought at the campus store back in US. I usually wear my New Balance sneakers with this.
2. Casual but classy: Your second outfit should be classy enough to go out in public in style and for people to recognize you are “going somewhere”, meaning you’re about to go to work, meet someone who you dressed up for, or an event. If it’s enough to make people see you dressed up, but not so much they think you’re going to the opera (or singing at the opera, depending on your makeup), you’ve made a good choice.
My example: My go-to outfit is a pair of cloth trousers (no jeans), paired with a white and red t-shirt in the summer, or a cotton red sweater in the winter. I also have a black Hilfiger belt (I only have this one) and will usually wear my infamous red shoes with it.
You’ll see me wearing this again, and again, and again, and again.
(10/14 – 12/14 – 5/15 – 9/15)
Pro tip: If you work at a job where coming in with the same clothes every day might get you fired, pick out 2 outfits for category 2.
3. Fancy: Here come the big guns. This should be your “all-in” outfit. Basically something you would wear if things got really formal. For women this will most likely be an evening gown, for men a tuxedo or suit.
My example: I have a suit for these occasions. Black pants, white dress shirt, black tie and a black jacket. I have a pair of black leather shoes to go with it, which are remnants from my high school graduation ball.
Step 2: Store your 3 outfits OUTSIDE your wardrobe
Now here comes the magic. This is the big trick.
You take your 3 favorite outfits, arrange them neatly in little piles, and then…you take them out of the wardrobe!
Put them somewhere far away from it. The living-room. The kitchen. The bathroom. Your desk chair.
Anything is fair game. Except for the wardrobe.
(the kitchen is a good start)
Here’s why: The moment you open your closet, you lose. You start debating your choices, comparing outfits in your head and second-guessing your decisions.
With this trick, you won’t pick your outfit from the wardrobe in the morning, but from a pre-selected choice of only 3 options.
This means you’re very likely to wear the same clothes several days in a row. I, for example, work at home, which means I’ll wear my relaxed outfit a lot more than the others.
How to Keep Your Outfits Fresh & Clean
Pro tip: Hang your outfit outside or on the window sill after wearing it, to let the fresh air clear out potential smells. Also do the smell test in the morning and wash your outfit as soon as it starts smelling or has gotten very sweaty.
The beauty of this system is that it gives you enough wiggle room to maintain the style others perceive you in, while simultaneously creating an iconic style unique to you.
For example: When I was working at BMW, I changed between 2 casual, but classy outfits during the week, and wore my fancy outfit only at important events or client meetings. I would sometimes cross-switch pants or sweaters to create some variation, but most people didn’t even notice the consistence in outfits when I didn’t do so.
What’s more: Every time I arrived wearing a red sweater and red shoes, people complimented me. The red shoes became a running gag and wildly popular. People kept asking me where to buy them (and whether I would get blue ones soon).
Step 3: Pick your occasion in the morning
Now, when you stand in front of your 3 piles in the morning, the only question you have to answer is: Relaxed, casual, or fancy?
You know the answer before you even get there, because you have the agenda of the day in your head and picking clothes becomes a no brainer.
Again, if you need more than one outfit in one category, for work reasons, pick 2. For example if you’re a personal trainer you might want to have 2 fitness outfits for the gym.
Summary: 3 Steps to a Minimal Wardrobe
That’s all there is to it. You’ll have more time, more energy, less stress and the best part: you can start today. No need to downsize your entire wardrobe just now. As of tomorrow you could be free of the shackles of clothing decisions.
Here are the steps again:
- Pick one relaxed, one classy, but casual, and one fancy outfit from your wardrobe.
- Store them somewhere out of context, remove them from the wardrobe and give them their own place.
- Each morning decide by asking yourself: Relaxed, casual, or fancy?
What will your 3-outfit minimal wardrobe look like?