What Is a Minimalist Wardrobe?

February 12, 2021 5 min read

What is a Minimalist Wardrobe

Is your closet full of clothes, but you still find yourself with nothing to wear? You have a favorite orange patterned top, but it clashes with the only clean pants you have left. After half an hour of trying on clothes, you settle with the same outfit you've worn twice this week already.

A minimalist capsule wardrobe is a small, meaningfully chosen wardrobe that makes it easier to get dressed every day. Having great style doesn't mean having tons of options — it's about having pieces you love and know you will wear.

A Brief History of Minimalist Fashion

What is minimalist style? Minimalism equals simplicity. In the 1920s, manufacturers began mass-producing for society, producing mediocre merchandise in high quantities. Mass production promoted economic growth and individual prosperity. But fulfillment and functionality got lost in the process — people accumulated more things they didn't need.

A few decades later, in the 1960s, minimalism became more mainstream. Fine art shifted from large-scale, dramatic self-expression to works centered on clarity, transparency and sleekness. Over the next three decades, societies worldwide embraced minimalistic living, wanting clarity and quality in their lives.

Now, social media have introduced a new wave of simple living and a "less-is-more" philosophy. Practical people are more conscious of how they're spending their hard-earned money, choosing quality over quantity.

A minimalist style aims to make life easier. It means having clothing that is versatile, timeless, clutter-free and economical.

What Does a Minimalist Wardrobe for Men Look Like?

A men's minimalist wardrobe has limited articles of clothing, within a restricted color palette and a personalized style. Your best friend's minimalist wardrobe won't look exactly like yours. Achieve your goals with these steps.

  • Clean out your closet: Take notice of the clothing you wear. After wearing and washing an item, hang it back in your closet with the hanger flipped to the opposite side of the pieces you haven't worn. After two weeks, take out all the clothes you didn't wear and ask yourself whether they belong in your wardrobe. If not, find them a new home.
  • Consider your weekly routine: What type of clothes do you typically wear? Does your job's dress code require business attire? Or, do you frequent the gym? Your routine influences the type of clothing you keep in your wardrobe. A minimalist wardrobe should suit your lifestyle.
  • Identify your style: Think about your favorite outfit. Is it a simple white T-shirt and denim, or do you enjoy a fun patterned shirt with solid, dark-colored shorts? Whatever it is, you likely have specific items that make you feel your best when you wear them. Flip through a magazine or catalog and make a note of the clothes you'd like to wear. Whenever you see something you enjoy, categorize it until you get a clearer picture of your style. You don't have to rely on current trends — trust your preferences.
  • Pick a color palette: It's more natural to wear pieces with a complementary color palette. Buying clothes within a limited color palette increases your ability to mix and match. Your navy blue shirt will pair with your denim jeans and your khaki pants, etc.
  • Decide what to buy: Once you've prepped your closet, redefine your wardrobe by getting the right pieces. Before purchasing a piece of clothing, ask yourself — does it fit your body type? Does it match your current wardrobe? Will it add value to your wardrobe? Do you already own something similar? Will it last you a long time? Are you excited to wear it?

A minimalist wardrobe also requires an organizational strategy. Some closets have mismatched hangers, scarves swinging from upper shelves or pants half-hung on hangers. Cluttered closets make it overwhelming to get dressed in the morning or for an event. Minimalist wardrobes require meticulous organization. Correctly hang and care for every item to make your daily routine more enjoyable.

How Many Items of Clothing Should a Minimalist Wardrobe Have?

How Many Articles of Clothing Should a Minimalist Wardrobe Have?

Minimalist wardrobes don't have a cutoff limit. Instead, you should have as much as you reasonably need. Your minimalist wardrobe might have 20 pieces or 50. When determining how many clothing items you need, first break down your closet into categories:

  • Outerwear
  • Casualwear
  • Tailoring
  • Footwear
  • Resortwear
  • Activewear
  • Accessories

Then, break down each category into what types of clothing you prefer wearing in each category. 

  • Outerwear: Everyday jackets, professional jackets, leather jackets, raincoats and windbreakers.
  • Casual wear: Button-ups, casual blazers, jeans, khakis and polos.
  • Tailoring: Dress shirts, professional blazers, slacks and suit jackets.
  • Footwear: Everyday shoes, athletic shoes and work shoes.
  • Resortwear: Swimsuits, Hawaiian shirts and shorts.
  • Activewear: Sweatshirts, jogging pants and active shorts.
  • Accessories: Hats, belts and sunglasses.

If you have a casual lifestyle, then you will need a larger number of casual wear. Similarly, if you have a rigorous work schedule and attend many meetings, you will require more tailoring items than the average person.

Ultimately, you want to wear every item in your wardrobe. If you own pieces you rarely or never wear, those don't belong in your minimalist wardrobe.

What Colors Should Be in Your Minimalist Wardrobe?

Typically, minimalist wardrobes involve neutral colors. That doesn't mean you need to steer clear of bright colors or interesting patterns — owning one or two statement pieces can make your wardrobe more enjoyable.

Within your color palette, mainly include neutral colors like:

  • White
  • Khaki
  • Light gray
  • Navy
  • Charcoal
  • Taupe
  • Black
  • Caramel

Neutral colors match without a fuss. Many wardrobes naturally contain a lot of black and white, since those colors pair with almost everything. However, having a strictly black-and-white wardrobe isn't optimal for most people. Branch out into other neutral colors for easily pairable items and maximum enjoyment.

Also, occasionally branch out from your color palette with bolder colors like:

  • Salmon
  • Baby blue
  • Crimson red
  • Emerald green
  • Mustard yellow

These bolder colors aren't impossible to mix with neutrals, but they do require more thought. Incorporate these brighter colors into your minimalist fashion by pairing a bright-colored shirt with a gray or black blazer and pants. Remember, your outfits and color combinations will vary depending on your unique style.

Find New Pieces for Your Minimalist Wardrobe at Penner's

For over 100 years, Penner's has believed in the positive effects of a carefully chosen, high-quality wardrobe. We offer minimalist clothing for men, including shirts, shoes, suits and whatever else your wardrobe needs.

Browse our selection online or visit us in person at our San Antonio, TX, location. We promise timeless pieces you'll love for many years and tailored clothing that fits right, thanks to our experienced in-house tailors. Let us know how we can help you build your minimalist wardrobe today. 

Find New Pieces for Your Minimalist Wardrobe at Penner's