Simplified Wardrobe... Will It Save Your Sanity or Sink It? A Navy Wife's Perspective.

Are you the type of person who would benefit from a simplified wardrobe? I recently donated over 75% of the contents of my closet, and I couldn't be happier.  But, after doing it, I can tell it's not for everyone.   

Why Do It?

Here's why it was a good fit for me....

  • As a military spouse, I travel and move often.  The ability to fit my entire wardrobe in a large suitcase is liberating. And it now takes me about five minutes to pack for any trip. And, since everything coordinates, I can keep my suitcase small.
  • I am not a shopper.  I don't long for the hunt for the perfect day dress for a special brunch event. I don't know about fabrics and brands and trends.  I like to have someone help me here (more on that in a bit).
  • I'm lazy.  Laundry is my enemy, and the barrage of daily decisions doesn't need to start each day until after I'm dressed. Doing my own laundry is simple and not nearly as overwhelming as it used to be (the rest of the family is still another story though!) I no longer have to hunt for an outfit or stand in front of a cramped closet for half an hour to find something that kind of matches.  I can get dressed and right to the coffee part of the morning.  Mmmm coffee. 
  • Lately I've been a little disturbed by the disposability of the items we buy.  I don't want a blouse that will last a season (I'm looking at you Target).  I want a timeless piece that I'll wear for years, and at this stage in my life, I'm willing to pay for it. 

But, as with all things in life, wardrobe minimalism isn't for everyone.   If your clothes bring you daily joy, and your outfits are regularly an outlet for your creativity and identity, then this is not for you.  


How I did It

I started with an idea of what I needed in an everyday wardrobe.  Keep in mind, I still saved seasonal gear, formal attire and a few sentimental pieces, but those are now separate and can be pulled out when needed.  

My priorities were... comfort, quality and launderablity (I totally just made up that word)

I obviously needed help, and Tim Gunn wasn't coming to my door, so I used an online guide from  This is a paid service (it's totally worth it, people) that walks you through the process.  I ended up with a roadmap that included personalized style suggestions, types of pieces, including shoes, colors and even shopping suggestions.  Caldwell also has some great articles about paring down your wardrobe and about the dangers of the disposable wardrobe trend we as a society are adopting more and more. 

This is what I ended up with...

  • 3 cotton high quality t-shirts (Cabi and Everlane)
  • 3 long sleeve tunics/light sweaters
  • 2 nice blouses
  • 2 button down shirts
  • 1 Lulumon yoga top
  • 1 cashmere sweater
  • 2 cardigans 
  • 1 pair of Patagonia yoga pants
  • 2 pairs of Cabi and Chicos jeans
  • 2 pairs of trousers
  • 1 Ann Taylor day dress
  • 1 Talbots skirt
  • 2 pairs of heels 
  • 1 pair of Ug boots
  • 2 pairs of Vans
  • 1 pair of Nikes
  • 1 pair of Tiek flats

It was helpful for me to have this visual guide.  I started out by shopping in my own closet and filling in the pieces with what I had.  Then I had to shop.  This is where my awesome friends came in handy.  Being a bit fashion clueless, I needed a little help.  One friend in particular is a consultant for Cabi Clothes, which I love. All of my Cabi pieces are super high quality and always classics.  

This wardrobe takes up about four feet of closet space, and that's with plenty of space between them.  I have enough "fancy" hangers for all of my clothes now, and I can't wait for how easy it will be to PCS with this simplified wardrobe when it's time to move!

And here's a little sample of why this system works so well for me...

  • OH CRAP!  I have a parent/teacher conference today!.... navy blue trousers, white tee, blue stripe button up, grey wedges
  • "Oh Honey, I forgot to tell you, we have a Change of Command Ceremony today."..... Day Dress, flats, cardigan
  • No time between Mom Taxi and an FRG meeting (before deployment).... Jeans, blouse, vans
  • No time between all of life and an FRG meeting (end of deployment).... yoga pants, t-shirt, nikes
  • Spouses meeting... skirt, blouse, heels
  • Day Hike with the family.... Jeans, t-shirt, boots
  • Homecoming!.... Who am I kidding, I'm totally buying a new dress for homecoming, let's not go crazy here.