A Wardrobe Manifesto

I have now spent a month living in my limited wardrobe. Whether these present constraints remain a short-term experiment or become a permanent lifestyle choice, I’ve discovered that I do prefer having fewer things in my closet. I like knowing what I have and having what I like (as opposed to what I think I should like). In order to maintain some of this newly carved out space in my closet and my life, I have laid out some goals for building and maintaining my wardrobe:

I want to enjoy wearing my clothes as much as I enjoy buying them.

  • This is the primary thing I want to consider when shopping.
  • Most of my favorite clothes were not impulse purchases. Either I pondered the item for days or weeks before finally buying, or I looked for a specific type of item (i.e., a striped dress) for months before finally finding a deal and purchasing one.

I want to curate, not accumulate.

  • My wardrobe is an ongoing design project that requires regular editing. I want my additions to be thoughtfully and intentionally made with regard to my style, shape, lifestyle, and budget, and I will keep the total number of items limited with a “one in, one out” policy.
  • If a new item isn’t worthy of replacing something already in my closet, it probably doesn’t belong in my wardrobe.

I want my purchases to be long-term commitments rather than flings.

  • I want to buy the best quality I can afford and wear things for many years.
  • I will try things on, try them out at home with things I already own, return things that don’t work, and have things altered in a timely manner if necessary.
  • I would like to build a savings reserve so I’ll be able to replace or repair something when it wears out.
  • If I want to experiment with a trend, I can “rent it” (i.e., buy it secondhand for not much money and donate it back after a season).

I can’t buy off unpleasant emotions.

  • I recognize that feelings of sadness, grief, insecurity, powerlessness, or anger do not disappear when I throw money around. I am only buying myself a temporary distraction.
  • I want to choose other ways of dealing with my feelings, preferably ones that don’t leave me with souvenirs. Do I really want a closet full of clothing that commemorates my bad days?

Fear has no place in my wardrobe.

I don’t have to buy something because I’m afraid . . .

  • that I’ll miss a great deal
  • that I need it to look stylish
  • that I’m missing out on a trend or that my look is dated

I don’t have to keep something because I’m afraid . . .

  • that I wasted money
  • that I’ll need or want it after it’s gone
  • that I’ll hurt someone’s feelings (this one is especially difficult for me)


What about you? Do you have rules for what comes into your closet or your home? Or do you find the idea of “rules” restrictive (as I do)? In that case, what sort of guidelines direct your shopping?

And if you are rules-averse but still interested in trying a minimalist wardrobe experiment, here’s a great article from Courtney Carver of Project 333.




  1. styleuniverseeverything

    Good set of rules. I try to stick by them myself, but I shop as a hobby when I spend time with my sister, so I know how difficult it can be!

    As for editing my collection, I find it so difficult because I’ll think I’ll need or want it in the future, as you mention. Such a struggle and my main downfall! I wish you the best of luck.

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