Making a Wardrobe Shopping Plan

When you’re on a quest to have less stuff and live a simple or frugal or minimalist lifestyle, it’s easy to forget how nice it is–and how perfectly okay it is–to have stuff. As I daydream about the new wardrobe that I’m starting to save up for, I can’t help but be excited about the prospect of picking out new clothes and cultivating an awesome closet.

Shopping for my new wardrobe means striking a balance between my former over-consumptive habits and my current no consumption habits. To help myself out, I’ve developed a shopping plan for myself. I firmly believe that making a shopping plan–whether it’s for groceries or clothes or cars or whatever–is the best way to keep yourself on track and avoid over consuming or blowing your budget. Here is what I’ve figured out so far about how I want to whip my wardrobe into shape. (This is the part where Zach’s eyes glaze over.)

You can see from this picture, Zach’s side of the closet (left) and my side of the closet (right).


Zach’s side reminds me of Doug Funnie’s from the old Nickelodeon cartoon where he had five identical shirts and pants. Zach has the same shirts and pants in various colors so that he can mix and match what he wears throughout the week. It’s basically a uniform. He has khakis and button-ups for work, t-shirts and blue jeans or shorts for the weekends, and a suit for formal occasions. He interchanges stuff as needed to dress his outfits up or down to match the situation. (I feel like he’s really going to appreciate me giving so much detail about his wardrobe. Haha!)

My side of the closet, on the other hand, is very different. I don’t have a lot of clothes, actually this is pretty much everything that I wear except workout clothes and pjs. The problem with my current clothes is that they are a rainbow of colors and styles. Some of the things obviously go together, like my blue jeans and any top. While some of them, like the pink pencil skirt, only match a few other things. I can’t just put on any top and bottom and walk out the door, like Zach does. I have to try on stuff and see what works, so I usually end up wearing the same combinations all the time.  This makes me feel like I’m not maximizing the potential of my clothes or my money or my stuff. So my first order of business is to create my own “uniform” with basic colors that mix and match and can be dressed up or down.

Figure out a uniform.

My current closet is the key to showing what I already like to wear. While you can’t really see them in the picture, my favorite outfits usually consist of blue jeans and a simple tee or top with the occasional dress or skirt mixed in. I also like a good cardigan in the fall and tank tops in the summer. I’m going to stick with that theme when building my uniform. I want clothing items that I like to wear–nice shirts that can double for work or weekends, a couple of skirts to dress things up, jeans that actually fit, and a simple dress.

For my colors, I’ll stick with most of the things I already have: black and gray for neutrals and blues and greens for tops and accessories. Having only a few colors will make it easier for me to find things that match, so there is one less decision that I’ll have to make when getting dressed. Boom! Simplicity!

Of course, I don’t want my uniform to be totally boring and plain. I am young and fun, after all. While I’ll be searching for quality pieces that will last me years and years, I’m also going to buy a few fun/seasonal things, like bright scarves and maybe a summery dress or a pair of sandals. This way I won’t get totally bored with my clothes, and I can get a couple of new, weather-appropriate items when fall rolls around.

Here is my idea of what my future, ideal wardrobe will look like:

Minimalist Wardrobe

As you can see, I’m sticking with the basics in basic colors. My wardrobe is made of things I already love to wear–simple shirts, tank tops, cardigans, skinny leg jeans, flats, and fun scarves. I’m mixing in some dressy stuff to make my outfits more work and formal-friendly which might even make me feel more put together and less like a slob on the weekends, too. (Only if I’m able to peel myself out of my yoga pants on a Saturday morning.)

Having a visual representation of my “uniform” will make it easier for me to stay on track when I go into stores (or online) and get bombarded with stuff. Hopefully this will keep me from buying floral-patterned leggings and neon-colored sweatshirts. On the plus side, most of the items are things that I already have. Although I might have to replace a few worn out/ill-fitting things, for the most part I am on the right track. This is great because it means less shopping for me, and hopefully more money that I can save along the way.

The other part of my shopping plan is patience. I want to take my time with this “project.” Part of this is out of necessity, of course. With only $100 per month of fun money, there’s no way I could go out tomorrow and buy a whole new wardrobe. But at the same time, I want to take my time so I can wait for things I want to go on sale or find coupons. I want to get the best bang for my buck. I also want to shop around at different places, instead of feeling like I need to get everything in one afternoon at the mall. Avoiding Supermarket Sweep-style shopping will force me to be mindful of my spending choices. It’s that mindfulness, along with my plan, that will help me make the most of my fun money and my time.

What do you think? Do you ever make a shopping plan before going to the store? What does your wardrobe look like? Any tips or suggestions for my wardrobe project or shopping in general?

*Wardrobe image made on Polyvore.

6 thoughts on “Making a Wardrobe Shopping Plan

  1. This is great! I’m hoping to build my wardrobe next winter/spring. I still have some baby weight to lose so I’m making due with what I have. I have no extra money so I will be saving all of my Christmas and birthday money and shopping at goodwill for most things.
    My outfit ideas are similar. I like plain colors and I want to totally mix and match. I’m not much on accessories but I’d like a colorful scarf, belt, and pair of shoes (ideally can go with pants and skirts.) I love cardigans. And I’d love to find a couple of dresses (different lengths).

    • Hey JC! It sounds like you have some great shopping ideas, too! Colorful accessories can definitely help spice things up so you don’t feel like you are wearing the same things over and over. It’s nice to have some fun in your wardrobe to keep it interesting.

      I’ll definitely have to check out our Goodwill and some other second-hand and consignment stores in the area. I’m glad you brought that up! You never know what they will have and sometimes you can find really great deals on nice stuff! My favorite pair of blue jeans came from a consignment shop for like $15. You can’t beat a deal like that!🙂

  2. Wow, I love this and not just cos we have similar taste in clothing style and colours. I love your organization and the thought you put into this and it’s given me some inspiration for my own wardrobe. I like that uniform idea, seems so much easier than trying to work out what goes with what. Nice job!

    • Thank you! I’m glad I could help with some inspiration.🙂 I love the uniform idea, too! I’m looking forward to being able to mix and match everything in my closet so that deciding what to wear won’t take me so long.

  3. Pingback: Clothing Inventory- Getting Ready To Declutter | Words Like Silk

  4. Love this! I finally feel like I’m starting to get a handle on – and build – my ideal wardrobe. I’ve been doing it one, versatile piece at a time. Slow going but I LOVE what I have so far. My only suggestions are keep an eye out for easy to care for materials, colors that coordinate with most of your other clothes, and basic pieces that can go from casual to “nice” with simple modifications (like a scarf or belt or earrings). Love your choices in the pic. I would totally wear all of that. Can’t go wrong with that little black dress.🙂. Good luck on building your ideal wardrobe. Cheers!

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