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Minimalist Wardrobe Checklist: The Essentials for a Functional, Timeless Wardrobe

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Putting together a minimalist capsule wardrobe can be challenging and overwhelming even for the most seasoned fashion minimalist – let alone a beginner! With hundreds of clothes to choose from, it can be tricky and confusing to figure out what would work best for a minimalist wardrobe. If you’re just starting out your journey as a fashion minimalist, we put together a minimalist wardrobe checklist to help you build a strong foundation for creating the best looks. What’s more, we have listed links to some classic pieces to shop for. No need to thank us – helping you is what we live for!

But before you get to the minimalist wardrobe essentials, here are some things to keep in mind.

Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Philosophies

Neutral Colors

One of the hallmarks of minimalistic fashion is a neutral color palette. Colors like black, white, grey, and beige are synonymous with the ease and simplicity of minimalist fashion.

The best way of following a minimalist approach to fashion is with different outfits in neutral hues. Think of a white t-shirt, black jeans, and a black leather jacket. Styling neutral clothes will be such a breeze and as a result, you will spend less time trying to figure out what clothes work together!

Personal Style

The best way of figuring out what to put on your minimalist wardrobe? Determining what clothing items you are already wearing regularly. This will help you reduce the number of clothes in your wardrobe. And the fewer clothes you have, the easier it will be to get dressed. Plus, having fewer clothes allows you to make space in your closet. A clean closet = a clean mind.

First, identify what your personal style is. What clothes make you feel confident? What clothes fit your body type perfectly? Let the clothes in your minimal wardrobe reflect your personal style.

If wearing a trench coat and a little black dress is what you wear the most, then your personal style is sophisticated and classic. Once you know what your personal style is you can start building your uniform.

Need help getting this all narrowed down? I created a course for you! I’ll walk you through the process of setting your wardrobe goals, cleaning out your closet, and finally finding your personal style – just for starters.

Quality Pieces Over Trendy Pieces

A minimalist style is characterized by quality pieces that can stand the test of time. Styles come and go, but classy, quality clothes will never go out of style. High-quality fabrics like organic cotton, silk, cashmere, linen, and wool are worth the investment. Though you’re paying more upfront, you won’t have to spend a lot of money replacing them regularly, like most of the pieces from fast fashion brands.

Related: 14 Sustainable Clothing Brands That Make Clothes You’ll Always Want to Wear

Versatile Style

Minimalistic fashion is all about versatility. Your clothes should be able to be paired easily with other pieces and versatile enough to be worn for a variety of occasions.

Set Your Goals for Your Minimalist Lifestyle

Building a minimalist closet involves setting some goals. Why do you want to have a minimalistic lifestyle? Are you tired of filling your closet with new clothes you barely wear? Are you trying to cut the long-term costs of buying clothes? Whatever your reasons are, it’s a good idea to set your intentions to stay on track.

Getting Started With a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

So what is the first step to building a minimalist capsule wardrobe? You need to divide your clothes into different categories like tops, outerwear, dresses, bottoms, shoes, accessories, and extras.

Another good way of creating a minimalist wardrobe checklist is to determine how many pieces you will need. Keep in mind that the fewer items you have, the better. It will keep your life simple. But don’t restrict yourself too much! You don’t need to have 10 clothes to live a minimalist lifestyle. Seasoned fashion minimalists have approximately 21-32 pieces that can easily be paired together.

I personally have quite a bit more than that, but I keep things under control by regularly cleaning out my closet and making sure any new pieces I do bring into my wardrobe match what I already have.

The (suggested) number of items in a minimalist wardrobe checklist:

Tops: 5-7
Bottoms: 3-5
Shoes: 4-6
Accessories: 4-6
Dresses: 1-2
Outerwear: 3-4

minimalist wardrobe checklist


Cashmere Sweater– Though accessories are nice to have, the right tops are the building blocks of every closet. So let’s start here on your minimalist wardrobe checklist! Cashmere sweaters are luxe clothing pieces that will make you feel comfortable and pulled together when wearing them with anything from jeans to shorts.

Alternative: Cashmere not for you? A lightweight cotton sweater can have the same look.

Striped Tee– Add a little bit of Parisian chicness to your minimalist wardrobe with a striped tee. They are perfect for creating a classic casual outfit.

White Tee– A white tee has an effortlessly classic style. Hence why it’s a wardrobe must-have in every minimalist wardrobe. It goes with literally anything in a closet! Yes, even dress pants, heels, and blazers.

Chambray Shirt– You can’t go wrong with a chambray shirt. This piece adds a pop of color and texture to your outfit and acts as a great layering piece too.

Striped Sweater– Stripes are always a good idea to have in a minimalist wardrobe. Though you’ve already got the tee, a sweater is a great choice for cooler weather and layering. However you wear it, striped sweaters are always so stylish and easy to style.

White Button-Down– This is a wardrobe staple for a good reason. You can wear it for many occasions – not just for the office. For example, wear it in the summer with denim shorts and sandals for a summer chic look.

Tank Top– A versatile piece like a neutral tank top has to be included in a minimalist wardrobe checklist. Wear it on its own in the summer, layer it under a sweater in winter, or layer it under an open button-down in spring. So many options!


Leather Jacket– A high-quality leather jacket is a lifelong investment that can be worn for decades. It’s perfect for extra warmth or for adding an edge to a feminine outfit.

Cardigan– A cardigan is one of the most important purchases you can make for your wardrobe because it will see you through so many spring and summer seasons. Oh, and fall. Well, and winter too. Okay, so all the time!

Blazer– When you don’t have time to think about what to wear, throw on an oversized blazer for an instant polish and cool factor.

Trench Coat– Consider trench coats the new outerwear default in your wardrobe. You’ll want it for all your fall, spring, and winter looks.

Of course, some of these things depend on your climate. If you live in year-round warm weather, then you don’t need much for outerwear. But if you live in a colder climate (or the Midwest like me) then you’re going to need a winter coat. Choose a wool camel coat for a no-fail chic option. Other extras could be a denim jacket and utility jacket.

Dresses and Bottoms

Slip Dress– Whenever you have special occasions to attend, like a wedding or dinner date, you can always rely on a slip dress. It will make you look chic and formal without putting in too much effort. Choose a slip dress in black so you can also achieve your wardrobe goal of a little black dress – two for one!

Slim Jeans– Your checklist would not be complete without a pair of jeans. We love a slim or straight option because they are the most versatile and classic. You can create an array of outfits with slim jeans – from formal looks to casual. If you still love your skinny jeans, then you can swap out slim jeans for your favorite skinnies.

White Jeans– White jeans instantly make your outfit look fresher and updated in the spring and summer weather. They look especially chic when paired with a striped shirt and trench coat. Already have white jeans? Consider snagging a pair of black denim for fall and winter.

Wide-Leg Pants– These are a tried-and-true style to wear on rotation. You can easily transition them between different styles, such as loafers for a polished chic look or sneakers for a causal chic look.

Denim Shorts– Denim shorts will always serve you well during spring and summer. You can wear them with everything from a white tee and sneakers to a white button-down shirt and sandals.


Hoops and Layering Necklaces – These small but mighty pieces have serious styling power. These everyday embellishments will make a beautiful addition to your casual because they can dress up even your most basic t-shirt. You can style them with evening wear as well!

Black Sunglasses – There is just something effortlessly cool and chic about black sunglasses, which makes them the perfect accessory to have on standby.

Black Tote Bag– Every woman needs a classic leather tote for any occasion. This versatile piece can be an office bag as much as a weekend shopping bag.

Crossbody Bag– Whenever you need a functional yet stylish bag, you can always depend on a crossbody bag. It’s a bit more polished than the tote bag, making this a great chic option.


Sneakers– Every woman needs a simple pair of sneakers for practical and stylish dressing. One of the best things about sneakers is that they can achieve a variety of styles – whether that be casual chic or athleisure.

Loafers– Loafers are great for formal and casual dressing. Dress them up with wide-leg pants and a white button-down and you’ve got yourself an amazing look. Alternatively, you can dress them down with slim jeans and shorts!

Leather Sandals– When spring and summer come around, you want shoes that match with everything. Enter leather sandals.

Ankle Boots– You may not think it, but ankle boots are a wardrobe staple. They are definitely needed during fall and winter and add a polished vibe to your outfit.

Ballet Flats– It is impossible not to love ballet flats! They provide an outfit with a feminine touch and lots of elegance.

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We already touched on how versatile the white tee is. Do you need styling ideas? Find plenty of easy-to-recreate ones in this next post: New Ways to Style Your Basics | 15 White T-Shirt Outfit Ideas


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.