Minimalist Wardrobe: Staples

Most people have repeat items that they purchase, or staples. The latest buzzword would be wardrobe “essentials”. What defines an item as a wardrobe staple? The amount of use? Practicality? Favorite colors? Fabric type? Seasonal variety?

Of course it varies by closet, by individual. I commute by bike to the office. My staples need to have the following qualities:

  • COMFORT: When traveling with colleagues, often they’ll change into “comfy clothes” before dinner. My office clothes ARE my comfy clothes and therefore, I can pack less and don’t change as often
  • Well made- Resistance to pilling
  • Technical quality- Some sort of nylon blend (not a fan of poly blends) to wick moisture
  • Simple/ classic designs- Suitable for office or casual wear
  • Black, gray or white- My favorite colors, easy on my eyes, play well with my introverted nature (not a fan of bright colors/patterns)

Last year, I kon-mari’d my closet. Since then, I’ve added items and taken away items as my identity and style have changed. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable wearing clothes that are strongly associated with a certain gender. The tie between sexuality, gender, and fashion constantly fascinates me. My current closet represents a happy medium. The items I wear every week can be dressed up or down and be used to create more masculine presenting outfits OR feminine presenting outfits. I’ve found that I can express a variety of looks through surprisingly few clothes! I used to have gobs of clothing. It was fun to experiment when I was younger, but I feel more grounded now in expressing a fewer looks that are more indicative of my identity, rather than trying on styles only for fun.

Not Perfect Linen: Linen oversize blouses 

Linen blouses make for breezy comfort- easily layerable in the fall. Can be dressed up or down depending on bottoms.

Ridiculous dolphin/laser cap, present from my wife 

This hat will likely stay in my closet for ages- as my wife bought it for me. I was inexplicably drawn to it. I hardly wear hats, but it makes me smile.

Lululemon: tech pencil skirts (striped/black)

I love being comfortable. My current position in grad school allows me a flexible wardrobe. Most people in grad school still go to class in workout shorts and sneakers. I like to dress up a bit- but in a relaxed sense. Athleisure, ftw.

When dressing more formal, I turn to my wool slacks. I wore these wool slacks for my wedding. The high waist is flattering, and the cropped length perfect for my petite stature. Tech slacks get me through the commute to and from school. They look great in the office and the logo is well hidden.

Pants: Blank NYC cords, J Crew skinny jeans, J Brand shorts 

Essentially the same pant, but in seasonal fabrics. My skinny cords can be layered with leggings or tall socks for winter. Lightweight skinny jeans help me through transitional seasons. Jean shorts for summer.

A shirt dress can easily be placed in my backpack for changing into once at the office. I can pair it over leggings for cool weather, and wear with bare legs for warm weather. The mandarin collar adds an updated look, and the long length is modest enough for teaching.


My oxford button ups are simple and make me quite happy. One silk, which I wore on my wedding day. One stretch fabric, and one short sleeve. The two on the right are both light gray (I overdyed them- both originally white). I am looking to add one more slim black button up into my collection. I still own a navy, light blue and white, but the cut is too baggy. Will likely sell or donate. I’ve recently discovered I prefer fitted oxfords for my petite stature, but was drawn in by the allure of the BF cut (thanks, Madewell, ha)! They don’t suit my body at all, they make me look (or at least feel) frumpy. No, thanks.


Clarks Ankle Boots, White Leather Vans, Black Chacos


Shoes- I love shoes. I tend to thrift shoes impulsively and then sell them online or donate as I tire of them. These shoes are my current favorites. I have cut down to four pairs. One pair of boots. I bike in them, wear them to the office, and on date night with my wife. White leather vans- also wear to the office. They make me feel like a badass. Black Z/2 Chacos in wide. So comfortable. Provide great support when biking, and also wear them to campus. No issue there- most college students at my campus wear some iteration of athletic sandals 24/7 (birks, chacos, tevas, etc.).

This photo set compiles the bulk of my wardrobe. I didn’t photograph workout wear, jackets, or my few sweaters/scarves. They are secondary seasonal items. Is it a capsule? I don’t know- I don’t really think in terms of capsules. I’m constantly culling or replacing as needed, looking for the ultimate combination of items that suit my needs. Most items I can find second hand. I love using sites like eBay, thred up, and poshmark for workout wear- which gets pricey. All in all- I would say I love having a tiny closet. Minimal clothing (regardless of aesthetic) help me streamline my daily process. Each time I make a purchase it’s easier for me to determine if I’ll really wear an item. My wardrobe now follows a uniform pattern. I find it soothing. Others would find it utterly boring. Routine helps me feel comfortable, secure, and empowered- I feel more confident when I’m wearing an outfit that embodies my vibe.

What are your thoughts on capsule wardrobes? Uniforms? Tiny wardrobes?



2 thoughts on “Minimalist Wardrobe: Staples

  1. do you iron your linen tops or wear them wrinkly?? I love linen but I’m so messy with laundry that I cringe at the thought of ironing…. was even thinking about getting a steamer but it pains me to think of purchasing another household tool ..


    1. I wear mine wrinkly-ish. Actually, these don’t wrinkle too much. They’re a mid weight linen (not perfect linen, a small etsy shop) that I wash cold and line dry, then tumble the next morning to smooth things out! I’m super lazy when it comes to those things- I too don’t want to add a steamer to my collection and seemingly only use my iron when I’m selling things on eBay!

      Liked by 1 person

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