How can I minimize my wardrobe?

Q. How can I minimize my wardrobe and still look professional and comfortable?

A. Hello Simple Living blog readers! I’m Janet’s daughter Jessica, and I’m filling in for my mom today to answer the wardrobe question. In the past, I spent way too much time and money building a professional wardrobe, only to wake up every morning thinking I had nothing to wear. Once I stopped caring so much about the latest trends and started investing in solid basics, I was able to put together a polished wardrobe that didn’t require a lot of thought. Below are my suggestions for building a professional wardrobe that will take you from the office to the weekend.

1) Buy Office Basics In Boring Colors
No one will notice if you wear the same black slacks three times a week, but they sure as heck will if you wear plaid capris. Depending on your office dress code, I recommend buying the following in neutral colors:

  • Two pairs of dark, neutral slacks. Khakis also work if you’re office is business casual.
  • A neutral skirt in a timeless cut like a-line or pencil.
  • A tailored blazer in a neutral color. I like to buy a blazer that matches the skirt and one of the pairs of slacks so that I can wear it as a full suit when necessary.
  • A black knee length dress in a timeless cut.
  • A few high quality sweaters in neutral colors. Consider a cardigan or two and a pullover in black, gray, navy or camel.
  • A white button down shirt.
  • A pair of good quality, office appropriate shoes. I am a big fan of pointy toed flats because they look good with pants, dresses and skirts and they’re comfortable.
  • A few neutral blouses (or button-downs for the guys). For example, Everlane makes great silk shells that you can tuck into pants or wear loose over skinny jeans.
  • A classic pair of earrings, if you have pierced ears. Pearl studs or gold knots never go out of style.

2) Add A Few Fun Pieces
You really don’t need more than the items above. If you want to add more personality, mix in some fun accessories and a cute blouse or two. Since your wardrobe staples are neutral, these pieces will go with everything. Here are a few examples:

  • A cute patterned scarf. Go boho and wear it with one of the flowy Everlane silk shells and a cardigan over skinny jeans, or more formal with the white button down and dark slacks.
  • A bold turquoise necklace. This will add a great pop of color over the black dress.
  • A few colored blouses.
  • A navy striped shirt. This classic staple makes you look kind of Parisian!

3) Buy Some Weekend Basics
You can wear the sweaters on the weekends, but chances are you’ll want to swap your slacks and silk blouses for jeans and t-shirts on Sundays. Here’s what I’d add:

  • A pair of dark jeans in a classic cut like skinny or straight leg.
  • Two or three neutral v-necks. Kit and Ace v-necks are flattering and durable.
  • Metallic ballet flats. These will go with everything and can take you from day to night.
  • A classic jacket. A peacoat or khaki trench are great choices depending on the season.
  • A lightweight sundress in a neutral, solid color.
  • A pair of khaki or denim shorts.

4) Consider Adding Some Seasonal Items
If you live up north, you might want a pair of flat leather boots for winter or strappy sandals for summer. Just make sure that these items are in neutral colors.

5) Don’t Buy Junk That Doesn’t Fit
Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. And just because you are going to start your diet next week doesn’t mean you should buy everything two sizes too small. Buy things that fit you now and take them to a tailor if you change sizes.

6) Mix and Match!
The blazer goes with the dark jeans and blouses, the dress, the skirt, and the slacks. You can wear the black dress with a cardigan to the office or with a turquoise necklace and sandals to a wedding. The possibilities are endless!

And there you have it. I promise that if you have nothing else in your wardrobe but these basics, you will always have something to wear and will always look polished and professional. Happy shopping!

Shameless self promotion: my husband and I blog about our simple living journey at

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