Minimalist Style: Building a Functional Wardrobe

I often get asked what my wardrobe looks like as a minimalist, and regularly people query about how many items of clothing I own, expecting it to be a tiny number.

I don’t limit my wardrobe by numbers or figures, instead what I do is ensure every item in there is functional, wearable and enriches my life. My clothes are curated and chosen according to my own personal defined style. After years of ‘I have nothing to wear’ meltdowns, feeling like I had spent a lot of money on regular new wardrobe updates but had nothing I absolutely loved, and not having my own style, I decided enough was enough. I wanted to buy clothes because they were needed, because they would look good, and I wanted to buy in a way that produced less waste.

You can build your own minimalist style and look using my personal style definer by reading this post here.

Having a wardrobe which consists of items which are the right cut, fabric and colour for my own personal style is great, however it is important that all of the items I own are also functional. It is incredibly important to analyse your current lifestyle in order to assess what your wardrobe needs to look like to best suit your daily needs.

Planning your wardrobe to meet your needs

In a week there’s 168 hours, and from this I am fairly certain that I will spend around 40 of them in the office and 50 of them asleep. This means that my wardrobe needs to meet the needs of a casual office dress code, and I also need sleep and lounge wear.

However there are still 78 hours unaccounted for in this plan. If I am going to ensure my wardrobe is functional I am going to need to ensure there’s an outfit for each occasion and activity in a typical seven day period.

I want you to think over the last week (however if it was a holiday, adventure or something extraordinary firstly – lucky you! And secondly – try and keep the journal for these next seven days rather than using hindsight) and write down what activities you took part in over the course of that time frame.

To help you map it out effectively, I have made this handy free weekly outfit assessment for you to use and to assess your functional lifestyle needs.

Assess Functional Minimalist Wardrobe.png

From my planner below, I can establish that I need a lot of casual and yet professional clothes for the office as we have a casual dress code.

I additionally need clothes to work out in and a pair of lightweight trainers. I tend to socialise over dinner or coffee regularly and so something a little more exciting is needed for three different occasions a week. Finally, a lot of my digital and blogging work takes place at home in my office, therefore comfortable lounge wear for around the house is a must.


I rarely do anything too ‘adventurous’ or that might mean my clothes go through a lot of wear and tear, and so I am okay to choose delicate fabrics to fill my closet.

I need to be able to mix and match my office wear, and therefore easy light layers are a must and also incredibly practical.

Take a look at your functional week and see what you need to get from your closet. If you spent a lot of your time in formal office wear, but 50% of your wardrobe consists of floaty summer dresses and you can’t help but keep buying more, you might need to address the practicality of the clothes you own.

By working out what you need, not what you want, from your wardrobe you will be on a road to less waste. You will also find that your whole closet suddenly becomes a lot more accessible and wearable and you can keep wearing your favourite items each and every day as they are purchased to match your daily activities.

You might also start to think more before buying new. If you work out three times a week and have three perfectly good pairs of sports leggings, you might ask yourself if you really need a fourth.

Embrace a wardrobe that works for you. Embrace a wardrobe with less, but that delivers more.

2 thoughts on “Minimalist Style: Building a Functional Wardrobe”

  1. Hi there! I am a graphic designer and minimalist. The worksheet you are using is gorgeous as well as functional. Great work! Check me out at


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