The Pros and Cons of a Small Wardrobe

There’s a good discussion over on the YLF forum about the optimal size of a wardrobe. Of course, there is no one magical number because needs vary from person to person. Your lifestyle, climate, need for outfit variety, need for trendy updates, and your affection for fashion will greatly affect the size of your wardrobe. Other factors are the physical size and convenience of your closet. 

I have clients who manage extremely large wardrobes extremely well, thereby thoroughly enjoying their enormous variety. Conversely, I have clients who feel overwhelmed with much smaller wardrobes.

I suggest to my clients that a wardrobe is the right size when they can successfully MANAGE it. They can remember their favourite items across the seasons, create sufficient outfit variety, and feel at peace when they enter their closet and dressing space. As soon as they’re overwhelmed, they need to cut back and/or edit. As soon as they’re bored, they need to think about how to refresh their style.

For some, a small wardrobe is the answer. I think of a small wardrobe as between 50 and 100 items, including footwear, occasion wear, some accessories, and outerwear, but not including underwear, loungewear, sleepwear, workout wear, or jewellery.

Here are the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Easier to manage and remember item details
  • Easier to store and keep tidy
  • A cost-effective way to manage a wardrobe when you’re on a weight loss or weight gain journey
  • Well suited to a stay-at-home lifestyle
  • Well suited to a “uniform” dresser who enjoys repeating outfits
  • Well suited to someone who wears a uniform most days of the week, and wears sports gear over the weekend
  • Well suited to a climate with fewer extreme seasons
  • Well suited to those who enjoy wearing a few carefully chosen neutrals
  • Well suited to those who are minimalists in other areas of their lives

Cons

  • Wear and tear on each item is much greater, so they don’t last as long
  • Causes laundry bottlenecks, especially in high heat and with frequent travel
  • Creates outfit boredom
  • Can create outfit creation challenges
  • Falls short of covering wardrobe needs for a four-season climate
  • Falls short of covering wardrobe needs for a diverse lifestyle
  • Falls short of satisfying that happy gene when you love to wear all sorts of colours and patterns
  • Falls short of satisfying your love for fashion, and refreshing your wardrobe with exciting new trends

I’m a fashion professional with a diverse lifestyle who loves fashion, lives in a four-season climate, travels a lot, enjoys trends, and likes variety in my outfits. A small wardrobe would not make me happy, and wouldn’t be practical for me. I therefore have a moderately sized wardrobe with around 150 items. Almost 50 of those items are handbags and scarves that I have collected over many years, which inflates the number. In fact, I have more handbags than shoes. I keep the size of my wardrobe fairly consistent because it’s easier to manage and works well with our storage space.

Over to you. Do you have a small wardrobe, and does it work for you? If not, why does a larger wardrobe suit you better?

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