What’s in Your Closet?


Whats In Your Closet

Lately, I’ve been on a quest to compile a personal wardrobe essentials list based on booksmagazine articlesblogs, and my own lifestyle and tastes.

You might be surprised by how many different views of “essential” there are out there.  Some lists insist that every woman needs to have a sparkly cocktail dress and one pair of jeans.  Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve needed a cocktail dress (did I ever need one?!?) and having one pair of jeans would mean I’d be doing laundry almost daily.

In short, many of the lists just aren’t realistic for me or my lifestyle.  So why even try?

Here’s why.  For me, the battle against materialism is a daily one.  I try very hard to keep my focus on the importance of intangibles rather than tangibles.  And I fail.  Often.  On a daily basis, in fact.

I’m hoping that by spending some time thinking about my wardrobe now, I won’t have to think about it later.  And hopefully, I’ll be able to exist with fewer items of clothing and still have what I need for most occasions that come up.

Not only that, but I won’t have a closet filled with clothing that I don’t wear.  What I have, I’ll wear.  At least, that’s my plan.

The idea of wardrobe planning was foreign to me until I read Hallie Lord’s eBook, Dressing with Intention.  In it, Hallie encourages the reader to have a wardrobe plan and systematically acquire the individual pieces.

I’m not sure why such a simple concept was so revelatory to me but, it was.  Of course the best ideas are usually the simple ones, aren’t they?  It truly changed the way I thought about my wardrobe.  Combine Hallie’s book with my 6-item clothing challenge and the result was a change in my attitude toward clothing.

So, it’s my hope that a little planning and strategic shopping now will mean that I won’t have to spend time thinking about or shopping for clothing later.  Instead, I’ll be free to think about other things like my family and my spiritual life perhaps.

My own Wardrobe Essentials list is still under construction.  Here’s what I have so far:


  • Workout shoes
  • Black boots
  • Brown boots
  • Black pumps
  • Black flats
  • Brown flats
  • Colorful sneakers
  • Canvas slip on shoes (either neutral color or accent shade)


  • Black sheath dress
  • Brown wrap dress
  • Colorful sheath dress


  • White tailored button up shirt
  • Colorful tailored button up shirt
  • Short Sleeve T-shirts (white, black & color)
  • Long Sleeve T-shirts (white, black & color)


  • Tan dress skirt
  • Tan cotton skirt
  • Black dress skirt
  • Black cotton skirt
  • Brown dress skirt

What’s on your wardrobe essentials list?

Copyright 2014 Laura Nelson

photo credit: peddhapati via photopin cc


About Author

Laura B. Nelson is a Catholic wife and mother of three children. She is also a Catholic blogger, author, speaker, teacher and life-long student of the Catholic faith. Laura likes to be busy but she most enjoys spending time with her husband and three children at their home in Grapevine, TX. Visit her blogs at Green for God and Suburban Sainthood.


  1. GREAT topic, and very timely for me. I need to check out Hallie’s book. I have way too many clothes. One struggle… suits. I don’t want to have too many, but I hate wearing the same outfit in every photo that is taken. Vanity?! I am thinking I need fewer suits and more scarves and/or accessories that would change the look. Seriously need help because I agree with you on the overconsumption quandary!

    • I can totally relate to the vanity issue. Before my Six-Item Challenge experience, I thought people noticed what I wore and how long ago it had been since I had worn it last. It was very humbling to find out my wardrobe wasn’t important to anyone but me!

      Maybe the answer with your suits is to find new ways to wear them. This year for Christmas Mass, I wore a black sheath dress that I’ve had for ages with a white button down shirt underneath and a black and white cardigan on top. I’ve had all those peices for years but had never put them together before. I loved the look and it felt like I had a new outfit when I hadn’t spent a dime!

      • This is a great discussion! When I worked FT and wore suits nearly everyday, one day my neighbor said, “Do you ever wear the same thing twice?” In reality, I did wear things twice. Three times? Maybe not! 😉 Just kidding! But her comment left an impression and reinforced your point here about having too many options and causing stress in the morning. Oh how I would hem and haw every morning to get the perfect look.

  2. ALRIGHT. I do NOT want to get sucked into a wardrobe discussion but…well. I have noticed that I wear about the same clothes over and over and that the ones I prefer are the ones that are most versatile.


    I have NO mental room to figure this out right now. But I am flagging this. I’m with Lisa: I need help with this.

    And I’m so stupid to figure out putting new things together the way you explain, Laura. When I get creative that way, it all gets scary and I start to compete with my 6yo for how I look (which is to say, ridiculous).

    Hmmm. I’m going to have to check out Hallie’s e-book. For. Sure.

    • Believe me, it takes practice and some time to try new ways of putting things together. I’m new at this but it’s getting kind of fun. Check out Pinterest for some cute wardrobe ideas. You may find that you have the ingredients in your closet for a new clothing recipe! Don’t despair. When all is said and done, it’s just clothing, not rocket science. 🙂

  3. I started to cull out my wardrobe last year and then is went “ker-sproing” when I discovered a new discount outlet near my house. (Sigh)
    I started out with a modified Catholic School uniform. I had three pairs of jeans (boot cut, straight and skinny) two cardigan sweaters and five solid color t-shirts (long sleeved). These function as my “work uniform”.
    Then, I added two skirts (one denim and one black), a black dress and red dress in poplin, and a short sleeve knit dress (grey),a sleeveless black maxi dress, a bright colored fine gauge knit shrug and two silk camis (one white, one black).(These function as my church and performance wardrobe).
    But, like I said…that minimalism didn’t last too long. Scarves, shrugs, hats (yes, hats) kind of took over. I need to cull things out again.

    • Wow Katie! That’s the kind of wardrobe I’m trying to achieve! Way to keep it simple!

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the scarves and shrugs (etc.)They make it easier to make your tried and true pieces look new.

      I’m definitely going to add some of your items to my list.

  4. Um, Ok sweaters, Sweatshirts, Shorts? Those things for extreme weather or even workout clothing? Are those not counted or you do not have them?

    Now the workhorses of my wardrobe are are a pair of black cotton pants and a pair of Khaki’s. I do have several pairs of black dress pants, a pair of khaki jeans, black jeans, 4 prs blue jeans, 2 skorts, a jean skirts, 5 pairs of tailored shorts, a miriad of colorful, dressy T’s, 4 blazers 2 skirted suits and 3 dresses, 5 tailores blouses, 3 long sleeved T’s. I also work outside the home. So that might make a difference too. And I have been a contractor for 2.5 yeras. I am currently in a very casual environment when I tend to dress more business casual, but I am afraid to pare down as who knows when this will end and I need to dress up more at my next employer. I also have enough clothing to only do laundry once a week. But I did pare down my closet due to a move about 6 years ago and am pretty happy with the current state. I wear most of my stuff on a seasonally-regular basis.

    • You’re right, I forgot to include sweaters. I don’t really count workout clothing since I don’t really care that much about what I wear when I exercise. I just want it to be functional.

      You bring up a good point about having options for different situations that may come up (ie different work environments). I guess my hope is that my planning will ensure that I always have something to wear for whatever situation that comes up. But, of course, we can’t always predict what will come up, can we?

  5. I’m 10-weeks postpartum and still in my childbearing years, so it’s hard to know what to donate and what to keep. One wardrobe must for me regardless of pregnancy state is the cardigan – a black one, maybe a colored one or two. Mix and match with scarves. Works with skirts, slacks, jeans. Voila! But I certainly have some work I can do to clear things out. Great suggestions here! Thanks for the nudge.

    • You’re so right about cardigans! I just recently “discovered” them and having been having a lot of fun using them to change up an outfit. Being from Texas, I tend to forget about the cold weather stuff. Thanks for that reminder!

  6. Thanks for all the great comments ladies! One point I didn’t include in my article is that I’m trying to keep and buy only the items that I love. You know, the ones that fit well, make you look good, and you feel great wearing. Challenging at times but why do I even bother buying the other stuff?!?

  7. I had a great thing going for weeks with 33 pieces of clothing. Then I lost three sizes and now I am constantly scrambling with what to wear! I will say, the less is more approach really does work for me.

    • Wow! Three sizes?!? That’s amazing! I hope your weight loss was intentional and not due to illness.

      Thirty three pieces of clothing sounds very doable to me. I agree with you on the less is more thing. The less I have the more it gets worn. It’s amazing how often I have “nothing” to wear with a closet full of clothes. When I was only wearing 6 items of clothing, I always had something to wear. Strange, isn’t it?

  8. 6 items is not going to happen for me. Too many varying needs (home, church, sub teaching) and too many weather extremes. But I could stand to cull down to no more than 4 of a particular kind of thing. I have 3 black short sleeve tees, for example. I’m enjoying this discussion!

    • 6 items can be very challenging but doing it for 30 days is a great exercise in simplicity and detaching from the material world. Plus, I would say 6 items per season (not including outerwear, underwear, exercise clothing, shoes, or accessories) might make it more attainable.

      Of course you don’t need to reduce down to 6 items to simplify your wardrobe. It’s those duplicate items (like your black t-shirts) or those things that you didn’t even remember you had that fill your closet unnecessarily.

    • I’m completely on board with cardigans! Good thought. I find that I wear my black and white print cardigan a LOT as well as my black shawl collar cardi. It changes the look of an outfit immediately. Love that!

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