I’m glad you’re here! I put together this resource page so you have everything you need to build your lean, minimalist wardrobe.
What is a lean, minimal wardrobe?
You may call it a minimalist wardrobe, an interchangeable wardrobe, or something very similar.
Around here, we refer to it as a Lean Wardrobe.
Lean Wardrobe: a minimalist wardrobe; the minimum number of clothing items you need to create a flexible, well-rounded wardrobe that
suitsyour daily life.
Is a lean, minimal wardrobe right for me?
It does not matter if you are:
- young, old, or middle-aged
- light-skinned, dark-skinned, or somewhere in between
- fat, skinny, or athletic
- short, tall, or of average height
- blessed with crazy deep pockets, on a strict budget, or somewhere in the middle
The Lean Wardrobe is a framework on how to approach building a wardrobe, regardless of your age, body type, or budget. Yes, the Lean Wardrobe is for you if you want a versatile, interchangeable set of clothes that you can wear every day, no matter where you’re headed.
Why a Lean Wardrobe is different (not your typical “minimalist” wardrobe)
Most minimalists would boast about the small amount of clothing they have. They may limit themselves to 10 or 20 pieces.
And while having an extremely minimal wardrobe may work well for them… it doesn’t work for everyone.
I’m no clothing minimalist, and I don’t expect you to be either.
So how is the Lean Wardrobe different from the minimalism practices you often read and hear about?
It’s more about optimizing, not minimizing.
I want to help you curate a thoughtful wardrobe with the right amount of clothing. And I want you to have clothes that you enjoy wearing, that showcase your personality, and that works for your lifestyle.
What clothing belongs in a man’s Lean (or minimal, or interchangeable) Wardrobe?
There is no one answer to this question because everyone’s ideal Lean Wardrobe is different.
It differs so much because every Lean Wardrobe heavily depends on your lifestyle, your budget, and your surroundings… and obviously, everyone’s needs are slightly different.
The good news is: you know your lifestyle, budget, and surroundings best, so putting together a Lean Wardrobe of your very own is easy!
How to build a minimal wardrobe from scratch
Can’t just go out and start shopping. That’s the final step in the process. First it’s important to think through some things.
1. Evaluate your lifestyle, budget, and surroundings
It’s important to give this some thought before buying stuff. Otherwise, you may end up buying clothing that doesn’t truly make sense for you!
Consider what you do for work, what you enjoy doing during your downtime, and on the weekends. This will help determine how formal or casual (or what kind of mix) you need to go with.
How much do you have set aside for your new wardrobe? Having a number will help determine the amount you can buy, the quality of each piece, and in which areas it’s worth it to splurge a bit more (and when to go the more affordable route).
Where do you live and what’s the climate like? Is it mostly hot and humid, cold and windy, temperate and dry? Also, how do the people in your everyday life dress? Think about your neighbors, people you run into at the store or coffee shop, and the people you work with.
2. Lean Wardrobe Pyramid
Get familiar with the Lean Wardrobe Pyramid. This is a graphical representation of how a Lean Wardrobe is set up.
Imagine your entire wardrobe as a pyramid.
The base of your wardrobe should be made up of foundational pieces, classic and timeless items that work well in many different situations and aren’t as susceptible to changing trends.
The base of the pyramid is also its widest section. Similarly, your foundational pieces should make up the majority of your Lean Wardrobe, because it supports your whole wardrobe and anchors all your outfits.
The middle section of the pyramid is made up of clothes that may not be as versatile, but are still important in your wardrobe. This section could also include your seasonal items as well as pieces you only wear occasionally.
The top section of the pyramid is made up of your trendy, experimental, nostalgic, and very occasionally worn items.
And just like how this is the smallest section of the pyramid, this part of your wardrobe should contain the fewest number of clothes and accessories.
You can read more about the Lean Wardrobe Pyramid here »
3. Think through your wardrobe (write it out)
Now that you’ve thought more about:
- Your unique lifestyle,
- Your budget,
- And your surroundings
And you’ve been introduced to the Lean Wardrobe Pyramid and how clothing should fit into each level…
You can now start picking out the individual pieces you need.
So which types of clothes do you need from each category? And how many of each?
Again, this will depend on your lifestyle.
For example, an attorney will most likely need 5-7
Consider what’s most important to have, based on what’s currently in your closet and what you do day to day, and go from there.
How formal or casual do I need to be?
This also depends on your lifestyle and surroundings.
If you live in the suburbs and work in a business casual office, your Lean Wardrobe will be more casual.
If you’re a real estate agent selling multi-million dollar properties in New York City, your Lean Wardrobe would skew more formal.
doesn’t mean the NYC-based real estate agent won’t have any casual
pieces, and the suburban / business casual guy won’t have any
Think about how you spend your time, what you do for work and play, and where you live. All of these things play a part in how casual or formal your closet should be.
And if you’re unsure exactly how formal or casual any specific item of clothing is, check out this article »
Is There a Basic, Standard Lean Wardrobe?
If you’re a guy who wants a smart, sharp casual style and you work in a business casual environment, this boilerplate Lean Wardrobe could serve as your starting point for a stylish, minimalist wardrobe.
You will most likely have your own needs and preferences, so this may not be 100% perfect for you, but it’s a great starting point!
Add to and remove individual items based on your tastes and specific needs.