A Simple Fall Wardrobe {And how I use Pinterest to determine my style}

I love fall. Have I mentioned that before? One of the greatest things about fall and winter is how easy it is to maintain a minimalist wardrobe.

Let me tell you that I am not a style guru. I do not keep up with every latest trend, and I honestly don’t spend that much time fussing over my wardrobe. There are lots of style blogs, so if that is your thing, go elsewhere to find tips on building a fall wardrobe.

What I do know is how to keep a minimalist, yet functional wardrobe. And fall is one of the easiest times to put this into practice.

A scarf and sweater dress up the jeans and white shirt.

I’ve been pinning a few pins to my style board on Pinterest, and one thing I found is that all my pins were very similar. Besides just keeping track of your ideas, this is, in my opinion, one of the great uses for Pinterest. As I pin things, a pattern quickly emerges. Later on, I can compare my pins and see a recurring theme that helps me determine what I like.

Anyway, about the fall wardrobe. I realized a couple of years ago that I didn’t want to be spending all my time doing laundry and putting it away. I also would find myself standing in front of my closet full of clothes and think, “I have nothing to wear.” 

I am still in the process of changing how I shop and choose clothes. It isn’t something you can change overnight (unless you have the budget, I suppose). As I need to purchase new clothes, this is how I am thinking and can I tell you? I love it. It is much more simple and less time consuming, both in the shopping for it and the laundry and maintenance.

Little by little, I’ve learned how to keep a minimalist wardrobe that still makes me feel good, and gives me some variety.

The key is to shop smart, not more. In the past when I would need clothes, I would go shopping and just grab a few cute things I found on sale. I would find myself with lots of things that didn’t quite mesh well. And buying an outfit that is so matched that it can’t be functional for any other use is a poor use of money and space in my closet.

Here’s my check sheet for a basic wardrobe.

  • Jeans: last year I finally jumped on the bandwagon of quality, not quantity. Jeans can look really good or really bad. Pick a nice brand and it will look great and last forever. A dark rinse makes it versatile to dress up or down depending on the occasion. Consignment shops or clearance racks are your best bet to get affordable, quality jeans.
  • Slacks/Skirts: Black, grey, or brown are good for versatility, but a fun skirt can add variety. If you shop with versatility in mind, one or two is all you need.
  • Shirts: decent quality T-shirts are a must for a mom. I pretty much wear a T-shirt and jeans every day, but I can throw on a scarf and immediately dress it up a little. (Think quality and neckline to make it most versatile). I’m still on a lookout for a nice grey T-shirt because in my pinning, I noticed that I loved the grey with a bright colored scarf. A dressy top or button up shirt. Just be sure that all tops (casual and dressy) can go with all your pants and skirts. That’s the way to get multiple outfits out of few pieces of clothing.
  • Accessories: Here’s where you can make your outfit look different. I love scarves. Repeat. I love scarves. These take up very little space and are cheaper than buying a new top, so you can change up the look of your outfit easily. Nice jewelery that makes a statement, and belts are other ways to accessorize an outfit..

Love the grey teal, but any color of scarf would change the look.

Does that sound like a lot? It’s not. The beauty of thinking through your wardrobe like this is that you can mix and match everything, and you can accessorize to change up the look. You will probably add a sweater, jacket, a dress, and things like that to the mix in, but these are the basics that will ensure you have something decent to wear every day.

Planning my wardrobe like this allows me to know exactly what I need when it is time to shop. I’m not just aimlessly going around the store or consignment shop trying to find clothes that look cute. I’m on a mission, and I’m out to get the key items I need. It’s smart shopping and it takes much less time.

I’m a busy mom of three. That’s what works for me.

What are your best tips for building a minimalist, yet versatile, wardrobe?

Photo Credit 1, 2

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  1. Great tips, Johanna. I’ve also found that knowing your “colors” really helps when you’re shopping – that kind of goes along with making sure everything can be mixed & matched. It’s made a world a difference to know that, even though I love that shade of teal, it doesn’t work for me and so it won’t match anything else in my closet.

    • Yes, that’s true. And it helps you not buy something that looks cute on a hanger only to find out later that you never wear because it isn’t your color. I don’t know very clearly my colors…probably should figure that out. :)

      • I used “Color Me Beautiful” to help figure that out. I think it’s by Carole Jackson. She not only distinguishes between the 4 seasons, but also includes 3 facets of each season. For instance, I’m a “dramatic autumn” – meaning I tend towards the “winter” side of “autumn,” and can wear some winter colors well (like black) that a summery autumn would look terrible in. Great resource.

        • You know, I think I looked through this briefly in college, but I didn’t “get” it then. I think I’ll look for it in the library, I’m not quite as clueless as I was then so maybe it will click! I’ve always wondered what season I was!

  2. Eli Escuain says:

    I’m a terrible one for grabbing a couple cute things at a sale and then not have anything match! I like to wear jeans too, so your tips on how to add variety with scarves on simple t-shirts are very useful :) I also need to go through my wardrobe the way you advised: touch every item, and do a give-away, throw-away, keep and not sure pile :) Maybe while de kids are napping!

    • Oh, goodness. I’ve done that more times than I can count. But I’m finally figuring out a better strategy! And I hope you find time to go through your closet! It’s such a nice feeling once it’s done. :)

  3. I would like to know the brand of t-shirts you buy. I’ve been buying solid color t-shirts since college, but lately, I haven’t found a durable brand for me – one that doesn’t shrink to where it’s too short or get easily misshapen. I used to buy shirts at Old Navy, but they changed their t-shirt material to where it became more flimsy. I haven’t found a good one since. I love the scarf, too. I’ve been making scarves with t-shirt material. Super fun, easy, and costs no money!

    • JC Penney has great quality, generous-fitting t-shirts at a very reasonable price.

    • I have noticed that Old Navy quality is not like it used to be. I did find some boat neck t-shirts that are pretty decent there, but I’m not sure how well they will last. Another commenter said J.Crew and sometimes New York & Company has good deals. I usually have to wait for sales for those, but quality is worth the wait generally. I’ve been pretty dissappointed with “cheap” buys in the past, so I am getting more picky!

      • I’m a long-sleeved t-shirt-wearing gal in the fall winter also, and you are right: quality makes such a difference with how it wears and presents. I absolutely love the t-shirts at The Gap. Lots of colors, necklines and the fabric is yummy :o) A great staple.

  4. Elizabeth Kane says:

    Yes! Love the way you think: “The key is to shop smart, not more.” I’m a minimalist and a fashion lover (which can be a real clash sometimes – maybe because of the stereotype that if you love fashion you must spend a bajillion dollars on your wardrobe and own 80 pairs of shoes?). I’ve been burned by so many sales, trends, and “gotta have it” impulse buys in stores that now I will research what I need a month or so before I shop online or in stores. It’s saving me money and heartache. :)

    Oh, and I’m a grey lover too (makes a fantastic neutral palette for colorful scarves, statement jewelry, or any blazer or cardigan you want to layer it with). I like the t’s jcrew has right now (their tissue short sleeve I practically wore all summer). If you go to the site, it’s under “Knits and Tees.” Depending on what you want, you can go for short or long ones in slouchy or tighter fits.

    • Oh, yeah, so glad even a fashion lover agrees I’m not totally off! :)

      I have done too many impulse buys that ended up sitting in my closet that now I take so long to make decisions. Thanks so much for the jcrew tip. Definitely going to look those up.

      While we’re talking wardrobes, got any suggestions for brown boots? (Affordable and cute)

      • Elizabeth Kane says:

        I’m on this *exact* same search too. Right now there are three big trends going on with boots (both shorter/ankle boots and taller ones). There’s the riding boot style, the western style, and the biker inspired style. Classic ones are sporadic among these. I’m a big fan of DSW and Steve Madden (you’ll find Steve Madden shoes lower priced at DSW usually too). I’m seeing a few good ones at American Eagle as well. I’ve never bought shoes at Zappos, but they carry a lot of brands (from low to high end) and I can’t stop hearing enough good things about their customer service/easy shipping policy. They’re a few good choices at Payless I’m seeing with some on sale. I think the lowest you can go is around $40 ($30 if they’re on sale) and it can range up to around $90-$120.

        Hope this helps!

  5. Johanna, you are so on a roll with your posts lately. Loved it again. I am a jean and t-shirt gal, and I too have come to appreciate the value of quality. I bought a pair of Silver jeans on thrift. They are trouser cut, and I love them. I wear them everyday they don’t HAVE to be washed.=) My favorite t-shirts are Tek Gear from Kohls. They are fitted, but longer, because they are for working out. I get them in white, grey and black. Long sleeve and short. I also have found, that for me, straying into color in the t-shirt world is not wise. I’d rather dress it up with a scarf or jewelry. I bought an orange t this summer that made me look like a fluorescent pumpkin. So, no matter the trends, if they don’t work for you, don’t do it.

    • I did the same thing this summer only with a bright green tshirt. I thought I would liven up my wardrobe, but then it didn’t pull off like that. I only wore it a handful of times. I’m a neutral kind of gal, too, with colorful scarves/jewelery.

      Exactly..if it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it…no matter how cute it looks on someone else! I’ve never tried the Silver brand jeans but I’ll remember that it is a good one if I ever find it on consignment. Thanks!

  6. Keeping my wardrobe in check has been a struggle for a long time. Especially back during college I accumulated so many clothes I could have worn something different almost every day of the semester! But oh, how times have changed. A couple things I do when I go shopping to help me make a decision is to stop and think what do I have in the closet that would match the item. If I can’t even remember everything in my closet, I stop shopping and come back home–I have more than enough clothes! Another thing I do that you mentioned is to check the label sure that dry clean only top would look great! But being a teacher and having dogs I need clothes I can wash easily. That cute top wont look that cute anymore when it’s on a pile waitin for me to take it to the cleaners. Finally as most of you have mentioned, I stick to basic colors and let the accessories make the statement. Still searching for the perfect white shirt… (I hate having to wear tank tops underneath shirts!)
    Good post Joanna!

  7. My best tip is to live in Europe! That way, you only need two skirts (one jeans, one dressier) and a few sweaters. This pretty much does me for all year. :o)

  8. Hi there to all, for the reason that I am truly eager of reading this webpage’s post to be updated regularly.
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  9. u are ralely ralely beautiful with an amazing style! i mean it :] wow those shoes, with that stiletto i wouldn’t even be able to walk in those.. xD they however look fabulous on u.lots of love from, evelyn<3

  10. That’s not even 10 minutes well spent!

  11. It’s a joy to find someone who can think like that

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