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5 Absolute Must-Have Minimalist Clothing Pieces

Alexis posed a minimalist challenge to me to come up with my 5 perfect, most versatile clothing pieces to wear year-round.

Can you create a wardrobe so minimalist that it has ~5 pieces TOTAL and can take you to 99% of life situations?


An outfit that is suitable for work, for play, for wedding and funeral… plus some layers that make it acceptable to wear all year round.

OK. It is going to be really limiting, but I can do it.

In these 5 pieces, I am not including things like loungewear, underwear, coats, shoes or accessories because if you live anywhere with 4 seasons, you need at least 2 coats (winter and a light trench or leather jacket), and that already eats up 2 pieces, not to mention the boots, winter boots & flats at a minimum.

All of the following items except the ones noted, would all be in neutral, solid tones so they could work together.



I definitely would pick a navy or black wrap dress without question and probably sleeveless to be as versatile as possible (sleeves are hard to wear in the summer).


I like v-neck sweaters, in truly soft high quality cashmere (which can be had secondhand for a fraction of the price).

My colour picks for this would be beige, navy, or light grey. I wouldn’t ever pick black or anything dark because I want to keep the tones on the lighter end.


I like my blazers in all sorts of neutral shades, but I’d go with a nice black, navy or dark grey in a blazer. I treat blazers like a comfortable, albeit dressier ‘sweater’ swap out option.


I like mid to high rise trousers that are a cigarette / ankle length. They can be casual or dressy depending on your footwear.

My colour picks here are a dark grey, black or navy.


I would like a t-shirt or tank top that is perfectly fitted.

My ideal colours would be white, ivory, navy blue, and any grey. I’d even consider navy and white striped t-shirts as neutrals but they’re harder to wear under items as layers, so I’d stick to white as my pick.

T-shirts and tank tops are essentials in any wardrobe as an undershirt, or just to wear with some bottoms.





Just change the shoes from high heels to flats shoes or boots:


Just wear the wrap dress with some heels. Add the black blazer if you feel the need to.

If the event allows, you can wear the white t-shirt, black pants, the blazer & heels instead of the wrap dress.



I think this sounds terribly limiting, and I can already see myself not loving it. Sure, it takes all thought out of dressing, and you can just change up the necklace, the rings, etc… but I love fashion and style too much to just limit myself to 5 pieces for an austere minimalist wardrobe.

Would I be happy?


Even as a minimalist wardrobe, I need at least 10 pieces to make a true, absolute must-have minimalist wardrobe for myself that could work year-round.

I would add these extra items to help transition between casual and dressier things and to add more spice.


  • Blouse (sleeveless, silk and in a jewel tone is my preference or a great light blue and white pinstripe)
  • High-Rise Dark Rinse Jeans (love these)
  • A-Line skirt / Pencil skirt (need another ‘bottom’ option)
  • Striped Long-sleeved top (soft, comfortable, long sleeved, in a stripe navy blue and white)
  • Printed dress (a sheath dress in a nice print would be my pick)

What would be your 5 – 10 minimalist picks?


  • Shirley N

    Recently cut down my wardrobe to 25 pieces and it totally feels liberating and far easier to figure out what I will wear in the morning.

    Thank you for this post.

  • Alexis

    I LOVE IT.


    Thanks for the awesome post! I really want to buy that black dress…

  • Anne

    My five essentials would be blue jeans, white linen shirt, black sleeveless maxi dress in jersey, short black merino cardigan with round neck and blue printed silk jersey dress with 3/4 sleeves. Next set of five would be fuchsia wool crepe dress with 3/4 sleeves, khaki pants, long sleeved breton t in white and navy, grey v-neck t and long white merino cardigan.


      A sleeveless maxi dress sounds like a good option.

      • Anne

        A couple of years ago I spent a month on an island in Scandinavia and could only take a backpack with me. Because half of my stuff was special gear, I couldn’t take many clothes with me. But my 5 essentials listed above (although instead of a silk dress I had a grey long sleeved t to alternate with the linen shirt) plus some accessories (a scarf, a belt) got me through cold and very warm weather. I felt appropriately dressed in the church, on the beach and on bike excursions. I could easily hand wash everything (except the jeans) in the hotel bathroom. But I was really happy when I got back home to my dresses and scarves!


          That sounds so fantastic!! I myself have ‘lived’ out of suitcases for months at a time so I’ve always known how to pack minimally for trips, but I never had to think about essentials for the whole year.

          I would be really sad if I only had 5-10 pieces to wear forever.

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