There's been so much meta-discussion on the forum lately, and I've just been eating it all up! I'm a details person, so I love seeing how closet size/wardrobe management/purging/etc. works for everyone else. I thought I'd share how I created a large closet that's full of clothes I love & that makes it easy to get dressed, in case it's useful to anyone. Keeping in mind individual differences, of course, and that I am far from an expert.

About 3 years ago, I felt inspired by reading about smaller closets on blogs like The Vivienne Files and while lurking on the forum to weed out the clothes I wasn't wearing. Around about that time, I also started doing more reading on how to figure out your best colours and came to the conclusion that muted, cooler colours (soft summer in the 12 season system) worked best on me. This helped a lot in my closet slimming: I got rid of anything that wasn't a good colour on me. After that, I tried on everything that was left, and figured out the kinds of details that made me wear one piece all the time while another languished in the closet.

For instance, I love full skirts, but only if they sit at my natural waist: all of the ones that sat on my hips ended up as orphans, because I couldn't figure out tops without being able to tuck in. I also noticed that skinny jeans/slim trousers were easy for me to style, while the more traditional, wider legged business-style trouser was not, and that those with a higher rise were always my favourites. In tops, I found that my favourites all had some type of rounder neck (crew, scoop, or square) while the v necks usually sat neglected. While I loved woven blouses, traditional, crisp, collared button downs would get tried on, then removed again: clearly they didn't work for me. And for dresses, of all the different styles that sat in my wardrobe (I was already a thrifter by then with a taste for nice fabrics!), I felt best in ones with fuller skirts instead of straight ones.

I wrote all of these details (and more) down for future shopping reference. I also realised that I was happy playing with colour and fabric and pattern variations instead of silhouettes, so I committed to only buying slim trousers, full knee-length skirts, loose mid thigh shorts, and knee-length fit-and-flare dresses. I did allow myself to buy a variety of style of tops though, as long as they had a rounder neckline.

Then I took stock of my closet: I had around 60 items left (I think). I needed some kind of structural plan, and then I came across an idea in the sewing community: seasonal six-piece collections ( I love this idea and inspired by it, Angie’s capsules, and I’m sure other wardrobe building, I decided to make the backbone of my closet I needed to have 2 full neutral sets (one grey, one navy) of my favourite clothing items. That meant (ideally) a full skirt, skinnies/slim trousers, pair of shorts, fit & flare dress, long sleeve tee, layering cami, warm weather cardigan, cold weather cardigan, cold weather jumper/pullover, boxy blouse, fitted blouse, and jacket. Oh and a pair of socks, pair of tights, pair of shoes, and bag. Of course, as I rely on thrifting, I realised this wouldn’t happen overnight. But this core of neutrals, along with limiting my silhouettes, would mean I could add any other colour I wanted (from my palette, so they all went with grey or navy or both) and know it wouldn’t be an orphan.

Three years on & this strategy has worked out wonderfully for me: over time I’ve been able to increase my thrifting/clothing budget, and last year I was able to have a separate shoe budget for the first time, allowing me to buy some high quality pairs that should last for ages (although I still have to compromise on colours a lot). In addition to my navy & grey core, I’ve added a taupe/cocoa brown one and am currently working on a soft white version (as you can imagine, this latter goes quite slowly in secondhand shopping). I also realised that shades are important to getting dressed (I prefer low to medium contrast and some type of break, either colour or shade, at my mid-point instead of columns of colour), so my grey core has expand to include light/medium/dark options. If I were a minimalist, I’d just use medium grey, as that works with light, medium, and dark colours. None of my neutral capsules are quite complete (dresses are very difficult for me to fit, much less find in the correct colour), but having neutral options in each section of my closet makes getting dressed a breeze.

It also means I don’t limit myself to 2-3 accent colours. Even if I went more minimalist, as long as I have my neutral core, I don’t understand why I couldn’t wear any colour that goes with my neutrals! I am a light packer (2-3 bottoms, 4-6 tops, 2-3 toppers, 2 shoes), but find if I choose neutrals for my bottoms and toppers, I can have all different colour/printed tops and still have a mix and match mini wardrobe. If I want to use a colour topper, I just have to pick my colour blouses a bit more carefully, maybe throw in some neutral blouses (a different neutral than my bottoms since I don’t care for columns of colour on me), but it’s still easy to have that extra variety.

Essentially, I used small, remixable wardrobe techniques to allow myself a large closet full of colour & texture & print variety. If I find something while thrifting in a favourite colour or fabric or fun print, I know I’ll be able to mix and match it with the rest of my closet. Nowadays my closet is 200+ (I haven’t counted in awhile: it’s very top heavy though, with blouses & sweaters & tees making up almost half that). Thinking in colour-based capsules works really well for me, and I use it for my favourite colours as well as my neutrals, as I enjoy echoing the same colour, perhaps in different shades, in an outfit. That strategy has definitely revolutionised my wardrobe and made it very functional!

Of course, my preferences are to mix and match (or remix, as they call it), to vary colour & texture rather than silhouette, to wear colour/patterns on both top and bottom, and to break up my line in the middle (vs wearing a column of colour/neutral as the Vivienne Files usually shows). If your preferences are wildly different, or you're not yet sure what your favourite styles are, this strategy won’t be as functional for you.

To recap, in case it helps:

  1. Figure out your favourite ‘silhouettes’ and the common characteristics that your current favourite clothing items have in common.
  2. Make a list of this information, in whatever format helps you most, for shopping.
  3. Pick 2 neutrals that you like mixing & that will work with your preferred colours and (over time as your budget/ability to find the items allows) acquire each of your favourite items in each neutral.
  4. Go crazy with your favourite colours and patterns, as long as the silhouette/style is essentially the same, knowing you’ll have something to wear it with.
  5. If you’re of a large closet persuasion, add more neutrals and/or colours as inclination takes you.

I started this process several years ago, but more recently some great resources have appeared to help you figure out your preferences. The blogger behind Into Mind (
takes a very similar approach (except her goal is a small closet) and the sewing blog Coletterie did a Wardrobe Architect series (
earlier this year, complete with lots of questions & downloadable worksheets, with a very similar focus. And of course, Angie’s blog is hugely helpful; I just assume since you’re in the forum you already know about that one! Just in case you're new and haven't noticed, Angie's got very helpful categories on the right hand side of the blog, so you can read all about 'closet organization,' 'shopping strategy,' 'wardrobe planning,' 'individual style,' and more. If you find a certain post very useful, be sure to look at the categories listed at the bottom in blue (right above the comments link): if you click on one of them, you'll find posts on similar topics.

I'm far from being an expert yet, though! While I got picky about colour and silhouette three years ago, I neglected to get picky about fit. Whoops! So that's my focus for this year. If you remember that from the beginning, you'll obviously save yourself wardrobe mistakes. That being said, my wardrobe is in a great place now, with just some tweaking necessary, and it makes me very happy.

I haven't gotten into anything philosophical, as this post was already running too long, but I'm happy do another post another time on that, from a large wardrobe, secondhand-preferring, small budget perspective, if anyone's interested.

ETA: After RachyLou asked, I thought it'd make sense to add illustrations: here are my two closets, as I arrange them for spring & summer (you can see the fall/winter set up here)! Not the best photos, but you get the idea. The shelf one holds more than just clothes, of course. I fold & stack all of my trousers and knitwear; tees, camis, & undies all get folded and stored vertically in the shoe boxes. Other boxes house socks, tights, scarves, and belts. And my shoes all live on the floor of that one but didn't fit in the shot. That leaves dresses, woven blouses (and a couple thicker, standalone knits), skirts, and indoor jackets in the hanging closet, which also houses my bags and jewelry on its lone shelf. In the corners, hidden behind the doors, I keep my out of season stuff (still folded or hung), so this is everything but the coats. Oh & I folded up & stored my wool skirts in an empty vintage suitcase I use as an end table, once I realised it was empty storage space just sitting there! That way my lighter weight skirts have space to breathe. The hook on the shelf-closet holds whatever bag I'm currently using (except my pewter one that you see on the shelf in the other closet, as it doesn't seem to like being hung more than necessary) & also lets me hang up my outfit up inside out at night to air out (I prefer to minimise laundry). The apparent black hole in the lower right of the hanging closet is my blazers/indoor jackets: I'm not sure why they didn't show up better.

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