Add More Variety to Your Wardrobe, Not Just More for Your Closet

I own and wear a lot of scarves.

Some six-year-old girls were at my house the other day, so I made a dress-up center with my scarves and beads. (I used my Frost clothes drying rack from IKEA for the display.)

One of my friends said to me, “You know, for someone who is minimal you have a lot of scarves…you’re like a scarf hoarder.”

What was really funny is that she saw only half of them. I didn’t even get out my scarves for cold weather! They’re inexpensive and they don’t take up much room, and I love the colors. They always fit. The kids like to play with them too, so it never occurs to me to give any of them away.

When I was at the store last week, I noticed a new scarf that I liked, but I didn’t buy it because I remembered the ones I already have. I don’t have a goal to reduce them, but at least I didn’t add more to their numbers. Baby steps.

Hi Rachel, I’ve implemented many of your ideas into my life and I feel very relieved. One thing I am having a problem with is that now that I have downsized my wardrobe (which I now love everything in my closet) I have noticed my wanting more shoes and other accessories. How do you keep your accessories under wrap? -A

Like you, I love and wear everything in my closet, and sometimes I want accessories such as scarves to add life and color to the basic clothes, especially when I wear navy, black, or gray.

If it fits in the space I allow for it and I like it all, then I don’t have to think about it, and that’s ultimately my goal for streamlining my wardrobe and my stuff in general.

My scarf collection is not downsized, obviously, but it’s fun, and I stuff them into a canvas shoe organizer in my closet so they don’t get in the way.

For shoes, jewelry, handbags, and tote bags, I choose quality over quantity.  That doesn’t always mean spending more money. (I wrote a shopping guide that gives specifics about brands of shoes & clothes that I like.)

I try not to settle for nice, cute, on trend, or fun for now. I wait until I find the perfect one, and then I call off the search.

I spend more money for shoes that look good, feel good, and last for a long time. I save time by not having to shop for shoes so often, and I even save money when they last longer. (I replace about two pairs of shoes each year on average.) It feels good to have favorite shoes that I love instead of always thinking that I need a new pair.

I love tote bags too, and I used to feel that impulse to buy more, but I have three perfect tote bags (in different styles and sizes), so now I barely look at them in the store.

I pretty much wear the same jewelry every day, but I have a few more pieces that don’t take up a lot of space in the drawer.

I’ve carried the same handbag for seven years or so. It basically comes down to loving what you have so that you don’t continually look for something better. Being able to say, “That’s enough.”

What accessories do you feel drawn to? How do you add more spice to your style without just adding “more”?

clear the clutter

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. My favorite winter accessories are scarves, but I haven’t really gotten into summer weight scarves. Seeing your collection makes me want to though!

    Lately my “style spice” has been hair clips. I’ve started braiding my hair more, doing different buns, twists, etc, and putting rosettes or clips in it. It’s the perfect compromise for me – because I hate wearing necklaces and bracelets and rings, but I wanted to add a little pizzazz!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Book Review: The Master’s Muse

  2. Would you publish a scarf wearing tutorial? I want to try scarves but have never worn them and I’m clueless

    • Candace says:

      YES!! I second that!! :) And…can you show us the purse you’ve carried for seven years?

    • That’s a good idea since styling for summer scarves is so different from the winter scarves that most people are used to. I just need to first get over the awkward feeling of posting self photos on the internet.

      • Meredith says:

        Do it!! haha. This is such a timely post, because just yesterday I came across a pile of “summer” scarves that I used to wear around my waist all the time. I thought I would give them a new life around my neck, but after trying out different ways to style them for a few minutes, I ended up stuffing them back in my closet, still clueless about how to wear them.

        • Melanie says:

          Wendy’s Look Book on YouTube actually posted 25 ways to wear a scarf in 4.5 minutes – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LYAEz777AU

          Great video, with several that I never thought of before, and now use on a fairly regular basis.

          • Melanie!! thank you so much!! I really needed this, now I love Wendy.
            I am from the Deep South and now I am living in the PacNW and I don’t have a clue about scarves. I have decided that’s why Southern women love pearls, it’s too dang hot for anything else.

      • There’s a GREAT tutorial/video on scarf wearing on the ColdwaterCreek.com site. I’ve only ever worn silk scarves in the winter, but I’m eager to get my hands on some long summery/cotton ones. What’s your favorite supplier?
        Laurie

  3. Would you consider doing a post on how you wear your scarves? I have several and love them…in theory. I honestly have no idea how to tie them, so wind up putting them on, adjusting them fruitlessly for a few minutes, then picking something else to wear. I’d love a tutorial!

  4. You must be psychic- I was just thinking about this very topic :)
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…More Clothing I Have Loved

  5. Rita Kate says:

    I’m a weaver/textile person so not only do I weave/dye scarves every weaver/textile person gives me scarves. Okay I give them scarves, too. I bought two pants hangers for my scarves. It works perfectly.

  6. Like you, I really like very basic pieces of clothing, and then I like to put them together different ways with accessories. So yes, I suddenly realize, I do want my box of scarves and my jewelry box! I should let my kids play with them too – that’s a great idea. Much safer than letting them loot my jewelry box, too.
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…The Wall of Family Photos

  7. I wear a lot of scarves too! still looking for some light enough for the hot and humid. on the most unbearable days i put a brooch on instead. not quite as chic, but cooler. as for a tutorial, i found the scarf video on youtube by Wendy’s Lookbook to be very helpful!

  8. A new lipstick! Or a headband. Those are two cheap, fun, colorful additions to any wardrobe. I also like cheap, bright cocktail rings. None of this has to cost much, and that keeps it from being to precious. When a 3 year old at a BBQ recently loved my pink cocktail ring, I didn’t mind her keeping it (even if it wouldn’t fit her hand for at least a decade or two!)
    Anna´s last post…Getting What You’ve Waited For

  9. I’m so intrigued by your comment that you’ve been wearing your handbag for seven years. Would you mind sharing what type/brand it is? It must be a very well-made bag. Love your blog!

    • It’s a Coach handbag, not too big, made of brown natural leather. I’ve never bought an expensive bag for myself, but it was an anniversary gift from my husband. I showed a picture of it in the post “Clear the Clutter from Your Handbag”.

      • I have that same bag in black!
        I love it so much, but believe me, it has been a challenge for me – queen of the giant handbags – to get to the point of using it all the time. Downsizing my bag has been the single hardest thing I have ever done in relation to wardrobe changes.

  10. What is this mythical handbag that can last for 7 years? I hate having to replace scuffed-up handbags — it feels so wasteful and unenvironmental — but leather doesn’t last as long as people say it does, pleather doesn’t either, and even nylon scuffs.
    Sue´s last post…Divergent (Veronica Roth) 2 out of 5

    • It’s a thick natural brown leather, so it developed a rich patina, and scuffs can be rubbed out of it.

    • I realize I am late to the party but anyway. I have had 3 Coach purses, (I know they cost a LOT!) and everyone of them I used for almost 10 years. One brown, one black and one red. And actually they still looked good, I just got tired of them.

  11. Monique says:

    Rachel,
    Thanks for the great blog and your candor in it. I found you about a week ago and have been reading a lot while I nurse my baby. I finally pulled together the nerve to *start* cleaning out my closet today. In 10 minutes I thinned out about half of my shirts and most of my sweaters (don’t really need them here in the Deep South).

    On today’s topic, I don’t really accessorize. I’ve never been happy with the way scarves look on me. I have a very few basic pieces of jewelry. I know some ladies can’t seem to have enough purses/bags/jewelry, but that’s just not me. Thank goodness there’s at least one area I don’t need to simplify!

    • Wow, that’s a lot in only ten minutes! Talk about making effective use of time!

  12. Richelle says:

    Love you blog!!! What kind of tote bags do you love? Do tell… ;)

  13. Scarves and hats do the trick for me and for jewelry, white pearls although I made myself a necklace/bracelet/earring set of colored pearls. Those are for fun -lol-. A couple of days ago, I overheard an older woman tell a young girl, “No Southern girl ever feels dressed until she puts on her pearls.”

  14. I’m also drawn to scarves for accessorizing. I would wear them almost every day, but honestly, Rachel, it’s so darn hot and humid here that most of the time it simply feels as though even the lightest linen scarves I own would just be too much to take. I can almost never accomplish your wonderful 3 piece rule in the summertime because of the heat here. So I try to use prettier/bolder lipstick or painted toenails or bracelets – some little something that will “stand out” make an outfit a bit more polished.
    I just love all your posts on wardrobe ideas! Thank you so much.

  15. I love scarves too and wear them most of the year. I also like earrings for changing up a look. I don’t have many, just a few pairs in classic styles. We are busy purging our closets and drawers. But the big job is weeding out home decor items and seasonal decorations. Less is best with those also!

  16. i find that putting all your scarfs in that box thing was hard to see what was there so i bought this hanger from ikea KOMPLEMENT
    Multi-use hanger, white

    • Michelle says:

      I have this hanger. It is the best. I put a hook on the wall of my walk-in so that it hangs flush against the wall. I also hook them through so both sides are against the wall, and they hang neater and I can see which is which.

  17. I love scarves too but I need a way to store them, currently they are stuffed into a canvas bin. I wear them less bc they are all wrinkled. I also love big colorful necklaces. It’s the easiest way for me to dress up an outfit with a 1.5 year old. I tend to buy pretty cheap jewelry from forever 21. I’ve been really happy with it and some of the jewelry is 4-$10, it’s worth it to me to be able to buy things I really love, and because they are so cheap I can buy more without feeling guilty. But I always like to shop at jcrew first because I want my jewelry to look high end and more expensive.
    Jen at a place 2 call home´s last post…A little break

  18. Hi Rachel, I am leaving for Europe for a month on Sunday and spent a productive 4 hours yesterday with my new favorite “Mind Your Manor” down-sizer, Julie Ulmer. We dissected and deaccessioned my closet, drawers and baskets to the pont that I can actually fit hanging thingies in my closet as you have illustrated in yours. I also love scarves and have a ton. I lost 65 pounds a few years ago and have successfully kept it off, so that I am able to maintain one size and am finally able to let go of all those clothes that I’m not in love with. My question to you is, where do you find the perfect jeans? I like the Gap, but feel a little like a teenager wearing them. Also, I like Shaker hooks to hang scarves and necklaces on. Next, letting go of too much jewelry!

  19. Chelsea says:

    I would love to accessorize with scarves, but I am big busted and think they draw too much attention to that area. Any suggestions?

  20. Shannon says:

    I have a slightly unrelated question about bags & purses and being a parent. How do you handle going to the park? I currently have a beast bag that I need to desperately downsize but even then I detest having to take a purse to the park but don’t want to leave it in the car (since I can’t drive w/o the license!) At times I’ve pulled out just my license and debit card (in case of an emergency) but was annoyed when I forgot to put them back in & was caught without them at the grocery store. How do you handle it?

    • Chelsea says:

      I have a 5 month old and whet I’ve done to be able to just carry the diaper bag when I’m with her (and not lug a purse around too) is I found a wallet big enough for all my cards & usual wallet stuff plus it fits my phone, chapstick, a pen. It also has a wriststrap so I can carry it separate & I can attach my keys to it. Mine is from Thirty One & I love it!

  21. I’m a scarf-lover, or at least I have been until about a year ago. I find hot flashes are making leave the scarves in the closet more and more, but hopefully they won’t last forever and I’ll be back to them within a few years. For now, modest scoop necks are my go-to wardrobe staple. :)
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life´s last post…The "Out West" Trip Begins

  22. I’m so intrigued by your “purse” because I’m a handbag girl. LOVE them all but definitely medium to big :)

  23. I used to love scarves, but then I started buying ones that were just so much fabric, and I could never get them to look right. I have one now that is small and lacy, so I just use that when I want a scarf look.

    Jewelry, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. I love necklaces and earrings! My friend mentioned the other day that I like jewelry with texture, and she was right. I like necklaces that you have to feel as well as look at. And it seems to work; I get compliments all the time.

    I was wondering if you wear much jewelry?
    Jennie´s last post…True. Kind. Necessary: Uncluttering your Speech

  24. I love scarves too, and have a whole lot of them- too many to fit in my very small closet, which is reserved for dresses and things that actually need proper hanging. I bought a few 3M adhesive hooks and hung them on my wall- my scarves function on the wall as a pop of color and creative inspiration, and they’re easily accessible to throw on with any outfit. I rotate them out occasionally to fold away warmer scarves for the winter and create new color combinations. It’s a super easy fix to increase storage space and brighten up my place.
    Alicia Jaybird´s last post…DIY: Spice Rack

  25. I have a large number of light cardigans in many bright and neutral colors. They let me take my neutral pants (black, brown, gray olive and jeans) and any of my solid shirts to mix a whole different outfit. It stays really cold in the office where I work, so they actually keep me from having to turn on the space heater. I have a weakness for sweaters and jackets, which is no good since I also live in Texas and it barely got below freezing even in the winter. The light cardigans are useful and help me get my sweater fix (and I will wear sweaters with shorts, I love it.)

    • Oops I forgot to mention that I’ve tried scarves and necklaces, but I’m not much for accessories and I hate having big stuff around my neck I either feel I am chocking or it is weighing me down like a literal stone around my neck.

  26. I agree that a minimal wardrobe is much more do-able with scarves! I’m able to stick pretty much to Project 333 guidelines, except for counting accessories. Like you, I don’t mind wearing my favorite basics all the time if I can change things up a bit with scarves and some jewelry.

    And I really agree with the idea of waiting for the right thing and then ending the looking once you find it. Especially shoes. I have a few pairs I love now, and I don’t even want to look at others. There are only 7 days in a week; don’t need much more than 3-4 in any season.

    Not trying to toot my own horn, but got to guest post on this topic at Sorta Crunchy this week and thought you might like to see it: http://www.sortacrunchy.net/sortacrunchy/2012/05/building-a-minimal-wardrobe-with-thrifted-clothing-.html
    Rita@thissortaoldlife.com´s last post…Thrifty deck do-overA grill and a garden, all in one weekend

  27. I have way more scarves than I wear everyday but they don’t take up a lot of room so it is hard to pare them down. It can be fun to jazz up a basic handbag by tying a small scarf to the handle. I also trade scarves and jewelry with my mom from time to time to switch things up. That way we each can delay deciding if we want to get rid of something: if I miss the item after a while of not having it I can get it back and if not then I let mom keep it or she gives it away. I have definitely honed my shoes down and try not to buy more unless they are fulfilling a specific need or replacing a worn pair. Generally, shopping my own closet, by switching out clothes seasonally, is the fastest way to make my wardrobe feel new. My favorite way to get more variety in my wardrobe is by sewing my own new clothes or handbag or knitting a new scarf or hat; both are a lot more rewarding than just shopping and relatively cost friendly at a higher quality. Great post!

  28. Accessories really are a great way to supplement a streamlined wardrobe without taking up a lot of space. (The only trick is not spending a lot of money in the process!) I actually would like to grow my accessories a bit, to help my outfits (which start to feel rather routine) feel a little more fresh.

    Thanks for the post!
    Erica {let why lead}´s last post…Simple Tip for Better Photos of Yourself

  29. One word for shoes: Clarks! Even though they’re expensive, they last a really long time and the fit is always great for me.

  30. Thanks to your blog, my closet is about a quarter of the size and each morning I ask myself what I have to wear, not because I have “nothing” to wear, but because it’s all my favourite clothes and I want to wear them all! I too, have a lot of scarves… 45 or so… As much as I simplify my life, I really don’t think I could part with a single scarf!

  31. i love scraves. most of mine areat the top of my closet. not very good. i go through phases with accessories…pretty plain these days.
    keishua´s last post…this moment

  32. I love scarves as well, and find they are a wonderful wardrobe extender.

    More recently I’ve tried belts as true accessories over tops and jackets, and have been pleased to note that this is a simple and generally inexpensive way to extend the wardrobe as well.

  33. I also love scarves! This winter my ‘uniform’ is black pants, dark top, long cardigan and a scarf. They really brighten up an outfit. It also means I don’t have to vary my day to day outfits too much, because the different scarves add variety.

  34. I just found your blog after buying an ebook in which you were listed as a contributor. This blog has everything i love to learn and know about. Thanks so much for sharing your time and our life, Sarah xx
    (im a young -31yr old- mum of two luttle ones. I stay at home and i write, declutter, and reorganise our house constantly)

  35. I absolutely LOVE scarves!! When I was working I had over 100. I have since pared them down to about 70. This is how I store them.

    http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL15/946380/23766271/396164961.jpg

    Nice and neat. Doesn’t take up a lot of space in the closet. Each hole holds one scarf. Some have two. After I have selected my outfit, I just throw a scarf around my neck and go. No special way to tie them. They brighten my face and the outfit I am wearing. I wear scarves year-round.

    My wool ones are folded and stored in a drawer. I probably have about 20 for winter.

    When I look back at “work” photos, I always had on a pretty scarf. Great topic!!
    Donna´s last post…“MAY” Round Up… The Big Eye

  36. I have loads of scarves, they hang prettily on a coat stand in my room, topped with hats… I don’t wear them nearly as often as I should I guess, but enjoy having them. Funny thing about this post, it made me remember that I wanted to get some new underwear and makes some changes there! LOL, good reminder although odd ;)
    Thanks for the post Rachel, always nice to be reminded about scarves :)

  37. Lisa Honeycutt says:

    My daughter rents an apartment and has to be careful about putting holes in the walls. We used cup hooks screwed into her closet and bedroom doors, strung sturdy twine between them, and used clothespins to hang her scarves. Instant, bright wall art AND storage!

  38. Rebecca Foxworth says:

    I own a vintage book by Emily Wilkens, written in 1965. Though the “needs” list for wardrobe is a little outdated, my daughter and I were struck by how simple the suggested wardrobe was (the name Emily Wilkens is synonymous with fashion). Skirts? 2 dark, 1 light, 1 sport. Pants? 1 for winter, 2 for summer, 2 shorts. Blouses? 1 sleeveless, 1 long-sleeve, 1 jersey, 2 short sleeve, 1 sport, 1 dark sweater, 2 light sweaters. Shoes? 1 low-heeled pump, 1 higher heeled dressy pump, 1 pair loafers, 1 pair sandals, 1 pair sneakers.
    There are a few more things such as dresses, coats, suits, jacket, handbag, scarves, but still…this would be considered a ridiculously small wardrobe by today’s standards. I’ll bet, though, that getting dressed and maintaining clothes with a wardrobe of this size would be infinitely easier than with the crammed, overstuffed, often outdated closet items in most homes today.

  39. Just came across your blog and LOVE your small wardrobe posts…would love to see a post of your shoe collection with the what and whys for each :) I have way too many shoes and I’m looking for what I should look for to keep ‘just enough’.

  40. I definitely know I couldn’t do with as few shoes! Shoes are like hairstyles to me…I don’t like to wear the same one two days in a row! I’ve definitely streamlined my shoes, and most I judge by what I can hoist a carseat in and out of the car in. I have to say I love my 4″ sexy snakeskin sandals I keep for date night…and so does my husband!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Peacock Blue

  41. I love scarves too. I put up a decorative curtain rod on the wall in my bedroom. It’s probably about 4 feet long. I hung all of my summer scarves on it. It looks great, like an abstract work of art. I see them, so I wear them more.
    I need to put up another one and hang all of my winter ones up as well.