What is an Intentional Closet?

I’m of two minds when it comes to clothes. On some days, clothing is just the material that shields us from the elements, and an arbitrary symbol of status. On others, clothes are like architecture in motion; the external expression of who we are. (If you can’t tell, I like to over-think things.)

The truth, I think, lies somewhere in between. Clothes are, in many ways, arbitrary; they are just bits of fabric sewn together, serving the basic purpose of shielding our bodies from the world. But they also carry projections of ourselves. I feel different when I wear a t-shirt and shorts than when I wear a sundress or a pretty top. When I’m feeling artsy, or classic, or edgy, I dress the part, and it makes a difference in how I feel about myself.

Clothes are also important in another way. They are one of the number-one ways that we as a society consume goods. The way we consume those goods, and the way those goods are produced, is incredibly important on an environmental and ethical level. (To read more about this, check out my first blog post about ethical fashion.)

At the same time, there are so many more important things. I care so much more about the contents of my mind or my heart than that of my closet, and I’m willing to bet that you are, too. So while I want my clothing to show who I am, I also don’t want it to take up too much of my time. Ideally, I’d like a closet that reflected my lifestyle, my personality, and my values, and was selected in a way that made my life simpler.

Over the course of the last six months or so, I’ve been in the process of making that happen. I’ve been identifying my style and my needs, evaluating my standards, and slowly adding and removing clothing from my collection so that it better reflects who I am. I’ve also been cutting down on the amount of clothing I own so that my process of getting dressed is faster and easier. Though there are likely many names for this, I’m calling it an “intentional closet.”

So what is an intentional closet? Here’s how I define it:

A small collection of clothing that reflects your lifestyle, personality, and values while simplifying your life.

What does that mean? Clothes that fit your body, make you feel good, suit your lifestyle, and support practices you believe in. And few enough of them that they all go together, and don’t take up too much room in your closet or your life.

I am in no way an expert in style, ethical fashion, or capsule wardrobes, but I have found tons of joy and freedom in owning less and in making sure that the things I do own reflect who I am. For that reason, I am putting together a blog series on creating an intentional wardrobe, in case you, too, want a closet that reflects your spirit and makes your life a little simpler. I’ll be kicking the series off with a post on defining your style, then one on identifying your standards, and one on taking stock of your closet. To read the next post, on defining your style, click here!

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, recent grad, and American abroad. I graduated from college in December and promptly moved to the Netherlands, where I live with my boyfriend and our 11 plants. Follow along as I figure out my roaring twenties: I don't quite know what I'm doing, but that's not stopping me from writing about it!

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  • Sara, I’m so glad you are starting this series!
    I have been in major need of a closet purge for a long time (like, years) and just recently with the rise of the capsule wardrobe I’ve been more inspired than ever to finally take action.
    I know that I should simplify and get down to some core basics that all complement one another, but I love your point about wearing clothes that really represent who you are. I haven’t really thought about that- wanting my clothes to be representative of how I feel and how I”m most comfortable. Love that!
    I blog at http://www.lucymargaret.com, come visit me! Found you at the Peony Project 🙂

  • What a great idea! Years ago I read a book called Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund (still in print, I think). She proposed a minimal wardrobe, and I’ve been doing that ever since. It’s the right thing to do on so many levels, and I’m glad you’re sharing a plan for it. Great idea! Found you because we’re neighbors at The Peony Project.

  • Very interesting idea! I hate shopping for clothes for this very reason. I can’t decide if I should dress for comfort, for style, casual, dressy…I’m sure shopping would be alot easier if I had a more clear idea of what represented my values etc.

  • Ooh, this really inspires me to try to clean out my closet and only wear things I really like and that I think reflect who I am. 🙂

  • I’m so excited for this series! I’ve done a capsule wardrobe in the past and have cleaned out my closet big time this summer. I love living with less things, but more things I love. I am especially interested in the ethical side of this series!

  • Lately, I’ve been seeing so many posts on my various feeds on what EVERY girl needs in her closet. This by far is my favorite, because you seem to be taking a more personal approach to the topic. I’m really excited to read what your take is on this subject!

  • I love this idea, and I like that you’re making a series out of it. I’m so curious to know your thoughts and difficulties or happiness in doing this. Also excited that I found your blog from Peony!

  • I love this. My husband and I are moving forward with plans to build a tiny house and embrace a simplified lifestyle and I know clothes are going to be so hard to me to give up. Fashion is totally my therapy haha. Loved reading this post – that we CAN simplify without losing our fashion identity if we are just INTENTIONAL about the pieces we take with us.

  • I love this post! I cut down my closet a little bit last month, and I am considering cutting it down even more. This post started to convince me to actually do it 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I have been working on this too after seeing so many posts on wardrobe capsules. I feel like I am constantly removing items out of my closet & I can’t believe how much I actually have that I never wear! 2015 is definitely my year for simplifying!

  • I love this, I have also recently started to do this. I can’t wait to follow along! Every year I seem to live on less and less and honestly it is exactly as you said freeing! Thanks for sharing. – Cheers