Photo by Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M

Over the last year (and aggressively over the last 6 months), I have been trying to build myself a new wardrobe. It’s been almost 2 years since I worked outside the home and I don’t fit in to many of my pre-baby clothes.  Last summer, I subscribed to Missus Smarty Pants and LOVED her suggestions as to how to put together a stylish wardrobe that would look good on me.   When she released her color ID service last winter, I was ALL. OVER. THAT.   Yep– especially since she was only charging 10% of what the local lady was.

Anyway, all of the changes in my life, plus the whole camper-declutter thing, caused me to purge my whole closet and start over.   I got rid of 4 large yard trash bags full of clothes in the last 6 months and have been slowly building my wardrobe up, piece by piece.   Like last weeks list about the Toddler Wardrobe, mine is a 4-season wardrobe so you might need to modify it to fit your climate/lifestyle.

Here is my practical, mom-of-littles style wardrobe essentials list:


  • winter dress coat
  • winter everyday coat (WARM!)
  • zip-up fleece jacket
  • fleece vest
  • spring trench-type coat (dressy)
  • casual windbreaker type jacket – preferably with optional fleece liner!


  • warm winter boots (stylish & warm IS possible)
  • sneakers (indoor only – exercise, cleaning, etc.)
  • sneakers (outdoor)
  • sandals for spring dressy outfits
  • dressy shoes for fall/winter outfits – neutral pumps
  • knee-high fashion boots. Sorry, every women needs a pair, IMHO.
  • comfy, walking-around-all-day kind of sandals
  • flip-flops or equivalent — cheap, comfy beach-type shoes


  • underwear – 12-18 pr (with 5-7 grubby and 2-3 special 😉 )
  • bras – GOOD ONES – 3-5 so they can be rotated and rest between wears.
  • socks – 6-8 pr of athletic (white) socks for exercise & such; 6-8 pr of other dependent on pant/shoe choices.
  • pantyhose/stockings/knee highs – just a few, dependent on dress outfits selected and personal preference.
  • pajamas – 2-3 sets of fleece/flannel (I know they aren’t sexy, but I’m already wearing them…too cold out!), 2-3 sets of summer, plus one or two sexy numbers for DH ;).

Everyday Clothes – these are my UNIFORM.

  • several warm sweaters (I get cold EASILY and I have 4-5 of these to wear around the house)
  • pants – 2-3 pr jeans, 2-3 pr of other everyday pants
  • long sleeve shirts/tees/knits – minimum of 10
  • shorts/skirts/capris – about 4-7 depending on preference.
  • short sleeve shirts/tees/polos/knits – minimum of 10

Dress Clothes

  • 2 summer/spring dresses (easy to nurse for me)
  • 2 fall/winter dresses (again easy to nurse for me)
  • 2 summer/spring skirts and/or dress pants
  • 2 fall/winter skirts and/or dress pants
  • 4-5 short sleeve shirts that go with the skirts and can be used on a date night too :).
  • fitted, taylored sweater for skirt/dress.
  • 2-3 casual, trendy, cute DATE outfits (use shirts that go with skirts if possible) — include a pair of KICKIN’ jeans.
  • fitted blazer (worn on date night, with skirts, etc.)
  • shawl to wear with dresses


  • robe
  • exercise clothes – 4-6 outfits including sports bra tops (depending on laundry, how sweaty you get, etc.) — could double as PJ pieces (mine do)

Nothing in my wardrobe is dry clean only and very little of it is delicate or handwash so it doesn’t cause me extra work.  I try to buy only what I love (which causes me to put a lot of stuff back), and only if it fits with other things I have (at least 3 other things).

Not only do I buy only what is on this list, but I also make sure that I generally only buy things in a handful of core colors.  For me (I’m a Spring), I use brown & navy as my neutrals and shades of aqua & turquoise, pistachio green and yellow as my core colors.    Other colors are purchased sparingly so that everything coordinates together.

Having this list of what *I* consider *MY* essentials keeps me from buying stuff I don’t need and missing stuff I DO need.  It also helps keep things frugal by buying versatile, quality pieces that will last instead of buying a new Old Navy/Walmart wardrobe every season!   This inventory list, works for me!

What do YOU consider to be a wardrobe essential — something you couldn’t live without?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family and Frugal Friday’s at Life As Mom.

8 Comments on Decluttered Closet – Mommy Edition

  1. Amanda
    18 September 2009 at 11:33 PM (11 years ago)

    Awesome ideas. I was planning on taking a clothing inventory tomorrow.. I totally need to make my list of essentials. 🙂


  2. niki
    18 September 2009 at 2:17 PM (11 years ago)

    Wow, you have this down to a science, girlfriend!

    I think good bottoms are the core of a wardrobe. Black dress pants, nice khakis, well-fitting jeans, a black skirt are essential. Once you have them you might branch out to a few alternatives like grey, chocolate, or navy.

    Then no matter what is in style in a particular season you at least have great pants to go with that new blouse.



  3. Lisa
    16 September 2009 at 6:16 PM (11 years ago)

    Very interesting post! I love this. Have you ever heard of Wife Dressing? It is a funny title but very good book!


  4. Tracey
    16 September 2009 at 8:49 AM (11 years ago)

    Very helpful list! I need to work on only buying items that work with what I already have rather than getting a cute top that matches nothing that is in my closet (meaning I have to shop even more!!)


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