Holey Chonies and Black Flips – Flops. Examining the Functional Wardrobe

This article was originally featured on Wendy’s blog, GirlFIday.com as “Holey Chonies and Black Flip Flops.”  Do you ever get “decision-fatigue” – the overwhelm of too many choices in several different areas of your life?  Been there!  Simplifying your wardrobe is just one small way to help reduce the mental over-load of too many choices.

Continue reading at the end for additional tips on the Functional Wardrobe…

My wardrobe is pretty simple.  There are no 30-minute wardrobe changes or rummaging and trying on 10 different pairs of shoes in my morning routine.  The only question that runs through my mind is, if at all, is it too cold for flip flops?  They sit at the bottom of our staircase and, except for when I am upstairs on the carpet, they are just about a permanent appendage.  I do own other shoes, of course.  For instance, I have boots for when it is really cold – which is rare in San Diego – and tennis shoes for when I work out which, admittedly, I should do more.  I also have several pairs of dress shoes for when I need to appear professional.  But those days are less and less and I sometimes ponder if I still need all of them.

But even before now, to a time when I had to dress-up for work most days, I was still fairly simple and optimized my wardrobe budget.  I had a few classic suits, in conservative colors, black, blues, and browns.  I also kept a few shells and camies for under my suit-jacket, and typically pumps to match.

As we have journeyed closer  and closer to financial independence, I have come to realize that being a bit more thoughtful about our wardrobe has been a significant source of savings in our budget.  We do not frequent the mall – and shopping is not an extra-curricular sport in our household.  Malls (and let be honest – Amazon) exist to separate us from our money.  It’s not that we are weird or that we “look” as frugal as we are.  We are just a bit more conscious of our spending choices.

There are several strategies you can implement to trim your wardrobe budget and maybe pocket a bit of cash to ramp up your savings in the process.


SURVEY.  First, take an honest look through every closet in your home.  Your closet, your partner or spouses, your kids.  Determine what is needed for the season.  If you launder weekly, there is really no reason for you or anyone else in your family to have more than a week’s worth of clothes.  I keep just a few more than a week’s worth for my Little Ones, because they still have accidents and seem to be really attracted to dirt! For me and my husband, we each have a couple pairs of jeans.  We do not need more than that, because we do not wear them every day.  You can usually get more than one days wear out of a pair of jeans as well.  I also tend to wear the same style of dress – so when I find something I like, I buy them in multiples.  This keeps my wardrobe pretty uncomplicated.  For instance, leggings, a cami and a large comfy shirt/blouse (and, of course flip flops) is my go to outfit these days.  And if I want to dress it up a bit, I switch out jeans for leggings and wear a nicer pair of shoes.  Set aside the items you do not need.  Also box up anything that is needed – but out of season, label, and put them away for the next season.  This keeps things uncluttered and easier to find.

PURGE.  With what is left, I typically create 3 piles.  Toss. Donate and Sell.  Selling items you no longer need or want is a great way to make some extra cash to throw into savings.  I have found that clothing, even when sold for $1 a piece, adds up and I can usually bring in a nice sum.  For bigger priced items, like a barely worn pair of tennis shoes, they might be worth selling on an App like Offer Up to fetch a better sum.  I do not spend much time selling – a few minutes to upload the pictures to the app and then to communicate with the buyer.  Easy-peasy.  For anything that does not sell, I immediately load it up and donate it.  (Don’t forget your receipt for taxes!)

RESIST.  Now.  Don’t defeat all of your progress by purchasing more STUFF.  You don’t need it and I strongly believe you will find it refreshing to not have a closet or dresser overflowing.  Simplifying your life and paring down your wardrobe can be extremely liberating.  Freeing.  It is deciding to care more about the long term than the immediate and fleeting emotions that an overflowing wardrobe closet brings.

Lastly, if buying retail, always use sales and coupons when making purchases.  While working in retail years ago I learned a couple of things.  1.  The price on the tag is sometimes marked up on purpose and the item is “on-sale” the moment it hits the floor, and 2. If it is not, it will be next week. 3.  Comparison shop.  We have the internet for a reason.  There are also several APPS available to tell you the best price on items.  (CamelCamelCamel is one that comes to mind.) I know several people that buy at resale/thrift shops (I admit – I should be better about this) but don’t forget this is an alternative to retail.

A word of caution largely based upon experience.  During my most recent purge of my unmentionables, I was looking through my underwear drawer and found I was holding on to several pairs that had holes in them.  Without much thought, I examined them and then folded them back up and was about to put them back in the drawer. What the heck!?! It was truly a moment. I found that I was resisting purchasing myself something I truly needed because I was fearful of spending the money.  I turned to my husband and had a good laugh at myself – so did he.  This life is not about deprivation.

This road to financial independence is not about frugality at the expense of caring for ones needs.  And you are not a bad person for replacing your holey chonies, your back flip-flops, or even buying that really cute shirt in 3 different colors because you really, really like it and know you will wear all three of them at some point this week.

(And, I did go out at buy myself some new chonies.  They were on sale AND I had a coupon. 😉 )

Additional Tips for the Functional Wardrobe: 

For a work-at-home mom, like Wendy, leggings ad flip-flops will do for everyday attire.  But both of us fully understand that 1. You may not be in a climate where that is practical and, 2. your work and life-style do not permit it.  With that in mind, we wanted to also suggest a few other essentials for a Functional Wardrobe.

These items can be mixed and matched and stylized to create a variety of looks.  Also remember that it sometimes makes much more sense to buy  quality items at a higher price point when they are made of materials that last.   You will get a significantly longer wear life out of them. Consider these essentials to downsize and stretch your wardrobe:

  • Button-up shirt
  • Little Black Dress
  • Crisp White Tee-shirt
  • Pumps
  • Dark wash skinny jeans
  • Simple Flats
  • Jean Jacket
  • Knit Sweater
  • Ankle Boots
  • Black Pants
  • Knee Length Skirt
  • Wrap Dress
  • Solid Color Tank

Obviously for professionals, down-sizing while creating a functional wardrobe can be a bigger challenge.  However, there are plenty of resources available that cover how to create a minimalist capsule wardrobes for professionals. Some tenants are to pick several essentials and then choose a few items that can be swapped out to create different looks.

If this intrigues you, consider a challenge like Project 333, which challenges you to reduce your wardrobe down to 33 items for three months.  It’s a great way to reduce your wardrobe and really test your beliefs about what you really need or can’t live without.

Do you have any other ideas for way to simplify your wardrobe?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top