I have something brewing for April… I’m undertaking a daunting fashion challenge and tackling a “tiny wardrobe.”  I will share all the details soon (feeling intrigued?  good.  stay in touch, you won’t be disappointed), meanwhile… yesterday I had the pleasure of doing a closet edit with a friend who’s living the tiny wardrobe! Haley is a young mom of two adorable boys, the youngest only 11 months old.  Haley is not planning to return to work – I should clarify, to a paid role outside of her full-time+ role of being a mother of two.  At this stage of her life, many activities are necessarily kid-centric so she needs an easy-to-wear wardrobe.  Haley recently lost 60lbs (standing ovation!) and is ready to move out of “transition” clothes and settle into her real-life-style.  She has long been a supporter of VV Boutique Style and is a thrifter by choice and necessity; she and her hubby have worked hard for many years and are nearing the finish line of becoming debt-free!!  STANDING OVATION  Did I mention she’s only 31?  That’s right, she’s amazing.  Haley is a smart savvy pretty young mom and was looking for a little style advice!

When you have a tiny wardrobe, all you need is one bar and some cubbies.  A few scarves and necklaces add a surprising amount of versatility!
When you have a tiny wardrobe, all you need is one bar and some cubbies.  A few scarves and necklaces add a surprising amount of versatility!

Haley truly has a tiny wardrobe!  2 jeans, 2 leggings, 3 skirts comprise her bottoms and a handful of sweaters and tees make up her tops.  That’s it.  There’s no bin of spring clothes tucked away, there’s no closet full of shoes.  She has a pair of tall black boots and a pair of flats.  Soooooo, basically Haley was MY teacher throughout the afternoon!  Working through her wardrobe was an eye-opening experience of just how far a few pieces can go!

We started off with a recently-thrifted new-with-tags long sleeve Ann Taylor striped tee that provided the perfect opportunity to talk about an important styling concept: the Rule of Three.

Demonstrating the "rule of 3"
Demonstrating the “rule of 3”

A stylish outfit usually has 3 elements up top.  What distinguishes a stylish look from a “Reitmans” look (no offense Reitmans, I love your stuff) is that third element.  Many women wear a top and a cardi, but no accessories, or they wear a tee and a necklace, but no finishing layer.  Find a way to add a third detail and your outfit will move from Reitmans to runway!  Sometimes, our bottoms can bring in the third element if they are coloured or patterned or otherwise eye-catching.  (The Rule of Three is a general rule as far as rules go!)  Since Haley has to consider her 11-month old Mr. Grabby Hands, long necklaces look great but are not functional… yet.  Meanwhile, she can use layers, earrings, bracelets and scarves to achieve three elements.

Short sleeves over long sleeves
Short sleeves over long sleeves always looks good!
Neutrals (stripes) go with neutrals.
Neutrals (stripes) go with neutrals.  We cuffed her sleeves to get another pop of pattern!
Three shades of blue.
Three shades of blue.
Pair this top with like colours, contrasting colours and everything in between!
Pair this top with like colours, contrasting colours and everything in between!

That’s FIVE looks already and we hadn’t even changed shirts!  A basic striped top adds tons of mileage to a tiny wardrobe!  Before we changed shirts, we styled up another recent versatile thrift score: the olive blazer.

Another versatile piece: the olive blazer!
Demonstrating the no-fail fashion formula: short over long over skinny!

Finally we were ready to give other pieces a chance to be styled…

Olive looks good with every colour!

Haley can put any of her tees underneath the blazer – a pop of colour or a statement tee work well!  BTW “statement tee” is anything that is meaningful to YOU.  Haley walked the Great Wall of China and has the tee to prove it!  Special memories like that deserve some wear time!

Skirts and sweaters work for momming around just as well as pants!
Skirts and sweaters work for momming around just as well as pants!

Haley has versatile black and brown skirts but isn’t in the habit of wearing them.  They work great with her sweaters and are easily spiced up with scarves.  She can wear tights or leggings until the weather warms up a bit.  Hopefully after today, Haley will add these into regular rotation!

Top options
Oh, there you are Colour!

You may notice that Haley’s wardrobe is noticeably neutral BUT there were a few colourful pieces waiting to be styled up!  Here we have two outfits with colour-neighbours palettes.  That orange scarf is perfect for spring!

Haley had the perfect white shirt just hanging around!
Lo and behold, Haley’s husband had the perfect white shirt just hanging around waiting to move to the top bar!

Haley’s cable-knit v-neck sweater looked meh on its own but the classic white shirt made it work!   It fit Haley perfectly – light soft cotton, loose fit but not dumpy.  The white shirt under a sweater can feel a bit stiff and cumbersome, but I would just wear it on its own for a casual classic chic look!  If ever there was a case to “shop your closet,” this is it!!  (Beware husbands everywhere!)  By this point, I was getting a good sense of Haley’s style.  We edited out some pieces that were dated, too big or too boring.  Some of Haley’s pieces had embellishments or patterns that just didn’t suit her.  In fact, even with her tiny wardrobe, she had a distinct classic casual style vibe!  Instead of trying to add interest through embellishments and mediocre patterns, we discussed a new approach to her wardrobe: classic pieces with meaningful accessories for an effortlessly chic look!  Case in point, a simple black top with white scarf…

Black and white are classics!
Classic hoop earrings not shown.  Haley can also rock bright lipstick as the final polish!

Defining your style is an essential component of a successful tiny wardrobe!  Every piece has to “fit” your aesthetic! Going forward, Haley will thrift for classic tops in black, white and classic patterns (florals, stripes, polka dot) in comfortable easy-to-wear fabrics.  I call such pieces “basics +” –  a basic piece with interesting details, fit or fabric, e.g., a plain black tee in a pretty sheer fabric and a-line cut!  I advised Haley to start a thrift-hunting list on her phone – use Notes, Pinterest or Work Flowy.  Knowing what you’re looking for makes the thrift-hunt less daunting!  I suggested Haley keep her eye out for:

  • black, white, classic patterned tops
  • khaki blazer
  • black denim
  • knee-length soft denim skirt
  • simple dress that can be mixed and matched with her existing pieces
  • a classic denim jacket that can function like her olive blazer in spring and summer
  • ballet flats in black and/or any colour or pattern! (busy mom’s best friend)

Haley has some winter pieces that need to be replaced for next winter… providing we don’t get too much more cold weather!  I suggested adding these to her thrift-hunting list as well – brown and black cardis in particular.  Once you find a replacement, don’t hang onto the old ones!  Donate them!

Thank you Haley for a great afternoon!  It was my pleasure to discover a real-life tiny wardrobe in action and see just how versatile it can be!  Inspired?  Start thinking of what items YOU would include in a tiny wardrobe because the 10-Item-Wardrobe Challenge is coming to The Spirited Thrifter soon!


  1. haleyradke

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I had so much fun with you. You were energetic and had tons of great ideas for me. Way to get me out of my box! You were super positive and you left me feeling better about myself. I highly recommend your excellent services 🙂