Create A Functional Wardrobe

The Perfect Wardrobe, Want to Get Organized?

a man's functional wardrobe
Photo: Done & Done Home

What is a functional wardrobe and how can it make your life easier? Unlike a capsule wardrobe which isn’t feasible for many people, a functional wardrobe isn’t as limiting. You can still shop for clothes you love, but you won’t end up with a closet full of items you never wear.

If you follow us on Instagram, you will have seen our Wear It All Day or Give It Away game. This is a great way to get the things you don’t wear out of your closet. But this week we received an interesting question from one of our followers asking, “What if I have an item I love and it fits great, but I haven’t actually worn it yet because it doesn’t go with anything? How long should I keep it and should I buy something else to go with it?”.

This is where a functional wardrobe can help you.

You Don’t Have To Throw Away Everything You Own

Unlike a capsule wardrobe, where you’re trying to get your entire closet down to the bare minimum, a functional wardrobe can work with what you already have. The first step is to create categories. If you work outside of your home and wear business clothes, that would be one category. You may also have casual clothes, workout clothes and formal wear. By separating all your items, you can see where you have enough and where you need to fill in.

To answer the first part of our follower’s question, how long should she keep an item, we recommend one season at the most. Even if she loves it, there must be a reason why she’s choosing not to wear it. If it doesn’t make the cut day after day, let it go.

Keep these categories in mind while you’re shopping and you’ll be more likely to make good choices. Do you really need yet another pair of leggings? Or would you be better served by buying that classic black cardigan that goes with everything? Not only will you be spending your money more wisely, you won’t end up with a bunch of clothes you don’t need.

Pro Tip: If you need formal wear occasionally, but don’t want to invest or store dresses in your closet, consider using Rent The Runway.

assorted shirts on a clothing rack

Start With Neutrals

A good functional wardrobe begins with a strong backbone. Make sure you have some neutral staples that will be the jumping off point for any outfit. Jeans, t-shirts (both short and long sleeved) and sweaters all in black, for example, will ensure that you can quickly and easily get out the door. You don’t need a ton of different options here. Just make sure that everything fits well, is comfortable, and that you won’t have to think twice about throwing them on.

Additionally, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one color, but don’t buy neutrals on a whim. If you’ve committed to black and brown, don’t buy a pair of navy trousers. You may love them, but chances are, they won’t go with anything else in your closet.

This applies to the second part of the question above, should she buy something to go with her unworn item? We’re going to guess that if she wasn’t wearing it already because she didn’t own anything to go with it, then it’s a no. Either it’s the wrong style, color or fit and is not part of a functional wardrobe. We wouldn’t recommend compounding the problem by buying additional clothes that won’t work either.

brown clothes sorted on a clothing rack

Choose Your Accent Colors

Once you have the backbone of your wardrobe established, you can add accents in your favorite colors. Choose two or three colors that reflect your personality and that you’re drawn to time and again. By establishing and sticking to a color palette you love, you’ll be less likely to end up with an item that will ultimately be a donation.

If a hot pink scarf catches your eye but you have never in your life worn that color, pass. On the other hand, if you’re debating whether or not to purchase the kindof pricey sweater in your favorite shade of blue, buy it.


Accessories are another area where you can add in some color and personalization. Shoes, belts, scarves and jewelry are all great ways to make your outfits pop without having to commit too much. But as with your clothing, be mindful of your personal fashion sense. If you’ve never worn an outlandishly attention-grabbing hat, you’re unlikely to start now.

And always keep your neutral colors in mind. If you’re looking to buy a new pair of winter boots, and the majority of your pants are black, don’t buy brown ones, no matter how cute they are.

a black shirt and accessories

A functional wardrobe is established by making good choices and staying within certain parameters. We aren’t minimalist but we are intentional. We try our best to avoid impulse shopping and to only purchase what we know will fit into our existing wardrobe. It’s a work in process, to be sure, but having guidelines makes a huge difference.

Has this blog post inspired you to get your wardrobe or bedroom closet organized? If so, check out our course for home organization and decluttering here.