10 genius tips to simplify your wardrobe from a professional stylist

1. Before a new purchase, ask yourself: will this add to my closet in a meaningful way?

10 genius tips to simplify your wardrobe from a professional stylist

While we're the ultimate multi-taskers as moms, it doesn't mean we're not looking to simplify our lives. Whether it's meal planning, working while getting our hair done, or cooking dinner and prepping mentally for tomorrow's meeting, we're constantly maximizing our time.


Working as a stylist over the past decade I've learned secrets I want you to steal so you can get dressed easier, spend less time worrying about what to wear, and more time doing the things you love.

Here are my 10 tips to simplify your wardrobe, and in turn, your life:

1. Before a new purchase, ask yourself: will this add to my closet in a meaningful way?

Before your next grab-and-go purchase at Target while your son pulls things off the shelf, and you pull the same shirt you have in five other colors, pause.

The goal is to simplify your wardrobe which means avoiding things you already own. Take a second to make sure the piece in your hand is something that is distinct from a piece you already own. If the answer is no, or even a not really, put it back. Your future self will thank you.

2. Curate your staples in the same color palette.

When you have a group of wardrobe staples in the same color palette, mixing and matching becomes so effortless you can practically get dressed in the dark.

So when you're out shopping, and you're thinking about investing in, let's say, a hot pink cashmere sweater, pause. A color similar to your other staples will give much more bang for your buck and longevity in your wardrobe (all while making getting dressed easier).

While I may sound like the Grinch of wardrobe, I promise, neutral staples go so much further.

3. Does it flow effortlessly with the rest of your wardrobe?

Think of yourself as a designer showing your collection for fashion week. Does your wardrobe flow together sensibly, or would your audience assume you've gone mad?

Whether you have understated style or are a print-mix master, you should still be able to answer in the affirmative before making the purchase. The more you can simplify the more consistently you'll achieve a look that's put-together.

You shouldn't need to buy more pieces to make a new purchase work. So if you find yourself thinking, “These trendy crop step jeans are great but I may need different shoes to wear... And a new blouse…" Stop.

We're trying to pair down and create an effortless mix-and-match wardrobe here—not buy more and add to your never-ending to-do-list.

4. Avoid trends.

I'll be frank—you don't have time for trends. Literally and figuratively.

If you're trying to keep up with wardrobe trends, you'll not only waste money but more importantly, nothing will truly express the unique YOU. As a bonus, you'll avoid the embarrassment when someone tags you in a TBT.

5. Repeat the same outfit with added layers.

An outfit of simple staples (like a grey sweater, dark denim and leather booties) can be transformed in seconds with a third piece (a layering piece like a jacket, vest or blazer). Make a focused effort to find great layering pieces that will immediately expand your existing closet.

Pro tip: White blazers and faux leather jackets are essentials to make your simple staples look different.

6. Find jewelry pieces that can be worn with any outfit.

If jewelry seems overwhelming to you, find simple, basic pieces that you wear daily (and if you want an extra pop, switch your earrings! It can change your look in seconds).

Here are pieces I swear by if you're stumped:

  • An heirloom
  • Reminds-me-of (maybe a piece you received from someone special or a piece you purchased on a trip)
  • Goes-with-everything (a gold bangle for example)

7. Always pulling a piece from the laundry? Take note.

Whether you're always pulling that specific piece from the laundry, or you have one that still has tags on it—take note.

Play detective with your wardrobe. If you're repeatedly wearing an item of clothing, what do you like about it? Is it the color? Comfort? Fit? This knowledge is helpful for future shopping trips.

And the piece you never wear? Take similar note here: Why isn't it working? Once you determine why you never wear it, you can avoid those qualities. For example, maybe it has wool and it bothers your skin too much or the color feels “blah."

8. Have two go-to outfits to switch you from struggle to sensational

If you're in a time pinch (ahem, daily) I suggest having two go-to outfits for emergencies.

Whether it's date night and you want to feel super sexy, or it's Friday denim-at-work, you should spend 10-15 minutes at least once a month and choose one outfit for each “struggle occasion" and photograph the favorites.

Use these outfits in the future when you're stressing about what to wear—you'll know they look great and you'll feel confident.

9. The Rule of Three: Can you wear it three different ways in your existing wardrobe?

If that sequin blouse has caught your eye but deep down you know you'll wear it to your next holiday party, and that's it, skip it.

If you'll rock it with a pair of denim with girlfriends on Friday, to a holiday party, and confidently pair it with your go-to pencil skirt and blazer on a Monday, then shine on and buy the sequins.


Hannah Lee Style


10. Shop with a plan

One of the reasons I've been successful as a stylist (and able to shop professionally for a living) is because I shop with a detailed plan. Consider shopping for wardrobe similar to shopping for food ingredients. You wouldn't buy a brand-new salad dressing if you've got your go-to in the fridge.

With a plan in mind, focus on expanding and enhancing your existing wardrobe each time you go out, and your wardrobe will become refined and polished as a result.

In sum, answer these questions honestly, heed the warnings I've learned by working with hundreds of women from all walks of life, and be true to the style that defines you. You'll be delighted how quickly you can transform your existing wardrobe into one that is fresh, organized and an expression of yourself.

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