Maybe it was just me, but these words had a profound impact on my adolescence. Eighth grade Emily would not dare exit the house in an ensemble she’d worn before. If I did, I’d face major consequences, i.e. attack of the fashion police.

This mindset of mine carried into high-school, and even college. I’d rack up serious bills to Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, all in an attempt to keep my wardrobe relevant and diverse. After all, the other girls I saw on social media always had various, stylish outfits.

It wasn’t until I started earning my own money that I realized how impossible this habit really is. Shopping is not a cheap hobby, and if you’re on a limited budget it can be hard shell out your cash for clothes.

Instead of accumulating debt, I decided to stick to a healthy alternative. After browsing the internet, I came across a reoccurring trend: minimalist dressing.

Minimalist dressing means different things to different fashion blogs. For example, Refinery29 defines it as “pared-down attire.” Whereas, Who What Wear claims “there’s more to it than a stripped-down uniform of clean, monochromatic lines and muted pieces.” I fall somewhere in the middle of those definitions.

Regardless of conflicting internet definitions, I was hooked on the trend. I started an outline of what I wanted my wardrobe to consist of, and I decided that I should have an even ratio of statement and staple pieces.

In other words, I chose to select at least three outgoing, fun tops and bottoms and three essential tops and bottoms.

Here’s what I came up with:

The Staples

The Statements

These specific pieces gave me the ability to easily mix and match outfits. I found that with each statement bottom I could wear any statement shirt and vice versa. By alternating between staple/statement combinations I was able to give off the illusion of a large wardrobe. When in reality I was only swapping between 12 different clothing items.

Now, lucky for me I had an employee discount on my side when it came to picking cute, versatile clothes. However, I know that many of you aren’t employed by large retail companies. So, if you are interested in minimizing your closet, here are some affordable alternatives:

Staple Top:

Semi-Fitted Off-the-Shoulder Top for Women ($9)

This off-the-shoulder top is an easy way to dress up any statement bottoms. It is easy and versatile without being too generic.

Staple Bottom: 

Skinny Regular Jeans ($12.99)

If you don’t already own a pair of generic jeans, now is the time to stock up. Denim is an easy clothing piece to dress up and dress down. Not to mention, it matches nearly everything.

Statement Top:

Women’s Printed Cold Should V-Neck Top ($24.99)

Cold-shoulder tops are all the rage right now. This patterned top will match perfectly your new light-wash denim perfectly. The pattern is perfect for summer and will do a great job of dressing up your jeans.

Statement Bottoms:

Contemporary Floral Pants ($15.90)

Floral pants are perfect for the summer, and they will match nicely with your staple top. These fun pants would be comfortable enough to wear all day.

Another great minimalist option is opting out of top and bottom combos, and going for full-body options, such as overalls or dresses. Overalls and dresses are a great way to mix up your wardrobe when you feel like you’ve been repeating the same top/bottom combos.

Finally, the last component of a wardrobe that I haven’t touched on is shoes. Shoes can be divided into the same categories as clothes: statement and staple. If you’re striving for a true minimalist closest, go for one of each. When it comes to a staple shoe, go for a tan or black flat. Whereas, your statement shoe can be a patterned wedge, colorful sandal, or your favorite pair of sneakers. Feel free to mix and match your shoes with various outfits to give off the allusion of new ensembles.

While, I have stuck to very few articles of clothing, it is ultimately up to you how minimal your closet is. If I have taken anything from my venture into minimal living, it is that you should only go down to what you’re comfortable with. So, if you can’t seem to part with the bulk of your closet, that’s fine!

Instead, try going through your closet and donating items you haven’t worn in the last year. Even if you don’t get rid of much, the act of sorting through clothes can help you feel more in control of your closet.

Above all, feeling comfortable with your wardrobe is the ultimate goal–whether you’re repeating outfits, like me, or cycling through a multitude of outfits. Just remember, if you see me around town wearing the same pants I had on last week, don’t be so quick to judge.