How to Streamline Your Wardrobe for Retirement Tori Bouldin of The Stylette encourages soon-to-be retirees to focus on their budget and lifestyle needs


Retirement requires thought and intention: where you’ll live, what you’ll do, how much money you’ll have and spend, and how you’ll spend your free time. Have you ever thought about what you’re going to wear? I understand that it may not be the first thought that comes to mind. After building a professional wardrobe fit for your career lifestyle, it’s just as essential to intentionally plan, build and streamline your retirement wardrobe.

Align Your Retirement Wardrobe with Your Retirement Lifestyle

Tori Bouldin shares techniques for streamlining your wardrobe for retirement. | Photo by Amanda Ghobadi for The Branding Babe

You may be tempted to purge all the professional and business casual wear in your wardrobe, but don’t get rid of it all yet. You may find a good use for these pieces. You can take steps to ensure your wardrobe is functional, cohesive and ready for all your retirement plans. The first intentional step to streamlining your wardrobe is thinking about the activities and new routines you’ll implement once you retire.

Whether you decide to volunteer, find a part-time job, babysit your grandchildren or travel, think about if your wardrobe is prepared for these lifestyle changes. The tailored trousers, suits, skirts or dresses you have in your closet will not work for these occasions. Consider investing in more leisurewear, lighter fabrics, denim and casual wear. Make a list of what you’ll need to create a functional wardrobe for these activities and an inventory of what you already have that aligns with this lifestyle.

Many retirees have plans to move out of their home state and take this new chapter of their lives to a new city. You’ll want to prep your retirement wardrobe for this change. If you lived in the Baltimore area your entire life, you may be ready to leave the cycle of unpredictable seasons and temperatures for a warmer climate. Trade-in your heavy outerwear and chunky knits for lighter, breathable fabrics.

Making the shift to a travel retirement lifestyle also requires thought and intentional planning with your wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe for travel is most beneficial so that you can have interchangeable layers and essential pieces that are packable, cohesive and functional enough for various climates during your travels and for your normal lifestyle at home—and help you avoid impulse shopping for your trips.

Create a Budget for Your Retirement Wardrobe

Tanya tries out various looks to add to her retirement wardrobe. | Photo by Tori Bouldin

If you’re in the process of planning your retirement or anxiously anticipating a significant change, you know that your retirement budget is limited and restricted. Creating a shopping budget to revamp your wardrobe for retirement will help you avoid impulse purchases and enable you to be more intentional when you’re shopping.

To maximize your budget, purge your wardrobe of all the pieces in your wardrobe that don’t align with your retirement lifestyle. Refer to the list you created in the first step. Take the purged clothes, shoes and accessories that are in good condition to a consignment shop. Get store credit to build your retirement wardrobe or take the cash and add it to your shopping budget.

Opportunities for Reinvention

Have you gravitated toward dull, muted colors since you started your professional career? Retirement is a grand time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Play with color, prints and textures. You’ll find plenty of style inspiration and influencers for people over the age of 60 (see Style Resources below).

4 Steps to Streamline Your Wardrobe for Retirement

If you’re ready to start planning your retirement wardrobe, be sure to:

  1. Write a list of pieces you’ll need to revamp your wardrobe and create Retirement Style Intentions. It may be helpful to create a style inspiration board with magazine cutouts or go digital and create a Pinterest board for your retirement wardrobe. Now is also a great time to think about these opportunities for reinvention.
  2. Purge your wardrobe of items that do not align with your retirement style intentions. Take these pieces to the consignment store to use cash or store credit to add to your shopping budget.
  3. Create a shopping budget for your retirement wardrobe.
  4. Shop and style your new retirement wardrobe. Fashion and style should be fun, not frustrating. Pro tip: Experiment with your wardrobe and create looks in your closet. Pour a glass of wine and put on your favorite music. Take selfies of your looks and create a folder for reference.

Finally, consider hiring a personal stylist to help you with your wardrobe revamp. Personal stylists can help you save time, money and energy that goes into this process. The Stylette Experience helps clients intentionally plan their wardrobe, detox and organize their closets, and shop for a curated wardrobe that best suits their aesthetic and lifestyle. While a personal stylist is an additional investment in your shopping budget, it’s worth every penny.

Favorite Baltimore-Area Consignment Stores

  1. Uptown Cheapskate: 2143A York Road, Timonium; 410-560-5890;
  2. The Duckpin Consignment Shop: 2350 York Road, Lutherville-Timonium; 443-991-5311;
  3. Clothes Mentor: 11487 Berry Road, Waldorf; 301-638-5650;

Style Resources

“Styleology: Personal Style Workbook” by Tori Bouldin

A.      “Styleology: The Personal Style Workbook for Finding Your Signature Style & Creating Your Dream Wardrobe” by Tori Bouldin |

“Advanced Style” by Ari Seth Cohen

B.      “Advanced Style” by Ari Seth Cohen |






5 Essentials for your Retirement Wardrobe

  1. Comfortable Denim
    Comfortable Denim | Krystian Straight Leg Mom Jeans ($68, Poppy & Stella)

    Krystian Straight Leg Mom Jeans ($68, Poppy & Stella |

  2. Joggers
    Classic Gym Joggers ($64, Match Made Stores)

    Classic Gym Joggers ($64, Match Made Stores |

  3. Comfortable White Sneakers
    Reebok® Club C Suede Sneakers ($75, J.Crew Harbor East)

    Reebok® Club C Suede Sneakers ($75, J.Crew Harbor East |

  4. White Button Down
    Central Shirt in Pure White ($65, Madewell Harbor East )

    Central Shirt in Pure White ($65, Madewell Harbor East |

  5. Graphic T-Shirt
    Heart Sunrise Graphic Tee ($42, Poppy & Stella)

    Heart Sunrise Graphic Tee ($42, Poppy & Stella |

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