Minimizing to Less Than 40 Items of Clothing

For a few months now, I’ve been ruminating on cutting down my wardrobe to what I consider minimalist: five shirts, three pants, two pair of shoes, and a couple of jackets. But it hasn’t happened. My wardrobe is one of those things that eats at me. I’m not sure why, but I’m determined to further reduce my items of clothing to these levels -or as close as I can get- by the end of the year.

So I’ve been thinking about it… but have done nothing ….until now.

Motivational Trigger #1

bbootcampRecently, I’ve was introduced to Timber Hawkeye, whose excellent book, Buddhist Boot Camp, has been occupying my reading time this week. Timber is an author and follows a Buddhist path that’s similar to mine. In watching one of his YouTube videos, he made this statement:

I like making one decision that makes all my other decisions for me.”

He gave the following examples of how one decision makes future decisions for him:

  • Shaving his head weekly: he doesn’t have to worry about buying hair products or how his hair looks
  • Owning only five t-shirts: he always know what he’s going to wear and he’s long past the point of caring what people think of his wardrobe

While I’m not going to shave my head, his last example really struck home for me. I consider myself a minimalist but I have to admit that I’ve been increasingly bothered by the amount of clothing I still have. Timber’s comment got me thinking and wondering why I hadn’t been acting on this urge to minimize.

Motivational Trigger #2

Last night I was watching some YouTube videos and came across Zeke Kamma filmmaker and writer who was reviewing a collection of clothing from various companies that seemed perfect, not only for my upcoming journey but for life in general.

I was intrigued by the four-way stretch fabrics, the odor-repellent, quick-drying Merino wool blends, and this further motivated me to check into the alternatives. Today I did just that and bought an entire new wardrobe. Well, if you define an entire new wardrobe as:

  • 5 SS black tees
  • 2 LS v-neck tees
  • 4 pair of wool socks
  • 3 pair of boxer briefs

These items will replace most of the items listed below.

Before: 74 Items

For you young studs living in college dorms with less than 25 items to your name, 74 items of clothing must make me seem like a clothes horse. But I can assure you that most 58 year-old men (and most likely you in a few decades) are married, have a double-wide closet of suits, ties, overcoats, and shoes and a whole tier of drawers containing carious socks and underwear collections. 

Here’s what I started with earlier today:

  • 15 t-shirts (band shirts, plain tees, etc. mostly SS)
  • 4 dress shirts (2 LS, 2 SS)
  • 4 slacks (business attire)
  • 2 travel pants (1 black, 1 gray)
  • 2 pajama pants (2 lightweight gray cotton/poly blend)
  • 7 jeans (demin – black, dark blue, light blue, etc.)
  • 5 pullover heavy-knit sweaters
  • 2 vests (both fleece, 1 super casual, 1 dress casual)
  • 3 jackets (2 motorcycle with armor, 1 all-purpose light, 1 rain repellant/travel windbreaker)
  • 4 hats (1 fleece beanie, 1 newsboy cap, 2 baseball style caps)
  • 6 underwear (3 boxers, 3 boxer briefs – TMI?)
  • 10 socks (black cotton)
  • 10 pairs of shoes (1 hiking boots, 1 dress boots, 1 dress/casual oxford, 1 slippers, 1 sandals/shower, 1 MC boots, 1 all-terrain lace-up boots, 1 running shoes, 1 casual slip-ons, 1 Keens)

The number of items (74) seems far out of my minimalist range, but the redundancy factor the mix represents is what’s most bothersome. Currently I have a lot a redundancy in my wardrobe and it’s this that I’m taking care of today. I mean, do I really need 7 pair of jeans or 4 business slacks? No, I do not. I can’t stand wearing business shirts so why should I own four of them?

FullSizeRender 4

A shot of the bench chest I use and its contents before I minimized it. My pants and jackets are in a single wide coat closet as are my shoes.

The one type of redundancy I don’t mind concerns my motorcycle gear. I have cold weather gloves and warm weather gloves as well as rain gloves. I have two helmets, one street style helmet and one off-road style. I have two safety vests (and I don’t like either of them… so they’re most likely going to go bye-bye in favor on one that I do like and meets the safety standards I require).

After: 37 Items

While I’m keeping some items like my vests and caps, the shirts and pants are undergoing a complete overhaul. I’m minimizing both the number of shirts and pants and their redundancy. Layering is better than additional sweaters so sweaters and jackets are going to a few homeless camps nearby and the rest will be donated to my local thrift store.

Here’s what I’ve got now:

  • 5 black t-shirts from MinistryOfSupply.com 
  • 2 LS crew tees from WoolyClothing.com
  • 1 dress shirt, white oxford
  • 1 pair of black slacks
  • 2 travel pants (1 black, 1 gray)
  • 1 pajama pant
  • 2 jeans (1 black, 1 light blue)
  • 2 vests (both fleece, 1 super casual, 1 dress casual)
  • 3 jackets (1 motorcycle, 1 all-purpose light, 1 rain repellant/travel windbreaker)
  • 4 hats (1 fleece beanie, 1 newsboy cap, 2 baseball style caps)
  • 3 pair of boxer briefs from WoolyClothing.com
  • 4 pair black wool socks from MinistryOfSupply.com
  • 7 pairs shoes/boots

This is the first pass at my major wardrobe minimization. By January 1, 2016 I’ll make another pass.

After the first pass, this is what's left.

After the first pass, this is what’s left. Later in the week I’ll minimize these further.

You Could Do This, Too

Do you have an interest in minimizing your wardrobe? One of the most instructive and inspirational blogs on living with less is written by Courtney Carver over at Be More With Less. She’s the creator of the Project 333 program that challenges women (men can also do this) to live with just 33 items of clothing for three months. 

Beyond Courtney’s site, there are tons of minimalist YouTube videos available to help you learn more about the rewards of living with less and how feeing it feels to own less clothing and stuff in general. 

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