A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes

how-to-own-fewer-clothes

“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.” – Epictetus

Consider for just a moment how your life would look different if you owned fewer clothes:

  • You would have more disposable income.
  • You would have more time to live your life.
  • Mornings would feature less stress.
  • Your closets would be well-organized and uncluttered.
  • Packing for trips/vacations would take less time.
  • Laundry days would be easier (not necessarily less, but definitely easier).

Unfortunately, instead of enjoying the benefits of owning fewer clothes, most of us buy into the lie that more is better. And because we do, we accumulate more and more clothing each season. We are convinced that new clothes will make us more joyful, more fashionable, and more popular. Unfortunately, they just end up getting in the way.

Consider going a different route with your life. Try owning fewer clothes. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the freedom that it brings.

Whether you are hoping to minimize your wardrobe to the absolute minimum or just trying to pare down some of the excess in your closet, you will find these 10 steps practical and applicable. They are the same steps that we have used in our home:

  1. Admit that you own too much clothing. That’s all you really need to get started.
  2. Wear fewer colors. Most of us already have a few favorite colors that we wear most often anyway – usually because we like the way we look in them. Choosing to intentionally wear fewer colors means less accessories (shoes, belts, jewelry, handbags, etc.). It also makes too much sense not to try.
  3. Embrace the idea of one. When one can be enough, embrace it – one black dress, one swimsuit, one winter coat, one black belt, one pair of black shoes, one pair of sneakers, one handbag… insert your own based on your occupation, lifestyle, or climate.
  4. Donate, sell, recycle, discard. Depending on the size of one’s existing wardrobe, an initial paring down won’t take long. Make a few piles – donate, sell, or recycle. Start with the clothes that you no longer wear. You’ll be surprised how much you can remove.
  5. Donate, sell, discard some more. Removing the clothes you no longer wear is easy. Removing the clothes that you don’t really need can be a tougher choice. Turn around all the hangers in your closet. After the season, remove every article of clothing that wasn’t worn. That should help get you started on a second round of paring down.
  6. Impose an arbitrary moratorium on shopping. For many, clothes shopping is just a habit – and habit always takes over for inattention. To begin breaking the cycle of purchasing and discarding (the average American throws away 68 lbs. of textiles each year), set a self-imposed buying freeze. I recommend 90 days. If given enough time, this simple exercise in self-discipline will change your view of your clothing and the stores that produce, market, and sell them.
  7. Set a monthly spending limit. Pick a low number and stick to it.
  8. Purchase quality over quantity. Only buy clothing that you truly love – even if it costs more. If you stock your closet full of things you love, you will have less desire to add to it.
  9. Avoid the sale racks. Sales can (and should) be used to help you get a better price on something you need. Unfortunately, most sale racks are designed to convince us to purchase something we don’t.
  10. Impress with your character, not your clothes. Lee Mildon once said, “People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile.”
Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    The idea of one is key for me. If I want to buy something, it needs to replace the one that I have, and I usually don’t like it enough!

  2. Deb J says

    Great post. My mother and I love together. It bugs her that my closet is not full. She thinks I need more clothes. I’m thinking I need to get rid of a few more things. Guess I will have to do it on the sly just to keep her quiet. Grin.

  3. A says

    Great tips! I have a mostly minimalist closet and have for some time. I try to keep my belongings down to 7 of each type of clothes (7 sweaters, 7 pairs of pants, 7 lighter tops, 7 pairs of summer pants, and so on). In addition, all of my clothes (including underwear) are in a narrow range of colors that I can wash together – no reds to turn whites pink! Laundry day is so easy as a result because I don’t have to sort and can do everything that’s dirty in one load.

  4. says

    This comes as good timing for me, the sewing bug as bitten me hard. Thankfully I’m mostly reworking my current clothes because of having lost weight. After I get done with that, I’m going to have to be careful. Thanks for the reminders.

  5. says

    “Packing for trips/vacations would take less time.”

    That’s funny, I just told my wife the other day how much easier it’s going to be packing for trips because I’ll can just bring everything I own (well the stuff that’s in season).

    Summer = sandals so no socks either :)

  6. says

    This is an incredibly important part of simplifying/minimalism. It’s one of the first big things I did when I began to seriously unclutter my home and life, and it has saved so much time, money, space, and raised so much awareness, that I could equate it with a major life change.

    Our clothing choices are tied to our identities, and the need to buy too many things or to stay on top of the latest fashions or to buy things just because they were cheap does not say much good about our identities, does it? Getting down to the fewest things and the best quality we can afford sounds like a much classier way to go.

    • says

      Clothing is one of the first things that people seem to have questions about – that, and books. The questions and comments I have gotten from others led to the inspiration for this post.

  7. says

    The idea of quality over quantity is a key component to a minimal wardrobe. If I purchase clothing at a thrift store, it costs less but then I think I can have more clothing. And often I don’t like the thrift store item as much so I don’t wear it. So it’s a lose-lose situation. I’d rather have two great prs of slacks than even three cheaper pars I don’t love.

    • Mary says

      Interesting. Isn’t a thrift store what we’d call a charity shop in the UK? Obviously, it varies depending on how wealthy the area is, but generally, charity shops here are one of the best places for finding once-expensive clothing, particularly for basic items for which ‘being in fashion’ is a secondary consideration.

  8. nicole 86 says

    Well, I have never been used to full closets and now
    I find useful to buy some more tshits,topsand underwear because doing the laundry every night or two is boring, time consuming and costs a lot in energy.

    • says

      We have enough for 10-14 days around here, precisely for that reason. That’s still not a large amount of clothing, though, as the extras are mostly t’s, undies, and socks. It works out to the most efficient use of laundry time and loads large enough to not waste water or electricity. I had a much smaller stacked washer and dryer at our previous residence and weekly laundry was the most efficient then.

  9. says

    I really like the idea of turning around my hangers to see what I’ve worn. For some reason, reducing my clothes has been one of the harder things to do. Like someone else commented, clothes are tied to our identities. Odd thing is, I don’t really like a lot of the clothes I wear anyway. I think it has something to do with losing the sense of feeling prepared for whatever situation arises. I will definitely use these steps in working on reducing my closet – thanks for the ideas!

    • says

      Maggie, I don’t know if this will help, but I did something similar in my closet. I put a plastic ring around my closet rod, on the left, and every time I did laundry I’d hang up the clean shirts on the left of the rod. I tried to wear more things from the right of the rod, over time, until I had worn everything once (or discarded it).

      After a month I decided to put up a new plastic ring for each month, so that I would always know the month in which I last wore something. It helps me see what I really haven’t worn in a while (do I still like it?) and reminds me to keep wearing everything I have.

      I still have 56 shirts on the hangers and maybe that’s a bit much, but the system has helped a lot.

    • Jessica says

      The hangar tip was my favorite. How easy it makes it to dump the stuff you haven’t used. I just cleaned out my closet last week and this will help narrow it down further.

    • kathleen shaver says

      I totally agree with you, thanks for putting it into words. I truly want to become a minimilast, but realized when I read this my closet is the place I need to focus on and will have the greatest impact overall.

  10. says

    I have been simplifying my wardrobe and I love it. I only have kept things I love and wear. I was given a huge bag of clothes from my sis-in-law. I went through it and only kept about 10 items (there was about 50+ items). I cannot tell you the amount of clothes I have brought on sale and hated, but the price was to good to pass up (or so I thought).
    This is the principle I now follow. If I buy a dress for $5.00 and wear it once, it cost $5.00 a time. If I buy a dress for $50.00 and wear it 50 times, it only cost me a dollar a time. So in theory the more expensive it the cheapest.

  11. rachel says

    I love this post, what about kid clothes? I would like your ideas on how many kid clothes one child should have. Thanks:)

    • Jessica says

      If my daughter had a say she would have her 4 dress up dresses and that’s it. I would do a similar thing as you do with your own clothes. Whatever they never choose to wear, just get rid of. My daughter is 3 and loves her dresses and skirts. I just got rid of all but a couple pairs of pants and shorts since she never wore them.

  12. says

    This whole article is win.

    Reason no. 8 probably stands out for me the most.

    I shop at American Apparel and get a few disapproving opinions for it because it’s expensive for a store that mostly sells basics. But then again, AA makes clothes I like, plus the fact that the clothes aren’t made in sweatshop conditions. Knowing that I can select a few things from there which I enjoy wearing makes it so much easier keeping that wardrobe down.

    Not sure why, but some people (aka my friends) just don’t get the whole quality over quantity thing.

    • John says

      “Not sure why, but some people (aka my friends) just don’t get the whole quality over quantity thing.”

      I call that ‘Wal-Mart thinking’. Many people think along the lines of “Why spend more when you can purchase the same thing twice at half the cost (never mind it only lasts 1/8 as long); even better, stock-pile items when they are on sale.”

      My Grandmother suffers from ‘Wal-Mart thinking’.

  13. prufock says

    I’ll take a devil’s advocate position on one point: laundry. To a certain extent, less clothes means less laundry to wash. However, there is a point at which less clothes can complicate your laundry cycles.

    It is much simpler and less time-consuming to batch your laundry into large loads, for instance, than to do multiple smaller loads. You should have enough clothes so that when you need to do laundry, you have enough for a full large-cycle washer. There is a clothes “tipping point” where you go from one load a week to two loads a week.

    • Mary says

      Sorting can help with this also – if the fabrics are of similar colours and need the same washing conditions, then it should be OK to put them in the same load. If you’re nervous, add a dye-catcher sheet into the wash in case anything does run.

  14. says

    I so needed to read this today. Our family is on a no spending money this month and the idea of keeping everything simple and getting rid of things we don’t need or use has me looking at my closet and dressers. I’m so ready to just keep my favorites and donate the rest. I like the idea of a 90 day clothes shopping freeze.

    One nice thing I have going for me is that I have a couple of friends who hand down their kids clothes to me. But even that can get crazy with getting to many things. You just have to know when to say no more. Thanks for this post!

  15. says

    Great ideas Joshua. I have a very small wardrobe and sometimes think that people must get sick of seeing me in the same things, but then I realize, people are likely not paying any attention to what I’m wearing. I’ve never been into fashion, but I think your tips could make for a great wardrobe — flexible, quality and enough. People who need new clothes every season have bought into a big sales gimmick of “new colours” and the “latest styles”. It’s all part of a larger issue — an addiction to shopping as entertainment.

  16. says

    I must be terribly out of style, because I can never find anything I want. So I’m a clothing minimalist by default.

    I like Jay Leno’s idea of wearing denim shirts and jeans every day. After a year or two, donate them all and buy a new set.

    Of course, I haven’t been able to find any denim shirts I like…

    Gip

  17. Nick says

    I only have 10 items of clothing (not including shoes and underwear). I often have a shower with my clothes on instead of doing the laundry when they need washing.

  18. says

    I really like what you said about embracing the idea of one. When I use to go into a thrift store and see all these sweet clothes for so cheap, it was hard to resist buying. Now, I have a different mindset that my style isn’t in all the different outfits I wear but the fact that I wear the same outfit all the time. Took a little bit for that switch to happen in my mind, though.

  19. Heather says

    As a woman, over the years, I felt pressure to have a closet or 2 full of clothing…society pressure. Over the years, as I have fully accepted myself as I am, I found basics in a few great colors and styles get me farther and MORE compliments than closets full of clothing. I have to dress for work, no business casual for me. I wear a lot of black, white, red/pink, a little bit of khacki and purple, which all look nice against my skin. I can mix and match my little heart’s desire away. Funny thing is, people always say I dress nice, neat, professional and pretty.

  20. says

    I just got rid of more than half my clothes, after about 4 rounds of paring down further. I know there’s more I can donate or give away if I go through it yet again. It was almost a sense of relief seeing how much extra space I now have in my closet.

    I like the ideas of wearing fewer colors and the notion of less stress in the mornings. I know that if we are presented with too many choices, the decision becomes more difficult (and stressful), but I hadn’t thought of it in terms of choosing what to wear. Awesome.

  21. Antonio says

    I think it goes back to the danger of having too much. “A man with two watches is never sure what time it is, the man with one watch always knows”

  22. Eileen says

    I could never do this. I love fashion. The thing is i wear ALL my clothes. If they aren’t being worn i give them to charity. I only keep what i wear and yes, i’ve a lot of outfits. It would be nice to have more space but i know i would not be happy with just a few items in my wardrobe. Its all very organised and colour coordinated. I can pick out what i want to wear in a second despite the amount of garments. This was a really interesting discussion. Although i won’t be becoming minimalist- i want to say good luck to all of you who are. x

  23. Tariq says

    Great article, when it comes to clothes, I am a minimalist. I have no interest in shopping for clothes unless if its absolutely necessary. As a result my parents and siblings tell me off, that I am miserly. I just tell them, I like spending money on things that are more valuable to me.

    I have one question though, What do I do with clothes with which good memories involved from various events. They don’t fit in me anymore.

    Any advice.

    • Deborah says

      “I have one question though, What do I do with clothes with which good memories involved from various events. They don’t fit in me anymore.”

      You could sew some of the fabric into something new, or ask a friend or family member who sews to do so. I had a friend who sewed a small piece of corduroy pants (that I had loved but worn almost literally to pieces) into a cool wrist band punk bracelet thing for me that takes up much less space. Other ideas would be stuffed animals or of course quilts.

      • says

        “I have one question though, What do I do with clothes with which good memories involved from various events. They don’t fit in me anymore.”

        After a major clean out of clothing for some kids, and faced with serious reluctance from the kids of passing on some favourites, we decided they could keep two items each. They chose favourite shirts, and by sewing up the opening and stuffing with fibre filling, turned them into snuggle pillows. When I was in high school, I (with help) turned a jacket that no longer fitted into a book bag, and recently transformed a chambray shirt into a handbag. I am currently working on a project turning a favourite pair of jeans into an apron.

        For the more important things, the things I can’t bear to change or donate, I have a memory chest.

        • Weeze says

          I take a lot of pictures. A picture of me in an outfit I LOVE takes up a lot less room than keeping an article of clothing I no longer wear. Same with stuff. It keeps the memory but not the stuff.

  24. Eileen says

    Hi Tariq

    If clothes don’t fit me- i get rid of them. Clothes with special memories can be sorted through. I have the dresses i wore to my university ball, my graduation and my final year at school ball. I never seem to grow much so, i still fit into them. They are much too fancy to wear but i really hope for an opportunity to wear one again. I do not keep these dresses in my wardrobe. I have put the dresses in storage bags and packed them away neatly in the storage area of my house. I also change my wardrobe around according to season. For example, now i have a lot of skirts and light tops in my wardrobe and all my wool clothes and heavy coats are in storage until the cold weather returns.
    If you feel you can’t part with some of the clothes with memories attached- you could always send them to storage if you have space for this.
    Cool that you are a minimalist. As ive said already i love to buy clothes. My parents and siblings tell me off for buying too many. I’m actually about to sort my wardrobe and have decided im on a clothes shopping ban. Despite having a lot of clothes- i like to keep them all hung or folded away neatly and right now im at risk of running out of space. So, i guess even i should stop shopping for now. This has been a cool article. Thanks minimalists- you may save me some money if i can keep up the current clothes ban lol and good luck with deciding what to do with the clothes with good memories Tariq. Eileen x

  25. Deborah says

    I feel this is a topic that is always easier for men. All the minimalist bolggers seem to be men, especially the ones that only own 13 things and list them for all to see.

    It comes very naturally to me in one way, because I hate to shop. But getting rid of things is really hard for me. Also, I would wear jeans and t-shirts all the time, but not only is this not acceptable at work, my husband complains if I do that every weekend, and also nags me to buy more shoes.

    One thing I like to do is get together with friends (of a similar size) with all of the clothes we are getting rid of. A few of those things will be rescued that way, and loved in a new home. But don’t grab anything you won’t wear just because it’s free.

    • ceilidth says

      I don’t think we need to look for perfection in this or make it a competition. After a number of rounds of getting rid of unnecessary clothes or things that no longer fit or are completely at odds with my current life, I’ve found myself with a closet of nice clothes that all feel good to wear. I don’t worry if one person thinks I have too many or another thinks I have too few. Learning to shop consciously rather than recreationally has been a challenge and a lot harder than throwing things out, but one that is getting easier with time. What I’ve tried with a lot of success is to be much more conscious of my purchases and only buy things that I truly enjoy wearing and meet my needs. A beautiful dressy dress may entice me, but the reality is that I only need one of those in my life. When something wears out, I don’t automatically replace it but instead think about how many similar items I have and whether I have enough already. Gradually, my closet gets more spacious and I find it easier to look well dressed for the life I lead.

    • Rachel says

      Another great minimalist blog from a female point of view is missminimalist.com. She keeps little clothing but is still very classy and stylish.

  26. Angela says

    Hmmmm…I’ve already done a fair bit of paring-down, but I think this has inspired me to do another round.

    I’m commenting mainly in response to the idea that women don’t/can’t do the extreme-minimalism with clothes. I just read an article about a six-clothing-item challenge that a few hundred people (mostly bloggers) are doing right now. A lot of women are doing it successfully. I don’t think I could do it because my work and non-work clothing needs are so different. I could probably do six items for EACH for a couple months with no problem.

  27. ceilidth says

    I have another kind of “one” for clothing. I try to only buy one thing at a time unless I really need more than one of something. Sometimes I stretch that to one outfit. I find that it makes me focus on which thing I like the best and which one works best with what I already have. I just went shopping for a pair of dressy sandals and couldn’t decide between a pair I liked and a different shoe that I really didn’t need. In the old days I would have bought both of them; this time I bought neither.

    One other thing I do is never to use a credit card to buy clothing. It’s the debit card or no purchase at all.

  28. pumagirl says

    Thanks for a great blog. I’m also a minimalist when it comes to clothes. I have discovered 10 years ago that modern merino wool is a good way to achieve minimalism. They are expensive initially, but you don’t need that many. I have about 10 summer weight merino wool t-shirts made by Icebreaker, Ibex, and Patagonia, and I can wear a shirt like 5-10 days without washing, even in the heat of summer. (One can say I have too many shirts since I don’t even need to wear all my 10 shirts in a season.) And when they do get soiled, I hand wash them in the sink. I wear them running too, and they feel fresh even after multiple exercise sessions. They dry quickly which makes them good for traveling. On a recent trip to Iceland, I wore a merino shirt, brought 1 shirt, 1 merino sweater, and 1 merino undie – that was my entire wardrobe that I took with me. They are of very high quality, and if you don’t put them in the drier, they will last for years.

  29. Jane says

    Personally I’m passionate about passion, and maybe that’s because I’m 17, but almost all of my clothing I buy at consignment/thrift stores, so I feel that I am saving money and also the planning by buying “recycled” clothing. However I do like what this post is promoting, and I think I could stand to lessen my recently growing addiction to buying clothes from “the man”.

  30. CoCoYoYo says

    @Joshua Becker — what an interesting topic! I’ve been slowly going through my closets and cabinets in an attempt to reduce clutter. I’m amazed at the vast number of clothing items and shoes that I’ve collected that go virtually unworn! Some items are too big, some are too small (boo!) but many are just right and yet they never make it onto my body! I’m generally not the type of girl who cares much about fashion but even so I’ve found myself falling into the trap of “one more pair of black pants won’t hurt”. Ummm… yeah: I have a dozen and I wear 3 regularly. I’ve slacked off recently in my sorting and purging but coming across this site has inspired me to renew my efforts!

    @pumagirl — thank you for the tip about merino wool. I will definitely be looking into that as I start to replace worn out travel staples in the future!

  31. Heather says

    We lost everything in a fire, I recall about a dozen brand new recently purchased winter boots new in boxes. Of course I had lots of other clothing, mostly expensive and anyway its a lot easier to live more simply when you realize those type things dont matter in the grand scheme of things and if you are confident and feel you are beautiful wheather on the inside, out or both you can make anything look good, items from goodwill, thrift stores or designer it just all takes a little planning and good taste in choosing. I mostly enjoy black, a couple designer jeans and mix and matching is key. I get my tops at good will and have True religion jeans. I dont waste money on shirts I have little kids they ruin everything! I love designer jeans and would rather have a couple pair then 20 I dont like. Just feel lovely and dress for yourself or your mate. Women get caught up in dressing for other women and trying to impress. Honestly its a lot more fun to dress for yourself or just dont dress at all to impress someone you love generaly that doesnt require to much clothing heheheheh

  32. Sandra says

    I have a closet full of clothes, that I’ve “Not” worn for years.I have gained lots of weight, my health in the crapper & the meds.I’m on has really packed the pounds on.I have clothes I bought way,way back still with price tags on.I was much thinner then.But when all happend to me,the beautiful new clothes just stayed in my closet.After reading all many wrote,has inspired me to get out my big plastic bags and get emptying my closet.Same goes with my shoes,I have many, but haven’t worn them in?? I know when my hubby comes home from wk.one night,& he goes into the closet to get/set up his clothes for wk.he hehe. He will really think I’ve flipped when he see, my side of our walk in,with next to nothing hanging in our walk in.:) Thanks again, for all who posted nice to know I’m not in this alone.

  33. Tiffany says

    I’ve recently been going through all of my posessions and ruthlessly paring down to the essentials. I’ve gotten to the clothes, and have done pretty well. I could still do more, though. What I realized in going through my clothes is that the difficulty in ridding my closet of items I literally NEVER wear is the sense of security they bring. A lightbulb went on in my head and I realized…I don’t even like this shirt. I like the security of knowing that I could wear it if I wanted to, even if I don’t. I like knowing that I could be this smart, sophisticated woman who wears a sheer green dress shirt to work…but I’m not. I’m not that woman. I’m a nurse. I wear scrubs. And on the weekends I wear jeans and t-shirts…Because I like to. Because THAT is who I am.

    After that flash realization, going through everything in my house (including clothes) has been so much easier. It’s like I’m ripping up this giant security blanket I never even knew I needed.

    It feels good. I also just took a trip, and packing was SO easy! I took the smallest suitcase ever!

    • sue says

      Tiffany,
      I know exactly what you mean. I have bought so many clothes over the years to fit an image that I like to think I COULD be……but I’m not. I may try the outfits once or twice and realize they really, really do not fit my personality, and then I’m back to my daily “uniform” of Levi’s, a black sweater or white blouse/tshirt and black shoes. That’s who I am, and all the stylish clothes in the mall won’ t change it. I do wish I had all that wasted money back though…..

    • jennifer wallington says

      Love this comment, I am guilty of this, thinking that I should be smart and sophisiticated because that is what all themakeover programmes tell you when I mainly wear running gear and PJ’s, and jeans a T-shirt and UGGS or flip flops (depending on the weather) if I have time or can be bothered to have a shower before the school run pick up !

      I wear a uniform/scrubs to work also so don’t need smart work clothes

      I used to panic if I had to go to a wedding or a black tie do but recently I borrow a dress and shoes from a friend with full wardrobes in exchange for help de-junkning or babysitting.

      You can also hire formal clothes, which you don’t have to then store in your wardrobe for the entire year annoying you at the cost every time you look at them

  34. EB says

    I’m inspired to purge again! Great article, especially the hanger tip. I’ll implement that today. I mostly shop 2nd hand. I search for quality, well-made articles at the smallest price, and they’re stuff I like and fit my body type. On laundry, most of the time, an article doesn’t need washing as often as we wash. Just hanging it outside to air out is sufficient is most cases, or Nick’s suggestion of wearing the clothes in the shower for a cleaning. For throwing things out, if I didn’t realize it existed after 6 months, it needs to go. From a lady’s perspective, the notion of not buying even if you really don’t need it, is difficult, especially if the price is “right”. A good habit that’s worked for 10 years and counting is to only use cash for clothing. If you don’t have enough, you can’t get the article of clothing. It limits you and helps control your focus. Like what you wear and show of your confidence and good spirit more so than the clothing on your body (thanks Heather). I also agree that it’s SO easy to pack when you don’t have many clothes to choose from. I went on a week vacation twice this year with only a backpack which included shoes and toiletries. Recycling amongst your pals or reworking favored garments into new useful items are smart moves. You’re still getting the new you desire, but you’re also conserving on a larger scale. Be you, not your clothing.

  35. says

    I FINALLY did it! Over the weekend I took the time to purge my wardrobe. I ended up getting rid of 4 HUGE garbage bags full of clothes and one small garbage bag of shoes. I donated all of the clothing and now everything fits neatly in 4 drawers, one shoe rack and my area of the closet. It felt amazing and will hopefully be the first step in this journey to SIMPLIFY!

  36. sue says

    Thanks for introducing me to the idea of “one”. I have a really bad habit of purchasing my clothing in multiples, and then only wearing one of them. Like, I need a new black turtleneck, I go and buy one, but since I love it so much, I buy 2, and then I throw in a few more in various colors. After a few days, I realize I have no desire to wear the pink, red or blue ones, nor have I even worn the second black one. I have learned to save the receipts and leave the tags on so that I can return them after this realization sets in. However, after reading your blog, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I could so easily manage with just ONE of the necessary items and save myself the trip to return the other stuff. Simple, yet, WHAT A CONCEPT! So, I am off to weed thru my closet full of multiples and eliminate the physical and mental clutter they are causing.

  37. says

    I LOVE this! Now if I can just convince my 17 year old daughter of her need to minimalize! Of course, I really shouldn’t expect to do that until I practice a little restraint myself…

  38. Michele says

    It’s been a journey, but I’ve found that taking a good bit of time to think about my clothes and accessories really helped me attack my wardrobe. When I got fed up with my small closet and dresser, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote out what I thought I truly needed. Something like, “One warm weather formal outfit, one cool weather formal outfit; one pair of brown heels, one pair of black heels.” Once I had a plan, it was much easier to thin things out. And, when I headed to the store, it was because I knew I had a genuine need. I could name it. That gave me power.

    Another trick I’ve learned is to buy multiples of something I really, really like. When I realized all of my everyday shirts were threadbare, I shopped until I found one shirt I fell in love with. I bought it in the color I liked the most and wore it the next day. It passed the, “I wish I could wear this shirt every day!” test, so I went back and bought three more in different colors. The old shirts went out and the new shirts went it, a one-to-one exchange. Identical shirts also make it easier to keep fewer pants, too. My favorite part is that no one realizes it’s the same shirt unless I tell them. How do I know for sure? I’ll get compliments on my outfits a few days in a row!

    And, since I already have a strategy in place, it makes it easier to reassess everything later. Do I really need two purses or can I make due with one, good sized black and white purse?

  39. says

    As a brand new wannabe minimalist, I have decided to start with my clothing. Your post really helped me! I have realized that not only do I buy too many clothes, I often buy clothes with the intention of altering them! For example, I’ll buy 3 pairs of jeans to take the legs in. As a result, I’ve got piles of clothes that I can’t wear until I sew or dye them! I am going to follow your steps and get started right away! Thanks!

  40. says

    Growing up I was educated at a Christian Brothers College and was recently contemplating their attire – black trousers and a white shirt (with crosses on the collar). It occurred to me how much freedom these men have as a result of being liberated from the daily dilemma of “what to wear”? At first glance people assume it is the opposite of freedom in that one is not presented with choices. However, choices themselves represent a kind of false freedom as they can consume you. Like most commenters, I am slowly shedding the wardrobe and the feeling is amazing. Every time I throw something away it feels like a weight off my shoulders (even if it isn’t a jacket) and now I find myself consciously looking for what to throw out next. I may not have reached the “single outfit”, but I’m definitely following the path that leads in that direction. Thank you Josh for such a great blog. It’s funny that we have to refer to a sustainable and rich way of life as “minimalist”. In many respects we are talking about “abundance”. But I’m sure everyone here knows that already.

  41. says

    I found this article and most of the comments posted here to be quite interesting. While I would personally never be labeled a clothing minimalist (probably the complete opposite) due to my love for options and for fashion in general, I still feel like there is something that can be gained by anyone and everyone here.

    Regards,

    RoTimi W.

  42. BDE says

    I’m not exactly a minimalist, but I DO work from a wardrobe list. After I quit working, I had to really think about what I needed to have…no more suits, or, maybe, just one black pantsuit. More casual clothes, but not too many. I keep a set number of items in each category, and I limit my clothing colors to neutrals plus turquoise, coral and eggplant. I have a fairly full closet, but not overloaded, and I’m prepared for anything at anytime, from a day at the beach to a black-tie wedding. It took a long time, but it was worth it. I think the key is figuring out what types of clothing you need, then making a couple of smart selections in each category. The good news is that if you limit the number of items you buy in each category, you can probably afford nicer quality.

  43. says

    ALL OF THIS LESS IS BETTER IS A TON OF CRAP I ENJOY BUYING STUFF FOR ME THAT BENFITS ME BECAUSE IN THE LONG RUN ITS ALL ABOUT ME,MYSELF AND I THATS THE WAY IN IS I AM ALL FOR THAT

  44. Edilma says

    Hello there, great article. I have a few questions: How did you move away from thinking: “What if I need this later on?” or having the fear of “scarcity” in the future. Did you ever look back and thought you should have held on to something you gave away? I am wondering because my parents have drawers of clothes and wear the same ones over and over again. They won’t wear something else until the current ones go in the trash, literally. Thanks..

    • Roda says

      Edilma, I know what you mean. If you cover your casual/business/dressy-formal basics, (in tops and bottoms) the best thing to do is remind yourself you will always find something! It’s true! It’s easy mentally to invision scarcity (our minds usually come up with the worst-case scenario no matter what.) Remind yourself you will always find something and it will always look different thanks to accessorizing. (i.e, scarves, necklaces, etc.)

  45. Johanna says

    After losing a lot of weight i went crazy shopping and filled my closet with crazy clothes i could never wear when i was heavy. One day i caught myself in a store mirror and realized how stupid and old i looked , like i was trying to keep up with teenages when i had a preteen myself. since then i only buy clothes that fit me flatting and are timeless. I rather have three $90 jeans that made me feel proud of my body than 25 cheap ones from a teen store at the mall. It really helped me to purge out my closet, now i don’t feel bad when when buy quality clothes because i look at then as investment pieces that i rely on for many years to come. If i feel i want to change it up i buy or make trendy jewely instead!

  46. Amber says

    I am on right on the verge of dumping just about everything in my closet. Hence the google search “I have too many clothes, how do I minimize?” and alas, this blog post is awesome. Thank you.

    I have this one pair of gray pants. They are the best. They are a lightweight material and you can zip the legs off so they can become capri’s when it’s hot. They are also semi-water resistant. During the winter in Nebraska with wet snowy days, I would wear a pair of thick long-johns underneath, and would be warmer than if I were to wear a pair of jeans and boots. They are the perfect most versatile pants I own. They match everything I own. During the winter walking back and forth across campus, I wore them about 3 times a week.

    Now I need to find some shirts like that !?!?!

  47. Golden says

    My Dh and I just recently had a weekend away. After getting the kids to my sister’s to go camping, I accidentally left our bag of clothes at home. All we needed was underwear and something to sleep in. It was refreshingly, just fine.

  48. says

    I just finished a huge closet purge, and am now down to a total of just 60 items of clothing – including things like coats and blazers.
    I have just 2 pairs of jeans, 8 t-shirts, 1 pair of black pants, etc.
    It was difficult, I worked at a vintage clothing store, and so, built up quite the wardrobe. However it came to a point, where it was too much, and I just wasn’t wearing 80% of clothing I apperently “LOVED!”
    It was time to pass it on, and my I just adore my new-found simplistic wardrobe. :)
    Thanks for the tips!

  49. LA says

    I found this blog today and when I got home I went through my clothes and got rid of MORE items. I have definitly been heading toward a more minimalist life style with STUFF and getting rid of as much as I can – it is very simple really I hate to clean and dust – the less STUFF I have the less I have to clean!

    My mother thinks I am crazy, my 5 year old isn’t ready to give up any of his toys yet and my husband thinks it is GREAT – so glad we are on the same page with the clean out! Hoping we can convince my son to feel the same way soon!

    The one thing I am having trouble with is shoes/boots – we have a ton of them – seasonal and for all weather, hiking, walking, dress up etc – what do we do about all of those??????

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Your relationship with clothes | August 31, 2011
  2. Closet Monster | My Closet Garden | November 13, 2012
  3. Netzfunde. | von allem zu viel. | October 10, 2013
  4. Less Clothes | Songs of Remorse | December 7, 2013
  5. Less Clothes | Relearning Human | December 7, 2013
  6. minimalism is not asceticism | September 29, 2014

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