Note: This is a guest post from Julia Ubbenga of Rich in What Matters.
On a gray morning last month, I stepped out of my bedroom, dressed and ready for the day.
“Mom, why do you have that again?” Asked my four-year-old daughter between bites of breakfast cereal.
Have what? I wondered.
Scanning my empty hands, my eyes landed on my yellow, graphic “Hello Sunshine” tee. She’s talking about my outfit, I realized. I’d worn the shirt the day before yesterday, but it was clean again, so on it went.
She’s noticing my tendency to repeat clothes, I thought.
“Do you mean, why am I wearing this shirt again?” I asked, to be sure.
“You have it on again because you want the clouds to go away today?” She said thoughtfully.
I smiled. While I hadn’t been that intentional and chosen my outfit in an attempt influence the weather that day, living a minimalist lifestyle has unearthed an extreme intentionality around my wardrobe.
Because owning a repeatable, sustainable wardrobe that reflects your personal style is one of the most powerful ways to simplify your life.
In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that figure is 30 outfits—one for every day of the month.
Before minimalism, I lived the “more outfits the better” mindset. In high school, I documented clothing pairings daily so as not to wear the same thing twice in the same month. In my first job out of college, I’d rummage through my roommates’ closets regularly, trying to piece together a “new” outfit before sliding into my cubicle.
Finally, I figured out this outfit preoccupation made life more complicated. In fact, many people are realizing the benefits of becoming outfit repeaters.
Here are 10 reasons I love wearing the same things often (and think you would too):
1. Increased presence
Clothing can contribute to mental clutter. You decide to wear something, but two hours later you’re stuck wishing you’d worn something different. Maybe it’s proven to be uncomfortable. Or, turns outs, it wasn’t a great fit for the occasion. That interior voice can nag you throughout the day, stealing your peace and presence.
Simplifying my wardrobe and wearing only what I love has been mentally freeing. I don’t get stuck wondering if I wore the right thing or wishing I’d worn something different. I wear what I love. Every day. And I’m more present for it.
2. Save money
The average person spends around $160 per month on clothes, which is nearly $2,000 a year. Many of these purchases land in already full closets and are rarely worn.
In writing this, I realized I’ve bought four new clothing items this past year, two of which were needed maternity shirts. Minimalist living has shown me I don’t need to chase the latest trend to feel good about myself. Shopping for clothes is no longer a pastime, which saves me money.
3. Less decision fatigue
Wearing the same thing repeatedly saves your decision-making power. I’ve found my mind is sharper throughout the day when it’s not bogged down in the morning trying to decide what to wear.
4. Less comparison
Getting caught up in comparison is a guaranteed way to drain your joy. If you’re distracted by other people’s outfits, wishing your wardrobe resembled theirs, you’re missing out on your own life. Purchasing another pair of shoes isn’t going to make you happy (well, maybe briefly, until you see another pair you wish you had… and the cycle of discontentment continues).
Before minimalism, I’d see other people’s outfits and work to replicate them. I thought I needed certain pieces of clothing to fit in (like those faux leather shoes I bought before moving to Spain because I thought they’d make me look more European. Or the over-priced heels I bought—and thankfully returned—before my brother’s wedding because I thought they’d help me fit into the L.A. crowd).
Now, I’m confident in my personal style and happy to wear my outfits over and over again. I’ve found I can still admire someone else’s style, but have no desire to own clothes like them myself.
5. More self-confidence
What you wear projects a message to the world about what you think of yourself. When you wear what you love and feel best in, you radiate more confidence. Why not do this every day?
I’ve learned what outfits make me feel confident and most authentically myself and which ones don’t. I wear the keepers often. And the rest, I let go.
6. Simplified laundry routine (less clothing clutter)
When you have just a few favorite outfits you wear regularly, you’re more motivated to care for them. You don’t let them pile up in the hamper for a week—you need them sooner than that! This motivates you to stay on top of laundry so you’ll always have your favorite outfits ready to go.
Before minimalism, I’d wear something and throw it in the hamper until I got around to washing it. Sometimes I’d even forget I owned it! Piles of dirty laundry created clutter piles throughout our home.
Now I know where clothes are at all times—hanging in my closet or in the washing machine (we don’t use a hamper). Our laundry routine has been greatly simplified by owning fewer, more loved outfits. And spending less time on laundry means more time spent on other, more enjoyable, things.
7. Help the environment
North Americans send 12 million tons of clothing to landfills every year, 95 percent of which could have been reused or recycled. Because of fast fashion, we now view clothes as disposable.
Buying outfits with longevity and repeatability in mind is good for the environment. When you wear the same thing often, you do this. Building a more sustainable wardrobe doesn’t have to break the bank. My favorite place to shop is a Savers thrift store in a well-off area of our city where I find quality pieces for half the price.
8. You feel better
A trip to your closet can significantly influence how you feel. Seeing clothes you wish you fit into can trigger frustration. Owning clothes with the price tags still attached can trigger guilt. Seeing clothes inherited from a loved one who has passed away can trigger sadness.
I prefer to feel happy when I peer into my closet each morning. Owning only repeatable outfits that I love does this and can set a positive tone for the day.
9. More reminders of how little you need to be happy
Owning a repeatable, small wardrobe constantly sends you the message that contentment can be found in less. A glance at your curated closet prompts thoughts like: “I need so much less than I thought I did to be happy.”
I’m much less likely to buy on impulse or waste time scrolling in search of my next purchase when these thoughts infiltrate my mind every morning. My sense of gratitude also increases the more I remember life truly is better with less.
10. More self-love
When you’re in the habit of wearing repeatable outfits you love, you’re in the habit of seeing, accepting and supporting yourself exactly as you are.
In the words of Mel Robbins, “Keeping clothes in sizes that don’t fit you is not a form of motivation. It causes stress, anxiety, and triggers negative self-talk, all which makes you feel less motivated and it makes it impossible to love and accept your body as you are.”
In my experience, removing clothing items like the “goal dress” or pair of jeans I haven’t fit into in 10 years also removes the “I should be different” message. Repeatable outfits support who you are today, which is the version of you the world needs most.
An unknown quote I love goes like this:
“It’s okay to… repeat clothes, not upgrade your phone, buy second-hand items, live in a simple home. It’s okay to live a simple life.”
If life feels complicated, consider your wardrobe. Could owning a repeatable wardrobe that reflects your personal style create a ripple effect of simplicity throughout your life? In my experience, it absolutely can.
Why not give it a try?
It’s more than okay to become an outfit repeater.
Your life will become simpler and more meaningful for it.
Julia Ubbenga is a freelance journalist and mom of four who documents her family’s journey into minimalism on her blog, Rich in What Matters. Her teachings on simplicity and intentional living help others live a more meaningful life with less stuff. You can find her on Instagram or check out her free decluttering guide.