Over the past few years I have made some significant changes to my wardrobe. When I started on the minimalist path in 2010 we had his and hers walk-in closets. Both were crammed full of clothing.
The closet seemed like a good first place to start our decluttering. It’s a small area, and since clothes don’t hold much sentimental value it’s easy to go through them. I established a rule that if I hadn’t worn an item in the past six months then it was removed and donated or tossed.
Since that fist declutter I have continued to refine my wardrobe and my overall approach to clothing. I started wearing more of my good stuff. Part of that involved getting rid of the stuff that wasn’t so good. I’ve noticed that given the choice, I gravitate to the older clothes. This is my old mindset creeping in, telling me to wear the junky stuff and save the good stuff for a day when I have something planned, like dinner out or an evening with family or friends.
The problem is the decision to do these things usually happens after I’m already dressed in my older, junkier stuff and I end up wear what I already have on. To counter this, I have been making an effort to get rid of anything that I wouldn’t want to wear out in public, and to a greater extent keeping only the items that I would be feel good about wearing out with my family or friends.
With that in mind, I’m starting to migrate towards nicer clothing like polo shirts. I don’t like the standard polo for casual wear, so I’ve been buying some polos in more modern materials that make them as comfortable as a t-shirt while giving me a more polished look. My 30-minute living room cleanup video has an example of one of these polos.
Another change I’ve made is to buy multiples of my favorite items. I recently replaced the khaki pants that I wear to work. In the past I would buy one or two at a time as needed. This time I replaced them all as a set. I now have 4 pairs of the exact same pair of khakis. I bought one a first to try it out for a few days. After I tried it and decided I liked it I ordered three more to complete the set.
I did the same with socks. I used to have several different types of socks that got all mixed up in my drawer. I got rid of all my old socks and bought 4 pairs of work socks, all the same brand and color, and two bags of athletic socks, all white ankle socks and all the same brand.
This approach reminds me of Men in Black, where their simple black suit with white shirt is “the last suit you’ll ever wear”. There are several benefits to this approach. One, I never have mismatched socks. I can pull out two socks out and be confident that they match. It also makes it easier to put them away after washing them as I can just toss them in the drawer without worrying about trying to match them. Another benefit is that it takes some of the decision out of getting dressed. When I go to work, I grab a khaki pants and my work socks. The only decision is which shirt to wear.
In order for this to work, I need to find a single item of clothing that I really like and buy several of that item. It was easy for khakis and socks, but I’m still working on shirts. At this point I have a few different brands, and some fit better than others. I’d like to find one brand that I really like and buy a couple of different colors. I might even be open to buying a single color, to make it really simple, but I think a little variety can be nice.
To recap up to this point here is my wardrobe strategy:
- Declutter – remove all the stuff that you never wear.
- Get rid of all the old junky clothes so that I naturally migrate toward the nicer stuff.
- Wear the nice stuff daily (means my nice stuff must also be comfortable.)
- When replacing items, buy one as a test, and if you really like it replace the entire set with duplicates of that item.
One question that comes up in my mind is, “does this work for women?” I’m sharing my perspective as a guy, and for me I don’t mind limiting some variety in order to reduce decision making. It can work though, as proven in the One Dress Protest.
I also want to share this post from Beth at My Simpler Life: What Should I Wear Today. She has a great technique for deciding what to wear and it’s worth sharing.
What are your wardrobe tips?